Media & Communication Department
Career of the Month
This month the Department's new MC2 Alumni Network is launching a new initiative, Career of the Month. This feature will regularly profile Media & Communication Department Alums, who will describe their own career paths and share tips with students on how to plan for their own future careers. Profiles will focus on the wide range of careers that our liberal arts oriented program has helped to launch.
We launch this feature with a spotlight on Public Relations & Marketing, featuring a profile of Brian Meeley, Class of 1989.
Brian Meeley ’89
Brian Meeley, Class of 1989, describes himself as a family man. Married for sixteen years, he is father to nine-year-old twins and a sixteen-year-old dog. Having come from a big family, it is only natural that spending time with his family is of key importance to him. Going camping or just being outdoors is his favorite pastime after a busy work week. As Vice President of the Potomac Communications Group, Brian has spent his career working in Public Relations and Marketing.
Brian began working at Potomac Communications Group in 1986 as a summer intern. He worked there for a couple of summers and continued to maintain a relationship with the company after that. When he moved to the Washington D.C. area after college, he worked in a few different industries, including telecommunications publishing, product management, and a stint in the dot com world, but also did freelance work for Potomac Communications Group. Brian rejoined the PCG team fulltime ten years ago.
Potomac Communications Group specializes in energy, technology and governmental communications. As Vice President, Brian manages many major client accounts. He calls himself a “green pragmatist” and specializes in nuclear energy and energy efficiency.
His work at PCG focuses on developing messages, strategic outreach planning, risk communications (for high-concern, low-trust situations), spokesperson training and media relations. Increasingly, he is also responsible for business development.
When asked about what he likes best about his job, Brian responded that his favorite part is the training piece. Calling himself a “frustrated teacher,” Brian says he really enjoys both individual coaching sessions and a course he leads for the U.S. Coast Guard on speaking effectively with the media and risk communication.
Much has changed in the PR world over the two decades since Brian first left Muhlenberg. “When I started, the Internet wasn’t even a real business tool,” he says. “Today, social networking, websites and other online tools are essential media – for communicating clients’ messages and building the relationships they need to truly succeed.” He notes that the old ways of one-way outreach and controlling the message – still limping along in the industry 20 years ago – are finally going by the wayside, and fast.
Much of Corporate America is still trying to figure out how to use these new technologies to their best advantage. “Today’s business environment is very fast paced,” and so is an average workday for Brian. He’s on his smartphone from the moment he wakes up, and finds that flexibility is a must since he never knows what challenges his day may bring.
Brian has a few tips for students headed for careers in public relations and marketing. “Fundamentally,” he says, “you need to know how to write well, and to master a variety of writing formats. Strong and versatile writing skills are a must.” It is also crucial to put yourself out there in your fields of interest while you are still a student through internships, job shadowing, and seeking out contacts with people in the profession.
“Think of it as ‘the more you do, the more you know,’” he says. “And don’t be afraid to explore different roles in the companies you have your eye on. Ask lots of questions.” Start networking early and often. Keep up on the issues and ongoing discussions in your field and don’t be afraid to get involved.
Brian is currently working with the Media and Communication Department to help build its new Alumni Network, which brings together students and alumni to do just that. He sees PR and Marketing as a blend of academic exploration and real world experience to achieve good, innovative results. Because things change so fast today, ”you have to be a lifelong learner and try to strike a good balance between your personal and professional life.”
Interview conducted by Catherine Schwartz, '11