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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A Look at an Up-and-Comer: Laura Jollie

Laura Jollie is an assistant account executive at Weber Shandwick and director of communications at The Gina Morri Foundation.

Laura Jollie
1.    Tell us a bit about your public relations experience so far.
A: When I transferred to the University of Minnesota from Michigan State University after my freshman year, my efforts to cultivate a career in public relations really took off. Throughout those three years, I served as the University of Minnesota PRSSA Chapter president, agency director and account executive, worked as an agency assistant at Nerland Co., interned in the financial services practice group at Weber Shandwick, operated as a senior account executive for the Minnesota Daily, interned for Yelp's marketing division and helped manage KSTP-TV's digital and website assets in news configuration and distribution as a web producer intern.

After graduating in 2014, I now lend my skills in the public affairs practice group in the Minneapolis Weber Shandwick office as an assistant account executive.

2.     You have been a repeat winner of the Minnesota PRSA Student Classics as well as the Dr. Willard Thompson Scholarship. How did that help to launch your career?
A: By winning these PRSA accolades in back-to-back years, I was able to frequently showcase several independent testimonies of my capabilities as it relates to the PR industry. Conversely, I was able to develop a regenerative network because of the events I was able to attend due to winning the awards. While I believe demonstrating your competency is the foundation to any career, I also think it’s crucial to have a community of professionals who you can collaborate and network with.

3.     What have you learned from being so involved in gymnastics?
A: As a young gymnast I would travel to camps and competitions around the country and had to perform in front of elite coaches, college recruiters and other very intimidating people. Experiencing that level of pressure early on taught me that nothing worth having comes easy and that you must always be willing to do the uncomfortable and daunting tasks in whatever arena of life that you’re in – whether that be on a four-inch wide beam or in a conference room.

4.     You volunteer for The Gina Morri Foundation. Tell us more about that organization and what you do.
A: Gina Morri was a dear friend, little sister, talented gymnast and teammate who suddenly passed away in 2011. As a way to continue Gina’s infectious passion and dedication to the sport of gymnastics, The Gina Morri Foundation was established to provide financial support for other competitive gymnasts who retain Gina’s infectious passion to become an elite-level gymnast. Just recently the foundation sponsored Sunisa Lee who won the 2014 U.S. Challenge (I’m calling it now – you will see her in the Olympics!) 

Each year, Midwest Gymnastics hosts the Gina Morri Invitational as a way to celebrate Gina’s enthusiasm for the sport and as a way to raise money for the foundation to help support excelling gymnasts like Sunisa. In my position I assume various responsibilities that include media relations, social media engagement, generating sponsorship opportunities, etc. We are hoping to build some momentum this year, so if anyone is interested in being a part of the journey, please don’t hesitate to reach out!

5.     What do you do on a day-to-day basis at Weber Shandwick?
A: LOTS of writing! Whether that be a trend report, social media strategy, web-specific content, newsletters, pitching the media or new business research, the writing always continues. I never thought I would be capable of writing as much as I do, but I absolutely love it because I learn so many new things on a daily basis. I’ve also taken on more media relations projects, key messaging ventures, some SEO strategy responsibilities and will be traveling more in the coming months for client activations. I’m incredibly thankful for all of the opportunities Weber has provided me so far and can’t wait for what’s ahead! 

6.     What is your desired career path?
A: I wish I knew the answer to this one, but I’m still trying to figure it out. I’ve worked in both financial services and public affairs and both of those industries really fascinate me. As far as skill set, I enjoy social strategy and reputation/crisis management. As for the long term, I’ve dabbled with the idea of starting my own boutique agency alongside my dad, though I’m not sure if I’ve sold him on the idea just yet. (Special thanks to Doug Spong for making our Journalism class create agency business plans – my Jollie Public Relations idea came to life after seeing the finished project!)

All this to say, I’ve had amazing opportunities to work under and alongside people like my dad, Sara Gavin, Eric Pehle, Randy Sands, Barb Iverson, Doug Spong, Steve Wehrenberg and many others and can only try my best to exemplify their level of expertise, leadership and passion in whatever I do.

Connect with Laura on LinkedIn or follow her on Twitter.