About Christel Ghattas: Christel Ghattas currently works as a Corporate Communications Manager for Discovery, Inc. Her responsibilities include managing the company’s corporate social media accounts and daily corporate communications initiatives, such as website, social content strategy, news/data analysis, and integrated campaigns, as well as tracking analytics and sentiment. Some of Ms. Ghattas’s most recent accomplishments include working on the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games and the social strategy for Discovery’s acquisition of Scripps Networks. She also serves as the Discovery Company Chair and Board Member for Socialmedia.org, and is a member of Women in Cable Telecommunications (WICT) and the National Association for Multi-ethnicity in Communications (NAMIC).
Ms. Ghattas holds a bachelor’s degree in Communication with a focus on Professional Communication from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. She completed her master’s in 2014 through the Master of Professional Studies in Public Relations and Corporate Communications program at Georgetown University, where she also works as a Graduate Capstone Advisor and Alumni Instructor.
[MastersinCommunications.com] May we please have a brief description of your educational and professional background?
[Christel Ghattas] I attended Old Dominion University for my undergraduate degree and Georgetown University for my graduate degree. My undergraduate degree is in Communication, and my graduate degree is in Public Relations and Corporate Communications (PR/CC) with an emphasis in digital and social.
Throughout my graduate program I worked at PRR, a consulting firm with a Mid-Atlantic Chapter supporting daily media relations and social media functions for various clients including the Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR program for both the Products branch and the Commercial & Industrial branch. I also served on the District Department of Transportation team, which supported mega projects such as the DC Streetcar and the 11th Street Bridge.
I moved on to Discovery in 2015 to work in the media and entertainment industry where I found myself right at home. My initial role was supporting Discovery’s global communications team by providing news analysis for the cable and entertainment industry, emerging digital trends, and international media developments. Two years ago, I was a part of a launching an integrated strategy to represent Discovery’s global portfolio across our various social channels. I currently manage the daily corporate digital and social strategy and website including LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube — in addition to leading an immersive news process that monitors coverage of industry trends.
This year I returned to my Hoya roots and served as an advisor/instructor at Georgetown, working with graduate students on their capstone projects from inception, through coordinating with clients, leading up to the graduation day.
[MastersinCommunications.com] Why did you decide to pursue a master’s degree in communication, and why did you ultimately choose the Master of Professional Studies in Public Relations and Corporate Communications program at Georgetown University?
[Christel Ghattas] I decided to pursue a master’s degree in communication because I knew I wanted to take my broad background and specialize. PR sparked my interest because its business and creative. Although PR professionals wear many/all the hats, I knew that specializing would give me a seat at the table. I made a list of schools at the time to filter through, and what sparked my interest was that the program was a three-time winner of PRWeek’s “PR Education Program of the Year” Award.
Georgetown’s curriculum and faculty represented an array of industries that sparked my interests and the real-life focus of the classes made the decision an easy one. The classes provided experience in both government, private, and non-profit sectors, which eventually helped me bring a versatile scope of expertise to my projects.
[MastersinCommunications.com] How is Georgetown’s MPS program structured, and what concepts did the program emphasize? What skills and strategies did you learn in your classes, and how did you apply them to course assignments?
[Christel Ghattas] During the time that I attended (2012-2014), the PRCC program began with Ethics, a required course, and they recommend most students participate in Elements of PR Planning. These courses are completed during the first two semesters of the program and are the building blocks upon which the rest of your coursework and research are based. They also set you up for success for the final required project, the Public Relations and Corporate Communications Capstone. The Public Relations & Corporate Communications program offers four focus areas that enable you to tailor your studies and sharpen your expertise in areas of study such as Cause Communications, Corporate Communications, Digital Communications, or Public Relations.
[MastersinCommunications.com] Could you please describe your experience completing your capstone project? What communication issue or challenge did it address, and what were your primary deliverables (i.e. communications plan, tutorial, video, visual marketing materials, etc.)? What advice do you have for students in terms of successfully completing their project?
[Christel Ghattas] Capstone allowed me to apply my strategic communications skills to an existing communications challenge identified by the client I chose, a D.C.-based fast-casual burger chain. Throughout the semester, I worked individually with my client to solve their communication problem/opportunity. The goal was to position my client as the leading fast-casual restaurant chain by strengthening their digital footprint and increasing online engagement, increasing foot traffic during key times using communications tactics, achieving an increase in the number of loyalty membership sign-ups online, and building awareness of the chain’s presence in the community.
At the close of the semester, I was required to pitch an insightful, creative plan that illuminated how the strategic considerations would lead to positive outcomes. The plan included original research, implementation, timelines and budget necessary to meet the client’s communication goal, along with creatives such template social media calendars, press releases and mock-ups. I had incredible strategic support from my Capstone advisor, who worked with me on a weekly basis and helped me refocus when challenges in the planning phases came up.
The best advice I can give a student is chose a client with an opportunity that could align with your career path (even if their industry is not of interest) – your capstone project is the ultimate resume booster and writing sample to give to employers.
[MastersinCommunications.com] What key takeaways, experiences, or connections from Georgetown’s PR and Corporate Communications program have you found to be the most helpful for you in your career path?
[Christel Ghattas] The program helped me develop a 360-degree perspective of the modern communications landscape while learning how to think strategically, digitally, and globally. These elements have taught me the fundamentals of making strategic decisions and helped me grow as a manager in an industry and media landscape that is changing rapidly – I was able to pivot from a PR role to a digital and social manager. The experience in the capstone course also built an entrepreneurial spirit founded in strategic and ethical decision making.
[MastersinCommunications.com] What advice would you give students just starting Georgetown University’s Master of Professional Studies in Public Relations and Corporate Communications program? More broadly, what advice would you give students who are either considering or starting a master’s in communication program, whether it be at Georgetown or another university?
[Christel Ghattas] The best advice I would give students considering a master’s is have a strong reason as to why, and plan how to use it in the roadmap to strategic career moves or growth.
The advice I would give students just starting Georgetown University’s Master of Professional Studies in Public Relations and Corporate Communications program is to build relationships with peers and faculty – they are some of the most strategic communicators to brainstorm with and leverage as mentors. I keep close contact with my professors and Georgetown peers when in need of strategic guidance.
Thank you, Ms. Ghattas, for your excellent insights on Georgetown University’s Master of Professional Studies in Public Relations and Corporate Communications program!