Kathryn Blanchard is the public relations guru behind Crown Communications in Charlotte. A member of the first graduating class of Appalachian State University’s public relations concentration, she spent time in the non-profit world before founding Crown in 1993. She was a longtime chair and member of Appalachian’s Department of Communication Advisory Board and continues to work closely with the department to share best practices in the field and help shape coursework so current students will be prepared for the working world after graduation.
Blanchard came to Appalachian as a psychology major hoping to explore the way people interact, but her first psychology class focused more on the science piece and less on the social aspect. Then, she discovered the Department of Communication. Her father was the one who read about the new public relations concentration, and thinking it would fit well with her skill set, encouraged her to pursue the major.
Since the public relations (PR) track in the department was so new, students had opportunities to create their own experiences. “Our sorority hosted a spring beach party in February in the snow, and I was part of the group that got WBTV up from Charlotte to cover the event,” she said. “I wasn’t even thinking at the time that was PR work – we just did it!”
Those types of different experiences are what Blanchard loves about her work in public relations.
“I’m never sure what will come up day to day, and I love the variety of my work,” she said. “My goal is to solve problems, and to be a part of changing the course of a situation for a positive outcome. I want to make an impact.”
When it comes to landing a job, Blanchard encourages students to use their networks and be persistent. “Any time I get an introduction from someone that I know, I’ll spend time with that candidate,” she said. “Think wide and broad about anyone you know – beyond your immediate circle – and look for connections everywhere.”
“Kathryn is a loyal supporter of the department, and we’re lucky to have her expertise,” said Jean DeHart, professor and chair of the Department of Communication. “She’s a great role model for our students and freely gives of her time and talents to help others succeed.”
Blanchard currently serves on the Appalachian State University Foundation Board of Directors.