Palmetto PR Diva Dish – Amanda Brasier, APR, PR manager for CBM-US

Liza returns from the beach next week. Yay! I have missed our e-mails and phone calls throughout the week. Also, we might have the opportunity to work on a project together and I’m super excited about that – so I can’t wait to get an update from her when she returns!

This week’s Palmetto PR Diva Dish focuses on Amanda Brasier, APR, public relations manager for Christian Blind Mission – which is dedicated to improving the quality of life for the blind and disabled. Beth Thomason (who was featured last week) nominated Amanda Brasier, and we are happy to share her thoughts. I love that she gives props to her mentor and how that helped shape her professional path.

Read on to find about how she got started and her goals for the CBM’s future.

o Please provide title and a brief description of what you do:
I’m Public Relations Manager for CBM-US www.cbmus.org (an international humanitarian organization formerly known as Christian Blind Mission International).

CBM-US works in the poorest countries of the world helping to prevent disabilities and to treat them. My role is to begin to generate awareness for the organization, which is based in Greenville, S.C., and to create marketing tools that tell our story.

o How did you become interested in the public relations/advertising industry?
Like a lot of folks, I started out in journalism, newspapers specifically. I loved to talk with people and then turn it into a story. I really couldn’t believe I was getting paid to do it!

About 12 years ago, I moved to the coastal region of South Carolina (Myrtle Beach, to be exact) and landed a job at an advertising and public relations agency, LHWH Advertising and PR.

There, I met my mentor, Lei Gainer, who really took me under her wing and showed me how strategic communication can be. It really allowed me to take something I loved doing and focus my efforts. I felt as though I had found my niche. I got to the Upstate about eight years ago, after a brief pit stop at an agency in Knoxville.

o What changes have you seen in the industry that is the most interesting to you?
Well, the conversion from public relations from being seen as “media relations/publicity” to more of a total communication strategy. Many of the clients I worked with various agencies only engaged our services to generate press coverage.

Today, I think the line between marketing, advertising and public relations is less defined and more blended than it was when I started out. And, that’s a good thing.

o Are you involved in any professional associations? If so, what are they and what do you learn by being involved?
I’ve been a member of PRSA for a long time. I was involved when I lived in Knoxville and worked as the PR Manager for David Newman Payne Advertising and I got involved in the SC chapter when I moved to the Upstate eight years ago. I was one of the last groups to take the “paper” accreditation test (it’s since gone online), and got my APR in 2002.
I’ve also been a member of CHPRMS (Carolinas Healthcare and Marketing Society) during the five years I worked in healthcare marketing.

o What is the one piece of advice you would give students that are interested in pursuing a career in the public relations/investor relations/marketing industry?
Find a mentor. Get as many internships as possible. And surround yourself with talent. I’ve learned so much from the people I’ve worked with over the years (Beth Thomason, Jo Halmes, Adriana DiFranco, Amanda Dow, Bridgette Johnson, the aforementioned Lei Gainer, just to name a few.)

Also—sometimes what can seem like failure in the moment (downsizing or loss of a job) can be a blessing. I’ve learned through personal experience and through watching some of my friends that there is a huge demand for talented marketing and public relations professionals, so if you’re in that category, have confidence that you’ll find something else. And it will probably be better than what you were doing before.

o What is the best thing about your job?

I love the fact that I work for an organization that is helping society’s most disadvantaged people regain dignity and establish a quality of life. It’s hard for anyone who lives in the United States to imagine just how horrible living conditions are in a developing country. Add the burden of coping with life in a developing country with having a disability and you have the focus of CBM’s efforts.

o What is the thing you like least about your job?

There’s only one of me, and it’s not really enough to go around.

o Are there any exciting announcements you’d like to tell us about (either with your company or one of your clients)?

I believe that CBM-US is an organization that will blossom in the next 5 years. If you’re reading this column, you probably hadn’t heard of us before, but I believe that we will soon run in the same humanitarian circles as some other very credible NGOs, like World Vision and Samaritan’s Purse. I’m proud to be part of that effort.

o How do you balance your professional career with your personal life?
A lot better than I used to. Now that I have two small munchkins (16 months and 4), my work/life balance has to be saner than when I started out. The ankle-biters demand it, as does my husband. (And my neurotic cat.)

o Anything else you would like to add?
No—it’s been a pleasure. It’s always great to take a moment and reflect on why you do what you do and where you’ve been and your company along the way. Now I better get back to work!

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