“Careers kind of take their paths,” says Bridget Russel, senior director of corporate communications for Getty Images. She has certainly followed hers through posts at Seattle University, MSI Consulting Group, and her current company.
“It all adds up when I look back at what I've done,” she notes. “I did things like design brochures. That helped in my writing and in understand[ing] marketing. Going to [start-up] Onvia.com [in 1999] gave me a very clear understanding of the whole corporate communications process, starting from
ground zero and thinking about target customers, your brand message, and... the different ways you communicate. That was a big learning experience for me.”
Russel oversees both internal and external communications for Getty, a tall order when the company is going through several transitions, including going from a public to private company early last year, as well as evolving the brand into a digital media entity.
A six-plus-year Getty veteran, Russel has been involved in several programs and shows a keen interest in the company and brand, says Jim Gurke, SVP of marketing.
“She's always had a lot of spirit for driving internal and external communications missions and messages,” he says of Russel. “She's got lots of engagement with the company, and therefore its mission.”
Russel says the great stories behind Getty's products make her job exciting. “We have imagery, we have pictures, we have music, we have fantastic photojournalists we get to work with every day,” she explains. That focus on creativity has always been a part of Russel's life.
“I was a journalism and arts major, so communications has really always been the guide for me,” she says. But Russel says the creative side won out, pushing her more into PR and communications, rather than journalism, and she found her footing in corporate communications.
One project that tapped into that creative side was Getty's “Change Me” campaign in 2005. The company asked consumers to choose a Getty photo that inspired them or had the power to change someone. Participants wrote something about the image. For each entry, Getty donated $10 to the Global Fund and their partner Friends of the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.
“Not only was it a great way to use our product, but it was actually doing good, and that basically is part of our mission,” says Russel. “Our product has the power to change people. Seeing that to fruition was pretty cool.”
And she says she looks forward to Getty's continuing evolution in the coming months and years.
“For communicators in general right now, flexibility is really key because the landscape has changed, not only for our business, but for communications,” stresses Russel.
“Looking out at all the different areas and ways you can communicate,” she adds, “being flexible and trying new things... has worked well for me. From a communicator's perspective, we've got challenges on all sides of the fence – internally [and] externally, but they are exciting challenges. Really positioning ourselves as a digital media company is interesting and fun.”
Senior director of corporate comms, Getty Images, Seattle
Associate director of PR, Seattle University