While my workspace here in the Washington, D.C. office of Edelman Public Relations is covered with a healthy dose of BC paraphernalia, I think it’s more fun to start my story at a restaurant in Syracuse, N.Y. It was Mother’s Day weekend, 2007. It was also the weekend I received my master’s degree in public relations from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. I had made some comment to my family as we were celebrating my accomplishment over dinner, wondering how I had come to this place, about to enter the world of PR, a career I didn’t exactly see as a destination as I entered BC some five summers prior.
My older sister, in all of her big sibling wisdom, was quick to point out that it should have been obvious: “David [aside, she’s one of about three people who still call me David], you’ve been doing PR since you were 14-years-old and you had to figure out how to be noticed as a five-foot-tall freshmen in high school.”
As I started to think back from where I was then to everything I touched along my quest to Chestnut Hill and a healthy 6’4”, there was this constant theme: I was always taking on the communications responsibilities for whatever organization I found myself contributing my time. Whether it was the University Chorale, Residence Hall Association or even just among a group of friends – I kept noticing that I was getting the tasks like design this poster, build this website; get the word out around us.
My career now probably has its closest ties to something I undertook as a junior at BC. I was helping two of my good friends – Tina Corea and Prabhdeep Singh – put together a campaign to run for UGBC president and vice president. I talked to my co-campaign manager (Tony DiMeo, who now also happens to be married to Tina), and I told him I had this idea: let’s control our information through a strong online presence and database building. Maybe we could even try something using this new Facebook thing to gather people (this was 2005). We even built a video starring Hello…Shovelhead’s George Jasinski that would live on the website (pre-YouTube, after all), and we hoped it would spread around campus and get more people to register for our information.
While we never ended up successful in our bid that year, I began to see these different opportunities about using the new tools and these growing things called “social networks” within communications. It was also incredibly convenient that I was taking my second class with Prof. Ken Lachlan in mass media theory. Ken challenged me to both explore the changing media environment and figure out what I could do with it for my own career.
Two years after that moment, I found out that this job that I did with Tina and Prab wasn’t one that only existed on college campuses. And taking Ken’s challenge to both further my interest and research more, I ended up in Syracuse for post-graduate studies. That spring semester we had a guest come to the snowy campus to tell us about what he did: Steve Rubel, a member of Edelman Digital, talked about this branch of Edelman that is dedicated to developing communications programs that exist online. Several months later, I moved to DC, and found that there was a team dedicated to something even more specifically aligned with what I did on that UGBC campaign – the Digital Public Affairs team, which focuses on using the online channel to spur action and advocacy.
It’s been nearly four years now that I’ve lived in Washington. I spend a lot of my time trying to figure out how to get people to visit websites with my clients’ resources and information. Sometimes it involves building really cool features and videos that fit into a specific niche or audience. I’ve built Facebook pages that draw on those interests and help to rally a community of supporters together. I’ve even done things as simple as working to build an e-mail database. It all sounds so familiar to the stuff I plotted in a St. Ignatius Gate bedroom with several of my good friends.