College of Communication alumna
Brooke Anderson (Journalism
'11) came to Chicago by way of sunny Florida to study in with the College of Communication . During her time with the college, she
worked as a political consultant with local pubic relations firm
Serafin, and conducted media relations for Gery Chico, a Chicago mayoral
candidate. Through her education with DePaul and her working experience
while a graduate student, Brooke has since taken on the role of press
secretary for Illinois Governor Pat Quinn.
You were already working professionally in
Florida before making the move north to Chicago to study at DePaul. What
led you here to our Journalism program?
My first job out of college was at a young and fashionable PR firm
in Boca Raton, Florida. I also did some freelance reporting on
health/beauty/fitness issues on the side, to further develop my
I quickly learned that I liked a fast pace in the working world.
Everything moved quickly in PR and required you to manage a lot of
issues, solve a lot of crises and work with a lot of people all at once.
I loved the excitement and being in the middle of the action. Working
with reporters and clients proved to be fun — and a challenge.
After working there for about a year, I felt very comfortable,
which in turn made me uncomfortable, because I knew that I wouldn't be
able to reach some of my goals if I stayed put. I had always wanted to
live in a big city where I could walk downstairs and grab a latte at a
cute little café. I wanted to advance my skills as a reporter. And with
the presidential primary campaign gearing up, I wanted to get into
So, I quit my job, sold my car, applied for graduate school at DePaul and packed my bags for Chicago.
For a southern girl, how did you adjust to Chicago, particularly our famous winters?
One of the first people I met through my DePaul connections was
NBC5's legendary political reporter Dick Kay, who gave me wise advice:
"Dress warm." I get by okay as long as I dress for the wintery occasion!
While studying at DePaul, you worked at
Serafin, a media consulting firm that specializes in PR work for
corporations and non-profits. Were you able to compliment the work you
were doing at Serfain with the education you were getting in the
Working at a communications firm with strong city and statewide
ties like Serafin worked seamlessly with my journalism pursuits. I
attended events, worked with local reporters in Chicago and around the
state, and payed close attention to all the political news and daily
developments that impacted my clients at Serafin, but also were of
interest to me on a journalistic level. Sometimes, I would be at an
event, meet politicians and then follow-up with them with an interview
request for one of my classes.
Through DePaul's program, I met so many top reporters whom today I
am lucky to call my friends. They came in and spoke to us, they mentored
us and they edited our work. At the time, I remember calling my dad on
the El home after class at 10 p.m. and being like, "Dad, I feel like the
luckiest girl! The Tribune's top sports columnist is editing my story! A
nationally-renowned Chicago Sun-Times columnist is teaching me how to
report on urban issues and navigate City Hall!" My teachers were
How did DePaul help prepare you to work as press secretary and spokesperson for Gov. Quinn?
You definitely learn that reporters have deadlines, and being
responsive is really important. During my grad school days, I would find
it so frustrating when a source wouldn't get back to me on something
and I'd be down to the wire trying to complete a story. So, I try to get
back to reporters as fast as I can nail the information down. DePaul
taught me how to capture the news from an event and pick up on little
things that are of interest to people and add texture to the story. As
Professor Bruce Evensen would say, it's good to look for the "news they need to know."
My professors were such good examples on how to handle questions
respectfully and report in a fair, balanced way. Being on the other side
now, I am always quick to notice when a story doesn't give us a fair
shake, and I learned how to do that kind of analysis at DePaul. As press
secretary, fairness is the most important thing I ask of the reporters
who cover us.
One of the greater concerns for students
on the verge of graduation is how to achieve to their professional
goals. They're armed with the knowledge, practical experience and
diploma, but how does one use all these to a professional end in your
Get in the game. Throw yourself into something that's uncomfortable. Once you get there, you'll learn.