PR manager, Casio
At only 24 years old, Melissa Keklak has already taken two detours on her career path.
At the University of Scranton, she changed her major from criminal justice to communications specializing in PR after a communications professor discovered her talents in a public speaking course.
After graduating from school, Keklak worked at two agencies, Winning Strategies Public Relations and The Sherry Group. In September, she accepted an in-house PR manager position at Casio, becoming the youngest manager in the company.
"The biggest challenge is changing to the corporate culture," says Keklak. "Here, not only am I their PR, but I'm part of the culture."
In many ways, Keklak feels the agency experience prepared her for this phase of her career. At The Sherry Group, where she was promoted from AAE to AE in five months, she was ultimately given the responsibility for one of the firm's oldest clients, State Fair Meadowlands. Her efforts resulted in a spike in media impressions and top-tier coverage. She generated like results for seven other clients, getting them into The New York Times, Rolling Stone, and other media.
"An agency gives you a multitude of tools," says Keklak. "You constantly have to be on top of everything that's going on. I think it would be hard to go from corporate to an agency."
On the flip side, with this new position Keklak is getting more technology experience and takes part in the progress that the business is making.
"What attracted me to [this job] is the fact that it opens a different door," she says. "It allows me to situate myself and grow with a company."
Part of producing great results is cultivating great relationships with colleagues and the media. Keklak began working on this aspect of her career before she got her first job. She was president of the University of Scranton's chapter of the PRSSA and reached out to Joan Vander Valk, current PRSA New Jersey president-elect and VP at Stern & Associates, after finishing college three years ago seeking career guidance. Today, Vander Valk calls it a "mutually beneficial" relationship.
"She has all of the ingredients that you need for a long career: she's passionate, energetic, eager, and ambitious," says Vander Valk. "I've learned as much from her as she's learned from me."
Keklak is applying those qualities to her first event with the company - a Stuff magazine celebrity-charity event that Casio will attend on December 5. The event will showcase items from the magazine's online holiday gift guide, including Casio's latest watches and cameras.
"I thought this was a great initiative for Casio to get involved with and explained how the public relations aspect would be considerable due to all of the components (celebrity, consumer, and charity)," writes Keklak in an email to PRWeek.
Keklak is setting high goals for herself: generating as much press as possible and presenting the company with strong ROI from the PR side.
"In summary, [Casio] listened to what I had to say and agreed to sign on," she writes. "So right now, I am working to get the media interested at all angles."