Published on October 7, 2019, at 4:05 p.m.
by Ashby Brown.
Becca Bryant, an account supervisor at Burson Cohn and Wolf (BCW) in New York City, may be known as the Bama girl in the Big Apple, but she is much more than that. She is a Platform Magazine alumna, a New York City adventurer and a trivia whiz.
Bryant grew up outside of Birmingham, Alabama, never really knowing what she wanted to do when she grew up. She didn’t always envision public relations as her lifetime career but rather thought she could be a fashion buyer.
As high school came to a close, she began meeting with public relations professionals to understand more about what the industry really entails. During these meetings, everything they said sounded interesting to her. “I thought it was something I could be good at, so that’s what I went to school for,” said Bryant. Once beginning she began studying public relations at The University of Alabama, she stayed with the program for all four years, eventually leading to a PR career.
“I almost feel like if you make it through all four years and you actually enjoy working in the field, you’re almost an exception to the rules,” said Bryant. “I feel very blessed.”
Bryant believes that public relations is an industry where you have to get your hands dirty. “You have to actually practice it before you can really understand it,” she explained.
While she was an Alabama student, Bryant was a member of Capstone Agency, the university’s student-run, integrated communications firm. She was an integral part of the LessThanUThink (LTUT) campaign, an anti-binge drinking campaign started at the university. Along with all of their hard work on campus, the LTUT team also collaborated with Shaquille O’Neal to do a promotional video with their unique branded T-shirt. This extended the reach of the campaign beyond the University of Alabama, making other universities interested in partnering with the campaign.
Capstone Agency wasn’t the only place she worked during college — she made sure to take advantage of her summers working as an intern. Between the LTUT campaign and internships, she felt like she was ready to take on the “real world” of public relations upon graduation.
Bryant began her first post-graduation job as an intern at DVL Seigenthaler in Nashville, Tennessee. She not only learned more about public relations there, but she also learned a few life lessons. One of the most important lessons was how to live alone in a new city on an intern salary, a lesson all college students may need to learn.
As an intern, she wanted to learn anything and everything she could get her hands on. By embracing opportunities and always asking questions, she was later promoted to a full-time position. Two years after being promoted, she made a move back to her hometown of Birmingham, Alabama, to work at BIG Communications.
At BIG, she was given even more responsibility than her last position, and she made the work her own.
Bryant’s career quickly took off, but she still had a dream lingering in the back of her mind.
“I had that fire to move to the big, bad city,” said Bryant. “That was a point in my career where I knew if I didn’t do it then, I’d never do it, and that scared me.”
She buckled down and began searching for opportunities in New York City. Finding a job at BCW, she followed her gut and moved to the city that never sleeps to pursue her dreams. She now works as an account supervisor on the digital team.
When asked about what her job entails, Bryant replied, “Just like any job in public relations, it’s hard to melt down exactly what I do on a day-to-day basis.” She mainly works on content strategy and planning, community management, integrated programs, overall digital visibility and everything in between. The digital team works with the other departments to develop comprehensive campaigns, seeing them from planning to execution.
She believes working at an agency is never dull. “Not only are the tasks different day to day, but the actual work and the clients we serve are different every day,” Bryant noted. “You kind of have to put on a different hat to serve each client.”
Bryant just had her one-year anniversary in New York, and she is loving her time in the “big, bad city.”
Being a seasoned professional, she now has advice for aspiring public relations practitioners:
1. Writing (and math) skills will always be needed for PR.
Regardless of what you do in public relations, you will be writing. Bryant said, “Whether you’re writing for a client or to a client, internally or externally, writing can tell you a lot about a person, and that is something we all need to continue to work on.” Another skill that will be important for future PR professionals is reporting and analytics. “A lot of PR professionals will say they hate math and they hate numbers, but analytics and metrics are one of the things I actually enjoy because it is proof of your work,” Bryant explained. This practice is becoming more important than ever to show return on investment (ROI) to clients.
2. Go for it!
The one piece of advice Bryant wishes she could tell her younger self would be to get over your fear of failure. “I would tell her to go for it and not be afraid to go. It’s not a failure if you learn something on the back end. Everyone is going to make mistakes, but it is what you do with those mistakes that matter,” she said.
3. Find a mentor.
Bryant’s most important career advice is to connect with a mentor. She asserted, “Finding a mentor is a huge thing, and I found one early on. It’s motivating, they’re there for you. You always have someone that you can lean on, but also that you look up to and want to be in your career.”
4. Have a positive attitude.
Over the course of her career, Bryant has learned many things, but the most notable in her opinion is to have a positive attitude. “We face so many challenges day to day — whether that’s a tough client, a tough project or a run-in with a co-worker — we are always facing some conflict,” she explained. “I think it’s so easy to get pulled down because the work we do is tough. One of the only things you have control of is your attitude.”
5. Be curious.
“Keep asking questions. Never stop learning. Be willing to do the work. You’re never going to know everything about this industry. Find smart people and keep asking them questions. Be curious. No matter how long you’re in it [the industry] be curious,” Bryant advised.
Looking to the future, Bryant’s five-year plan is to have NO plan. “I’m careful to not set stringent goals because I don’t want it to restrict me from other opportunities,” she said. “I think I leave an open-ended goal to continue to move up and advance and look for other opportunities.”
Over five years since graduation, her impact on The University of Alabama campus is still felt.
“Becca was an incredible asset to the LTUT team, and I believe our leadership on the team has continued to grow. We are constantly searching for new ideas, and reviewing past plans books from this team,” said Jill Marks, the current account executive for the LTUT campaign. “We have all of their past files, and this innovative team allows us to look for inspiration in the creative ideas they came up with.”
Where will Bryant be in the future? We may not know now, but with her open mind and positive attitude, she is bound to be doing some amazing things.