The Spider Way: In Print

The following is an interview with Vanessa Loftus Lindlaw, ‘03, vice president of Edelman Public Relations.

What did you study at University of Richmond, and what were your post-graduation plans?
Growing up, I had a lot of great career models in my family, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. I went on to study business at Richmond because I wanted practical skills that could get me a job after graduation. The summer between my junior and senior years, I got an internship in the media relations department at ABC News in Washington, D.C., and loved it. Public relations became a career for me after stumbling into it.

What did you actually do post-graduation and what is your current position?
After graduation, I got a job in the media relations department at FOX News Channel in Washington, D.C. I promoted on-air talent and breaking news for the channel and assisted with crisis communications.

That job led me to my husband, and we’ve lived in Lake Tahoe, Calif., and San Francisco since then. I currently work in the corporate and public affairs practice at Edelman’s Silicon Valley office. Broadly speaking, the highest form of my profession serves as the conscience of an organization—balancing its economic responsibilities with the needs of its stakeholders.

What is your typical workday/week like?
I don’t have a typical workday, but a standard week involves a mix of knowledge gathering, strategy, planning, business management and creativity I read two newspapers, various morning newsletters and news alerts to stay up to speed on my clients, their industry and the business environment. I try to use that information to inform the strategy of a client campaign, program or announcement.

Once that’s ironed out, we assign roles among a team, develop a work back plan and follow a process to completion. On the business side of things, we’ll monitor the performance of an account and its profitability, among other factors. And finally, I try to give myself some space outside of the office to be exposed to new ideas and ways of thinking that I can use in my work. I don’t believe that work starts or ends on a schedule—I believe that that my life outside of the office contributes to who I am inside of the office.

What do you know now (career-related) that you wish you had known as an undergraduate student?
I wish I had more humility and realized back then how little I really knew. I entered the working world believing that I’d become a senior corporate executive in just a few years. As time has gone on and I’ve gotten more experience, I’m more aware of just how little I know. I’ve learned to work around this deficit by getting to know the experts in my organization and seeking them out for advice.

What is your most valuable networking technique?
Relationships with journalists, public officials, industry organizations or academics, among others, are highly valued in public relations. I tend to be more introverted, so I’ve learned to leverage my social network to the benefit of my professional network. Making connections among common friends is much less intimidating to me than, say, showing up to a networking mixer alone. And the relationships I’ve built through common friends have turned out to be much more meaningful.

What is the most played song on your iPod?
“A-Punk” by Vampire Weekend—it’s more of a function of where it lands alphabetically in my library. But the song is representative of my taste in music—I like songs that are transportive and a bit absurd.

Article printed from University of Richmond Collegian:


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