The Buzz On Alumna Kristin Harris

Photo of alumna Kristin Harris '11
Advertising and public relations alumna Kristin Harris is living the life she always dreamed of as BuzzFeed’s celebrity editor and head of talent relations

By Jenna Marina Lee

ORLANDO, Fla. (March 1, 2018) — On any given day, you can find Kristin Harris ’11 interviewing A-listers such as Ryan Gosling, Rihanna, Nicole Kidman, Bill Murray and Ed Sheeran.

As BuzzFeed’s celebrity editor and head of talent-relations, Harris has the job that pop culture nerds dream about.

When she was 10 years old, the Lake Mary, Florida, native pictured her career as it is today, and though it’s taken a lot of hustle and hard work, the advertising and public relations alumna has made it her reality.

Harris broke into the industry during her first year at UCF when she was selected by Teen Vogue for a program the magazine was spearheading to collaborate on a project with a skin-care company.

The pivotal moment to jumpstart her current career, however, happened two summers later. She emailed more than a dozen editors to beg for an internship. Without any published work to her name, she created a blog and wrote sample articles in the hopes it would be enough to convince an editor to hire her.

She received a reply from Eva Chen, one of the fashion industry’s youngest editors to lead a national American magazine. Two days later, Harris flew to New York for an interview and was offered an internship at Teen Vogue about eight years ago.

“I’m lucky she took a chance on me. It sounds overdramatic now, but at the time, an internship at Teen Vogue – it was the heyday of [MTV’s show] The Hills – it was a really big deal,” she said. “It was the year magazines started creating an online presence. It was the beginning of everything that exists now. She let me do whatever I wanted. … Without that experience, I would say I would not be where I am right now.”

In addition to the working knowledge she gained through her internships, Harris continued to round out her resume with campus involvement through student government and the study-abroad program. Her time at UCF helped transform her from a quiet teenager to a go-getter.

“I grew up so much in those four years and in this industry and my job, I really truly needed that,” Harris said. “It was really through my experience at UCF — the friendships I made, the professors I met and the opportunities I had — that I grew into the kind of person who could go after her dreams and make them happen.”

She moved to England to further her education at the London College of Fashion. When she came back stateside, she job hunted for a year in New York City.

She remembers a day that seems so long ago now, sitting by the water in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn contemplating her life. Despite her hard work and effort, a job remained elusive.

What was she doing? Should give up on her dream? Map out a new life plan?

Then she checked her inbox.

“I randomly got an email from an editor at Seventeen magazine. She blindly emailed me and said, ‘Someone passed on your resume, I’m hiring for this editor position. Are you interested?’” Harris said. “I still, to this day, don’t know who passed on my resume, which is why networking and hustling and staying involved is so important. Because you just never truly know what’s going to happen.”

She worked at Seventeen for a year, and although she was wasn’t actively looking to leave the magazine, she applied to BuzzFeed in 2014 on a whim for an associate celebrity editor position. Known for its creative, fun and engaging content, the digital media powerhouse scared her. Harris said she didn’t think she was good enough.

“I’ve learned that the things that scare me the most, of what I’m most fearful of, are the ones that are always worth it the most, at the end of the day,” she said.

After two years, she helped create a role coordinating talent relations. She attended her first Grammy Awards in 2017, has navigated red carpets with Blake Lively, and flew from New York City to Hawaii and back in the span of 72 hours to interview Zac Efron on the set of a movie.

It’s not a typical life, but it’s the wonderful one she pursued and finally made her own.

“In this world, your imagination is your opportunity,” Harris said. “Whatever you dream up you can make happen.”

Read more about Harris’ biggest career highlights in the spring issue of Pegasus magazine.

Alumna Takes Manhattan

Jessica Lomasson, ’12 | Senior Copywriter, Geometry Global

JessicaLomasson-headshot

Alumni association student intern Daniela Marin sat down with advertising-public relations alumna Jessica Lomasson, ’12, when she spoke to the UCF Ad Club in November, discussing the importance of networking with fellow Knights, how she stays involved with her alma mater, her advice to students for breaking into the advertising industry, and more. WATCH THE VIDEO

College of Sciences

College of Sciences Dean Michael Johnson presents the college's 2014 Professional Achievement Award to Gwen Griffin, '85. (PHOTO: Brandon Chestnut)
College of Sciences Dean Michael Johnson presents the college’s 2014 Professional Achievement Award to Gwen Griffin, ’85.
(PHOTO: Brandon Chestnut)
Gwen Griffin, ’85 | CEO, Griffin Communications Group

Professional Achievement Award 2014

Gwen Griffin’s decision to open her own advertising/PR agency may have seemed spontaneous, but it was not entirely so. The underlying foundation stems from her early interests in social engagement, which compelled her to pursue an education at UCF’s Nicholson School of Communication. After earning her degree, Griffin became highly involved in the aerospace industry promoting the space exploration.

Learn more about Gwen:

Sponsor Spotlight: Curley & Pynn

Roger Pynn, ’73, president of Curley & Pynn and chair of the UCF College of Sciences Dean’s Advisory Board, has been a supporter of his alma mater and the UCF Alumni Association since he graduated. Dan Ward, ’92, vice president of Curley & Pynn, began serving on the UCF Alumni Association Board of Directors in 2006, and is currently back on the board for yet another term. With the association’s need for public relations, Roger, Dan and their partner, Kim Taylor (a UF alumna), stepped forward to help. Most recently, they have contributed their expertise to the alumni association’s strategic plan, which was implemented on July 1.

Dan Ward, '92 (left), and Roger Pynn, '73, toast their alma mater in the conference room at Curley & Pynn.
Dan Ward, ’92 (left), and Roger Pynn, ’73, toast their alma mater in the conference room at public relations firm and UCF Alumni partner, Curley & Pynn.

We sat down with Roger and Dan to ask them more about this integral partnership.

Q. Describe the history of Curley & Pynn’s partnership with the UCF Alumni Association.
A. Curley & Pynn has been a proud partner of the UCF Alumni Association for many years. Roger’s walls are covered with memories of alumni association projects, including one of his earliest efforts, leading the Alumni Trust — a drive to raise $1 million for scholarships for merit scholars. The donors are recognized in perpetuity at Alumni Trust Plaza in front of Millican Hall, where the statue honoring former UCF President Charles Millican stands.

Roger was named Distinguished Alumnus in 1989. Dan served on the alumni board of directors for six years, and was asked by current Chair Peter Cranis, ’84, to return for another one-year term.

Q. Why does Curley & Pynn choose to partner with the UCF Alumni Association?
A. First and foremost, we partner with UCF Alumni because of our love for the university and the impact it has had on our firm and our team of professionals. We also are drawn to the association’s mission. As a public relations firm, much of what we do is based on engagement, and the creation and management of relationships, and that’s central to the Alumni mission as well.

Q. How many UCF alumni does Curley & Pynn employ?
A. We currently employ five proud UCF Knights, as well as an intern from the UCF Nicholson School of Communication. A degree is not a prerequisite for employment, but it certainly doesn’t hurt!

Q. How has Curley & Pynn benefited since partnering with the UCF Alumni Association?
A. The primary benefit for any UCF Alumni partner is relationship building. The UCF Alumni Association creates opportunities for all alumni to connect with one another, with the university and with business partners throughout the region. The old saying that you’re judged by the company you keep is true, and we believe UCF Alumni has reached a point of prominence throughout the state.

Q. How does Curley & Pynn contribute to the UCF Alumni Association?
A. In addition to our board service, Curley & Pynn provides in-kind public relations advice and counsel to the association. We also assign an account team to manage brand identification and strategic communication programs for the association, in support of its strategic plan.

Q. How is Curley & Pynn involved with UCF Homecoming?
A. We’ve long been sponsors of the Black & Gold Gala, and work each year to drive public awareness of Homecoming events and of Distinguished Alumnus award winners.

Q. Is there any additional information you’d like to share about the Curley & Pynn and UCF Alumni Association partnership?
A. We’re tremendously excited about the year ahead, as we develop communication strategies and programs to support the 2014-2019 strategic plan, which seeks to expand the reach of the association and refine its focus around themes of communication, engagement, relevancy and sustainable funding.