Member Spotlight: Melissa Vela-Williamson

Posted by PRSA_MelissaMY on 07/10/2020 7:00 pm  

Name: Melissa Vela-Williamson

Title: Chief Communication Architect/Founder

Company: MVW Communications

How long have you been in your current position?

I made the leap to launch MVW Communications in 2015. Through MVW, I consult, collaborate with agencies or independent professionals, and build my own tailored account teams to craft and implement public relations and marketing campaigns. We operate like a consultancy or an agency depending on the client or account. That flexibility allows us to serve up custom plans and budgets per client. I am the Chief Communication Architect, which means I lead the development of the plans or campaigns. In most cases, we stay on with the client to bring the ideas to life.

How long have you been a member of PRSA?

I joined PRSA in 2005 and have been active on the board and as a member since. I’m so grateful to have found PRSA San Antonio early on in my career. The chapter’s programs filled in for the industry education I didn’t receive in college. Learning how to do the job while in the job was a challenge, but PRSA members filled in my gaps with advice, mentoring and sharing contacts or resources. I am so confident in the work because of the PRSA network and continuing education I invest in.  I have worked across sectors in public relations and have followed PRSA’s practices as a contributing member my entire career. I’ve been working on earning my Accreditation in Public Relations and hope to complete that certification journey this year – pandemic or not!

Held any offices in PRSA/Chapter? (name if so)

In 2005, I became the PRSA Newsletter Editor upon joining the organization as a young professional. I continued on in roles as Banquet Chair, Professional Development Chair and Vice President of Programs. I worked my way up to leading the local PRSA chapter as President in 2013. I have remained a contributing advisor since then in many ways. In 2020, I rejoined the Board of Directors as VP of Social Responsibility to help shape our chapter’s approach on ethics, diversity/inclusion and nonprofit service. I’m excited to share that we’ll be launching a “Smart Talk” video series soon to share more about what social responsibility is and how it can be implemented in our profession.

What does PRSA mean to you?

To me, PRSA means guided opportunity. My connection and investment in the association has informed how I practice public relations, allowed me to build relationships with those I could learn from, work with and be hired by. I’ve been able to grow as a leader through its volunteer opportunities – always getting more return for the time I put in. During the course of my time with PRSA, I bridged the gap from textbook to career practice, grown as a professional and volunteer leader,  represented our  chapter at the PRSA International Conference, hired interns from the PRSSA student chapters, welcomed and recruited new members, and mentored young or transitioning professionals both locally and those who come to San Antonio from other markets. I also facilitated partnering the PRSA board with the local American Marketing Association, Advertising Federation, and Journalist association for mixers, integrated professional development workshops and more. PRSA has given me opportunities and allowed me to share opportunities with others. Truly a win-win!

Hobbies or something unique that you do that you might would share:

When I was younger, my hobbies involved anything creative – reading, creative writing, photography, dancing and exploring new places. Those are still fun, but I probably read the most out of any of those hobbies. Today, hobbies are often related to work or family since time is precious and blending it all for me is a must. Much of my free time includes giving back. I am the founding chair of the Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas and Ronald McDonald House Charities of San Antonio communication committees. This July, I start as a member of the San Antonio Area Foundation’s Youth Advisory Community Committee. Before the pandemic struck, I spent time as the human half of a volunteer pet therapy team alongside my rescue dog, Bevo. Together, we made kids at the Ronald McDonald Houses smile and at teamed up with other trained dogs at special PAWS for Therapy events. Canine Christmas caroling was super cute and my kids loved helping at the event!

What is something that you would share to someone new going into PR?

Get ready for a ride. COVID-19 has changed the way of work and life for our world in unexpected ways. Being in public relations during this season is stressful, but deeply satisfying as we navigate our stakeholders carefully towards a new future. Be committed to helping others, building relationships and lifelong learning. Get involved in PRSA for guidance, valuable education and networking. Volunteering on a committee or with the board will help you make fast friends and learn in ways you may not be able to elsewhere.

Note: Melissa recently passed the Accreditation for Public Relations exam.