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SJMC alumna Jennifer Walsh visited Texas State University on Friday morning as a guest speaker in an Intro to Public Relations class. Walsh, who is currently Head of Communications at Covestro, highlighted the importance of writing, personal branding and crisis management as a public relations professional.
Walsh, a former journalism major, said she never imagined she would be working in PR.
“When I was a student, I worked at newspapers and was heavily involved in writing. I never thought I would work with public relations, but now I love it. And I apply my journalism background into everything I do,” said Walsh.
Day-to-day, Walsh is in charge of both internal and external communication for the Bayer subsidiary located in Baytown, TX, including the planning and development of content for electronic billboards, the printed newsletter, the e-newsletter, and even flyers and posters.
“It doesn’t matter where you’re going – you need a foundation in writing,” said Walsh.
Much of Walsh’s job also focuses on building Covestro’s corporate reputation and developing a plan for crisis management. Because most crises can’t be predicted, Walsh explained the importance of being “a good corporate citizen,” saying, “If you haven’t made any donations to charity or you don’t have a presence on social media before a crisis happens, it’s too late.”
Walsh said Covestro has a strategic approach to the events and philanthropies it supports, but it mostly focuses on STEM initiatives, environmental causes, education and workforce development.
“We’re a chemical company, and we have emissions. So much of our strategy is built on how we can offset some of those negative impacts,” said Walsh.
One such initiative is Solar Impulse, a plane that flew around the world last year running completely on solar energy. Covestro not only funded the plane, but its products went into its development.
While Walsh said she loves being part of these positive company-wide efforts, one of the most rewarding aspects of her job is giving back to her local community.
“Especially in this job, I get to do things that benefit the local communities where I live and where my kids go to school,” said Walsh. “It’s things like that that make you feel good.”
Walsh advised students to bone up their digital portfolios and social media. “If I’m hiring someone, I’m looking at your social media,” said Walsh.
Many thanks to Ms. Walsh for speaking to our students on Friday. We love hearing from professionals in the industry, especially SJMC alums!