Rachel Heggen is the new communications manager for the town of Carrboro. Staff writer Spencer Carney spoke with her about her new role, her expectations and her past work.
The Daily Tar Heel: You’ve just started working as the communications manager for Carrboro. Communications managers typically promote a company’s mission, products and/or services. What specifically does your job entail? For Carrboro, what is it that you are trying to promote?
Rachel Heggen: So, what I’m wanting to promote is how unique Carrboro is. I think it’s a very idealistic and innovative town that is very progressive, which is something that attracted me to this area. My job will be communicating to the public, as well as internal and external communications to the public regarding all things Carrboro, and that also includes crisis communications, such as when there’s some kind of tragic accident or disaster. I want the citizens to know that I will constantly be pushing that information out— obtaining it, checking it and pushing that information out so that no one is left out and everyone is informed.
DTH: You worked for Vanderbilt University and WTVF-TV in Tennessee before coming to Carrboro. How does this job compare to your previous positions so far, as in how are they similar or different?
RH: It’s a very similar job to the one I held in La Vergne, Tennessee, where I was a public information officer for the city. I would promote not only the city but the other departments and also respond to crisis communications, so that really helped prepare me for this position, as well as working in a newsroom for years at the CBS affiliate station there, which is WTVF.
DTH: What are you most excited about? Nervous?
RH: I’m very excited about working with a progressive town, not just politically and economically, but also environmentally. It’s a very green-friendly town, and I respect that, and I’m looking forward to working with that as well and promoting those things about Carrboro.
DTH: What is your top goal to accomplish in this role?
RH: My top goal in this role is to connect with those who might not be quite as connected; given that we’re in that age of technology, there’s still that demographic of people who may not have that access, and we certainly don’t want to leave them out. I also think that will be the most challenging aspect.
DTH: For students interested in this position as a career, do you have any recommendations on classes they should take, skills they should work to acquire, or internships or other experiences that would give them an edge now?
RH: I feel like the thing that prepared me the most for working after college would be an internship; I think that’s the best way, is just to throw yourself in. In my internship, it was just a very sink-or-swim situation, I got thrown into it — it's hard, but that's the best way to learn. And you know your professors will get onto you for not showing up or not showing up on time, like my professor at MTSU (Middle Tennessee State University) chewed me out one day, and from there on out I made sure I got to my class on time and that helped prepare me for a position where you're kind of constantly on call. Because at this position, if anything happens you're supposed to be the one to get that information out; you really have to be on your ‘A’ game. I would recommend that students get as many internships as they can, just jump right into it. It’s really the best way to learn. When I was in school, I wish someone had told me to just be persistent and be positive, cause you're going to get knocked down a lot in this life, and those are the two keys to success, I think.
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