About Danielle Tyler: Danielle Tyler is the Communications Manager for Capital Partners for Education (CPE), a nonprofit organization in Washington D.C. Prior to joining CPE, Ms. Tyler worked as a Public Relations and Communications Specialist for PowerSchool in Bethesda, Maryland, developing strategic media relations and communications plans to boost brand awareness and support acquisition efforts. She also served as a Communications Specialist for the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine (AIUM) for over two years.
Ms. Tyler graduated from Rutgers University in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in English. In 2018, she completed her master’s through Georgetown University’s Master of Professional Studies in Public Relations and Corporate Communications program.
[MastersinCommunications.com] May we please have a brief description of your educational and professional background?
[Danielle Tyler] I attended Rutgers University in Camden, New Jersey, and graduated with my bachelor’s degree in English in 2010. The course of my career changed after completing undergrad as I began to work in the communications field to leverage my passion for writing. A few years after relocating to the Washington, D.C. area, I went back to school at Georgetown University to obtain a Master of Professional Studies degree in Public Relations and Corporate Communications which I successfully completed this year.
For more than seven years, I’ve worked in both the nonprofit and private industries; keenly focused on managing public relations, communications, and marketing initiatives for the companies I’ve worked for. Up until last month, I served as the PR & Communications Specialist for a software company in the education technology space, where I engaged with a variety of K-12 stakeholders and provided communications support to executive leaders to help enhance the company’s brand. There, I led the communications for six mergers and acquisitions, ensuring consistency and efficiency in strategy and execution to integrate teams, cultures, and processes.
I recently accepted a job as Communications Manager for a nonprofit organization in D.C. called Capital Partners for Education to help increase the visibility and reach of the organization, engage current and new supporters, and enhance the organization’s ability to communicate about its work.
[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?
[Danielle Tyler] Prior to deciding to pursue a master’s degree in communications, my experience came from on-the-job training, learning from colleagues, and self-teaching the skills I needed to be successful in my roles. I wanted to apply an educational background to my professional background to continue to grow in this field.
I selected Georgetown University’s Master of Professional Studies in Public Relations and Corporate Communications program because of what I discovered during my research. Their program offers courses that are relevant in today’s PR and communications landscape, and the content taught can be applied right away for those working in communications while enrolled in the program.
I wanted to learn foundational elements of communications planning, best practices for managing a PR crisis, and building and sustaining a strong brand. Georgetown’s program is taught by individuals who are seasoned in the PR and communications field. That was important to me – to learn from people who are the best at what they do because they’re still doing it. I wanted to take my career to the next level after graduation and was able to do so because of what I learned from this program and who I learned it from.
[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?
[Danielle Tyler] The structure of Georgetown’s MPS program requires students to complete 10 courses, five of which are required, including Elements of Communications Planning, to learn the framework for developing a strategic communications plan; Conversations in Ethics, to learn theoretical approaches for thinking and acting ethically throughout one’s career; Communications Research; Public Relations Writing; and Capstone. Capstone is the last course students take and requires one to select a client to work with for the semester to develop a comprehensive communications plan for them.
One of the electives I selected was Corporate Communications Management, taught by the head of Communications and Marketing for Leidos. I gained so much knowledge from the instructor and learned how to design and staff a communications team, manage a budget, prepare executives for quarterly earnings calls, plan for CEO succession, manage mergers and acquisitions, and so much more. Additionally, I learned how to navigate through the world of public relations crisis. That course was taught by an Edelman executive who worked with high-profile clients managing crisis for Delta, Wells Fargo, and others. I learned how to develop a crisis communications plan which I ended up implementing for my company at the time.
[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?
[Danielle Tyler] Having such a strong passion for education and working in the industry, I wanted to select a capstone client who was in the education space. I ultimately chose a weekday public charter boarding school that serves students in the Washington, D.C., area, specifically those impacted by the foster care system. Students arrive there on Sunday and are boarded there throughout the week, receiving the requisite academic, social, emotional and life skill support from teachers and staff.
The school’s communications need was to effectively reach key audiences to raise awareness about the school, its purpose, and vision. In developing a strategic communications plan for this school, I leveraged all the tools and resources learned throughout my course studies at Georgetown University. My advisor provided weekly one-on-one support and we met as a class every few weeks.
As part of conducting primary and secondary research for this plan, I developed an awareness survey that was taken by 65 participants to gain insight into what motivates people to want to support the success of foster care students. The likelihood of people supporting programs geared toward ensuring student success increased from 55.3% to 96.9% when awareness was generated about the impact of the foster care system on student achievement. This finding along with additional supporting research shaped the outline for the plan.
I presented the final plan to both my client and faculty at Georgetown University, highlighting key research that supports the plan, strategies and tactics identified, and why the plan will garner success.
[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?
[Danielle Tyler] Developing a deeper understanding about the variety of components that comprise communications and public relations has been most helpful. My experience in courses such as Reputation Management, The Brand Concept, Corporate Communications Management, and Digital Crisis Communications enhanced my skill set and ability to be a well-rounded communications professional.
I believe Georgetown University prepared me for the latest developments in communications and public relations to help companies thrive in their respective industries. My time in the program allowed me to expand my professional network and learn from some pretty impressive people in this field.
[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?
[Danielle Tyler] For students just starting the program, I’d suggest identifying the skills you really want to hone and determine which courses will help you attain them. Get to know your classmates and talk with them to find out about the courses they’re taking or have taken. The insight you’re able to glean from others who have taken classes you may be interested in is invaluable.
One of my favorite quotes is from Neal Donald Walsch, who states, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” This is the advice I’d offer students who are considering pursuing or starting a master’s in communications program. One thing that is constant is change and that applies to the work we do as communications professionals. One way to stay ahead of the curve in this amazing career is to step outside of your comfort zone and challenge yourself to learn new skills that may not come easy to you. Try not to gravitate toward classes and content that’s very familiar to you, but rather toward what you don’t know or what you can learn to do better.
Thank you, Ms. Tyler, for your excellent insights on Georgetown University’s Master of Professional Studies in Public Relations and Corporate Communications program!