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 PRsarahevans.com, 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!