Texas Tech University

Q&A: Melanie Cornell

  • Name: Melanie Cornell
  • Age: 24
  • Hometown: Dallas / Fort Worth Area
  • Position: Social Media Community Manager
  • Company: JCPenney

In 2011, Melanie Cornell graduated from The College of Media & Communication with a bachelor's degree in public relations. Melanie previously held the positions of vice president of Tech PR and president of the Tech Raider Lions Club while at Texas Tech. Melanie also interned with Texas Tech Public Media her senior year. After graduating, HCK2 Partners in Dallas hired Melanie as an intern. After two months of interning, HCK2 promoted Melanie to a full-time account coordinator. During the next year, Melanie worked for a variety of clients. She is now the social media community manager for JCPenney.

What role did social media play in your internships at HCK2 Partners and Texas Tech Public Media?

Throughout my time at HCK2, I mainly focused on traditional media relations and worked very hard to get the media interested in the stories my clients had to tell. As I made relationships with reporters, I learned how many of them worked and where they focused their time. Pitching stories on behalf of my clients via Twitter was an easy way to get in front of the media, and it brought results. I was also lucky to be placed on accounts that valued social media and drafted proactive social content for these clients. Prior to interning at Texas Tech Public Media, they didn't have a social presence on Twitter and the Facebook account had not been updated in a long time. I knew I wanted to focus on social media and took on the responsibility of creating proactive content and engaging with fans online. I was lucky to have a great intern coordinator who gave me creative freedom and let me dive into this.

What is your role as social media community manager at JCPenney?

I focus on engaging and communicating with our fans across the 9+ social sites we have a presence on. Social media provides a face and personality for our brand, and it gives us instant feedback we can share.

What types of skills did you learn during your undergraduate studies at Texas Tech that helped you become successful?

Texas Tech prepares you with the background, history and a broad understanding of different fields in public relations. I am also extremely grateful for the networking skill and opportunities Tech provided.

What advice would you share with other students who want to pursue a career in new media and public relations?

Always keep learning. How and where people communicate and gather information changes daily. Six months ago, who would have thought brands would reach fans on SnapChat? Take advantage of opportunities outside the classroom and never be afraid to make a suggestion – especially if it is a little outside the box. I also strongly encourage students to take advantage of any chance to meet with alumni and build their own network

What is your favorite part about your job?

I love that every day is different than the day before. I am very fortunate to work with a supportive team that isn't afraid to take chances or try new things. We have a great chemistry, and while we work really hard, we are able to have a tremendous amount of fun. A few of my favorite moments include being the first brand to completely start a new Facebook page and engaging with fans the night of the Academy Awards. Oscar night was a ton of fun, and we were able to drive more than 40 million impressions and one million engagements across Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter. And believe it or not, working with my team through crisis management issues has been a huge learning opportunity.

Melanie Cornell

Melanie Cornell