Alumni Spotlight: Catherine Taylor
Name: Catherine Taylor
Major at UT: Public Relations
Sequence or program: Business Foundations Program
Graduation date: Summer 2015
Current Livelihood: Associate, Media Relations, Weber Shandwick Southwest
Accounts: National tech client and national bank
1. What is your position at Weber Shandwick and what does your role entail?
Associate, Media Relations
Primarily focus on media strategy, outreach and reporting
2. How would you describe the company culture?
Values the people: Weber places a significant focus on making sure the team members are fully supported since that ensures that all the client needs are well met – a win-win ☺
We also do a lot of fun events and little treats to make working more enjoyable while building team dynamics
3. What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Being able to work on a project from start to finish, so that you can see your brainstorm ideas come to life
4. Were you in any organizations at The University of Texas at Austin and if so, what positions did you hold?
Tri Delta (was on the communications and finance teams)
5. How did UT impact your life and career? Did the Stan Richards School or any other organizations at UT help you with what you’re doing now?
Classes that had projects that covered integrated media (i.e. the huge media project) was the closest to what you do when working at an agency and best equipped me for my role at Weber
6. Which professors were the most memorable to you and why?
Lisa Dobias – her class project was the best teaching tool, and I still remember her anecdotes and lessons when working on client projects
Junker – loved his classes and had him a few times
Terry Hemeyer – he put us on the spot in class, which was intimidating but made us really think on our feet. He had crisis experience which allowed him to share great insight on things you will experience in your PR career if you do the traditional PR path
7. Why did you choose to study public relations?
I like storytelling, thinking creatively yet strategically and writing
8. What do you love (or don’t love) about living in Austin?
I do not like that rent is so pricey, but I love the laid-back culture
9. What are your short-term and long-term career goals?
Short term – continue to build experience on the strategy side of our work
Long term – shift to client leadership and strategy, vs. media relations
10. What is your favorite thing to do outside of work?
11. What publications/sites/newsletters do you subscribe to and find are most helpful in your occupation?
12. What is the hardest part about your job?
In PR, you inevitably have last minute, urgent requests that sometimes pull you in after-hours
13. What is the most interesting project you have worked on so far in your career?
I worked on a medical VR demo that demonstrates real-world applications of our client’s VR technology, so got to break out of my regular thinking for tech media and learn about a new industry (healthcare)
14. Where do you see the industry going?
Becoming smaller – with reporter roles shrinking and shifting constantly, it’s more challenging to secure media hits, making the traditional PR role harder to come by
15. What advice would you give to a current student in the Stan Richards School?
Students should work on building their set of skills beyond just PR, since things are more integrated – now, it’s very beneficial to understand larger marketing landscape and not just media! Get experience in different industries via internships and volunteer opportunities
16. Anything else you would like to add about your experiences?
Your internships are key, so get as much relevant hands-on experience as you can – you’ll gain some of the most valuable skills that way (even if it’s just from witnessing someone else manage a crisis plan)