Mopwater: Describe your path to PR. Any pivotal moments mentors or internships that let you know PR was for you? ZM: I’m a media fanatic that grew-up in Arley, Alabama, a town in the middle of nowhere. Never someone that was especially patient (I tried to skip my senior year of high school just to start college early), I sought out a PR internship during my freshman year of college at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
I found a mentor and interned at a music/event venue and bar. That would be the first of four internships. Later I interned with my mentor at a custom motorcycle
shop that creates limited-addition motorcycles. Tom Cruise owns one of the bikes and one of the models was featured in a movie with Jet Li and a commercial with Brad Pitt.
I started my freelance career that same year with an innovative theater group called MUSE OF FIRE: Shakespeare at Sloss. The group turned nontraditional spaces into stages; MUSE OF FIRE specifically used a haunted iron furnace for now annual spring and fall showcases of adapted Shakespeare. On more than one occasion news crews’equipment would malfunction on-site. This project solidified my desire to one day own an agency. I’d already decided I wanted to work for myself.
While looking for freelance projects, I worked part-time in a restaurant, focused on finishing my degree and completed internships (some for school credit, some for the experience).
Mopwater: Describe your office setting and a typical workday including your work hours. What do you do all day? ZM: Usually my workday begins at 9. Freelancing gives me a lot of freedom to create my own schedule. Sometimes I work a couple hours a day, sometimes I work from 9 to 9. It depends on my workload. I completed my last-ever internship at a
creative branding agency called Cayenne Creative and still have office space with the group that I use when I want a change of scenery. They’re one of the most amazing groups of creative professionals and taught me so much about branding and the importance of strategy.
Mopwater: Who are some of your and what kind of projects do you take on for these clients? ZM: My past clients include MUSE OF FIRE, Broadway Across America – Birmingham, Nick Sparks for Congress, a short stint with March of Dimes and the National Center for Sports Safety. Presently I’m working with Lemak Sports Medicine & Orthopedics and I take on occasional projects with Cayenne Creative. I’m also looking for new clients and projects to grow my business.
I like to say I’m a creative media strategist; that means I use traditional and new media to help an organization brand itself. Copywriting, media relations, email marketing, writing for the web and branding strategy are the services I offer.
Mopwater: Describe a recent project where you produced results of which you’re really proud. ZM: The results of my last project included increased website traffic for three months in a row and media coverage from local media and mom bloggers. It was a 6- month project. With Lemak Sports Medicine and Orthopedics I’ve led a team in creating a new logo for the brand, a social network about health and wellness, two branded-email designs and I’m working with a designer to create a new
brochure for the practice.
Mopwater: What are your favorite and least favorite PR/marketing/SM tasks and why? ZM: My favorite part of my job is writing. I love copywriting for email and websites/blogs. I also really love to write press releases and pitch news stories.
Mopwater: What’s the worst part of your job? ZM: The worst part of my job is uncertainty. As a freelancer I’m responsible for every part of most projects: traffic, planning, creative direction, execution and deadlines. It leaves little time for business development. That’s why I’m about to start a search for a business development pro.
Mopwater: What advice would you give someone who is trying to break into your field? ZM: My advice is don’t wait. My college experience has changed me for the better, but I’m not going to let a piece of paper define my talent, creativity and professionalism. Don’t let [graduation] hold you back. I’m still in college (a 5th year senior) but I’ve started my career when some of my friends who recently graduated are still struggling to find a job.