“Two Minutes With” is Weber Shandwick Seattle’s employee spotlight series that provides professional and personal insight into our rock star team. Enjoy!
Tell us a bit about how you started at Weber Shandwick. How long have you been with the agency?
Wrapping up my last quarter of college, I was looking for an internship opportunity that would hopefully turn into a full-time position. A family friend was working at the agency at the time and suggested I submit my resume. The intern experience ended up being very positive, and just prior to graduation, they offered me a full-time position working on large, technology account. I have now been with the agency almost 11 years!
Why types of clients have you worked with over the years?
From healthcare to social networking, and online banking to wireless and TV technologies, I’ve had the opportunity to work on a variety of clients and worked alongside an amazingly talented group of colleagues. My work has enabled me to partake in global travels, learn how to effectively frame compelling stories and even test and discover technologies that have significant impact on our lives. The creative, smart and passionate people I’ve met (both within Weber Shandwick and with partner and client organizations), and the occasions to engage in global activity that expose me to different cultures, PR practices and innovations keeps me thriving each day.
You’ve recently stepped into a new role at the organization. Can you elaborate on what this new role entails?
I am now serving as the New Business Director and Marketing Coordinator for the Global Technology Practice. In this role, I support the practice on global new business efforts and help with the end-to-end proposal development process. This process includes collaboration with the pitch team and proposal designers to ensure we consistently deliver outstanding responses. I also collaborate with our practice lead Heidi Sinclair, help oversee marketing activity to build the agency’s global tech brand, and facilitate collaboration and community building among our tech colleagues. So far, and in my short time in the role, activity has been at a high and I am enjoying building cross-agency connections and putting my PR skills to work.
How did this opportunity come about?
As Heidi stepped into her new role leading the Global Tech Practice, she was looking for support staff to lead marketing and new business efforts for the practice. I was looking for a bit of a change from the 100 percent account/client focus I’ve maintained for more than 10 years. This was a great opportunity to step into a role that gives me even more opportunity to work with colleagues across our network and apply focus around different challenges and opportunities that directly impact the agency, the tech practice and the Seattle office.
Did you always know that you wanted to work in PR or has it happened more organically?
When I first started thinking about college and what I might study, I actually considered architecture or business. I thought either option would feed my interest in numbers and also my creative side. I’ve also been a people person for as long as I can remember, enjoying conversation and human interaction. And, when I began to dig deeper, what I found was greater interest in a Communications degree – especially after taking a very brutal accounting course – and growing interest to feed my passion for international communication, writing, creativity, and understanding and influencing brand perception. A few PR internships during college helped seal the deal as I found myself enjoying the work, challenges and mixture of interests that a communications role fulfills. Realizing how quickly the last 10 years have flown by, and the varied experiences I’ve had, I know I made the right decision and I am in the right place.
Karissa Sams is new business and marketing director for the Global Technology Practice at Weber Shandwick, based in Seattle