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COMS World Found Its Fairy Godmother
By Katie Russell
As COMS Week came to an end one speaker stands out to the Radford students and that is alumni Melissa Brown.
On Thursday, April 13 students filled the Bonnie auditorium for yet another speaker, but this presentation felt different. The air was filled with an excited buzz and the auditorium quickly neared maximum capacity. Brown walked down the aisle in her black two inch heals carrying an oversized bag and rushing a bit to set up her presentation. Her blonde curls bounced as she joked with students in the front row and then she began.
She attended Radford University for not only her undergraduate in communications degree, but also for her graduate degree in corporate and professional communication. Brown then worked for a few different public relations agencies before truly finding a home as the associate vice president of 5W Public Relations.
Brown originally came to Radford to pursue a nursing degree but quickly realized that her passion was truly in communications. Upon finishing her undergraduate degree, she followed her heart to the city of Chicago, where she worked as an account executive for The Big Ooga.
After 11 months of working she realized she still had a lot to learn and returned to Radford University for graduate school.
Presenting at COMS Week marked yet another return for Brown to Radford. She talked excitedly about how happy she was to be back after a long five years and what a journey she has been on.
Brown explained that it’s okay to not know exactly what you want to do and to try new things. She reminds students that she never felt bad for returning to school or changing her mind about what she wanted her career to focus on, she simply kept moving.
Brown’s high-level energy kept the students on the edge of their seats throughout the length of her presentation. Her relatable personality and joyful demeanor kept everyone constantly engaged in how to transition into the world of PR after graduation.
When asked what her trick was to constantly staying on top of the world around her, Brown said that, “You can’t do it wrong in this industry, you have to consume.” When she isn’t working with the 30 to 40 clients on a daily basis Brown is constantly reading. It can be anything from Twitter to news feeds but she is always taking information in.
Brown had a few tricks to share about how she became and stays so successful. She says, “It’s important to stay really, really flexible in PR.” The PR world is constantly changing and things are constantly happening that can affect your client. Brown jokes that she can never make a to-do list because things are constantly popping up in her schedule that have to be dealt with immediately.
Brown credits much of her success to her mentors and the relationships she built with professors while here at Radford University. Brown says through these relationships she learned how to not be a “yes” person saying, “Don’t be a ‘yes’ person, if you keep saying yes you will never challenge anything.” Brown then excitedly offered to mentor or become a contact for anyone that had questions or wants to learn more about the world of PR.
Brown, now 30, has no plans of slowing down anytime soon, stating that her favorite part of PR is doing a plethora of different things in one day. While she does work weekends and is constantly on her phone she still finds time to travel and spend time with her dog Penny, who she gleefully shows pictures of.
A day in the life of a PR professional
- 5:30 A.M. Wake up. Check E-mail. Respond to anything urgent
- 7:30 A.M. Commute. Take calls. E-mail. Read. Read. Read.
- 8:00 A.M. Arrive at work. Start writing pitches. Statements. Alerts about news.
- 9:00 A.M. Staff arrives to work.
- 9:00 A.M.- 6:00 P.M. You never know. Typically dealing with clients.
- 7:00 P.M. Networking Event. Meeting. Client obligation.
- 9:00 P.M. Home. Read. E-mail.