StratCom student builds local government communications platform

Written by Ben Sheard

Kelli Newton is a public sector professional who is at the forefront of a city’s entire communications platform.

A driven and organized personality, Newton planned to join government at the very outset of her educational and professional career. While studying at California State, Fullerton, Newton interned at the local government’s office in Norco, her hometown. There, she set out to improve, modernize and streamline the city’s outreach efforts.

Over time, that internship transformed into a full-time position as a mid management analyst.

“I am going into my second year now,” Newton said. “I work directly with our city manager. I manage all our social media platforms, I manage our website.

“I am in charge of all our in house design. Anything administration-related, anything communicated with the public, I am there from concept to execution.”

Before completing her undergraduate degree, Newton began looking into ways in which she might further her education. Since high school, she had always known that she wanted a master’s degree. It was simply a matter of finding the right program for her.

“I knew I wanted my degree to be in communications,“ she said. ”I wanted a program that I would be able to learn all the skills I would need and eventually mold into one skillset.”

With the constraints of her full time job in Norco, along with her own preferred learning style, Newton decided to pursue an online degree. After conducting meticulous research and plenty of googling, MSU’s Strategic Communications M.A. Program caught her eye.

“I remember thinking MSU knew what they were doing,” she said. “They have a good website that used methods and technology that I wanted to learn myself.

“I looked at the classes and liked how they were different. And I was equally excited by every class option.”

Newton immediately took to the program upon joining and is already beginning to see the results she was looking for.

The program is one hundred percent making a difference,” she said. “It’s boosting my vocabulary and the knowledge I have of communications.

For Newton, she has since been able to take that knowledge back her job, where it has been instrumental in implementing initiatives and supporting her new ideas among coworkers and officials.

Newton also sees the diverse StratCom community as a huge benefit for her studies.

“I like the community,” she said. “People put a lot of thought into their work, and the resources are there.

Everyone is supportive of everybody else and I believe I feel a lot more confident now than prior to the program."

When talking about her job, Newton often refers to both the joy and challenge of building a communications platform from the ground up.

“My favorite part of the job right now is that it’s never been done before,” she said. “I like to say that I am flying the plane while building it.

“I am given a lot of freedom to do what I want to do.”

Through engaging and effective programs, along with a supportive community, MSU StratCom has given Newton more of an idea of how to build her plane.


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