Happy Friday Everybody!
Now that we’re really in the thick of summer, I hope that you are all out having awesome adventures. Today’s “Millennial on a Mission” is a young lady that I’ve grown to admire (thanks to Twitter) for her hard work and dedication to the world of public relations. Her personal brand is admirable, and she has grown quite the following due to her involvement on the national level in the Public Relations Student Society of America. As the PRSSA’s Immediate Past President, she has had the opportunity to connect with thousands of her peers on and offline and make a lasting impact on the organization.
Ladies and gentlemen, meet Lauren K. Gray.
A native of North Carolina, Lauren studied Communications with a concentration in public relations, with minors in marketing and leadership at Western Carolina University. When she arrived to campus, she wanted to become as involved on campus as possible. “I held multiple leadership roles and campus jobs from SGA, to the digital marketing department for WCU running the official university social media, to PRSSA and a few others,” she says. “I was always very busy, but definitely made time for my brother, friends and boyfriend.” Currently, Lauren works on the Digital team at Finn Partners in New York City, where she continues to be a rock-star in all things social media.
On what inspired her to focus her career on social media, public relations and marketing:
My first social media job was an internship in the digital marketing department at WCU, running the official WCU social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube and Google+. I really liked sharing everything about WCU as well as sharing student experiences. It was a ton of responsibility and that’s when I learned I liked to interact from a brand standpoint. That’s also when my personal social accounts took off as well. I think it’s important to share industry-related content and to be involved in conversations, but you also need to be yourself. I think you should be 60% professional and 40% personal, or how else will people really get to know you? I share many political stories throughout the day because that’s what I’m interested in. I share PR, marketing, digital and social stories with some political opinions. It’s me and it helps people get to know me more. I also like being as active as I can and sharing news I believe is important to the status of human rights and political agendas.
In 2009, Lauren began her journey as the president of WCU’s chapter of PRSSA, and on June 1st she passed the torch as she completed her duties as the 2012-2013 National President. The opportunity to serve thousands of college students nationwide was a huge responsibility to take on, but Lauren enjoyed the very eventful ride. What makes this story even more interesting is that she fulfilled her duties, all the while holding a full-time job.
On balancing her presidency and professional career:
Being the National President was a huge responsibility. Effectively managing and supporting the National Committee as well as thousands of other students was very interesting! Throughout my entire Presidency (save one month) I was working a full time job. I made time for PRSSA throughout the day and made sure my employers understood PRSSA was a priority in my life because I was responsible for my duty to the organization and I would continue to give back to the Society that gave so much to me. In my leadership positions I learned you will make mistakes, but you have to move past them. You can’t make anyone do anything, you just have to do the best you can and continue to move forward. Encouragement and appreciation is always important when working with peers and you should never play your “I’m the leader” card unless it is an absolute must. Lead with kindness and passion and always be helpful.
As a millennial in today’s society, Lauren thinks that the notion of her generation being deemed “lazy, narcissistic and feeling entitled” is totally false. She believes our involvement with social makes us more connected and gives us more opportunities to learn in which other generations never had. “I wouldn’t have 90% of my jobs without a social media or PRSSA connection,” she says. “It’s unfair to categorize an entire generation, just like it’s unfair of us to say older generations aren’t technologically smart.”
To Lauren, a “Millennial on a Mission” means never putting your dreams aside and always continue learning. “We have to continue to advance ourselves daily and always strive to get what we want, ethically,” she says. Her advice to young professionals in the field of communications: you won’t always be prepared for every situation, but you can adapt. “It’s hard going from one of the top people on campus or in your organization to the “bottom of the food chain” in a real job, but you just have to work your way up again.” She believes that it’s important to make friends at work, and really integrate your work and life — it doesn’t work to keep them separate. “Learn to put your phone down when you’re at home and out at places and enjoy more of what’s around you and save the work for other times.”