Howard University has appointed Florida A&M University alumna Alonda Thomas to serve as director of public relations. Recently named one of the “Top 25 African American PR Millennials to Watch” in the Huffington Post, Thomas will be responsible for the development and management of the communications and media relations strategies designed to enhance the university’s reputation and visibility internationally.
“We are excited to have a leader with Ms. Thomas’ level of experience in strategic planning and Media Relations join the team,” says Crystal Brown, Howard University Vice President of Communications. “Her depth and expertise in higher education communications will be invaluable as we manage reputation and move the university forward.”
Through her roles at North Carolina Central University and Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, coupled with her work on campaigns for major networks and film studios, Thomas has been able to combine her PR skills with her passion to promote historically black colleges and universities.
“I’m excited to return to higher education PR at Howard University because of the rich history this institution has for cultivating diverse scholars, trained by world-class faculty, since 1867,” says Thomas. “That rich legacy of producing graduates who leave an indelible mark on society through their service continues today and I look forward to sharing Howard’s accomplishments with the world.”
Thomas recently served as senior public relations manager at TV One. She was responsible for developing the publicity strategy for unscripted and scripted programming, including “Rickey Smiley For Real,” the award-winning docu-series “Unsung” and original movies such as “Downsized,” “Bobbi Kristina” and “When Love Kills: The Falicia Blakely Story,” which became the network’s #1 premiere of all time. Her efforts resulted in an increased level of visibility and earned media for TV One in key outlets such as Entertainment Tonight, E! News, Extra, Billboard, New York Times, TV Guide, CNN, Essence and Ebony, to name a few.
In 2016, Thomas served as a publicity consultant for Liquid Soul, an entertainment and sports marketing company in Atlanta, Ga., where she led the public relations strategy for a variety of clients, including ABC Network, CNN, Walt Disney Studios and Fox Searchlight. She executed national urban press outreach for the highly acclaimed Spike Lee film, “Chi-Raq,” and CNN’s award-winning docu-series “The United Shades of America.” She also developed the PR campaign strategy and crisis management for season 2 of ABC’s hit sitcom, “black-ish,” which increased the show’s viewership among its target demographic and led to multiple award nominations.
In 2013, Thomas served as director of media relations and interim chief communications officer at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) where she was responsible for the overall direction of the university’s media relations program, including managing the return of the Marching “100”. She managed the department’s $1 million budget and led the Office of Communications through the university’s reaccreditation process; the presidential search and hiring of FAMU’s 11th president; and development of advertising/marketing strategies and collateral. She fostered positive relationships with the media which yielded national coverage in the New York Times, Diverse Issues in Higher Education, the Chronicle of Higher Educationand MSNBC, among others. Additionally, she produced the award-winning A&M Magazine, which was honored with the 2014 HBCU Award for “Best Alumni Publication” and a Golden Image Award from the Florida Public Relations Association.
Prior to joining FAMU, Thomas worked in Los Angeles as a media relations practitioner specializing in the entertainment industry. In addition to representing her own clients, she often collaborated with boutique PR agencies for television, film and celebrity executive campaigns; including Roland S. Martin, Kevin Frazier, Bishop T.D. Jakes, Jumping the Broom, Sparkle, OWN’s “Welcome To Sweetie Pie’s,” and TV One’s “LisaRaye: The Real McCoy.”
Hailing from Miami, Fla., Thomas attended the prestigious New World School of the Arts where she studied musical theater. She received her bachelor’s degree in public relations from FAMU and a master’s degree in integrated marketing communications from Florida State University where she was a university fellow and taught public speaking.
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