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Capitol Communicator is running a series featuring in-depth profiles of communicators in the mid-Atlantic.  In this “Up Close and Personal” profile, we feature Julie Murphy. Photography for Capitol Communicator’s profile series is by Cade Martin. Wardrobe styling by Pascale Lemaire for THE Artist Agency; and hair and makeup was by Patti D Nelson and Janice Kinigopoulos for THE Artist Agency.

Julie, please provide a short bio and your current title.

I lead the public relations team at Sage Communications, a full-service marketing firm, where I have been for 11 years.  While I work with clients in a diverse range of industries, the majority of my career has been in the niche and thriving industry of cutting-edge technology for government agencies.  It’s a segment of PR where the news is always alive and well. From cybersecurity to cloud computing and the many other areas of innovation, there is never a shortage of opportunities to place clients in newsworthy stories.

Are you involved in any other organizations?

I believe that my involvement in professional organizations has been a major contributing factor to my career, as well as the foundation for countless friendships.  For over a decade, I have been involved in various segments of Women in Technology (WIT), an organization that advocates for women from the “classroom to the boardroom.” WIT has many diverse and wonderful programs for mentoring, including STEM initiatives, award programs, networking and board training. As my PR career evolved, so did my role at WIT. My current role leading the PR division at Sage supported my decision to get involved in The Leadership Foundry arm of WIT, which offers an intensive training to prepare executive women to serve on executive boards of for-profit, publicly-traded companies. Our mission is to bring light to factual data behind why diverse boards lead to bottom-line and competitive advantages.

Who are your personal role models?

I’ve been fortunate to have a number of role models over the years, but I would have to say my first was my father. He helped prepare me for the business world, although I may not have wanted to admit it 20 years ago!  He’s always had a strong work ethic, which he instilled from day one, pushing me to do my best in school. The most important piece of advice my father gave me as a young businesswoman was to always think several years ahead, so you know what you are working toward.  My boss at my first agency job was also a significant mentor to me early on in my career.  She is extremely sharp and I always admired her elegance and poise, something I try to incorporate into my own approach with clients. Fast-forward a few years, and in comes my current CEO Larry Rosenfeld, who has been a terrific mentor to me in learning and appreciating the nuances of business. He has always impressed upon me the importance of nurturing business relationships, which still holds very true in the current digital era.

Did your role models offer professional advice that helped you in your career?

“The customer is always right” is an overused and misunderstood cliché. The priceless advice that I was given is that the approach should really be about what’s driving the customer’s decisions and mindset. In the agency world it’s important to understand everything that you can about your client. What is their success measured on?  What hasn’t worked in the past? What’s truly most important to them?  What is the biggest goal for their organization? Many of these questions seem obvious, but you would be surprised how infrequently they are asked.

What professional advice do you have for others?

It’s our responsibility to never rest on our laurels and to constantly improve upon our craft.  While that’s true for any industry, it’s especially true in marketing. Our world is changing fast and it’s hard to keep pace. The digital era has ushered in new ways to reach customers and in turn, customers are dramatically changing the way they engage with companies.  We need to work hard to stay ahead of the trends and be aware of what is working in the modern age.  At any given moment I have at least three books on business, sales or marketing sitting on my desk or bedside table to read…it’s important to make time for it.

What advice do you have on what’s appropriate attire for Sage?

I believe that attire makes a significant contribution to professional identity. A supervisor early on told me to “dress for the job you want” and I believe that old axiom still holds true.  As part of media and speaker training, I often ask clients to think about their professional identity and how they want to be perceived.  If you want to appear creative and edgy, it’s perfectly fine to dress that way. If you want to appear sophisticated and polished, that’s a clear image, as well.  The key is to be intentional about your persona.

Where do you buy most of the clothes you wear to the office?

Zappos! I’m often a walking commercial for Zappos and its exceptional customer service. I have two young kids and shopping malls often don’t fit into my schedule. I love Zappos’ next-day delivery and free returns, policies that allow me to bring the dressing room to my house, on my time.

Is there anything else you would like us to know about you?

I’m a fourth-generation Orangewoman (Syracuse University), but I still couldn’t resist returning to my hometown of Greater Washington. I think there is something very special about living in and around our nation’s capitol.  Between the career opportunities, historical significance, beautiful parks and amazing public school systems – it’s the absolute best for raising a family.

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