By Rosaland Tyler
New Journal and Guide
The spotlight tends to stalk Dr. Felecia Blow, a seasoned public relations practitioner, who has stood before TV cameras and calmly managed the media for many large companies including Cox Communications, Caterpillar Inc., Southeastern Public Service Authority, Paul D. Camp and Tidewater Community Colleges.
Most recently, delegates of the Public Relations Society of America Leadership Assembly shifted the 75-year-old-organization’s spotlight until it came to rest and settled on Blow who was elected chair, according to a recent press release. Blow began her one-year term as chair this month. She is the third African American to chair Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), the nation’s leading professional organization serving the communications community.
But, ask Blow what is the No. 1 lesson she has learned as a public relations veteran who has worked in the field for more than three decades at several high-profile companies, including two Fortune 500 companies (Cox Communications and Caterpillar Inc), and she will say, teamwork. Blow said she manages life’s ups and downs by taping Bible verses to her walls, bathroom mirrors, and office walls.
“Treat others as you wish to be treated,” Blow said in a recent email interview with The New Journal and Guide.
Blow, who currently serves as associate vice president for development at Hampton University, her alma mater, said, “Hold firm to your values and your integrity.”
“Through ALL things, we must trust and believe in God,” said Blow, who has been married for 32 years to the Rev. Alvin Blow, pastor of Franklin’s Eternal Life Church. They have three children: Erin (33); Victoria (19); Trevor (13); and Alvin Jr. (deceased), according to the church’s website.
“When you fall (and those striving for more in life do have challenges), don’t stay down…get back up,” she advised. “I am my very worst critic; I beat myself up way more than others when I ‘mess up.’ But I have recognized that I can’t continue to beat myself up over past mistakes. So I remind myself to learn from my challenges, be kind to myself, and keep striving.”
She added, “God is truly the center of my life. When I see issues arise, I recognize that Satan is in the mix. So I have scriptures in my office on the walls about faith, and spiritual strength. On my bathroom mirror I have scriptures about holding out to the end. I won’t go into great detail on issues that I’ve had, because they are many. And I don’t want to elevate the problem, but rejoice that I made it over! I can tell you that there is always something to overcome…issues in the family, concerns about the children, COVID-COVID-COVID, work relationships, money, and the list goes on. But my husband of 32 years, Rev. Alvin Blow and Pastor of Eternal Life Church, is one of the most amazing people I know when it comes to recognizing that through ALL things, we must trust and believe in God!”
Whether her faith, her training (which includes a graduate degree from Strayer University), or her optimistic outlook mysteriously shifts the spotlight back toward her, Blow may have pinpointed the real reason why the limelight tends to find her. To her, teamwork is always a top priority.
For example, teamwork surfaces when Blow points to Hampton University’s successful $150 Million “Dream No Small Dreams II Campaign.” It is a fundraising effort that she helped to strategize. Ultimately, Hampton exceeded its campaign goal by more than 10 percent, she said.
Teamwork surfaces again when you notice Hampton’s endowment has reached historic levels and now amounts to more than $400 million. Doretha J. Spells, vice president for business affairs and treasurer, announced Hampton’s historic $400 million endowment level in November during a Hampton University’s board of trustees meeting. (In 1978, when Dr. William Harvey assumed office as president, Hampton’s endowment amounted to $29 million).
Time and again, Blow’s unflinching respect for teamwork tends to make the spotlight shift and focus in her direction. For example, to guide her efforts as chair at PRSA, Blow chose the theme, “Meeting the Moment–PRSA Relevancy in a Time of Change.”
She also named two members as senior counsel to the board of directors (Jan. 31) and appointed a slate of member volunteers who will support key strategic organizational goals. PRSA leaders elected Blow to the post in December 2020. She assumed office this month.
As chair, Blow will focus on membership growth, increase member involvement, and increase the organization’s alliances and partnerships. To help achieve these goals, she will work closely with leaders on PRSA’s committees, a recent press release noted.
As the new chair, Blow will also work closely with the CEO to manage the PRSA’s affairs. She will also serve as a board of trustees member at the PRSA Foundation.
“Teamwork truly makes the dream work,” she said, not only referring to her new PRSA duties but also pointing to her ongoing fundraising efforts at Hampton University, as well as her daily obligations at home where she serves as a wife, a mother, and the First Lady of Franklin’s Eternal Life Church.
But she attributes much of her success at Hampton University to her ongoing partnership with the president. “I attribute much of my success to Dr. Harvey’s principles of fundraising,” she said, in her recent email.
“Through a combination of cash, pledges, and in-kind gifts, last fiscal year, I was able to raise more than $7 million. I’m grateful for ALL the donors who have made contributions in support of my “Home by the “Sea.”
Still, her ongoing success story seems to swivel and hang on her proclivity for teamwork. In other words, the spotlight tends to find her because she continues to work as a tireless volunteer and chairs several nonprofits in Hampton Roads.
For example, she serves as board director at Regional Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce. She serves as board secretary at Franklin-Southampton Economic Development Inc. She chairs the Paul D. Camp Community College Board, and is a member of numerous organizations Including Urban League of Greater Hampton Roads board of directors, Virginia Peninsula Chamber of Commerce board of directors, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., and The Links Inc.
By constantly reaching out to grasp a helping hand or to extend one, in other words, Blow said she was”pleased” to help Hampton University acquire recent donations from New York Life, PSEG, and Dominion Energy.
This is the point. Don’t open your eyes wide in amazement or feel startled if the spotlight unexpectedly surfaces and swings back on Blow. Soon, you may see her accepting a huge monetary award from a large company, or see her escorting a group of Hampton University students to future PRSA events in the coming months. The organization has nearly 30,000 members and 110 chapters. The organization operates on nearly 375 college and university campuses.
In her recent email, Blow said she aims to partner with Hampton University students and help them “achieve their academic pursuits and build relationships with new people from across the globe.”