PRSSA Welcomes Elyse Hammett and Caroline Huston from PRSA
By Sara Lawrence
This Tuesday, PRSSA hosted both Elyse Hammett and Caroline Huston to discuss their experiences in the industry and in PRSA, the Public Relations Society of America. Meet our speakers!
Elyse Hammett, APR, PRSA Fellow and Order of the Phoenix Recipient
Caroline Huston, MBA, APR and PRSA Georgia President
Elyse Hammett graduated from Emory University and has had a universal accreditation in PR since 2001. She has been a member of PRSA since the late 1990s and was recently awarded the Order of the Phoenix, PRSA Georgia’s highest honor which was established in 1986 to recognize outstanding PR professionals for their significant contributions to the profession. She has held Corporate Communications leadership roles at Emory, AT&T and even opened her own business with two other women. She now works as the VP of Marketing and Communications for the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta.
Caroline Huston attended UGA as a journalism major, at first striving to write for a magazine. After graduating in 2002, she moved to Atlanta to look for a job in PR instead of journalism. She started working and went back to school to get her MBA, which led to her also pursuing her accreditation. She now works as the Director of Strategic Communications for the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation.
Both women spoke to how much the accreditation in public relations (APR) helped them in their journey. Elyse believes that the accreditation taught her communications frameworks and systems that allow practitioners to become more efficient problem solvers. Caroline said that the accreditation was important to her as a lifelong learner and helped her gain more knowledge in the field of PR.
“What is one thing you would tell your younger self?”
Elyse said she would tell her younger self to be more vulnerable. She believes it is important to discuss the life lessons you learn from difficult times to be able to apply these lessons when facing future challenges.
Caroline said that she would tell her younger self to take more risks and stand up for herself. She stressed that students should not let the fear of failing to be perfect overcome them, and that failure is when you learn the best lessons.
“What is it like to be a female leader in the PR industry?”
Elyse talked about how the world is still mostly run by men, but women in the industry can provide softer skills that are much harder to find. She also discussed that becoming a fellow required her to curate 25 case studies about her own work, which allowed her to understand herself and her work on a deeper level and gave her empowerment that she believes drives her as a female leader.
Caroline discussed how even though the industry is female-dominated, men still hold the majority of leadership positions. She learned how important it is to value yourself and know your worth in the industry as a woman. She also discussed how curiosity was important to be a leader in the communications field in general. She reiterated that you should constantly want to learn more and recognize that good ideas come from everyone.
PRSA Georgia President Experience
Caroline was just elected as the PRSA Georgia President three months ago and feels that everyday is different with new challenges. As the second largest chapter in the nation, Caroline believes that the network the chapter provides is very valuable. She also found that serving as president and even just being involved in PRSA is a fun and rewarding opportunity to get experience that you don’t always get at work.
Elyse praised PRSA for being one of the world’s largest voluntary lifelong learning organizations. She talked about how she witnessed people’s lives being changed in the industry when she was president and how important she believes volunteer leadership is. She noted that even if you screw up in a leadership position in PRSA, you are immediately helped up and pushed to be your best.
“How do you keep a passion for learning and what is your biggest advice?”
Caroline said her passion for learning comes from reading, listening to podcasts and mentoring. She advised that students should truly read everything that they can get their hands on and develop strategic thinking skills by asking themselves what they are trying to achieve in everything they do.
Elyse stated that there is always something new to learn, especially as you move up in your career and discover different generational lenses that you have to accommodate. Accreditations involve lifelong learning. Elyse highly recommended becoming accredited with a CPRC, as a certified public relations counselor, which requires students to take an exam anywhere from six months prior to college graduation to six months post graduation. She also recommended the APR, which is an advanced PR accreditation that can be sought after once you are five years into your career. Elyse’s biggest advice was that if you wake up everyday and choose to do the right thing, you won’t have regrets.
We want to thank Elyse Hammett and Caroline Huston immensely for sharing their PRSA experience and advice with us! If you want to learn more about becoming a PRSA member after you graduate from the “student” in PRSSA, visit https://www.prsageorgia.org/