As publicists, it’s our duty to be our client’s biggest cheerleaders, no matter the situation. The recent COVID-19 outbreak has forced us all to step out of our comfort zones and provide crisis counsel during a time of uncertainty. Despite working from home and choosing to physically distance ourselves from coworkers we consider family, we are continuing to provide strategic media assistance and foster mutually beneficial relationships with the media for our clients despite what’s going on in our world.
When I first dove into the public relations industry, I wondered how I could seamlessly weave in my 18+ years of cheerleading experience and my multiple sclerosis journey to achieve significant results for my clients while juggling uncontrollable situations.
In cheerleading, quick thinking and teamwork are essential. Instead of using my pom-poms and megaphone, I now use the skills I’ve acquired through my collegiate cheerleading career and at rbb to drive results and connect clients with writers and reporters for timely media opportunities during the COVID-19 outbreak.
After reading this blog post, I challenge you to change someone’s perspective on MS, use your voice to educate others during this confusing time and give someone the benefit of the doubt, because we all have our own obstacles. Here is my story and why I consider rbb my home more than ever during these unprecedented times:
At 16-years-old, your biggest worries are studying for the SAT, starting the college application process and scrambling to find a prom date. At this age, I had all the stressors of being a high school student plus battling a debilitating disease.
For the first time in my life, my grades were slipping, going to cheerleading practice felt like a chore and I didn’t feel like my bubbly, passionate self. I had been misdiagnosed by countless doctors and living with multiple sclerosis for months without knowing it.
As background, MS is when the immune system attacks the protective sheath (myelin) that covers nerve fibers and causes communication problems between your brain and the rest of your body. Eventually, the disease can cause permanent damage or deterioration of the nerves, according to the Mayo Clinic.
When I was finally diagnosed, I felt a sense of relief that I would finally feel like myself again. However, besides my immediate family, I didn’t want anyone to know what I was up against. The thought of people thinking of me differently or questioning my capabilities was far more crippling than my symptoms.
I worried about my future – many doctors told me to give up cheerleading, put college on hold to focus on my health and forget getting a job down the line. Hearing that ignited the fire inside of me to prove those doctors wrong.
Within a year and a half of my diagnosis, I became the captain of my high school cheerleading team, won the Cheerleading World Championship’s with my competitive cheerleading team, got accepted to the University of Miami and made their cheer team. As a cheerleader at the time of my diagnosis, I knew it was my duty to make an impact and use my megaphone to help those with MS who were less fortunate.
Today, some MS drugs cost as much as $80,000 per year without insurance or an assisted copay program, according to U.S. News & World Report. Knowing this inspired me to act, I became a co-chair for the University of Miami MS Center for Excellence’s “Shop to Stop MS” charity event and frequently visited pediatric MS patients in the hospital bringing goodies, smiles and my pom poms of course.
Through this, I found my love for public relations. Without any instruction, I taught myself how to pitch the media, invite Influencers in the MS community to my event and secure sponsorships/nurture relationships with companies like Bacardi, Peace Love World, Saks Fifth Avenue and more for the big night.
After discovering my knack for media relations at an early age, I changed my major from broadcast journalism to public relations and the rest was history!
Upon graduation, I knew I needed to find a company that embraced my lifestyle with MS. I knew rbb was a perfect fit because of their flexible work policies, employee-driven workplace, progressive benefits, unlimited PTO and of course fun social events.
When the COVID-19 outbreak became a reality in the US, I knew I was in the best hands. The leadership team and my manager Sandra encouraged me to work from home and check-in frequently to see how I am doing. Since rbb has had a WFH policy for over 10 years – this transition has been seamless.
In addition, “bad MS days” don’t exist at rbb – thanks to their progressive work policies I can work from home if my muscles feel dull, my hand feels numb or if I’m feeling fatigued. I found a workplace that sees me for my abilities and managers that push me to succeed.
I have MS to thank for leading me to rbb, my second home.