PPRA: Niki, tell us about your background and your current job.
NG: As executive director of media relations, I oversee media relations at Drexel and the Drexel College of Medicine. Our team consists of an assistant director and three news officers. We each have our own beats so that we can better serve the needs of the University. My beat focuses on media communications for most of the central university administrative areas, including community engagement programs, corporate relations, international programs and more. I also work with the LeBow College of Business and the Close School of Entrepreneurship. I joined Drexel in 2002 as a staff writer and later became an assistant director of media relations before becoming director in 2010 and executive director in March. Prior to Drexel, I worked in Rowan University’s Office of University Relations as a graduate assistant while earning a master’s degree in writing with a specialization in journalism. I also received a bachelor’s degree in communications from Rowan.
PPRA: Who are your clients and what projects are you working on right now?
NG: There is never a dull moment at Drexel. I have worked here for more than 13 years and haven’t been bored yet. One of the University’s big initiatives that was recently covered by media was the announcement of Schuylkill Yards. Drexel and Brandywine Realty Trust made history when they announced their partnership and unveiled plans for the innovation development that will be created on a 14-acre site next to Drexel’s campus and adjacent to Amtrak’s 30th Street Station. The collaborative neighborhood will feature entrepreneurial spaces, educational facilities and research laboratories, corporate offices, residential and retail spaces, hospitality and cultural venues and public open spaces. This is a long-term investment in Philadelphia and its University City neighborhood, with master developer Brandywine leading the development plan.
PPRA: What is the favorite part about your job?
NG: What I like most about my job is that I’m not promoting one college or school, but a variety of topics and experts, which keeps things interesting.
PPRA: What was your latest and greatest accomplishment at your job?
NG: I am most proud of the effort and the collaboration among the media relations team. We accomplish many things when working as a team, running pitches by each other or ideas about how to pursue a story. I am currently working on compiling our hits for the academic year and they are impressive.
PPRA: What one piece of advice would you give to your fellow PR pros?
NG: Many times, we hear about the importance of contacts but a good story and a good pitch will always get coverage whether or not you have a relationship with a reporter. It’s not about the contacts; it’s about the story.
PPRA: What book or movie could you read or watch again and again?
NG: I don’t think there is a movie or book I would watch or read over and over again. I like to move on to new experiences.
PPRA: What’s your favorite spot in Philly?
NG: The Philadelphia Museum of Art
PPRA: How do you take your cheesesteak?
NG: I don’t eat cheesesteaks. I prefer healthier food.