AU Public Relations Alumni Take on Indianapolis
By Eva McKnight
Three of Anderson University’s 2013 communication arts graduates, Kimberly (Werline) Gerhart, Eva McKnight, and Charlie Holcomb, received positions in the public relations and marketing field soon after graduation. They join other AU alumni in the Indianapolis market, using their AU experiences to make a mark on their chosen fields.
AU provides many learning opportunities for communications arts majors. For PR students, two opportunities stand out. Students in the public relations specialization get to work with Fifth Street Communications® (FSC), the student-staffed public relations firm at AU. They also have the opportunity to join the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) AU chapter, where students can network with professionals and pre-professionals and access industry resources. Gerhart, McKnight, and Holcomb all received benefits from taking advantage of these opportunities.
McKnight Focuses on In-House PR
McKnight was both an account manager and student director with FSC. “My experience with FSC helped build my résumé and portfolio and really strengthened my general management skills,” said McKnight. McKnight also served as the PRSSA vice president.
Currently, McKnight is the public relations and content specialist at Formstack, an online form-building company in Indianapolis. She manages content creation for Formstack’s website, blog, and sales material, while also monitoring social media accounts and placements for the brand.
Looking back, McKnight sees that her time at AU helped succeed after graduation. “AU was a great place to expand my network,” said McKnight. “There are so many alumni to connect with in the Indianapolis area. I’ve even crossed paths with alumni at Formstack. Both the CEO and founder of the company are AU graduates as well.”
Holcomb Moves into In-House Marketing
After graduation, Holcomb established himself at The Web Guys as an accountmanager in Carmel, Ind., where he specifically worked with small clients and handled their websites, while also helping clients navigate search engines and performing digital consulting.
Currently, Holcomb is a marketing analyst at Formstack. “I am responsible for developing, implementing and evaluating reporting processes to measure and communicate the success of marketing programs and projects. I work closely with nearly every member of the marketing team to closely monitor and adjust the execution of marketing initiatives and identify opportunities to deliver greater return on marketing investments,” said Holcomb.
Along with McKnight, Holcomb also worked as an account manager with FSC and was a member of PRSSA. “My position at FSC gave me a chance to exhibit my leadership roles, because I was overseeing staff writers and a lot of projects,” said Holcomb. He also expressed his gratitude to what FSC and PRSSA had to offer him. “I am extremely grateful for everyone who helped me,” said Holcomb. “I got my job through networking, and getting to talk with people from industries is extremely beneficial.”
Not only did Holcomb find FSC and PRSSA beneficial, AU as a whole helped teach Holcomb the importance of living out his faith in his profession. “I have learned that life is not always about being on the go,” said Holcomb. “I am always reminded that there is a greater purpose for the things that I am doing with my career.”
Gerhart Explores PR Agencies
After graduation, Gerhart joined Blast Media in Fishers, Ind., for a while, then received a job at Burkhart Marketing Agency in Indianapolis. At Burkhart, she was the social media services and account manager. Currently, Gerhart is a senior project manager at Fizziology, a social media research firm that uses real-time information from social media to provide meaningful business intelligence for a variety of industries. At Fizziology, Gerhart specifically works with brands and TV clients.
As a student, Gerhart served as an associate with FSC; however, her more active role was as president of PRSSA. “Having a group that is dedicated solely to introducing students with established professionals in their field is invaluable,” said Gerhart. Networking with professionals through PRSSA helped Gerhart gain beneficial connections. “I took the initiative to introduce myself and by following up with a thank you card, just to show that their time is valuable,” said Gerhart.
The AU alumni have been a helpful tool for Gerhart as well. “I found a lot of success by reaching out to alumni and introducing myself, either in person or through social media,” said Gerhart.
Gerhart expresses how AU fed into her passions. “AU gave me the desire to go strongly in the direction of my career path,” said Gerhart. “Seeing others be passionate and joyful about their work around me really encouraged me to continually search and never settle.”
Through FSC, PRSSA, and AU as a whole, the communication arts graduates were introduced to real-world experiences. These three alumni credit their career success to the education they received at AU. “I am thankful for all the variety in classes that were taught within the communication arts major,” said McKnight. “From event planning to communication law, the applied skills I gained from the courses have been immensely helpful.”
— Katie Wenclewicz is a senior from Dayton, Ohio, majoring in communication arts and minoring in marketing. Wenclewicz is an associate with Fifth Street Communications®, writing on behalf of the Anderson University Office of University Communications.
Anderson University is a private Christian university in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America’s top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God (Anderson, Ind.), Anderson University offers more than 60 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, music, nursing, and theology.