Angela CrawfordJuly 10, 2018
Storytelling is at the heart of what Angela does in her career. The content and the medium has varied, but the end goal is always to connect with the audience in a meaningful way.
After completing her graduate program in communication at the University of Kansas, Angela joined the team at the NAIA to help them open their Eligibility Center and content production, which is to say, she got to tell the stories of the student-athletes. She left the NAIA to take on a role leading the earned and owned media divisions and creative department at The Pittman Group, a marketing agency in Kansas City. Now Angela does marketing and communications for Lockton Companies, the world’s largest privately held, independent insurance broker.
Outside the office, Angela is active in the community, volunteering as a mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters, serving as the Kansas City Chapter President for the Truman State University Alumni Association and attending operas as a season ticket holder with Kansas City’s Lyric Opera. She also never misses a KU basketball or Chiefs game and loves catching as many games as she can when the boys in blue are at The K.
What year did you graduate and what was your concentration?
I graduated in 2008 with a BA in Public Communications and Public Administration. This was an interdisciplinary major, one of the really cool and unique things you can do as a Truman student.
What extra-/co-curricular activities did you do?
Did you go to grad school? If so, where? Was it immediately after you left Truman or did you wait? Why?
Sure did. I went to graduate school at the University of Kansas and earned an MA in Communication Studies: Political Communication and Quantitative Research Methodology (yes, it’s a mouthful).
Frankly, I went to grad school because I graduated from Truman a couple months after the economy crashed and no one was hiring. I was accepted to all the grad schools I applied to, and I received a teaching assistantship at KU, which meant I could get grad school paid for and earn a tiny bit while doing it.
Ultimately, I’m glad I went to grad school right away. I learned a lot and enjoyed teaching more than I expected I would. Plus, it gave the economy two years of recovery time and made me a more marketable prospective employee by the time I entered the workforce. Also, as a big KU fan, it was fun to be a student there for a couple years; I tutored the basketball team in communication courses my second year of school, which was an interesting experience.
What was your first job after graduation?
My first job after graduating from Truman was my TA position at KU. I taught public speaking for two years and enjoyed it a lot.
My first “real” job (you know, with benefits and everything) was working in Kansas City as the Manager of Marketing and Communications for the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. I was responsible for strategy and execution of a variety of marketing, communication, education and PR initiatives for the NAIA, its Eligibility Center and its Champions of Character program. While I didn’t necessarily get my degree with sports marketing in mind, it was an area of marketing I really loved and would like to wander back to at some point in my career. From there, I went to a small digital marketing agency in KC for about a year and a half where I was the Vice President of Marketing overseeing the content, creative and SEO teams.
What work do you do/What are you doing now?
I am a Communications Consultant for Lockton Companies in Kansas City. I work on content development and digital marketing primarily for internal communication purposes. Lockton really values their employees, puts a lot of faith in them, and emphasizes a healthy work-life balance. For nine consecutive years, Business Insurance magazine has recognized Lockton as a “Best Place to Work in Insurance.” Because of that, I have had more time outside work to dedicate to other areas of passion for me.
I am the president of Truman’s Kansas City Alumni Chapter; I have volunteered with Big Brothers Big Sisters for about ten years now; I am the Community Public Relations Coordinator for the Children’s Organ Transplant Association’s efforts honoring my cousin Mark, who has cystic fibrosis and recently received a double lung transplant; and I participate in a lot of community activism and help on occasional political campaigns.
I’m also an aunt to two nieces and a nephew, who are all adorable, and I have two dogs, both named after athletes (Thomas Robinson and Mike Moustakas, aka Tommy and Mikey). For fun, I like to cheer on KU, the Chiefs, the Royals and Sporting KC, and I live in downtown KC, so I love getting out and about in the neighborhood.
How has your Liberal Arts/COMM education helped you?
Unless you’re receiving vocational training, very few degrees are actually training you for the job you will eventually perform. For this reason, the skills you really need to be successful include the ability to learn and adapt quickly, the ability to work effectively in teams or independently, problem solving, comfort with ambiguity, the ability to communicate well through a variety of mediums, being able to understand and get along with a variety of personalities, leadership skills, and the ability to shorten the learning curve, all of which a liberal arts degree teach.
Also, a common misunderstanding around communication is that you won’t need to do math – I often hear, “I went into marketing/communications so I wouldn’t have to do math!” Well, the reason I hear it often is because professional communicators have to use numbers all the time. Analytics are a crucial part of the marketing and communications industry. And my liberal arts degree required me to do math, so I’m appreciative of that element as well.
What advice would you give someone who wants to go into the same line of work as you?
I’ve mentioned it a couple times now, but I really can’t stress enough how important it is for marketing professionals to be comfortable with analytics and statistics. It’s important to not only know where and how to get data and what to do with that data, but also to be able to make meaning from the data and translate that information for everyone from the C-suite to the junior members of your team.
Which class did you dislike at the time you took it, but now you’re grateful you took it?
I didn’t love Statistics or Microeconomics when I took them, but I’ve found both those classes to be incredibly valuable now. Microeconomics is great for understanding the decision making process businesses go through, understanding people’s motivations, etc. And Statistics has been exceptionally useful for all the analytics and survey work I have to do.
If I can give COMM majors one piece of advice, it’s to learn how to measure what you do for a living. Marketers constantly have to prove their value to the C-suite, and the C-suite wants to see numbers, charts and graphs and understand what those numbers mean.
What was your greatest accomplishment at Truman?
One Truman accomplishment that has had lasting impact is the student athletic fee that was voted on and passed by students while I was Student Government president. It was something I worked hard to ensure passed because of the value I saw in collegiate athletics at Truman. I ended up working in collegiate athletics during and after grad school as well, so I can trace my entire career trajectory back to the work I did at Truman on that initiative. That fee has also helped the athletic department do so much more to provide student athletes with a higher quality experience during their collegiate career.
Why is Truman a good place for a student to study?
After attending a much larger school for my graduate work, which included teaching undergraduate students, I came to appreciate my Truman education even more. Truman students understand having to work to earn a grade, the interactions with faculty are so much more meaningful, and the work ethic Truman students develop sets us up so much better for success in the professional world. The campus is large enough that you don’t know every single person there, but it’s small enough that you don’t get lost in the crowd and you have more opportunities to lead and make a difference than you would get at a school with 30,000 students.
What would you say a COMM student should absolutely do while at Truman?
Every COMM student should make an effort to find one or two mentors in faculty and staff at Truman who they can call on and connect with for years to come. I’m so grateful for the relationships I developed with faculty and staff at Truman. Talking to students who went to large schools, I recognize what a unique thing that is for Truman students.
Also, many of my closest friends today are friends I made at Truman through all the activities with which I was involved. I tell all students heading to Truman to get involved (and even over-involved) because that’s where lifelong friendships will bud.
What do you miss most about campus/Kirksville?
I miss the people the most. That’s the tough part about college – everyone leaves for their separate hometowns or new life adventures, so it is difficult to keep up the friendships that meant so much during the four years in Kirksville.
What tag line would you create for the COMM department at Truman?
“Power is gained through effective communication; a successful communications student will learn to wield that power responsibly.”
If you could come back to Truman and teach a class for a semester, what would be its title and what would it be about?
Measuring and Analyzing Communication Strategy – The class would focus on the top tools available for analyzing communication tactics; what the data means; how to present the data to the C-suite, clients and to the general population; and how to plan future communication strategy around the results of the analysis.
Students would also earn certifications in top analytics tools (e.g., Facebook ad certification, Google Analytics certification, etc.).
What did we not ask that you think is important for people to know?
All COMM students should understand the importance of good writing and solid editing skills in a variety of styles (AP, APA, Chicago, etc.). That will be the top thing you need to have a handle on by the time you walk out the door with a degree.