Scott Miller, APR, is the communications director at Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center now, but his journey to public relations professional began when he was volunteering as a teenager.
“I became aware of the public relations field while volunteering at a hospital in Opelousas every summer during my teen years,” he said. “The public relations and marketing director at the facility was also responsible for the volunteer program and I became interested in learning more about her career.
“I had always excelled in writing and genuinely enjoyed it,” he said. “I also had an interest in healthcare, but I was pretty certain that the clinical pathway was not for me. However, as a public relations practitioner, I could work in an industry that I found fascinating, but utilize my talents for writing, organizing and creativity to help a healthcare organization advance its mission.”
From PR Student to Professional
Scott’s interests and talents led him to the public relations program at UL Lafayette.
“Once I began the program, I felt fortunate to be enrolled in a highly-respected program just 30 minutes from where I lived,” he said.
More than 20 years after his graduation, Scott still acknowledges how essential his real-world experiences in the public relations program were for his career.
“The campaigns class and internship allowed me to take all I had learned and apply it in a real-world environment,” he said. “It provided me with the confidence of knowing I had the necessary skills and experience to enter the profession.”
Scott also credits former professor Dr. Kathleen Kelly, APR, in helping him build a successful career.
“Dr. Kelly instilled a sense of pride in her students and stressed the responsibility we would have as professional communicators,” he explained.
“In order to advance my knowledge and career, I pursued Accreditation in Public Relations (APR), a designation that advances the credibility of the practitioner and field,” he said. “Dr. Kelly was an advocate of earning APR and upholding the standards of the public relations profession through ethical and strategic communication, based on a solid body of knowledge.
“This firm foundation has served me well throughout my career and it is something I instill in my team and interns as they come through our department,” he said.
“I will forever be indebted to Dr. Kelly and UL Lafayette for providing me with such a valuable education that would serve me well throughout my career,” Scott said. “I am a proud UL Lafayette graduate and often tell others about my affection and appreciation for the education I received at the University. Those were times that I will always fondly remember and feel honored to be a part of UL Lafayette’s long, outstanding legacy.”
While at the University, Scott got involved in the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), which provided him with the opportunities he needed to kickstart his career.
“Shortly after graduation, I moved to Baton Rouge and began networking,” he said. “At the time, the UL Lafayette PRSSA professional advisor lived in the capital city, so I reached out to her. She connected me with some of her contacts and I quickly found a job with the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank.
“While it wasn’t a healthcare job, it gave me all of the experience and tools to begin my career,” he said. “I also worked in the telecommunications industry for several years and then landed my first healthcare job.
“I’ve now worked in healthcare for more than 15 years and feel so at home in this environment,” he said. “I’ve also worked in management roles for a number of years now and enjoy working with and learning from my team each and every day.”
In addition to earning APR, Scott said other highlights of his career have been being elected president of the Public Relations Association of Louisiana – Baton Rouge Chapter, Practitioner of the Year by the Louisiana Society for Hospital Marketing and Public Relations, and the Senior Practitioner designation by the Southern Public Relations Federation.
PR Responsibilities & Beyond
As the communications director at Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center, Scott takes on a lot of responsibilities that his education prepared him for.
“I work closely with the vice president of marketing and the other members of our marketing and communications team to ensure consistency of messaging and ensure we are fostering collaborative relationships with all of our audiences,” he explained.
“This can include designing and implementing comprehensive communication plans, writing and editing messages, pitching media stories and fielding inquires, meeting with physicians and executives, as well as working with my direct reports to guide them and do everything I can to assist them in moving their projects forward,” he said.
“I also constantly collaborate with my counterpart on the marketing side of the department to ensure key messaging is disseminated throughout all owned, earned, and paid communication channels,” he said.
Scott’s career in health communications puts more responsibilities on his plate than just public relations.
“Healthcare changes rapidly and the need to proactively communicate is heightened compared to other industries in which I have worked,” he explained. “I also find it extremely rewarding, especially in cancer care, to connect people who are facing a challenging diagnosis with doctors and other caregivers who can give them their best chance at beating the disease.”
“I also do a lot of work with our Prevention on the Go team, which focuses on early detection education and screenings,” he said. “Effectively targeting and reaching those most at risk for cancer and motivating them to prevent or catch the disease in its earliest stages, can save lives.
“It’s an opportunity and privilege to impact the health of many people,” he said.