By: Brittany Thompson, Account Executive, Business Wire
Michele Ewing, APR, Fellow, Associate Professor, Kent State University, has had an illustrious career over the past twenty-five years. I recently had the chance to speak with Ewing about her career and the importance of paying it forward.
Ewing started her career as an audio-visual supervisor at St. Thomas Medical Center, in Akron, Ohio, now part of the Summa Health System. Ewing landed a management position right out of college, where she supervised all photography and video services for the teaching hospital Ewing uses her experience to advise students to apply for positions even if they don’t meet all the qualifications.
“There’s always a chance you’ll be able to sell yourself and expertise to fit the job,” Ewing said. “After all, you’ll never know, if you don’t apply.”
At St. Thomas, she worked closely with both the medical staff and communications team. Her work providing visual support for the communication department, inspired her to pursue a master’s degree in public relations.
“I liked that public relations was connected to the CEO and senior executives with accomplishing the hospital’s mission,” Ewing said.
Following her tenure at St. Thomas and earning a master’s, Ewing served as the public relations director at Youngstown hospital for two years. Ewing then landed at Marcus Thomas, an integrated marketing communications agency in Cleveland. During her twelve-year tenure, Ewing worked across multiple disciplines helping grow the agency with an emphasis on healthcare, internal and marketing communications.
“I thought I’d spend a few years in the agency world and then make another career move,” Ewing said. “I fell in love with the creativity and challenges and really enjoyed working with my colleagues.”
During this time, Ewing worked closely with Beth Hallisy, former partner, Marcus Thomas. Hallisy prioritized the importance of professional development and introduced Ewing to PRSA. Ewing, joined PRSA in the 90’s, and enjoyed the networking opportunities provided by PRSA as well as the opportunity to learn more about public relations practice and business management.
Inspired by her colleagues and mentor, Ewing decided to pursue Accredited Public Relations (APR) and recommends it for current PR practioners. The APR program encourages professional development as well as ethical PR practices.
After securing her APR and continuing to excel in public relations, Ewing supervised junior PR professionals and interns at Marcus Thomas. Ewing found that she enjoyed working with young staff members and helping to develop their career paths. Ewing also started part-time teaching at Kent State University and realized she liked working with bright, ambitious students. Enjoying her work and mentoring others has always been a priority for Ewing, and when an opportunity to join the Kent State, School of Journalism and Communication became available, Ewing jumped at the opportunity in 2004. Thirteen years later, she continues to enjoy working with her students and motivating them to become successful public relations practitioners.
“The best part of my job is helping students find career paths they’ll enjoy,” Ewing said.
After transitioning to academia, Ewing pursed her entrance into the College of Fellows, an esteemed group of industry peers. Ewing enjoyed the process of applying to be a Fellow and reconnecting with clients and colleagues from yesteryear.
Ewing finds the time to keep her industry skills fresh by consulting periodically and researching public relations education, leadership development and public relations practice topics. She advises her students to do three things throughout their career: enjoy your work, be open to new experiences, and find good mentors and become a mentor. “Always pay it forward.”
Ewing has more than 25 years of agency and corporate relations experience. She serves as the coordinator for the public relations sequence at Kent State University and advises the Kent State Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America.
Brittany Thompson is a PRSA Greater Cleveland Board Member and publicity chair.