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2023 International Women's Day: Recognizing the Achievements of WVU Marketing Communications Alumni


Recognizing the achievements of WVU Marketing Communications alumni: Jaime Hunt, Rebecca Morgan, Jayla Murdock and Caitlin NicholsonToday, March 8, is International Women’s Day. This is a global day dedicated to the recognition of the achievements of women and call to action advancement for gender equality within all industries and spaces. The first IWD event was a public gathering of over one million people in 1911. However, the digital age has transformed the celebration into this day to cross oceans and empower women to come together, empower others and share their stories digitally.

Today, some of the industry-leading women who are alumni from the WVU Marketing Communications Graduate Programs share their stories about being a strong woman in the industry and the wisdom they wish to pass down to rising leaders.

Jaime Hunt Jaime Hunt

M.S. IMC 2011

Vice President for University Communications and Chief Marketing Officer, Old Dominion University 

Host of the podcast Confessions of a Higher Ed CMO with Jaime Hunt

How did you get your start in the marketing communications field?

I started my career as a print journalist, which I loved, but after five years, I was ready for a new challenge. After spending several years in the media relations space, I had the opportunity to take on some marketing projects. I quickly realized that I loved the blend of art and science and wanted to learn more. I ultimately decided to invest in my career by pursuing a master’s degree in IMC. That opened up so many doors for me! I have been a chief marketing officer for three excellent universities for the last eight years.

Who is a woman in the field that inspires you?

I am a huge fan of Terry Flannery. She is the author of “How to Market a University” and a 35-year veteran of higher education marketing. I’m inspired by the fantastic brand campaigns she has launched, including my favorite of all time: the University of Maryland’s “Fear the Turtle” campaign. She’s also a wonderful person who continually gives back to this profession.

This year’s International Women’s Day theme is #EmbraceEquity. What strides have you seen being made to advance equity in the marketing communications industry?

One of the significant strides being made in advancing equity is the increased representation of women in leadership positions in the marketing communications industry. More women are being appointed to C-suite positions and are being given the opportunity to lead major campaigns and initiatives.

Creating a more diverse and inclusive marketing industry requires the participation of everyone. While women are making significant strides, I am conscious of the fact that women of color still lack representation. This is something that should concern all of us.

What advice do you have for a young, professional woman starting in the field?

Don’t be afraid to speak up, share your ideas, and advocate for yourself. Confidence can help you stand out and advance your career. Remember that your unique perspective and insights are valuable; don't be afraid to share them. Also, consider your personal brand. As a marketer, you understand the importance of branding. Apply the same principles to yourself by developing a brand that reflects your unique skills, values, and personality. Build a strong online presence, create a portfolio of your work, and showcase your expertise through thought leadership content.

Rebecca MorganRebecca Morgan

M.S. IMC 2019 

Rating Analyst, U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs Benefits Administration

How did you get your start in the marketing communications field?

I began my career as a copy editor and page designer for a daily newspaper. The experience I gained in this position was invaluable in my career pivot into marketing. For sixteen years, I served as the marketing manager and was later named vice president for a regional non-profit business organization. It was in this role that I had the opportunity to navigate through marketing, public relations, and advertising. The combination of all the elements of the marketing communications field created a constructive environment for me to develop the skills required to succeed in an industry that is continually evolving with the rapidly changing technologies used to communicate and reach audiences around the world.

Who is a woman in the field that inspires you?

I have been fortunate to work for and with many dynamic women. I was also greatly inspired by the female instructors in the WVU IMC program. They were each managing full-time careers, family, and teaching; yet they always carved out time to answer student questions or concerns. Their interest in helping young professionals gain the skills needed to rise in the marketing field is a tremendous asset to the program.

This year’s International Women’s Day theme is #EmbraceEquity. What strides have you seen being made to advance equity in the marketing communications industry?

Women are gaining more notoriety in the marketing communications industry as their ability to strengthen and expand the field begins to receive much deserved recognition. Yamini Rangan, who was named HubSpot’s first-ever Chief Customer Officer to oversee marketing, sales, and service teams, now serves as the company’s Chief Executive Officer. Digital marketing content expert Ann Handley, author of Everybody Writes and co-author of Content Rules, pioneered digital marketing information with her company ClickZ, which she sold in 2000. Women are proving that creativity and collaboration are key components to advancing the marcom industry, and businesses are taking note.

What advice do you have for a young, professional woman starting in the field?

I would advise young women starting out in the marketing field to seek out female mentors who have established themselves in the industry or simply have more experience and can guide you along your career path. Networking early on in your career will help you develop the relationships you will rely on as you advance. Social media can be an ideal platform for making initial connections. Send a message to a leader you would like to learn from and let them know how much they inspire you. Growing your social circle virtually can be just as valuable. I would also encourage women to promote their achievements with the same attention as they would for a client or employer. This creates an opportunity for you to introduce yourself and your talents to new audiences.

Jayla Murdock Jayla Murdock

M.S. IMC 2021 

Prevention Campaign Specialists , National Sexual Violence Resource Center 

Integrated Marketing Communications Coordinator, Harrisburg Area Community College

How did you get your start in the marketing communications field?

Throughout my youth, in particular high school, I dedicated my time to student organizations that allowed me to develop a love for writing, creating, event planning, and fundraising. During that time, I was able to volunteer to fundraise for non-profits such as; Make A Wish Foundation, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and The Four Diamonds Fund. At West Chester University, I majored in Communications with a journalism focus, but my student involvement and leadership focused on planning events, creating flyers, and maintaining social media. I learned on-camera and off-camera studio skills in the classroom, networked, and became the founder and vice president of the National Association of Black Journalists, West Chester Chapter, in 2017. Though I still enjoy journalism, I also enjoy being " a creative." In 2019, I decided to get my masters degree in Integrated Marketing Communications with a Digital and Social Media specialization. I gained the necessary skills and knowledge through hands-on learning with organizations and have been able to apply the importance of marketing, writing, innovation, branding, sales, leadership, and how to execute them individually in my current work.

Currently, I work within the non-profit and higher education fields. As the Campaign Prevention Specialist on the communications team at the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC), my work involves developing and implementing an annual nationwide Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) campaign. This years theme is Drawing Connections: Prevention Demands Equity. I also participate in developing marketing efforts throughout the year to educate the community about sexual violence, harassment, and abuse and providing resources on prevention, advocacy, and how to support survivors. As an IMC Coordinator at HACC, Harrisburg Area Community College, I develop IMC strategies for advertising, social media, events, and content marketing for current and future students.

Thinking back on these moments and my interests throughout the years, I have realized everything has come what I like to call "full circle," and I cannot wait to see where my career takes me next.

Who is a woman in the field that inspires you?

I am very grateful to work with many unique and inspiring women in both of my positions, one team being all women; many of whom are working moms who are leaders, changemakers, and goal-getters. I genuinely enjoy working and learning from them.

This year's International Women's Day theme is #EmbraceEquity. What strides have you seen being made to advance equity in the marketing communications industry?

Embracing equity means embracing individuality and acknowledging there is not always a leveled playing field. Everyone is unique in their thoughts, abilities, and demeanor—we can only accomplish equity when we truly embrace the diversity of opinions, perspectives, and individual uniqueness. In the industry, I see more people who look like me, not only women but black women. I hope to expand my network of black woman marketing communications professionals as I journey through my career.

What advice do you have for a young, professional woman starting in the field?

I am at the beginning of my marketing communications career and consider myself a young, professional woman. This is a large field with many opportunities. It may take time to determine what you enjoy the most and the type of company/organization you want to share your talents with, and that is okay. One thing I have learned while being in this field is that it is crucial to find employers who are not only dedicated to their mission and purpose but an employer who is dedicated to guiding and helping you grow as an individual and in your craft.

What I would like to share with fellow young, professional black women is that while you may be the only one, or one of few, don't just sit at the table but move to the front of the room. Do not be afraid to be yourself and dare to assert yourself to be the leader you are. Show up for yourself and speak up for your needs and the need to embrace equity and respect in your field and company/organization.

Caitlin Nicholson Caitlin Nicholson

M.S. IMC 2020

Senior Brand and Content Strategist, Overit Media

How did you get your start in the marketing communications field?

My undergraduate degree was in journalism, a tough field to break into based on the economic climate. Pivoting to marketing and communications allowed me to use my trained writing, interviewing, and storytelling skills and my inquisitive nature and desire to learn have kept me in the field.

Who is a woman in the field that inspires you?

At the risk of sounding like a "brownnoser," I am going to say Lisa Barone, VP of Brand here at Overit - my supervisor and colleague. She's so knowledgeable and renowned, yet so approachable, humble, and helpful. I work with a lot of outstanding and creative women here at Overit, and in my young marketing content marketing career I've been fortunate to have had great supervision and leadership from professional and thoughtful women.

This year’s International Women’s Day theme is #EmbraceEquity. What strides have you seen being made to advance equity in the marketing communications industry?

To embrace equity we need women in leadership roles. This means not shying away from being a leader and from elevating your voice. And beyond yourself, it's empowering other women to do the same.

I work in brand and content marketing, so one of the things I advise clients ahead of an observance like "Women's History Month" is to not just post a quote or a simple "Happy International Women's Day" but to look at how your organization helps embrace equity - whether institutionally or public-facing and how you can do this intrinsically not just one month out of the year. And of course, how you can craft messaging around this without sounding overly promotional or tone-deaf in today's social climate.

What advice do you have for a young, professional woman starting in the field?

There are a lot of platitudes out there to the tune of "work hard/be good/be yourself." Those are great "whats" but I always like to focus on the "hows." How can you continue to grow professionally? How can you get ahead? How can you avoid getting stagnant? Remember to always be proactive, take initiative, and think critically.

This year, the theme for International Women’s Day is #EmbraceEquity.

“Equity isn't just a nice-to-have, it's a must-have.

A focus on gender equity needs to be part of every society's DNA.

And it's critical to understand the difference between equity and equality.

The aim of the IWD 2023 #EmbraceEquity campaign theme is to get the world talking about Why equal opportunities aren't enough. People start from different places, so true inclusion and belonging require equitable action.

All IWD activity is valid, that's what makes IWD inclusive.”

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