Washington Women in Public Relations (WWPR) named three young communications professionals as their 2015 Emerging Leaders Awards honorees: Sarah Coppersmith, Emily Rasowsky and Shannon Toher. The Emerging Leaders Awards, held June 16, is an annual awards and cocktail reception that recognizes leaders in public relations and communications, among young women (aged 23-30) who have significantly impacted the communications field and the D.C. community. After the awards, we asked the honorees to provide us a bit of background about themselves. Below is our interview with Sarah Coppersmith, Scott Circle.
Why did you go into PR/communications?
I found my way into communications through a passion for politics – I knew that I wanted to work for Congress, and secured a job right out of college working for Rep. Harry Mitchell. I started writing constituent correspondence, and found my way into his press shop soon after, serving as his press secretary. I realized I loved translating complicated legislative priorities and bills into messages that constituents could understand. This is really why I’ve stayed in communications – I love to create and execute a strategy – from goals to messaging to specific tactics – to secure media attention for my clients, be it countering misinformation or promoting a specific product or initiative.
What lessons have you learned that you want to share with others?
Be prepared. Though you may not know what you want to be when you grow up, be prepared and ask questions when networking and talking with people in different industries you’re interested in – you may learn something about a job you didn’t know about or start to recognize the characteristics of successful people in the industry you want to move into. I had no idea I wanted to be in PR, but I made sure to ask questions and be open to careers I hadn’t always thought about. I also say that people should be prepared in everything you do at work – think ahead, work hard, learn from your mistakes – and then don’t make the same mistake twice.
Who are your role models?
My drive and work ethic come from my parents. They are both incredibly accomplished; they give me the passion and desire to push myself every day to be the best at what I do.
Harry Mitchell’s Chief of Staff, Alexis Tameron, showed me the way to communications and taught me how to stand up for myself at work and feel comfortable voicing ideas in a crowded room of men. Currently, Scott Circle’s founder and principal, Laura Gross, has been a huge mentor – teaching me how to execute well-thought-out communication plans, trust my gut and take on work bigger, larger and harder than I ever thought I could. And, I learned from Marjorie Margolis that the perfect job/career path might not exist yet – and that’s OK – you just have to put your head down, roll up your sleeves and create it yourself.
How do you think you can make a difference in the coming years?
Partially through my work – working with clients, on meaningful projects, really is one of the best parts of the job. I also think that I’ll be able to make a difference outside of work, using my communication skills – be it helping a non-profit execute a development plan and communications strategy to volunteering at Suited for Change.
If you didn’t go into communications, what field would you have gone into?
I’d love to have been – or maybe, be one day – an interior designer.
What are the things you like to do when not at work?
I like to cook a lot, and am starting to run again. I’ve done some half marathons, and just signed up to do another one in October. And, I’m helping some friends design and redesign their apartments and homes, which keeps my creative juices flowing.
(Photo by Ruby Ella Photography)