About Anneshia Hardy: Anneshia Hardy is an interpretive scholar with a deeply rooted passion for higher education, student engagement, community development, and tackling social issues. She is also a business developer, brand strategist, and strategic marketing communications professional with a background in civic engagement and message development in the public sector. Ms. Hardy holds a BA in Marketing and a Masters in Strategic Communications from Troy University. In addition, she holds a Masters in Public Administration from Texas Southern University.

Currently, Ms. Hardy serves as the staff marketing associate at the National Center for the Study of Civil Rights and African-American Culture at Alabama State University (ASU). She also teaches as an adjunct professor in the Department of Communications at ASU in mass media, public relations, and media ethics. She currently works with various nonprofits as a strategic communications/media consultant. Prior to working in strategic communications and academia, Ms. Hardy spent several years in the financial service industry working for prominent investment banks as a Wealth Management Associate and Investment Operations Specialist.

Interview Questions

[MastersinCommunications.com] Could you please elaborate on your work as a Media and Strategic Communications Consultant? What does this work entail and how do you help companies with their communication needs? You have also worked in business development and brand strategy–is this similar to your consulting work?

[Anneshia Hardy] As a media/strategic communications professional, I partner with each client in the development of strategic communications programs and elevating the organization’s brand. This is typically accomplished through message development, audience/consumer research, digital initiatives, and consumer engagement activities. In the past, I’ve served in the capacity of business developer and brand strategist. I truly believe my background in strategic communications complemented my role as business developer/brand strategist. My duties as business developer and brand strategist consisted of new business acquisition, increasing brand awareness/placement, and forming strategic cooperative partnership. Many of these activities relied heavily on leveraging the organization’s strategic communication activities.

Through my professional experiences and scholarly research, I’ve embraced the philosophy that to gain a clear understanding of the social phenomena found in today’s society, an individual should have a keen awareness of media effects and its influences on one’s worldview. My overall academic and professional objective is to provide scholarly instruction and research regarding media effects and communication studies. I hope that by contributing to this subject matter, I will encourage individuals to take control of their social perception and seek a more balanced view of society and its issues. In addition, I would like to play a significant role in policy reformation regarding censorship and moral accountability within the field of mass communication.

[MastersinCommunications.com] Why did you decide to pursue a Master’s in Communication and why did you ultimately choose Troy’s Master of Science in Strategic Communication program?

[Anneshia Hardy] During my undergraduate studies in marketing, I studied various forms of consumer engagement tactics that utilized marketing and advertising strategies. Prior to pursuing a Master’s in Communications, I completed my Master’s in Public Administration with a focus in public policy. During my studies, I found that public policy is greatly influenced by public opinion. Whereas public opinion is greatly influenced by mass media. I began to see parallels between public opinion and strategic communications that were similar to parallels found between marketing and consumer engagement.

In an effort to gain a better understanding of strategic communications and emerging media, I decided to pursue graduate studies in this area. I choose to pursue an online program because I was working full-time in the field. I selected Troy University’s program due to its comprehensive and contemporary curriculum. I was impressed with the robustness, organization, and integrity of the program. Although it was 100% online, the program structure ensured that students were constantly engaged and challenged. Being engaged and challenged were two important factors for me. Mainly, because of my plans to pursue doctoral studies in the field and work in academia.

[MastersinCommunications.com] How is Troy University’s 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?

[Anneshia Hardy] The program is 100% online. Students are required to complete 30 semester hours (5 core courses and 5 elective courses). The program focuses on the intersection of strategic communication theories, strategies, and digital media. The coursework examines trends and contemporary issues in the field, such as crisis communications and social media, emerging media and social influence, and PR and organizational image management.

There were two courses offered in the program that I find to be imperative for anyone entering the field of communications – COM 6600 (Communication and Influence) and COM 6605 (Communication Theories). I found these courses to be great foundational courses. Communication and Influence highlighted the elements and impact of persuasive communication. This is typically important for students interested in PR, advertising, or marketing communication. Communication Theories provided a theoretical background for why certain practices are effective in the field. The overall program sharpened my public relations writing skills. Coming from a background of marketing and business development, this was a weak area for me. Much of my prior activities included cold-calls, social media marketing, face-to-face meetings, and strategy development.

Many of my course assignments were applicable to my every-day work experiences. I was able to use several of my class assignments on the job. For example, my capstone project was a case analysis of my employer’s crisis communication strategy. At the end of the program, students are required to submit a final project. I selected to submit an action case study. The study examined four crises that occurred within the last 5 years of my employer. I used Lloyd Bitzer’s “Rhetorical Situation” and William Benoit’s “Image Restoration Theory” as the theoretical framework for my project. I also found the creation of a subject-matter blog in COM 6630 (Strategic Comm and Emerging Media) to be applicable to my professional work. I was able to use the blog to create a digital footprint for myself as an expert in the field of communications. Google me.

[MastersinCommunications.com] Could you please elaborate on your experiences in Troy’s online Master’s of Arts in Strategic Communication program? Were courses mostly synchronous or asynchronous and how accessible were instructors outside of the classroom? What academic and career support services were available for students of this online program?

[Anneshia Hardy] Overall my experience in the program was valuable, informative, and career changing. The courses were fully asynchronous which allowed me to continue to build my professional experience while furthering my education in the field. The instructors were accessible mainly via email. However, several professors provided their phone numbers to the class. Professors typically respond to email inquiries within 24-48 hours. I would recommend completing your assignments within a window that would allow you to contact your professors before the due date, if needed.

One of the cons of the program was the lack of career support services. However, this was not a deterrent for me because I was currently working in my desired area. The program does utilize a closed Facebook group open to students enrolled in the program. This group was a lifesaver during comprehensive examinations. Previous graduates would post study tips and tactics regarding the comprehensive exam and other courses.

[MastersinCommunications.com] What key takeaways, experiences, or connections from Troy’s Master of Arts in Strategic Communication have you found to be the most helpful for you in your career path?

[Anneshia Hardy] Overall, the program was worth the time and effort. Every course in the program was applicable to my work in the field. The most valuable component of the program, for me, was the consistent interjection of topics pertaining to new media and media convergence in every course. In today’s job market, employers are seeking communication professionals that can wear multiple hats and stay up-to-date with digital trends. i.e. social media marketing, digital PR, digital journalism, etc. The program covers the aforementioned skills and more! One of my favorite course assignments was in the Emerging Media and Leadership in Emerging Media courses. Students were required to create and sustain a digital footprint as a subject matter expert in the field throughout the semester. This was completed through blogging and vlogging regarding topics covered in the course. After graduation, I turned my blog into a website and continue to post about topics in the field. www.anneshiahardy.strikingly.com

[MastersinCommunications.com] What advice would you give students just starting Troy’s MA in Strategic Communication 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 Troy or another university?

[Anneshia Hardy] To prospective students, I would recommend enrolling in the program when you have an idea of what areas in the field you would like to work. The program is 100% online and requires that students are organized and self-motivated to complete written and reading assignments. In my opinion, the program is best suited for working professionals in the field. The topics covered in the program requires students to have some sort of theoretical and practical experience in the field.

Thank you, Ms. Hardy, for your insight into Troy University’s Online Master of Science in Strategic Communication program!