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Inspired by Creativity: Amber Cooper ’12 Alumni at Work, Account Executive, Edelman

“We look at the beginning and end of a client relationship. We are asking, ‘Have we met the goals and benchmarks?'”

Whether it’s evaluating a client’s social media, helping to organize and lead a new sorority at W&L, or interning at a small public relations agency in London, Amber Cooper ’12 is inspired by being around creative, smart people.

An account executive for the Washington, D.C., office of the global marketing communications agency Edelman, Cooper enjoys being part of a constantly evolving industry. She is part of the firm’s Insights and Analytics team, where she specializes in digital engagement with clients’ audiences.

“We look at the beginning and end of a client relationship,” said Cooper. She might start out by conducting a social media audit, then work on strategy and planning, and loop back for measurement. “We are asking, ‘Have we met the goals and benchmarks?'”

Clients are interested in their social conversation online, she said. What are the client’s brand messages and are they targeting the right people? She and her team might measure content performance on Facebook, for example, or during a crisis, monitor all social media for what’s being posted and repeated.

Typically Cooper works with government, health care, higher education, consumer, food, financial, and oil and gas clients.

Recently Cooper participated in the Embracing Diversity symposium on campus to discuss her time at W&L and her career in communications. “Diversity and W&L are close to my heart,” she said. While a student, she helped organize a chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha, a Black Greek-letter sorority that emphasizes sisterhood, scholarship and service.

She served as AKA’s president for a year, and also led two other minority student organizations: the Student Association for Black Unity and the Ladies’ Club, a social organization where members gathered for discussions about women’s health, diversity and other topics.

She realizes that some minority students might not think to look at W&L when searching for a college. “I try to put in a word for W&L” she said. It is a place “where you can grow as a young adult.”

Although Cooper has been away from W&L for only a few years, she has packed a lot of experience into them. After graduating from W&L, she went to Boston University, where she earned a master’s degree in public relations. During her final semester, she studied in London, where she wrote her thesis and interned for a small public relations firm. Her clients included show business personalities and lifestyle brands.

She then moved to the Washington, D.C., area. She was not employed but soon found an internship with Edelman’s digital health team. After six months, she was offered a full-time job.

Cooper originally thought she would go to law school, but a journalism class she took “to get my writing chops in order” led her in another direction. She decided she didn’t want to be a journalist, but leaned more toward mass communications. Robert de Maria, now professor emeritus of journalism and mass communications, was a big influence on her. “He is so wise and had been in the industry a long time.”

In her Africana Studies minor, Marc Connor, interim provost and professor of English, also inspired her. His class is “where I learned about life,” she said. But the greatest influence may have been working under Associate Dean Tamara Futrell in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. Cooper watched how Futrell communicated with students and the experience “got my engine revved up for PR and communications.”

Cooper is enjoying her time at Edelman, where her colleagues are “super smart and creative,” but her future might just include another stint as a student. “I want to learn more about the media and study media and mass communications more broadly and across cultures,” she said.

– by Linda Evans

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