From MSU to meeting Rosa Parks, an Ole Miss alumna shares her PR journey – OXFORD STORIES


Ellen Weaver Hartman with Hank Aaron, former MLB baseball player.

Belen Deloera
Oxford stories
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A native of Starkville, who began her career in the Public Information Office at Mississippi State University, now runs her own PR agency in Atlanta after a long career confronted with American icons.

Ellen Weaver Hartman, who graduated from the University of Mississippi in 1973, has worked in communications for global public relations agencies including The Coca-Cola Company, AFC Enterprises and the government for more than 40 years. Today she is CEO of her own PR agency in Atlanta, Hartman Public Relations.

Founded by Hartman, APR, who received an accreditation for public relations from the Public Relations Society of America and was selected for the College of Fellows, Hartman Public Relations provides strategic advice and expertise in program delivery across many industry segments, including food and food service, Professional service, manufacturing, media and communication industries.

The services range from marketing communication, media relations and issues management to crisis communication, media training and CEO and corporate reputation management.

Weaver Hartman decided to go to the University of Mississippi instead of MSU to get out of their comfort zone and grow in an unfamiliar environment.

“This is a good lesson I’ve learned throughout my career, how to challenge myself to get better, be better, get out of my comfort zone and do things I’m not used to,” said Weaver Hartman.

While at UM, Weaver Hartman pursued double degrees in broadcasting and journalism, encouraged by her former high school teacher. She still uses these majors today. After graduating, she had two job offers – as a reporter at The Jackson Daily News and in public relations at MSU.

PRSA College of Fellows Dinner 2015 with her Mississippi friends.
PRSA College of Fellows Dinner 2015 with her Mississippi friends.

While she was working in the Mississippi State Public Information Office, her former high school principal called her and asked if she could give a journalism class during her lunch break. With her boss’s approval, Weaver Hartman taught the class and took students on excursions to the Starkville Daily News and The Commercial Appeal in Memphis.

Like the ethics of journalism, the Public Relations Society of America has a similar code of ethics that it practices on a daily basis, including accuracy, honesty, multiple source identification, and proofreading.

She said networking is also an important part of career growth.

“Building a network of family, professors, outplacement director and internship manager is very important,” said Weaver Hartman. “You need to build your own personal board of directors that you can turn to for advice on how to get an internship, how to create your resume, and what contacts they might have.”

Because of her network, the Church Secretary suggested to Weaver Hartman that she apply for the position of Assistant Editor at Presbyterian Survey Magazine, the official magazine of the Presbyterian Church, in Atlanta, where she covered civil and women’s rights. She later worked for the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transport Authority as a PR manager.

MARTA was the gateway to many unforgettable experiences. She learned urban politics and how to apply it to her role.

Weaver Hartman worked with key board members including the late Joseph Lowery, one of the founders and vice presidents of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an African American civil rights organization. She worked with the late Ralph David Abernathy, a civil rights activist, Baptist minister, and chief adviser to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who marched with him to Washington, DC

She even met Rosa Parks.

“It was a great time being at MARTA,” said Weaver Hartman.

Ellen Weaver Hartman, CEO of Hartman PR, stands with a colleague who is holding a camera and tripod in a store.
Ellen Weaver Hartman, CEO of Hartman PR, stands with a colleague who is holding a camera and tripod in a store.

She later worked for Coca-Cola for two years developing the company’s financial and annual reports. She then worked as a public relations director for small agencies and for three global public relations firms including Manning, Selvage & Lee, FleishmanHillard, and served as President of Weber Shandwick’s Atlanta office for nearly nine years.

Weaver Hartman was a Top 12 Officer for AFC Enterprises, the parent company of Church’s Chicken, Popeye’s, Cinnabon Bakery Restaurant, Seattle’s Best Coffee, and franchisor of 4,000 restaurants in 21 countries.

During her time at AFC, she expanded her communications role as Vice President of Diversity Management and Investor Relations. She became a leader in the hospitality industry and served on industry boards and committees.

John W. L’Abate, senior writer at Delta Community Credit Union in Atlanta, said Weaver Hartman was persistent in managing media relations. Their technique was to build long-term relationships with writers and present stories that were relevant to them and their clients.

“She was working at a public relations agency for a fast food client trying to get a journalist (whom she knew) to be interested in some of the company’s philanthropic endeavors,” he said. “She had lots of solid facts and interesting anecdotes that would help make a good story, but it had to invite the journalist to Atlanta to help us build a house in Habitat for Humanity that would make the story for publication . “

Weaver Hartman faced a challenge when management fired top officials from an advertising and public relations agency she worked for during the 2008-2011 banking crisis and recession. She was told not to call her customers. Instead, they called her and asked, “Where are we going next? We’ll stay with you as PR and crisis advisors. ‘”

With three blue chip clients, Coca-Cola, TVS architects and Honeywell, the impetus was to found her own agency, which is now 10 years old.

“The lesson for everyone is that failure doesn’t stop you,” said Weaver Hartman. “Make something good of the experience.

This is Ellen Weaver Hartman.  She is the CEO of Hartman PR in Atlanta.
Ellen Weaver Hartmann. She is the CEO of Hartman PR in Atlanta.

“My future goal is to continue to provide excellent service to (our) customers and to help the next generation of public relations professionals succeed,” said Weaver Hartman.

Weaver Hartman said she got successful because of her parents. Her mother was a fabric artist who took full care of her daughters during her master’s degree. She taught in several school districts. Weaver Hartman’s father owned three local businesses. Today she is a role model for her children and grandchildren.

Her daughter Anna Hartman said it was impressive to see her balance her life and career while on the Weber Shandwick executive team.

“She’s amazing under pressure,” said Anna Hartman. “But it was even cooler to watch her transition from a leadership position at a global PR agency to starting her own PR firm from scratch. In the face of a changing industry, she wasn’t afraid to start over. ”

For current students interested in PR or journalism, Weaver Hartman said good oral and verbal communication skills are important. So it is to be a good storyteller, interviewer, listener and have access to good sources.

“These are the skills that you need to take with you as you will always use those skills,” said Weaver Hartman.

Anna Hartman said her mother taught her not to be afraid of questions and to develop a sense of humor.

“If you ask modestly and professionally, there’s a good chance you’ll get what you want, or at least close to it,” said Anna Hartman. “The worst that can happen is that someone says ‘no’, so honestly, what have you got to lose?”

“First, the humor is disarming to most people and automatically makes difficult conversations easier. Second, humor is memorable so that others can more easily remember your name or pitch. Third, and above all, humor makes you more resilient when you make a mistake or face a challenge. ”

“If you can laugh at your mistake, you are less likely to beat yourself up longer than necessary. Being able to find joy even in difficult situations increases the likelihood that you will overcome everything that life throws at you. ”

Weaver Hartman said getting internships and learning multimedia skills is also important for PR.

Ellen Weaver Hartman is pictured with President Jimmy Carter, who signed the photo "Best wishes."
Ellen Weaver Hartman is pictured with President Jimmy Carter, who signed the photo “Best Wishes”.

“Today a reporter has to do everything,” said Weaver Hartman. “You have to come up with the idea for the story, ask the questions that tell the story and get the best answers, write the stories, photograph the story and make a video of the story and publish it all.”

She encourages everyone to make continuous learning their core principle.

“Be a constant learner,” she said. “Just because you graduated from college doesn’t mean you stop studying. You have to keep learning. Become an expert. “

Weaver Hartman also shared life advice.

“Be nice,” she said. “There is no reason for anyone not to be rude to another person anywhere. There is no reason not to treat people with courtesy and respect, even if they don’t treat you that way. “

Anna Hartman, who now works in corporate philanthropy for Habitat for Humanity, saw Weaver Hartman’s kindness in action.

“She brings flowers to people when they are sick,” she said. “She looks after young professionals. She organizes hygiene packages for the homeless. “

“My job is to build relationships with potential donors and maintain relationships with existing ones. I like to think that I inspire philanthropic service for a living – which I absolutely learned from Ellen Hartman. ”

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