About Lily Huang: Lily Huang is the Digital Marketing Communications Manager for the cybersecurity company WhiteHawk CEC, Inc. Her role includes crafting the company’s social media strategy, leading search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) efforts, designing email marketing campaigns, analyzing website metrics, and more. With over four years of experience in PR and strategic communications, Ms. Huang has worked for a variety of companies and organizations both in the U.S. and China, including Fortune 500 businesses, Edelman, and Capitol Hill.
Ms. Huang graduated from East China Normal University in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations. In 2017, she completed her master’s degree through the Master of Professional Studies in Public Relations and Corporate Communications program at Georgetown University.
[MastersinCommunications.com] May we please have a brief description of your educational and professional background?
[Lily Huang] I finished my master’s degree from Georgetown University in 2017. In 2018, I was awarded the Georgetown Tropaia – Outstanding student award for my academic excellence and working as a program ambassador. I am now working for the Marketing Communication department of a cybersecurity company. My daily responsibilities include drafting the social media strategy, coming up with communications design, planning outreach campaigns, enhancing the company brand image, and building investor relationship.
Prior to my study in Georgetown, my Edelman experience helped to gain my work ethic and professionality in the PR field. Back then, I worked closely with all media for event planning and media outreach to represent my clients such as Volvo, Mastercard, McDonald’s, AIA, and Wrigley. Afterward, I joined Ingersoll Rand, a North Carolina-based multinational industrial company. The charity program I lead collected enough donations to fund elementary school tuition fees for 83 children and won the 2016 PRSA Outstanding Charity Awards.
In 2017, as I was taking the public affair class in Georgetown, I had the honor of working for Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer’s office as a Public Affair Intern. It helped me gain profound insight into American partisanship, political landscape, and the current political climate.
[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?
[Lily Huang] For my undergraduate, I gained my degree in Public Relations from East China Normal University. Back then, my study mainly focused on communications theories, political science ideologies, and political history subjects. After my job experience, it was clear to me that I should focus and learn more about corporate communications practices from the brightest practitioners in the field.
After doing some research and asking around, I applied for Georgetown’s Public Relations and Communication program. By then, the program was already well-established and very well-known in the field. It was a three-time winner of PRWeek’s “PR Education Program of the Year” Award. I was also very impressed by the strong professional background of the faculty members. They are all high-ranking public relations professionals working at A-list organizations. It was obvious that it was the perfect choice for me.
The day I received my offer letter felt like a big dream come true. I couldn’t wait to start the new chapter of my life.
[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?
[Lily Huang] Georgetown’s MPS PRCC program requires every student to finish three foundational courses (Elements of Communications Planning, Public Relations Writing, and Communications Research), two core courses (Conversations in Ethics and Capstone), and five other elective courses (Digital Analytics and Measurement, Crisis Communication, Marketing Communications, Personal Branding, Grassroot Communications, etc.)
The program mainly emphasizes comprehensive problem-solving skills with a focus on establishing the communications strategy. Apart from foundational skills such as writing press releases, op-eds, and speeches, students are also acquired to come up with a well-rounded communications plan for a real-time client in the Capstone project. Students need to learn how to professionally pitch their idea to the client and present market research, big idea, goal, target audiences, methodologies, messaging, and analytics and measurement for the plan.
The program helped me improve my analytics, strategic thinking, and pitching skills that were all vital for a successful communication campaign.
[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?
[Lily Huang] My Capstone client was a vegetarian fast-casual restaurant located in old town Georgetown. Based in a two-level redbrick house. They serve seasonal local veggie tacos with special drinks.
Their fresh ingredients present a unique farm-to-table experience for customers. Their dishes are extremely picture-friendly and a healthier choice for the grab-and-go. After the success of their first store, they are planning to open another one in downtown DC. The challenge, however, was that they would like to expand their customer base from only strict vegans and vegetarians to everyone.
I was brought in to help plan their communication strategy for the second store. I did some market research and found out that millennial Hispanics, millennial parents, and downtown office workers would be the ideal target audiences. The similarity of the above groups is short-in-time, on-the-go, however, seeking healthier options for either themselves or their family.
To speak to a broader audience, I repositioned the brand as “Deliciously Healthy,” focusing on the seasonal and taste of the dish rather than its vegetarian aspect. Afterward, I proposed targeting messages, visuals, strategies and tactics, and evaluation methodologies of the campaign to the client. This well-rounded strategic communication plan helped me win the 2018 Georgetown Tropaia – Outstanding student award.
[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?
[Lily Huang] The program really focuses on strategic thinking and analytical skills. Most of the time, we were asked to think about our goal and objectives, how do we define success. The Data Analytics and Measurement class helped me tremendously in terms of understanding how Google Analytics can track website, mobile, and campaign performances and how to interpret all the data collected. The PR Writing and Communication Research courses built a strong foundation for my professional writing and market research techniques.
It also offers a free Career Development and Management course which helps students with their entire career development circle, focusing on personal image building, job searching, connection building, salary and compensation negotiation, and so forth. It helped me immensely when I graduated and tried to search for a job.
[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?
[Lily Huang] For students that just started the program, I would suggest taking on challenging courses that focus on subjects you are not familiar with. For example, I took Data Analytics and Measurement that was heavily focused on data analyzing and visualization. The course challenged me to dive into a subject area that I was not most comfortable with. It really pushed me to learn things that I thought were beyond my reach. As a now Google Analytics daily user, I really appreciate the foundation that course built for me.
For students who are interested in a communications program, I would advise them to do some research on all communications programs available out there and make a decision based on their budget, study focus area, and career path they would be interested in pursuing. If they are most interested in public affairs and government agency related jobs in communications, I think Georgetown University’s Master of Professional Studies in Public Relations and Corporate Communications program should be their top choice.
Thank you, Ms. Huang, for your excellent insights on Georgetown University’s Master of Professional Studies in Public Relations and Corporate Communications program!