Name: Nichole (Niki) Burgdorf
Title: Communications Supervisor
“Your own reasons to make art are enough. Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart.” – Elizabeth Gilbert, from her forthcoming book, Big Magic.
How have you benefitted from being an IABC St. Louis member?
IABC St. Louis has helped me in many ways. One of the biggest is networking with local communicators. It’s so nice to know you aren’t alone in your struggles and I love hearing about others’ victories and learnings, as well as sharing my own – we have to stick together, right? I’ve also benefited from the committee work I’ve done, both for the Bronze Quill Awards and social media, which has stretched my skills beyond what I practice day-to-day.
What possessed you to enter the communications profession?
I studied both international business and English as an undergrad. Because I was a double major, I needed one extra credit hour in my last semester to graduate. I could choose between art history and public relations. I took the public relations class and I’m so glad! I was hooked immediately. This was a class where I could use what I learned in both majors, and it had the added benefit of being all about shaping how people think. (I’ve always been bossy, so it was a perfect fit.) When I took my second (and current) job, I went back for my master’s degree in public relations, where I got the core of my training, and I’m still in love, nearly 15 years after that first class.
How would you describe your role at Mercy?
My job is writing, specifically internal communications, which is part of the Marketing and Communications department. I am in charge of several newsletters, write for our intranet, am the liaison for departments such as Human Resources and Medical Documentation, and also provide strategic communications planning advice. I’ve also be dubbed our “historian,” so I frequently work on projects that involve our Mercy history/heritage/mission.
What do you like most about your job?
The writing – it doesn’t matter if it’s an article, speech, memo, annual report, whatever. It’s my favorite thing in the world to do, both at work and after (I write fiction on the side). I once told my boss that for me, “writing is like breathing,” and last summer I got the word “write” tattooed on my wrist (which I cover with a bracelet for work). I also really enjoy crafting communications plans. I think it’s because I’m a naturally organized person and planning (even just for a single project) helps me make order of an unpredictable world.
What advice would you give to someone considering a career in communications?
Study everything you can because communications is an ever-evolving profession and you’ll have to be a life-long learner to continue at the top of your game. Don’t be afraid to take that next step yourself if it doesn’t come to you. I chose to get my ABC designation both because I love to learn and wanted to advance my career. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help, or volunteer it if you have expertise. One of my most rewarding experiences has been judging contest entries for other IABC chapters, which has helped me increase my skills in writing the award applications we submit through my job.