Introducing our newest team member, account coordinator Chioma Uwagwu. Chioma is a 2020 graduate of the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, where she majored in – deep breath – communication and journalism with an emphasis in persuasion and social influence and a double major in cultural studies.
As you might expect from that multi-faceted description of what she studied in school, Chioma has a wide variety of interests and expertise. We sat down to talk with her about what makes her tick — including everything from persuasion to art history to Seinfeld.
During college, you were a student worker at ThreeSixty Journalism, the nonprofit program that supports multimedia storytelling by diverse Minnesota high school students; a communications intern at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency; an R.A. and more. How were you able to balance all of your different interests?
My passion around communications has to do with telling the stories of other people. I like agency life because you get to work on a bunch of different things. If you look back at the jobs I had throughout college, some were with residence life, some were with the art history department, some were with student affairs. I was still communicating and telling stories, but within different departments. That’s why I think agency life suits me: the same goal but with a bunch of different clients.
I like how interdisciplinary PR is. I think that shows a lot in the work I did in school, and I’m glad I was able to make a shift from, “Oh my gosh, I can’t really focus on one thing and that’s really bad” to, “Oh, cool, I can work in PR and I get to do a lot of things and that’s really good.” I like that.
You were, and continue to be, a digital and social media producer at Racial Reckoning: The Arc of Justice journalism initiative from Ampers, KMOJ Radio and the Minnesota Humanities Center. What is it, and why is it important for you to be a part of it?
It’s an innovative, community-centered journalism project examining the criminal justice system and community response, focused on the trials of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin and three other former police officers for their roles in the murder of George Floyd. I post on Twitter and Facebook and provide journalist support in the field. It’s important because it’s very accessible – it runs on many radio stations that are primarily music-focused – and uses community voices whenever possible, with a variety of interviewees. We look for people in the community who are doing good work, but might not be getting the attention of the major media outlets.
You’ve been able to combine your passions for journalism and PR. How do those fit together?
I like the persuasion and social influence part of it. I think you can become a better communicator if you know the why of how your words can influence people. Journalists communicate for the people, and not that PR doesn’t do that, but it’s also for a company or organization. I definitely like that part of what PR does: advocating for an organization’s mission.
What are you focusing on at the agency so far?
One of the first projects I’m working on is Pack to the Max Day for our client Second Harvest Heartland. I’ve done some on-site media relations before, but never from beginning to end. I’m excited because I get to do everything from writing the media alert to pitching media and then I get to be there when it happens. That’s what I’m really excited for – staying with projects all the way through execution.
I think it’s cool that we work with a lot of local companies and organizations like Second Harvest. For me it’s good to be more in tune with what’s going on in Minnesota. I like that many clients have multiple aspects to them, combining say, a nonprofit and healthcare. A lot of them have wider scopes.
How about outside of work – how do you like to spend your free time?
I’m in the post-college part of life where I need to recenter myself and figure out what my hobbies actually are. I’m watching sitcoms that people are obsessed with. I like comedies a lot: The Office, Parks and Rec, Friends. Right now I’m watching Seinfeld. I’m sad it’s almost over – I’m on season nine.
I like playing tennis, house shopping on Zillow even though I have no intentions of buying a house. I just like being with people. I could just hang out with some friends at a store and roam the aisles and buy nothing and I’d be content.
Welcome to Bellmont Partners, Chioma – we’re glad you’re part of the team!