In honor of AdPR Week, we are profiling five Grady College alumni who are using their Grady education in the creative industries they serve. These individuals provide a positive influence on our current students so that after graduation, they will also prosper in their selected fields. For other alumni profiles, please see: Elizabeth Howard (ABJ ’15), Jason Kreher (ABJ ’00) and Melissa Libby (ABJ ’85).
Elizabeth Elmore, a 2008 public relations and international business alumna, is the director of communications for The University of Georgia Alumni Relations and the UGA Career Center. Prior to returning to Athens, she was an account executive with McNeely Pigott & Fox, a public relations firm in Nashville, Tennessee, working with a prestigious list of clients such as the U.S. Department of Labor, the Tennessee Grocers and Convenience Store Association and Skanska USA. While a student, Elmore was a four-year member, and then president, of the Student Alumni Council.
Grady College: What skills have you learned through Grady College that have helped you in your current position as a director of communications?
Elizabeth Elmore: Writing! Marc Gorlin is a fellow Grady grad who helped launch two successful businesses, Kabbage, Inc., and Roadie, Inc. When he was named the 2015 No 1. Bulldog 100 business last year, he said something that resonated with me – in a nutshell it was, “No matter the industry in which you launch a career, you will always need the ability to communicate. Grady taught me that.” I wholeheartedly agree. Grady helped me understand how to organize, simplify and effectively communicate my ideas on paper, online and in person.
I was a freshman when Facebook came to campus, and was a senior shortly after Twitter launched. Instagram, Snapchat and Pinterest weren’t on the scene yet. Despite the infancy of social media, Grady professors were requiring us to become acquainted with the platforms. I am grateful that. When I arrived at my first job, I was seen as an “expert” in those arenas. That definitely gave me a niche and set me apart from my peers in my first job.
GC: What are some of your everyday duties with the UGA Alumni Association and UGA Career Center?
EE: I oversee what I like to call “the look, the feel and the sound” of the UGA Alumni Association and the UGA Career Center. Despite having been here for almost three years, I am still working to reinvent the UGA Alumni Association brand through effective event marketing, social media activities and visual identity. Each day is somewhat different; I am proofreading emails to alumni and donors, guiding graphic designers on posters/fliers/social graphics, answering questions from alumni and managing a team of people who build collateral online, in print and in video.
GC: What are some concepts or skills you would consider essential for AdPR students to grasp before they graduate?
EE: Understand AP Style inside and out so that you are a leader among your peers throughout your career.
Write – and then read it out loud to yourself in order to cut it down by 30 percent. You’d be amazed how many words we use that are unnecessary. (I still do this!)
Know how to use Creative Suite – if even just to know the terminology and make basic edits to projects.
Find the blog/publication(s) of your choice to follow regularly so that you are aware of “what’s next.”
Get over the “fear of no” when pitching to media contacts. They are people just like you, and they understand you’re just doing your job in bringing them story ideas.
I don’t care if you want to or not – use every social media platform. Your supervisors will expect that you know how to use the latest platforms on behalf of a client and if you don’t use it personally, you won’t truly understand the culture of those platforms.
Learn how to use a DSLR camera for photo and video shooting. Entry-level staff is often asked to be “content-gatherers,” and you will appreciate having those skills.
Learn how to tell a good story – no matter the industry in which you launch your career, telling a compelling story will help you sell your product, service or idea.
And a side note: beg to see marked-up or final versions of whatever you write so that you learn!
GC: Which course(s) were most helpful in preparing you to take on a position as a public relations professional?
EE: My campaigns course with Professor Russell was eye-opening because we were putting into action so many of the skills we were learning in other courses: writing according to AP Style, pitching the media, planning a social media strategy, adhering to a visual identity already in use by the client. I also learned so much in my writing course. I am a firm believer that if you can communicate effectively in writing, there is always going to be a job available for you somewhere.
October 1, 2015