A Corporate Communications Experience

By: Michael Young

Autumn Niggles ’08 is a PRSSA alum who currently works as a corporate communications specialist for the American College of Cardiology (ACC) in Washington D.C. The ACC is a non-profit member association for cardiovascular professionals that consists of 39,000 members worldwide and 350 employees.

Niggles, who was hired by the ACC upon graduating, said she has a variety of responsibilities as a corporate communications specialist. “I do a lot more than I would have expected for an entry level job in PR/communications,” Niggles said. Some of her main duties include working on employee communications, drafting presentations and abstracts for the CEO, and managing the photography for the organization’s annual meeting, which draws 20,000 members. Above all these responsibilities, Niggles is also in charge of the marketing/communications materials for the organization’s non-revenue generating programs.

Like so many PR professionals, Niggles landed her job through networking. “I found my job through a past PRSSA president whom I was working with to write articles for the monthly newsletter,” Niggles said. She was able to keep in touch with her fellow PRSSA member, who later passed information on to her about the job she currently holds.

Niggles was also an active member of PRSSA who held several leadership positions. She was a co-chair of the national conference planning committee twice, and helped handle the logistics of getting members to Philadelphia and Detroit. She then moved up to the Vice President of Chapter Development and later became the Chapter Vice President. Niggles said that PRSSA’s leadership opportunities have helped her to excel at her job so far.

Besides developing leadership skills, Niggles also found networking to be one of the most important aspects of her PRSSA experience. “I know that networking can be an uncomfortable, strange feeling at times, but it’s important to put yourself out on a limb every once in a while,” Niggles said. “You never know who you might meet.” In Niggles’ case, this strategy paid off because the person whose contact information she received at the ACC later became her current manager.

For those looking to embark on a full-time PR career soon, Niggles said it is important to be true to yourself and pick a PR path that you find really interesting. While this may be difficult to accomplish in the current economy, Niggles said that no one should ever give up. “Keep your sights set on where you actually want to be, what keeps you up at night, and what makes you tick,” Niggles said. “You’ll be far happier in your job if you are in love not only with what you’re doing, but also why you’re doing it.”

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