Representing the Public Relations concentration at Media Day is UWG alumna Kelly Williams.
Currently, Williams works as the Marketing and Media Coordinator/Public Information Officer at Chattahoochee Valley Community College in Phenix City, AL. Her journey began, however, at UWG, where she enrolled in 2002.
While she served in various media outlets on campus, including being a writer and copy editor for The West Georgian, she also did public relations for the academic fraternity Phi Sigma Pi and was on the debate team.
“I was just like all the students attending Media Day this year,” said Williams. “Between my major and my extracurricular work, I learned how to write, speak and research well. UWG was absolutely critical to my personal success.”
One of her major projects while at UWG was coordinating the first internship fair at Media Day.
“My Introduction to Public Relations project was where I really learned a lot more hands on work. My team had to learn to be strategic with planning.”
Williams graduated from UWG in 2006 with a bachelor’s in mass communications. With the help of Professor of Mass Communication, Dr. Brad Yates, Williams was off to Auburn University for graduate school.
“I like to joke that I have a degree in Brad Yates,” laughed Williams. “When the program was much smaller, I had seven classes with him. He recommended me to a colleague at Auburn and I was able to qualify for a teaching assistantship and research fellowship.”
She graduated with her master’s in communication from Auburn in 2009. From there, she moved to Athens while her husband finished law school at the University of Georgia.
Williams taught at Athens Technical College, as well as teaching Introduction to Public Speaking at UWG. After her husband’s graduation, she worked briefly as an event planner.
“That specific narrow niche of public relations was not for me,” recalled Williams. “That’s something I think students need to think about: There’s so much variation within public relations that you don’t need to niche yourself before you’ve really started your career.”
Deciding event planning was not what her main priority was, Williams traveled with her husband back to her home of Columbus, GA, in August 2010. The day she moved, she received a call from Chattahoochee Valley.
“After that call, I worked as a PR assistant for the college for two and a half years,” recalled Williams. “After the college shuffled the department around, the president gave me my current title and I became in charge of marketing and PR… and also back to a little bit of event planning.”
In the ever-changing world of public relations, Williams is constantly in multiple directions at one time at work.
“A regular day in PR would be nice to see,” said Williams. “It’s definitely a job where you make plans for the day, but end up never following them. You have to open and flexible for the day’s challenges.”
Some of her normal day-to-day responsibilities include nonstop emailing, managing all forms of communication for the college and posting to social media.
Throughout her hectic days though, she has managed to stay in touch with some of her UWG professors, including Yates and Dr. Camilla Gant, Chair of the Mass Communications Department.
“I was and still am super plugged in to UWG,” Williams said. “I love this college. I always recommend it to students I teach at who are looking to transfer to a four-year school.”
For her return to Media Day this year, Williams is hoping to help students “break the cookie cutter mold of job talk.”
“The biggest thing I’m hoping to really get across to the students is to be open to all the possibilities that are out there,” enthused Williams. “Be ready and excited for all challenges.”