AdPR Alumni Spotlight: Kristin Ballard

Kristin Ballard (ABJ '10) was a public relations major. 

Kristin Ballard
What are you doing now and how did you get there? I am an Account Executive at Brandware Public Relations in Atlanta. I came to Brandware in summer 2010 after completing an internship on the consumer brands team at Fleishman Hillard Atlanta.

Brandware PR is a boutique agency that specializes in media relations and marketing communications for enthusiast brands. Since I started at Brandware, my focus has always been on our consumer accounts (Vespa, Piaggio, Porsche Cars North America, Penguin Brand Dry Ice, etc.).

However, since September 2011, I’ve been an “embedded employee” at Porsche, where I work on internal communications and media relations projects. Although I’m still a Brandware employee, I now spend all of my time on the Porsche account.

What is your day-to-day like at your job? (Any interesting projects that you can share with us?)
The best (and sometimes worst) thing about PR is that you never know what your day will be like. At Porsche, I help with everything from running our corporate intranet to pitching news stories to creating executive presentations and speeches.

On a typical day, I can be doing anything from brainstorming and writing content for our employee communications channels to planning one of our VIP events in Birmingham (we have a driving school at Barber Motorsports Park) or scheduling press loans of our vehicles. My days are just like my classes were -- full of the entire range of public relations while focusing on how to use tactics to enable our communication strategy. It’s exciting and definitely keeps me on my toes!

One cool project my team is working on right now: the media launch of the brand new Porsche Cayenne Diesel —in Alaska! We’re inviting three waves of 20 journalists to come experience the first Diesel offered by Porsche in the U.S. From a strategic standpoint, this sneak peek will offer journalists the opportunity to understand the car and the clean Diesel technology before the model goes to market. It will set the stage for a successful launch at the dealer level.

What part of your Grady experience (classes, professors, etc.) has been helpful in your career today?
Everything! No, seriously. I was fortunate to be selected as a member of the 2010 Bateman Case Study Competition Team, led under the direction of Dr. Kaye Sweetser, which was the paramount experience in my college career. Writing projects take on a whole new meaning when you have a REAL client (and that client is the U.S. government, no less!). That’s why Grady students should take their Campaigns class very seriously. You never know who might be hiring down the road (I guarantee the client will remember those stand-out students!).

Also, Dr. Karen Russell, Dr. Tom Reichert and Ms. Kristen Smith were all a great resource during my years in Grady. They were so helpful when we were preparing our presentation for the Bateman Finals, and taught me a lot about professionalism and public speaking. The Grady classes were meaningful, of course, but I believe it’s the professors who make a world of difference in their students’ lives.
Make friends with your professors. Enjoy your classes. Take any experience you can get — paid or unpaid ... Be persistent, but not pushy. Always keep learning!
What is your favorite Grady memory?
Without a doubt-- representing Grady at the Bateman Case Study Competition and subsequently winning a PRSA Silver Anvil Award for our campaign. All along the way, we met so many students, government officials and PR professionals from all over the country, and to represent UGA was a true honor.

The opportunity to test the mettle of our entire PR education up to that point was a fantastic boost in confidence, but to then have that campaign win on the national level and be recognized among professionals for its excellence made all the hard work worth it.

What advice do you have for current AdPR students?
Make friends with your professors. Enjoy your classes. Take any experience you can get — paid or unpaid. Don’t be afraid to admit when you don’t know something. Keep in touch with everyone with whom you’ve ever worked; don’t burn bridges. Always send hand-written thank you notes after an interview. Be persistent, but not pushy. Always keep learning!

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