Name: Savannah Harrelson
Current job/Employer: Public Relations Manager for Childhelp
Education/Degree: Bachelor’s Degree in journalism/PR with a minor in nonprofit leadership from Arizona State University. Go Devils!
Years as a PRSA member: 4 years as PRSSA member, 2 years as PRSA member
What attracted you to public relations and communications?
I’ve always loved storytelling with a side of advocacy. Even when I was a student reporter in high school and college, I wanted to cover the “feel good” stories about people making a difference. I remember working for The State Press and writing about police dog Disney. It was during that time I really came to the realization that I wanted to be a public information officer or work in the nonprofit sector – something that served a public service function. Disney recently retired, and I loved all the coverage and support for this beloved dog. Those are the type of stories I want to tell.
What do you wish you’d known when you started in PR/Communications?
A lot of PR professionals come from a career in journalism, and it’s easy to see why. I jumped straight into PR when I graduated college, which came with its own learning curve. I didn’t really know how a newsroom worked, if it’s better to pitch a reporter or editor, or what different producer titles meant. Luckily, I’ve had great managers and mentors who helped guide me, but part of me wishes I would have been a reporter first.
You are currently the PR Manager for Childhelp, what attracted you to work for the organization and describe your average day at Childhelp.
Childhelp is a national nonprofit led by two inspiring women who have been at the helm for more than 60 years. Our founders have met presidents, helped enact child protection laws, and garnered support from celebs like Betty White, John Stamos, Cheryl Ladd, and others. There are so many wonderful things to say about these women and their accomplishments, as well as Childhelp’s national and local footprint. Every day, I work to tell our story in a way that is compelling, heartfelt and mission-focused. I help drive our external communications platforms, such as social media, blog posts, media outreach and digital marketing. In nonprofit, you get to wear many hats. Some days are stressful, but most of the time it’s just fun.
Can you think of one memorable moment you’ve had since becoming a PR pro?
My first big win as a PR pro was when I was working as a book publicist. One of my author clients had written a powerful essay about coming out as a lesbian in the 1960s. I pitched it to the Huffington Post, and not only did they love the essay but they also paid her for it. As a newbie to the industry, that was a huge win for me and inspired me to reach even higher.
In your opinion, what are the advantages of being a PRSA member? How has PRSA helped you in your career?
I became a PRSSA member my freshman year of college, and it has helped my career in more ways than I probably realize. Once I graduated college and joined PRSA, it was helpful to have a strong group of mentors and colleagues to help me through that transition. Professional development and networking are the two most obvious benefits, but I have also made a few lifelong friendships – and I am no longer too shy to walk up to someone and introduce myself!
If you were a tour guide, what would you recommend as a “must-do” in Arizona?
Like most people who live here, I absolutely adore this state and all it has to offer. For those staying in Phoenix, I recommend South Mountain’s Mormon Loop Trail – and be sure to make it to Hidden Valley and Fat Man’s Pass. After the hike, grab some lunch at one of the numerous outdoor patios. Enjoying all the nature at our doorstep and sharing a meal with friends in the idyllic winter weather – those are my must-dos!
Do you have a favorite spot to hang out with friends? If so, which one (we promise not to stalk you)?
How do I choose just one? My spot-of-the-moment right now is AZ Wilderness in Downtown Phoenix. You’ll find me enjoying the good beer and patio ambiance at least once a week. Longtime favorites include O.H.S.O. (there’s bound to be a location near you no matter where you are), Valley Bar (for the concerts and the dancing), and Cornish Pasty Downtown Phoenix (for the grungy basement vibes).
If you could have a dance-off with any living person (dancing skills aside), who would it be and what dance style would you choose?
In middle school, my friends and I choreographed a dance to Taylor Swift’s “Picture to Burn.” I would love to show Taylor our killer moves!