5 questions with Stephanie Woodham: Focusing on the art of communication

July 7, 2013 

You specialize in public relations and marketing. How has social media affected your job?

When I started my career in public relations back in 2005, Facebook had just become popular among colleges across the nation (Facebook was founded in 2004). Like every other mass communication major at Auburn University at the time, I jumped on board right away. It was exciting to have a way to stay connected to classmates and friends with the click of a button.

Since then, my job has shifted from spending hours on the phone doing media calls to maintaining an image, creating a brand presence and speaking the voice of my clients online. The average consumer has now shifted from finding information to actively seeking information and journalists are identifying news sources and story ideas via social media as well.

One of my clients jokingly calls me "a girl with a Facebook page," but as we all know, social media is about more than just a Facebook page these days.

Social media is a communication tool that fits into a much larger strategy, and you can't have one without the other.

From a public relations standpoint, what would be your approach if Paula Deen joined your client list?

First, let me say that I would be tickled to have her as a client as she is a strong Southern woman who knows how to cook! My approach to public relations is to be honest with the public -- she was raised in the South some 66 years ago, her heritage and upbringing is very different from the world we live in today. Our world has changed since then for the better.

As my client, I would want her to let the world know that she is proud of her Southern heritage, and she isn't ashamed of her Southern roots.

However, that doesn't make what she said right. It is important that her apology be sincere and honest in recognizing that it was wrong to say what she said.

As a communications professional, the No. 1 rule of my job is to understand how words affect other people. Communication is a very powerful tool and words can cut deep, even when not intended.

You've spent most of your life in the Chattahoochee Valley. Why did you choose to stay here?

Actually, I moved away for about 10 years. When I would come back to visit, I would see the progress of our community and that really excited me. I have been so enamored with how this community has grown, especially in Uptown. This is part of why I feel so passionately about continuing to make Columbus a better place to live.

Once I had children, I knew that I wanted them to grow up in this wonderful community. I can only image what amazing things will happen between now and when my children are grown.

What are your favorite memories of your time attending Auburn University?

Hanging out with my Auburn family, tailgating, rolling Toomer's Corner after a win and my bartending days are just a few things that come to mind. It makes me sad to drive through Auburn and not see the huge live oak trees towering over Toomer's Corner. The tradition of rolling Toomer's Corner will never be the same, but it will not diminish the Auburn spirit. WAR EAGLE!

Aside from your clients, what's the best-kept secret in the Chattahoochee Valley?

I think Columbus' Civil War history is the best-kept secret in the area. Where else can you live in a luxury condo which once produced Confederate uniforms for the Civil War? It's kind of amazing to think that 150 years ago, the Chattahoochee was used as a transportation and supply route, and now people are rafting and even surfing the whitewater!

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