Mizuno Meeting Recap

By: Aya Maruyama

Amidst our #ThisIsSportsPR mini social media campaign, how fitting is it that Harper Cornell, the Director of Brand Communications at Mizuno, could speak to us at last night's meeting! At our last general body meeting of the semester, Harper shared with us her journey through public relations and how her passion, patience and hard work ultimately landed her a career in the sports industry with Mizuno.
Just a small-town girl from a small-town college, Harper truly stepped outside of her comfort zone when she decided to make the move from Delaware to Atlanta, home to some of the largest PR agencies in the nation. Knowing the importance of networking, upon her arrival, she immediately went to a PRSA event in the city where she connected with recruiters from Edelman. Not only did land get an internship, but she was given a full-time job position afterward. Thus, her first PR stop: Agency life at Edelman!

Working for Edelman, her client roster began with large corporations like Walmart and Sam’s Club. From there, she dabbled in other large companies like Graco, Head, Georgia Pacific, Aflac, International Paralympics and Unilever. She later worked with smaller consultancies such as VF Corporation, Medieval Times and Alvin Ailey.

However, after working on the agency side of public relations for awhile, she wanted to experience the flip side: Corporate PR. This was the shift that brought her to Mizuno. After pursuing and earning her MBA in creative and business analytics at UGA’s Terry College of Business, Harper joined Mizuno as a Public Relations Manager. She was then promoted to her current position as Director of Brand Communications with the new role of leading brand marketing strategy for all of Mizuno USA.

Her day-to-day work consists of these five overarching, primary objectives:
  1. To create go-to-market campaigns driving defined category strategy in PR, owned channels and paid integration.
  2. To manage external and internal communications driving brand and team culture, by ensuring cadence and message alignment, driving owned channel storytelling and support, and monitoring media relations and issue management.
  3. To increase sponsorship engagement and support, mainly through press releases.
  4. To deliver top-notch service to sales teams.
  5. To define and guide brand strategy for Mizuno in the US market through global collaboration aligning creativity and communications, consistency of brand across categories, and budget management for efficiency and effectiveness

Harper was a huge part of several successful campaigns such as “What if Everyone Ran” under the running category, and the 900 Second Challenge in the golf category. However, she thinks her greatest achievement was partnering with the Atlanta Braves to open a Mizuno store in The Battery at the new Braves stadium. Harper attests her success primarily to pushing the boundaries of her comfort zone and to finding a niche in PR that allows her to work everyday with something she has always loved—sports!

In addition to walking us through her journey through the PR industry, Harper also left us with five key takeaways:

  1. Curiosity is critical. In PR, you need to ask questions to be successful.
  2. Be patient. If you work hard and apply feedback, the right thing will come. Don’t worry if you aren’t exactly where you thought you’d be, because you’ll get there!
  3. Gain Perspective. Perspective is everything. Read between the lines and choose the best course of action from there, but try to understand all viewpoints of a situation. Having mentors and contacts outside the industry to give you an outside opinion is key for this.
  4. Don't just build networks. Build meaningful relationships and find mentors.
  5. Know when to say no. Base what you do off of your wants, needs, interests, and the path you want to create for yourself. You don’t always have to say yes to be successful, because not every position or project is going to be right for you. Find what you love, and pursue it in every decision you make and every project you accept.

Thanks to everyone who came out to our last general body meeting of the year, and we can’t wait to see you all at our holiday social!