AdPR Week Alumni Profiles

In honor of AdPR Week, we are profiling Grady College alumni who are using their Grady education in the creative industries they serve. They discuss their career paths and offer advice to current Grady students.

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Melina Baetti offers advice to Grady students during AdPR Week 2017.

Melina Baetti, a 2007 public relations graduate, is a manager of brand and business communications at The Coca-Cola Company.

Grady College: What are some of your everyday duties?

Melina Baetti: My role on the Brand PR team, part of our larger External Affairs team in Coca-Cola North America Public Affairs & Communications, is to help tell and amplify the story of our brands through a variety of PR programs and initiatives. That comes to life in many different ways on a daily basis—some days I’m writing a press release and reviewing media/influencer lists to target for our next program launch, other days I’m responding to media calls about a particular brand-related issue, which means drafting a statement, getting internal alignment, and then sharing it with the journalist (as well as following up and tracking coverage). I work with a slew of different internal team members across our marketing/brand teams, content and social teams, legal department and many others. The work changes day-to-day, which keeps things interesting!

GC: How did you get your start?

MB: The summer between my junior and senior year I applied and was selected for a PR internship at Coca-Cola North America. The internship is only offered to Grady College PR students. I spent that summer learning the ins and outs of PR at one of the best known companies and brands in the world. I also met and networked with many people that helped me get my first jobs and additional career opportunities, and eventually found my way back to Coca-Cola after spending five years working at a PR agency abroad (in Paris, France).

GC: What skills did you learn at Grady that have helped you throughout your career?

MB: The classes I took at Grady taught me to hone my writing skills, do research before planning a program, and also the importance of having attention to detail. In addition, being inquisitive and creative and going beyond what was right in front of you to make campaigns—from messaging to design— to stand out and break through. Almost all of those elements are key in my work today, and though our industry is constantly changing, leaning on those skills while continuing to learn and change along with my work has helped make me successful.

GC: Is there any additional advice that you’d like to give?

MB: Take time to build relationships with people around you. It may not seem like some people are connected to your work or will help you in the immediate, but in the long run, people will remember how you interact with them and your genuine interest in them as a person. Take time for lunch or coffee, to meet new people and to get to know them beyond their work.

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Jackie Herr offers her advice to Grady students during AdPR Week 2017.

Jackie Herr, a 1982 advertising graduate, is the co-founder of PICFARI, LLC, a website and mobile app “that appeals to anyone who loves to travel and take photos.”

Herr is a longtime supporter of Grady College. She served on the Grady Board of Trust and is part of AdPR’s The Second Century Club, which is comprised of individuals who make an annual contribution to the AdPR Excellence Fund of $1,000 or more.

Grady College: Which courses or professors were most helpful in preparing you to work in the industry?

Jackie Herr: Professor Ron Lane’s Campaigns course was pivotal. He taught us the importance of knowing your audience, how to establish your presence, how to effectively communicate concepts and strategies in a meaningful, memorable and measurable way. This course really tied the ribbon around all the creative, strategy and research classes

GC: How did you get your start?

JH: During college, I worked for a radio station as a receptionist, DJ, copywriter, and sales-kind of a Jackie of all trades! After college, with Professor Lane’s help, I landed a job at an ad agency as a media buying assistant.

GC: What advice would like to give to students?

Engage and stay engaged with key professors, administrators, bosses, clients and colleagues. They form the basis of a very influential network of next jobs, next clients, and next opportunities. This is where you begin to establish your A-list network. I’m not talking about the hundreds you have in your social media networks, I’m talking about those key people in your life who will go out of their way to help you be successful and not just press the button on Facebook or on Instagram. This is usually a small, but very influential group. One of my best job connections came from a chance meeting with a media rep who had been kept waiting for over an hour to see one of my colleagues. I felt sorry for him and a simple conversation turned into a connection that led not only to my next job, but the source for amazing client referrals.

Work hard to get those internships, preferably before junior year. Demonstrate that you have a “go-getter” attitude. The more you engage now, the more successful you’ll be later in life.

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Neil Hirsch offers his advice to Grady students during AdPR Week 2017.

Neil Hirsch, APR, graduated from Grady College in 2000 with a degree in public relations.  He is the director of corporate external communications for the Americas at InterContinental Hotels Group. Hirsch was part of the inaugural Grady College AdPR Advisory Council in 2014.

Grady College: What are some of your everyday duties?

Neil Hirsch: I’m responsible for external communications for InterContinental Hotels Group across the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Latin America and the Caribbean. This includes corporate media relations, issues management and executive visibility.

GC: How did you get your start?

NH: My first full-time role after graduating from Grady was in a mid-size PR agency in Atlanta. It was a great place to start – you’ll never work alongside more PR professionals than in an agency environment.

GC: What skills did you learn at Grady that have helped you throughout your career?

NH: Grady provided me with a solid foundation for my career in public relations. Beyond what I learned in the classroom, it’s what I learned and the relationships I created through my involvement in PRSSA, Grady programs and my internships that distinguished me from my peers.

GC: Is there any additional advice that you’d like to give?

NH: Take every opportunity you have today to prepare you for your career. Ask questions. Make meaningful connections with professionals and with your peers. Have a vision for your future, but also be open-minded about where your career may take you.

Author: Stephanie Moreno

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