Sarah Evans (the public relations one) is my kind of celebrity

Celebrities rarely faze me. (I did stand outside the Jacobs Theatre in New York back in 2006 for many hours to get playbill autographs from Julia Roberts, Paul Rudd and Bradley Cooper after a “Three Days of Rain” performance. But that was for a friend who’d driven from Baltimore, I couldn’t say no.)

To me, celebrities are individuals who have accomplished things I also want to accomplish. And Sarah Evans, a dynamite public relations professional, is my kind of celebrity. Which is why at the beginning of February I asked for an interview. She agreed, and I was excited. I couldn’t wait to pick her brain.

On the day of our phone interview, she calls me right on time.

After greetings, I ask her how and when she realized that public relations was the career she wanted to pursue. I’m always curious because—like so many others—PR wasn’t my intended field starting college. In fact, I was a pre-med biology major, until I passed out listening to someone tell me about her husband’s dialysis treatments. I soon switched to a communication with a journalism emphasis and English double major (still no PR; it doesn’t come to me for another five years).

Come to find out, Sarah started the same way. Sort of.

“In all I’ve done, I’ve had a mission of bringing people together,” she says. “I went away to college as a music major. I realized it was a hobby, not a career path.” After talking with advisers and doing some “soul searching,” she realized communications with an emphasis in public relations was the right path professionally for her.

And she’s excelled at her chosen path. I’ve followed Sarah on Twitter for a while now, but I really fell in love (I’m sorry Sarah, I hope that doesn’t sound weird) when I saw the January 2010 article in Vanity Fair titled America’s Tweethearts. (I mentioned it in a Jan. 8, 2010 blog entry.) Six women dominating social media (Twitter, specifically) is the focus of the article.

Sarah has more than 40,000 followers on Twitter, a following she says comes from all her work with a number of non-profits over the years. This is important and awesome, but it isn’t everything. Less than a year ago she began Sevans Strategy, her Chicago-based public relations and new media consultancy. Also, on Twitter, she created and moderates #journchat, the top-trending weekly live chat between PR professionals, journalists and bloggers. She’s a guest writer for Mashable, one of the most popular social media blogs in the world, and runs her own blog, among other endeavors.

What’s my point? She’s 29. I’ll be 27 in July. She’s my celebrity. Before officially beginning Sevans Strategy, she worked as the director of communications at a community college. I manage media relations for a liberal arts college. Aside from the business of dialysis and passing out, our beginnings are a little similar, which encourages me that maybe I am on the right path. You know, sometimes we wonder.

Anyway, Sarah told me that she hopes print newspapers never go extinct; that businesses and organizations need to embrace marketing through social media, and not every social media option is right for everyone; and in this economy, good communications professionals and plans are as important as ever.

Our chat was brief but important to me. She wished me well in my future endeavors—opening my own PR boutique—and said she especially loves when women follow such dreams. Me, too. And I think she’s an ideal example for women my age with similar aspirations. I can’t be the only one among 40,000 Twitter followers to be admiring her career!

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9 thoughts on “Sarah Evans (the public relations one) is my kind of celebrity

  1. Sarah Evans says:

    Go for your dreams, Abby! So glad I had the opportunity to chat with you. I’m humbled and flattered by your post.


  2. Erica says:

    Great post, Abby! I think we can all learn a thing or two from Sarah’s example. And like you and Sarah, I also started out in a non-PR world and found myself migrating there after a couple of shaky years in the journalism field (English minor). But you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do to survive & thrive — and learning is half the fun, right?


    • abbymalikpr says:

      It’s interesting how common all three of our experiences are, Erica! Learning is definitely half the fun. Had I known PR was where I belonged, I would have done things a little different as far as internships, grad school, etc., but everything happens for a reason and gets us to where we need to be somehow, sometime.

  3. John Henry Malik says:

    I’m glad you found a good role model with whom you are comfortable. I was thinking S. E. Cupp, but Sarah Evans couldn’t hurt. I think that a reasonably intelligent person (woman) can amalgamize several people’s experiences and come up with a unique approach to whatever issue she faces.
    27? Really?

  4. abbymalikpr says:

    Hi John Henry! Well, I do admire S.E. Cupp’s career, definitely. Maybe I should ask her for an interview. Yeah…maybe I will!

    Yes – 27. Did you think younger or older? I keep saying 27, I’m still 26. I have no idea why I keep aging myself.

    • John Henry Malik says:

      S. E. is remarkable in that she has combined her knowledge and opinions, excellent PR and a remarkable amount of self-promotion, and done it in a calculated, cynical way. She has a plan. And she is executing it in a number of venues — print, TV, internet, atd. From reading her stuff and watching her on RedEye, I perceive that she is no smarter than you, and not even as pretty.
      Someone once told me that anyone can accomplish anything they desire, AS LONG AS THEY ARE WILLING TO MAKE THE SACRIFICES REQUIRED. (Caps intentional)Sometimes those sacrifices — the price — is more than some people are willing to pay. It all comes down to your value system.
      Interviewing S. E. would be a good step in the right direction. Ask her about her plan. (did you see her interview on C-SPAN?
      Re: 26. Were you that kid who everybody said “she’s four going on forty”?

  5. […] was an awesome experience. As I said in a blog post where I interviewed my career-hero and PR/social media genius Sarah Evans, I get a little star-struck around folks who have climbed the career ladder to places I aspire and […]

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