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Q&A with Bellmont Partners’ new account coordinator, Chioma Uwagwu

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!

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