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Joanna Howarth, Associate Director, News and Communications

Have you ever wondered who is behind all of the @bentleyu tweets on your Twitter feed and Bentley posts on Facebook? No, it’s not Flex—but one of those people is Joanna Howarth, Bentley’s Associate Director of News and Communications. Check out my interview with her, below!

Name: Joanna Howarth
Alma mater: UMass, Amherst
Major: Communication, Minor: Sociology
Hometown: Arlington, MA

Her Campus Bentley: What activities were you involved with in college?
Joanna Howarth: In college I was in an all-women’s a cappella singing group called Six Minutes in which I played a leadership role and generally had a ton of fun singing in and around Amherst. I also interned with the Mass. Film Society, worked for one of my Communications professors helping to electronically archive his Native American research, and volunteered with the Boltwood Project where I worked for a music school for adults with special learning needs.

HCB: How do Bentley’s public relations needs differ from those of non-academic companies?
JH: Our public relations needs are actually similar to those of any non-academic company in that our goal is to develop a strong identity and a recognizable brand with consistent messaging. Like any company, we too strive for top tier media coverage and high levels of social media engagement and our strategies reflect that.

The needs of an academic institution differ in that our stakeholders are not typical “consumers” that companies such as a Staples or a Dunkin’ Donuts might target. As an academic institution, we must be mindful to produce relevant content and messaging that speaks to multiple audiences and communities, including students, faculty, alumni, corporate partners, guidance counselors, prospective students, and parents, all of whom are important and whose opinions matter to us.

HCB: What advice would you give to students interested in a career in PR?
JH: At the risk of sounding cliché, you are your brand! It is never too early to start a blog and be thoughtful about what you post to social media. Always represent yourself as though your post was going to be on the cover of the New York Times.

Treat every email, Facebook post, and tweet as though you are a professional writer (which does not mean you have to be boring, but be appropriate!). Your words matter and will always matter if you want a career in PR.

Build meaningful relationships wherever you go and foster those relationships even after you leave. You never know when someone – an upperclassman from your on-campus group, a parent’s friend, an intern supervisor, etc.– might be the key to a great career move in the future.

Learn how to have a meaningful dialogue with a human. This might sound funny but so much of our communication is done electronically, we forget to learn the art of conversation! It is still critically important to know how to deliver a pitch over the phone or in an elevator, often when you least expect it.


Olivia is a senior at Bentley University studying Information Design and Corporate Communication. On campus, she is an Admission Fellow and Peer Facilitator for Bentley’s First Year Seminar program, as well as Co-Campus Correspondent for Her Campus Bentley. In her spare time, Olivia enjoys reading, writing, spending time with family and friends, traveling, and going to Disney World (she’s obsessed).
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