Frank Billingsley, Chief of Staff; Heather Fagan, Press Secretary; and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer
STRATEGY MEETINGS IN THE MORNING, MEDIA INQUIRIES midday, news briefings in the afternoon. No day is exactly alike for Heather Fagan, press secretary for Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer.
In addition to serving as official spokeswoman for Mayor Dyer, Fagan handles media responsibilities from a strategic perspective.
“I look at issues from a policy level, and how issues will play out in the media,” she says. “I maximize communication efforts to reach constituents.”
The path to the mayor’s office wasn’t easy.
Fagan initially started as a Psychology major while a student at the University of Central Florida.
“I sat in one of my first classes, and hated it,” Fagan recalls. At the suggestion of her academic advisor, Fagan sat in on a public relations class. It was love at first sight.
Fagan began seeking out all of the internships she could. Within the first 10 minutes of her internship at Florida Hospital, Fagan found herself being ushered into heart surgery.
“MSNBC named Florida Hospital ‘America’s Heart Hospital,’ and my first week was spent with television crews,” Fagan says. “It was pretty exciting.”
Fagan worked hard to prove herself at her internship, and her boss noticed. When a colleague moved on, Fagan’s supervisors offered her the position.
She worked part-time at the hospital while wrapping up her final semester at UCF. When she graduated, she began working full-time at Florida Hospital.
“I was in charge of creating the employee newsletter, which was the size of a small community newspaper,” Fagan says. “I had great opportunities to learn about journalism and how to think like a reporter. I’d sit in my boss’ office and listen to her pitch stories to the media for hours — I wanted to soak it all in.”
Before long, Fagan was promoted to a manager and began working on an initiative with the mayor’s office. Soon she learned of a career opening in the office.
“I was just doing my job, but it led to a new opportunity,” she says. “You just never know who you’re going to be working with, or where your next opportunity will come from.”
Fagan started as the public information officer and was in charge of handling day-to-day media requests before getting promoted to press secretary.
One of most memorable projects of her career thus far has been serving as point person for all activities and communication related to the opening of the Amway Center.
“I was there when the center was approved by the city and county. To be there on opening day and see first-hand how the residents enjoyed it was incredibly rewarding,” Fagan says. “Hearing the stories about businesses that were saved because of the Amway Center was especially wonderful.”
Learning from Mayor Dyer is one of Fagan’s favorite parts of her job.
“Mayor Dyer is very down to earth, smart, thoughtful and deliberate,” she says. “He really trusts the expertise of those he hires and sincerely takes their advice into consideration.”
Hearing the stories about businesses that were saved because of the Amway Center was especially wonderful.” —Heather Fagan
Ashley Cisneros is a co-founder of Chatter Buzz Media, an Orlando Internet marketing firm that helps companies and organizations engage with their target markets through inbound marketing via the Internet. Chatter Buzz Media, which won the Social Madness competition for the Orlando small business market, is a full-service digital marketing firm specializing in website design, search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing and content creation. Prior to founding Chatter Buzz, Ashley worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine editor, technical writer, marketing manager, public relations practitioner and freelance journalist. To see Ashley’s content writing, visit www.ashleycisneros.com. You can also reach Ashley on her Google profile.