Member Spotlight: Ruth Harper-Rhode

Ruth Harper-Rhode is a public relations associate at the University of Rochester Medical Center Wilmot Cancer Institute. She also volunteers with PRSA Rochester, managing the chapter’s Twitter account and assisting with social strategy. We chatted with Ruth about her role at the University of Rochester, her advice for young professionals, and PRSA Rochester’s social media efforts.

Why did you decide to pursue a career in public relations?
In high school I did an internship at my local newspaper and that led me to major in journalism; my goal was to be a journalist. As I moved through college, I learned that public relations uses similar skills a journalist uses, so I decided to go in that direction instead. I love that I have been able to tell stories and use other journalistic skills to promote causes I find important.     

Can you tell us a bit about your current role at the University of Rochester Medical Center Wilmot Cancer Institute?
My main responsibilities include managing Wilmot’s Facebook and Twitter pages, helping promote fundraising events, creating content for our internal audiences and pitching stories to local and regional media, and tackling various other things that come along. My husband is a cancer survivor so I feel honored to contribute to this organization every day!

You’re involved on the communications committee with PRSA Rochester. Can you tell us more about the chapter’s social media efforts? 
In addition to sharing information about upcoming and past events, we want to make the chapter’s social media accounts into online communities where our members and pros can learn and engage about all things related to PR and career development, with a Rochester slant whenever possible. I volunteer to mainly help manage the chapter’s Twitter account and am always looking for interesting articles to share with our followers.  

When you’re not busy working, what do you like doing in your spare time?
Lately, all my free time is spent taking care of my 9-month-old daughter, Amelia. She’s already so smart, curious and fun! We recently took her on her first international vacation and we love hitting spots around Rochester as a family. I enjoy reading and binge-watching shows or movies on Netflix or Hulu.  

What advice do you have for young professionals entering the field of public relations?
You don’t have to have a major career plan as soon as you graduate. Some of the fun is figuring at least some of it out as you go based on what life throws at you. Try new, unexpected things early in your career and get involved in the community. Also, be resilient and remember change is inevitable. Go with the flow when you can, but also know staying true to yourself and your values will help you find your way no matter what’s happening in the industry or world around you.