Here’s the latest installment in our series on the “Day in the Life” of nonprofit communicators, where we ask you to describe your day in your own words.
We need more stories! Don’t be shy – tell us what you do in a typical day as a nonprofit communications pro.
Jennifer Starkey is the Associate Director of Public Relations within the Global Marketing and Communications unit of Webster University. She works to enhance the University’s reputation locally, national and internationally.
Jennifer has more than 10 years of experience in media relations for both nationally focused non-profits such as the Academy of General Dentistry and the American Dietetic Association and global corporations such as DuPont Nutrition & Health. Prior to working in public relations, she worked as a television news producer in central Missouri before working as a producer at a 24-hour cable news network in Austin, Texas. She received awards from both the Houston and Dallas Press Clubs for newscasts she produced.
Jennifer holds a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism and is pursuing a master’s degree in Communication Management at Webster University.
And this is her typical day:
Before 8:00 a.m. – I wake up at 6:30 in the morning and I usually check my e-mail on my phone from bed to make sure nothing happened overnight. I make sure my 3-year-old and 7-year-old boys are getting ready for school and I jump in the shower to get ready for the day.
I try to have as much ready in the mornings as possible (clothes, bookbags, crock pot items waiting to be thrown together and turned on and lunches in the fridge) so it’s a matter of gathering things together and walking out the door.
8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m – I walk my 7-year-old to school and then hop in the car and I grab some Starbucks. I don’t have the time to actually make coffee in the morning and I enjoy going to the Starbucks down the street from my office. It’s a good way to run into co-workers and people in the community and it helps give me a good idea of what’s going on with everyone.
I get to my office at about 8:30 and I check e-mail while eating breakfast (usually oatmeal or yogurt). The PR department oversees the social media on campus so I hit all of our accounts to see if anything needs a response. Sometimes a student has tweeted overnight about an issue and I like to make sure the appropriate people on campus are helping out. It takes a few phone calls and e-mails to track down solutions.
I have a Google spreadsheet for social media planning and I go through the schedule for the week and make sure that we are set for photos on Instagram and Facebook for various on-campus events.
Then I take a look at my to-do list from last week and carry over the things I haven’t finished onto the to-do list for this week.
10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. – At this point in the day, I dive into the work of the day. This could be writing a story about student success, pitching an event to local media or accompanying a speaker to a radio station for an interview. This changes from day-to-day depending upon what is going on.
With our Commencement coming up, I created some graphics counting down to the event and scheduled them on Twitter.
12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. – I eat lunch at my desk and read a lot of news – I use Feedly and I have a ton of RSS feeds going into the account so I can easily stay up-to-date on what is happening. I follow fun news sites like Gawker and Jezebel, industry sites like Inside Higher Ed and the Chronicle of Higher Education along with other RSS accounts on campus like the student newspaper The Journal, our athletics department and the departmental news feed.
The past few weeks I have had a noon meeting with students, faculty and staff about a student leadership program that is getting revised. I don’t work too closely with students in my day-to-day job so I like to be involved in committees where I can interact with them. It gives me a good idea of what students are concerned about and it helps me meet more people on campus.
2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. – Every Monday the public relations department meets with the internal communications department and a few staff members from across campus who handle the communications for their departments, schools or colleges. The meeting usually lasts about an hour and gives everyone a chance to talk about what they are working on and anything that is newsworthy in their area. We’re able to help pitch speakers to the media or just make sure that we’re publicizing things via Twitter.
After 4:00 p.m. – Our on-campus offices close at 4:30 every day. I will usually stay behind until about 5 p.m. to finish up things as much as possible for the day. I pick up my children from school and daycare and go home.
Once I’m home I try not to check e-mail in the evenings. I am getting my graduate degree in Communications Management in addition to working full time so once a week I am out of the house for night class. Occasionally I might get a media call but otherwise, I just try to relax at home.
During the evenings, I might watch TV, read a book or visit the gym to relax.
Thanks for sharing your day, Jennifer!
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