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Heather Childress

STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS MANAGER

Santa Barbara, CA

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More than 7 years’ progressive experience as a dynamic strategic communications and public affairs manager with keen abilities to develop high-level targeted communications campaigns, evaluate campaigns, provide qualitative and quantitative analysis, identify new opportunities, develop creative solutions, and implement and manage strategic and tactical campaigns maximizing print, direct, email, and social media. Proven ability to translate highly-nuanced information into clear, relatable messages to a broad range of constituents. Vast background in creating innovative communications initiatives and materials that engage community and strengthen brand resonance among targeted audiences to build buy-in. Collaborative self-starter who seamlessly manages shifting priorities and interacts with internal and external stakeholders, while remaining diplomatic under tight deadlines.

Work Experience

Project Management & Coordination Leadership

Davies Public Affairs
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Santa Barbara, CA
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2012 to Present

Assisted in strategy development and implementation of grassroots public affairs and communications programs for projects across the United States and internationally and across a variety industries including real estate development, retail, environmental, local government, and energy. Responsible for database development, qualitative thought leader research & analysis, developed project materials, ongoing supporter communication, managed grassroots letter writing campaigns and team, event planning and coordination, responsible for all written materials including editorials, letters-to-the-editor, e-communication, update and activation letters, public hearing talking points, website content and development, and social media programs. Developed strategy and managed all local community relations for global client, as well as played an integral role in crisis communications team. 
 Strategic Communications & Implementation – Assisted in developing strategy and managed implementation of communication plans for client projects. Drafted news releases, developed and created website content, developed FAQ’s, drafted talking points for client leadership, project specific update letters, drafted phone scripts and managed phone banks, drafted content for media placement, assisted in creating visually-compelling fact books for each project, managed development processes and distribution including vendor and contractor management. Developed and maintained database of thought leaders and supporters for each client project. 
 Awards Submission – Drafted successful program awards submissions for PRSA and SABRE. 
 Social Media Expert – As the firm’s social media expert, developed and managed social media components for client projects both in collaboration with client digital communications teams and independently. Created content for Facebook and Twitter accounts with tens of thousands of fans, monitored daily and responded to comments and questions. Managed advertising budget for each project. Developed and maintained project YouTube pages, and microsites, optimizing all for SEO. Provided regular reporting to client. Success of social media plans lead to clients adopting strategy and utilizing me as a social media advisor for corporate accounts. Developed and managed a grassroots blog team for each client.  
 Client/Supporter Relations – Responsible for high-touch supporter relations including activating project supporters to attend and speak at key hearings and before city, county and national decision makers. Crafted unique talking points for VIPs as well as general talking points. Responded to public questions regarding projects by phone and email. Facilitated events and hearings all across the U.S. and internationally, and responsible for all tasks involved, including handling and managing on-site staffing, producing needed materials and being the “supporter affairs” face of the client.  
 Community & Media Relations – Managed all Santa Barbara County community & media relations for global corporation. Drafted talking points for key leadership, took the lead on community partner engagement events, represented client to multiple key community organizations, identified strategic partners, provided instrumental guidance on annual budgets, assisted in photography, drafted press releases and newsletter articles promoting these partnerships. Developed internal communications materials aimed at educating employees on corporate partnerships, opportunities, and milestones.  
 Crisis Communications – Provided crisis communication for clients including global oil and gas corporation including assisting in developing a communications plan, drafting new releases, media alerts, and talking points.

Brand Marketing Communications

Excelligence Learning Corporation
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Monterey, CA
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2009 to 2012

Managed all aspects of brand marketing communications collateral for four early childhood education brands including: market & policy research, strategy and development, branding, print and web advertising, social media, copy, layout and design, tradeshows, promotions, print production, performance monitoring, analysis and reporting. Established and refined core corporate messaging and related communications across lines of business and target audiences to elevate brand awareness and position brands as early childhood education industry thought leaders. Acted as internal liaison in coordinating and advising on communications policies across multiple departments and external liaison to brand fans and customers.  
 
 Project Management – Managed all print, tradeshow, and new media collateral for company from inception to finished product. Evaluated print collateral supply chain to increase economies of scale. Managed marketing collateral budget.  
 Social Media – Managed two company and two brand social media strategies and wrote original content for company blogs, websites, ecommerce websites, Twitter, Facebook, etc. Researched, developed, implemented, and evaluated social media/outreach programs for unique brands and audiences as well as provided recommendations to senior management. Coordinated web content and conducted social media analysis (using Google Analytics, Commission Junction, etc.) Created press and blogger kits. 
 Analysis & Reporting – Oversaw web analytic data and developed solutions to resolve web marketing challenges. Monitored and analyzed performance data of marketing and sales initiatives, reported results to senior management to steer future initiatives. 
 
Brand Market Research & Development  
Researched policy trends and analyzed effect of policy on early childhood education market. Developed, managed, and executed targeted marketing campaigns. Responsible for R&D budget. Expanded role to include copy writing, social media marketing.  
 Project Management – Created and implemented various targeted marketing campaigns based on independent funding research. Increased department revenue by over 80% in first year. Generated most revenue in the history of the position. At time of promotion, 2011 revenue projection for position reached over $1 million.  
 Market Research – Conducted market research on early childhood education and special needs industry. Maintained and updated actionable industry information on an ongoing basis on state and national levels. Wrote quarterly industry and policy summaries for board of directors. Created yearly valuation summaries mapping industry health for investors. Chosen to sit on strategic team to grow special needs company.  
 Social Media Marketing/E-Marketing – Solely maintained and contributed to teacher assessment blog, which continues to be one of the company’s highest revenue generating blogs. Contributed content to bi-weekly industry newsletter with a circulation over 95,000.

Executive and Graduate Advisor, School of Media & Public Affairs

The George Washington University
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Washington, DC
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2007 to 2009

Assisted director in executing and managing diverse projects for the school including facilities enhancement, special events, and student relations. Expanded role to development and coordination of social media marketing initiatives for a 429-student program by leveraging knowledge of new media trends. Conducted market research and brand audit including competitor analysis and internal research to increase program's market share. 
* Branding & Marketing - Enhanced stakeholders perception of school image by developing marketing and communication materials, including a "Year End Review" newsletter, while adhering to tight deadlines for publication. Produced engaging web 2.0 marketing campaign using the social media including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Performed digital media audit; findings incorporated into marketing plan to increase efficiencies. 
* Copy Writing & Strategic Communications - Designed and wrote copy for program handbooks that became a quick reference for students and source of equity for the program. Synthesized and integrated communication from multiple sources to communicate to students and parents about special programs and events, as well as coordinated all specific initiative steps. 
 
Senior Graduate Administrator, Broadcast Suite, School of Media & Public Affairs

Research Assistant

Cokie Roberts
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Washington, DC
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2007 to 2009

Provided research and public relations support for the publication of two books for Cokie Roberts, author, political commentator, and senior news analyst. 
* Public Relations - Leveraged ability to identify power contacts for requesting and scheduling interviews. Coordinated and transcribed interviews with public figures in the preparation for specific chapters. 
* Creativity - Identified passages of interest and transcribed passages from letters between John Quincy Adams and Louisa C. Adams for Ladies of Liberty, published April 2008. Identified new topic entries while conducting research for We Are Our Mothers' Daughters (2nd Edition), published April 2009.

Press Assistant

U.S. Congress - U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill
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Washington, DC
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2008 to 2008

Assisted in raising awareness of the Senator's position on relevant issues by collaborating on press projects including drafting speaking points for the Senator and press releases. Provided proactive and reactive media relations support. Researched daily press clips and maintained a comprehensive database for staff records. 
* Digital Media - Demonstrated strong initiative by digitizing the press office, establishing an online database for uploading media lists, developing a comprehensive mapping system for Senatorial state visits, and teleconferences, providing a virtual public relations resource, and making it accessible to office. 
* Public Affairs - Executed public affairs activities with adept understanding of policy making process and government affairs. Positively influenced constituent and media perception by writing communication materials, including dialogue for Sen. McCaskill, press releases about Senator sponsored/supported legislation for federal grants (natural disaster relief, veteran services/affairs, rural development, and financial firm regulation as part of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act). Contributed to maintaining positive working relationships with community and business groups. 
* Media Relations - Assisted with day-to-day external relations challenges of handling media requests and media interviews and advisories by contacting media outlets, wrote sound bytes, and organized a statewide press distribution list.

Media and Communications

Save the Childress
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Washington, DC
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2008 to 2008

Researched, compiled, and distributed daily media clips on Save The Children initiatives across the nation and abroad. 
* Social Marketing/Community Relations - Leveraged knowledge of current social networking trends to develop a strategic plan to partner with college campuses for intern recruitment and engagement and heighten young adult awareness about Save The Children's advocacy efforts, which was incorporated into an intern-lead project to audit and strengthen the NGO's current program. Plan heavily incorporated the use of Facebook as a tool to strengthen intern community and increase interest in internship.

Client Services, Career Management and Organizational Consulting

Right Management
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Charlotte, NC
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2006 to 2007

Selected as the Marketing Liaison for North and South Carolina by senior regional management to assist in branding and creating several critical sales proposals aimed at securing and retaining key accounts. Ensured business retention by effectively coordinating the delivery of career and talent management consulting services.  
 Brand Messaging – Advanced company’s service branding by partnering with sales and market resource departments to synthesize and create a consistent message for current and prospective clients through presentations and effective marketing materials at tradeshows and company events. Utilized effective communication skills across all levels of management to influence decision-making. 
 Business Development – Collaborated on sales pitch and to a $4.7B company resulting in contract for career transition business. Contributed to annual sales revenue of $6M by leveraging organizational skills and collaborative efforts with other departments to assist with the planning and execution of numerous client-focused events and sales prospecting programs. Contributed to securing a $1M contract through conducting and documenting competitive research and preparing comparative services analysis for RFP response.

Education

Master of Arts in Media and Public Affairs

The George Washington University -
Washington, DC

2009

Diploma in International Advertising Association Diploma

GWU School of Business

2009

Bachelor of Arts in English

Virginia Polytechnic Institute And State University -
Blacksburg, VA

2005

University of Sussex -
Falmer

2003 to 2003

Skills

Public Affairs, Corporate Communications, Strategic Communications, Marketing, Brand and Reputation Management, Social Media, Presentation, Crisis Communications and Management, Community Relations, Public Relations, Media Relations

Awards

Eaton Award

2009

Community Commitment

Publications

Encyclopedia of Journalism, Sage

2009

Contributing Author

Additional Information

Katherine Harvey Fellow, Santa Barbara Foundation 
Board Member, Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network 
Junior League of Santa Barbara 
Volunteer, Hearts Therapeutic Riding Center