SMU alumna Katie Franklin, top journalism student turned PR pro

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Katie Franklin understands the life of a journalist. When she sees me pull out my voice recorder, she pauses to let it start recording so that I won’t miss a word.

“You’ll get half a quote and say wait. . . what was that again?” she said and laughed.

As a journalism student at Southern Methodist University, I could relate to Franklin immediately.

Franklin started at the University of Georgia, but finished her collegiate career at SMU. She couldn’t stay away from home.

“I was born and raised in Dallas, so it’s one of the reasons I came back,” Franklin said.

Today, Franklin is a public relations manager for AT&T. Although she’s in the field of PR now, her roots are in journalism.

“Writing has always been my strongest suit and I wanted a way to channel that story-telling,” Franklin said, explaining why she studied journalism at both University of Georgia and SMU.

One of Franklin’s former SMU journalism professors, Michele Houston, spoke highly of Franklin’s work ethic.

“Once someone has Katie work for them, they want to keep her,” Houston said.

While at SMU, Franklin wasn’t really sure what a job in PR entailed. It wasn’t until after she graduated and connected with people in the field that she began to understand the nature of the profession.

When asked if she would ever consider getting back into journalism, Franklin indicated that she would stay on the PR track.

“I would like to do it freelance, but career-wise, what I’m doing now has a pretty good trajectory upwards,” Franklin said.

At AT&T, Franklin still has the ability to tell compelling stories, just as in journalism. But I was curious—how does someone decide to make the switch from journalism to PR?

“Good question,” a smiling Franklin said.

After graduating in 2011, she interned for The Dallas Morning News.

“I really enjoyed it, but I learned very quickly that breaking news was not for me,” Franklin said.

Although Franklin is in the PR industry now, she strongly believes that having a background in journalism is advantageous.

“That ability to think like a journalist was how I ended up moving up to higher PR roles,” Franklin said.

Franklin’s resume is extensive and impressive, but her journey wasn’t always easy. After graduating, Franklin wanted to find a way to tell stories while staying in Dallas.

“There are going to be times when you’re working, and you think, ‘This is going nowhere,’ but in the end, it will open a lot of doors,” Franklin said.

As for Franklin’s career in the future, she wants to stay at AT&T. Although a huge corporation, the opportunity to change positions within the company interests Franklin.

Franklin, a proud SMU alumna, went on to explain how SMU prepared her for the jobs she has held, and how journalism and PR contribute to each other.

“I think it’s great that SMU has the option to pair the two sides, because although they’re both different, they go hand in hand,” Franklin explained.

After I exhausted all of my questions, I closed my laptop and stopped taking notes. Franklin and I continued to chat about journalism for almost an hour after our interview, showing her genuine interest in and care for the topic.

“All of my favorite stories I’ve written have been for my SMU journalism classes,” Franklin said.

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