Julia Telford’s PR Career Path: From Communications Major to Public Relations Professional

Working in communications, there is no singular path to success.  At Stanton, we recognize that each professional’s journey is unique.  In this series, we ask each team member to delve into their experiences, lessons they’ve learned along the way, advice they would provide to other PR pros and more. 

Here, Account Executive Julia Telford shares her experiences in the field thus far.

  1. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? 

As a child, I wanted to be a veterinarian. I loved animals and grew up with pets my whole life, so I was certain my career path would be a career in animal healthcare. As I got older and became more curious about the day-to-day life of a veterinarian, I soon realized that wasn’t the career for me. Over time, I became more passionate about writing and enjoyed my English classes, and soon, the dream of becoming a veterinarian faded.

  1. Where did you attend undergrad, and what was your college major?

I attended Kent State University (Go Flashes!). I majored in communications and minored in public relations. 

  1. Did you begin college/your professional career wanting to work in PR?

I enrolled in college with an undeclared major. I had no clue what I wanted to major in and was struggling to envision a future career for myself. Throughout my first year, I thought I wanted to be a psychologist, X-ray technician, or teacher. I was taking classes and feeling lost because I had lost my spark. I loved learning, and nothing was clicking for me. At the start of the first semester of my second year, my advisor recommended I take “Intro to Communications” and “Intro to Public Relations” courses. While taking those courses, I found myself enjoying class again. Most importantly, I found my spark. I had great professors who challenged me and provided me with the tools and resources to succeed. At the end of the first semester of my second year, I confidently declared my communications major and pursued a public relations minor.

  1. What was your first experience with PR? When did you first discover it? When did you want to pursue PR as a career?  

My first experience in PR was taking the “Intro to Public Relations” course my advisor recommended in my second year of college. My professor, Stephanie Smith, was a former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) employee. Professor Smith’s impressive background immediately caught my attention and drew me into the profession. She taught me the basics of public relations and made the class exciting for me. I looked up to her throughout my college career and credit her for helping me decide to pursue public relations.

  1. What is your favorite aspect of working in PR?

My favorite aspect of working in PR is that no day is ever the same. Sure, you can have an idea of what your day may look like, but that can change at the drop of a hat. I love the fast-paced environment and the rush of meeting a deadline. With PR, you get to dip your toes in a little bit of everything, from pitching to writing bylines and press releases and drafting strategic plans. The work is exciting, and I genuinely look forward to each day.

  1. Can you tell us about your work experiences before Stanton? How did you get to where you are today? 

Before joining the Stanton team, I was a marketing intern at the Buffalo Niagara Partnership in Buffalo, New York. At the Partnership, I developed media relations business campaigns to grow the Buffalo business community. I enjoyed my work at the Partnership, but knew I wanted my next job to be more communications focused. 

After a year at the Partnership, I became a communications coordinator at Nova Healthcare Administrators, Inc., a subsidiary of one of Buffalo’s largest health insurance companies. As a communications coordinator, I developed communications materials for various audiences, including clients, client brokers, and plan participants, and supported internal and external communications.

Nova is where I learned to hone my writing skills in writing for different audiences, which helped me get to where I am today. While working at Nova, I had a voice in the back of my head that was curious about working in public relations. I drafted press releases, developed media plans, and engaged in various media relations activities, but I still wanted more. While searching for my next career, I came across Stanton Communications. After two and a half years at Nova, I joined Stanton as an assistant account executive. Since I have been promoted to an account executive role.

  1. What advice would you give an aspiring PR professional and/or college student?

One piece of advice I can give aspiring PR professionals and college students is to stay curious. If you want to learn more about a certain area of interest in your career, ask! Put yourself out there and welcome new and exciting opportunities. You never know what will inspire you next.

  1. What lessons have you learned through your PR journey?

One important lesson I’ve learned throughout my PR journey is to have patience. When beginning my career, I soon realized that patience plays a vital role in the field of public relations. Amid the fast-paced world of PR, media, and communications, we must practice patience while pitching to the media, receiving client feedback, and remaining flexible in adjusting our strategies. Our secret weapon is our ability to navigate the unpredictable nature of the news cycle gracefully.

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