Kate Foss graduated from Boston University in 2010 with a master’s degree in public relations. Now, she works as a director in Digital Health for Weber Shandwick. Kate was happy to talk about her education and her career as well as share a few fun facts about herself. She and I both hail from the great state of Maine, which got the interview started.
What would you say were the most important classes that you took at COM that helped you get the most practical knowledge possible?
Kate Foss: I would say that one class that I had no idea just how valuable it would be was Professor Elasmar’s research class. It was amazing just because of the fact that I can’t count how many times I’ve had to bring it up in a meeting that someone was presenting data that was not statistically significant and that we shouldn’t base our social or digital strategies on it. It’s super practical.
I also took Professor Clark’s writing class, and that was a joy. It definitely helped me at my last agency with writing press releases because I had done it for her so many times! Professor Downes’ crisis class was also important—I used to work in crisis at my previous agency, and the stuff that we learned was invaluable.
What else did you do while at BU?
KF: I was an intern at FleishmanHillard during my time at BU. I actually ended up accepting a full-time job with the agency before I finished my degree, so I did both my last semester.
KF: Yeah, I went to class for 12 hours on Mondays and then worked the rest of the week.
Oh my goodness, you were busy! So, you said you started out at FleishmanHillard. What path did your professional career take after graduating?
KF: So I started at Fleishman as an intern and then that transitioned into working full-time before my internship was even over. I stayed there for about three years, and then I was recruited to work at a B2B tech PR agency called Text100 for two years. Then I came to Weber after being recruited by a former colleague at Fleishman and have been here since January 2015.
Interesting. What would you say your day to day is like? Is every day different like we always hear in school?
KF: Every day that I work is different. I work with three clients—all large pharmaceutical companies. I work on everything from content strategy to advertising strategy. I work a lot within the regulated space, so with branded drug products, basically managing social media properties for branded pharmaceutical drugs.
I would say a tip for how to prepare for the slightly chaotic life for working at a PR agency is to practice your time management skills. Time management and efficiency are my two most valuable skills.
That’s a great tip! Do you think that’s the work-style for you? Or do you have other career aspirations?
KF: I know this might be an obnoxious answer, but this is my dream job. There’s a lot of growth within a PR agency, particularly when you work with great leadership. I have a lot of faith in the leadership here at Weber. Particularly, working with a team that is primarily female is amazing. We have strong, female role models in the workplace. So I definitely see myself here in the foreseeable future…for a long time.
It’s awesome to find a job that you love surrounded by people you work well with.
KF: Yeah, it’s really great!
What would you say has been the most interesting campaign that you’ve done for one of your clients?
KF: So I launched a campaign last year for a project called “MS: No Filter”. [It] was a project that launched off of this website livinglikeyou.com, and it’s a global community for people living with MS. Off of this, we actually created our own online dictionary that had 100 original definitions of MS terms. We wrote all the definitions, and we had a designer create an original cartoon. I’d say my crowning glory is that we had a giant brain costume that we had an actor wear and act out some of the definitions.
KF: It was a really amazing program. It’s also a Google Chrome extension!
Do you find it’s very rewarding when something like that is incredibly successful?
KF: It’s incredibly rewarding and at the end of the day, all the work we do is for the patients. We always try to make sure that what we’re putting out there is something that is really appropriate and relevant to the lives of people living with a particular condition.
We work with bloggers from around the world who write for [Living Like You] and are living with MS and hearing their stories and getting to see how [the site] has impacted their life for the better and empowered them to share their story and relate to other people who are going through the same thing has been incredibly valuable.
It’s great to hear that you can really make an impact with PR.
KF: Yeah, absolutely!
Well, my last question for you is a little silly: What is a fun fact about yourself that the people of COM would love to know?
KF: Well, I think the people of COM would appreciate that my nickname at work is Kate “Redline” Foss, because of how much I love track changes and copyediting things!
Brittany Bell, Staff Writer
Brittany is from Lewiston, Maine and is currently studying public relations at COM. She is planning on graduating after this semester and is set to participate in the Disney College Program in Spring 2018. When not writing or studying, Brittany enjoys running, yoga, reading, binge-watching Netflix and petting dogs (especially hers).
(Updated: Corrections to Ms. Foss’s position at Weber Shandwick. She is a director in Digital Health).