Meet the Board: Alena Sanderson, Director of Membership
Tell us about yourself and your current role
I’m an account executive in Zeno Group’s technology practice based in Silicon Valley. I specialize in B2B tech, and my current client roster spans data integration, management and visualization as well as cybersecurity and human capital management software.
How did you get into PR?
I initially thought I was going to be a journalist and enrolled in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State. Along the way, I took “Intro to PR” as an elective and fell in love. My professor specialized in B2B PR herself, she had worked for tech components distributor Avnet for years, and her class made such an impact. I pulled a 180 and dove into PR, serving on the PRSSA board at my university for two years as social media coordinator and later chapter president. As part of our PR Lab, I worked with our school’s engineering team that was competing the SpaceX Hyperloop Competition. For my senior honors thesis, I designed and implemented a campaign around a campus-wide initiative in its first year intended for national rollout.
What do you love about PR?
I love that PR requires a mixture of writing and problem-solving skills. When choosing a career, one of my biggest concerns was having a repetitive routine. Lucky for us, each day in PR brings something different!
Why are you in PRSA-SF? What do you feel the benefits have been for you?
Serving on the board of my university’s PRSSA chapter opened my eyes to what a fantastic organization it is. Some of my fondest college memories stem from national conference and assembly. Upon graduation, I joined PRSA Phoenix, which lent me the support I needed as a new professional. Now that I’ve relocated to the Bay Area, I’m thrilled to continue my relationship to the organization and give back to it by serving on the board.
What are you hoping to accomplish during your year as director of membership with PRSA-SF?
The pandemic has caused so much disruption in our daily lives, the ways we work and socialize are been heavily impacted. My overarching goal as a director is to help professionals get the most out of PRSA by connecting them to a larger network of members who are dealing with similar challenges. I’d also like to point some of our existing members to resources that help them maximize their membership.
What's one piece of advice you wish you would have known when you started out in PR?
It’s hard to choose one piece of advice, because when you’re first starting out in PR every opportunity is a learning opportunity. I will share an adage that proved to be true: you get out of it what you put into it. Certainly in PR, and even as a member of a professional organization, hard work and time spent pays off. For those who are tempted to let their membership lapse, I’d challenge them to attend more virtual events and connect with their board members. Once you make those personal connections, it’s hard not to get more involved.
What are some of your hobbies? What do you do for fun?
Now that we can work from anywhere, I love being able to take a break, go outside and spend time riding horses. On evenings you can find me curled up under a blanket (this Arizona native hasn’t adjusted to Bay Area weather yet) with a good book or streaming service. I love reading anything by Margaret Atwood in particular—and her “Handmaid’s Tale” has been recreated into one of my favorite TV shows!