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From UA to Golin: Alexis Matallana

Published on October 23, 2020, at 1:05 p.m.
by Julianna Kendall.

One year ago, Alexis Matallana was a student at The University of Alabama majoring in political science and public relations. Today, she is a strategist working with clients like Verizon, PetSmart, LEGO, and Adobe.

When originally applying for jobs, she decided early on that she wanted to work for a company that was open to investing in her in the same way that she was investing in her career. She applied to several places before finding her current home at Golin in Dallas, Texas.

Transitioning from UA to a PR agency
Matallana started as a graduate intern at Golin and worked her way up to an associate strategist position that she holds today. Many of the skills that have helped her adjust to agency life have been those that she has developed over the years, but she credits a lot of her success to her professors at Alabama, as well.

She thanks them for preparing her and instilling in her the confidence to take charge of her role in the workplace. She admitted that the transition from college to a major PR agency can be intimidating, but all the tools she needed were already inside of her.

“I really trusted my education, and believed that I was prepared for whatever it might be, even if I didn’t know all of the answers,” she explained. “Even if I didn’t know like 100% this is how something is supposed to be done [in her work environment] or how someone who has been here for a long time would do it, I was confident in just going for it and giving it my best shot. … I was willing to dive in and give it what I thought I could give. It worked out really well for me and led a lot to my success because I trusted my foundation and that kept me from holding myself back and from proving what I could do really early on.”

Bringing value to Golin
Matallana understands, along with her education and her personality, a few tactics have helped her become an asset at Golin. First, she approaches her work with a creative outlook even though her job is researching, analytics and math, she said. Her co-worker and friend Olivia Rooney, who has been working with Matallana since they were graduate interns, validated that Matallana brings freshness and creativity to clients.

“Lexi is not afraid to go against the norm,” Rooney said. “She loves to challenge the way we ‘typically’ do things by pushing innovation, newness and efficiency to help please our clients and provide unique value to our teams.”

Matallana and Rooney also strive to keep the office positive. During quarantine, the two started keeping morale high in the office by hosting a show called “Coffee Talk,” which is a 30-minute segment of creative comedy. The show covers their own spin on “Jeopardy,” impressions and even a company-wide award show. Olivia joked that they are the celebrities in the office, but also in all seriousness, “we have been able to contribute positively to company culture, especially during a time like COVID. We are a hit!”

Photo by AbsolutVision on Unsplash

The third tactic that has kept Matallana at the top of her game is that she follows diverse news sources. She subscribes to the Skimm and also sets her Alexa to read off news headlines from CNN, Fox, and other pop culture and financial news sources every morning while she gets ready for her day. This influx of news keeps her aware of everything that is going on in the world that will affect her clients and business, she said. It helps her stay sharp and informed.

“I think finding a way to consume news for you is almost more important than who exactly you’re following, as long as you’re committed to following diverse sources so that you can really get the whole picture,” she noted. “Because in PR, it’s so important that you don’t act on anything that was presented to you with confirmation bias behind it.”

Lastly, along with her creative approach, positivity and news knowledge, Matallana brings curiosity to her position. She explained that she is constantly questioning the work the company is doing and why the staff are handling projects the way that they are. She stated that curiosity feeds into keeping all of her work fresh.

“If you’re just acting on the random thoughts that you are wondering about, you might not always be right,” she explained, “but when you are, it can be really cool because someone else might have never thought of that.”

Work at Golin
Overall, Matallana’s job has been demanding but rewarding. She has worked with top tier companies and on several campaigns that inspire people. Her favorite campaign so far is an Adobe campaign titled Women Create Wednesday.

Matallana and her team knew from research that men held more of a presence in the creative world. Therefore, they created a campaign to spotlight women creatives and give them a platform to encourage other women to show their artistic sides. The campaign was only supposed to last a few weeks, but it was so successful that it just had its first-year anniversary. When it comes to campaigns like these, Matallana really gets to see the joy of working in an agency. Her career is making a difference.

“I really love it because there will always be an opportunity to learn new ways for us to share these stories of typically underrepresented people in the creative industry,” she said. “And for me, that’s cool because I get to hear the stories of so many people, and then constantly be working behind the scenes to better amplify those voices.”

Tips for young professionals
Matallana understands that not everyone belongs in an agency type of PR role, but for those who are interested, she has two pieces of advice. The first is that students should “approach your role with your strengths while keeping in mind your responsibilities and expectations.” “I think that really helps set you apart and create something that is really great,” she explained, “because if you are trying to put yourself in the box of what you think your role might traditionally be, if that’s just not you, you’re never going to excel, and your work is never going to reflect your actual potential.”

Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

Her second piece of advice is to constantly remind yourself of why you are striving to live the agency lifestyle. She explained that agencies give immense opportunity for growth and to work with incredibly smart people, but the hours and tasks, even though rewarding, can be difficult. It isn’t for everyone, but for those wanting to really see agency life through, she said self-reflection is key.

“It’s a very competitive field and so I think my biggest piece of advice is to keep that ambition and keep those dreams in mind every single day and constantly be thinking about how you can be doing better work and how things could be,” Matallana said. “How could you be happier in your work? And how could your teams be happier with your work? How could you be pushing your team to your clients to be better? Constantly remember that this is what you want to do and take those moments of victory and let them continue to inspire you to commit yourself to your career every day.”

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