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Q&A with alumna Eleina Elachkar

Eleina Elachkar

Eleina Elachkar (BSJ, 2014) discovered her dream career as a publicist not long after graduating from the College of Media. She currently works for Cinetic Media, a film-focused PR and marketing firm in New York City, specializing in Indie films and documentaries such as “I, Tonya,” “Moonlight,” “Boyhood” and “Icarus.” Elachkar assists with film campaigns by pitching to the press, creating and organizing press materials, running press screenings and press days with talent, representing films at festivals and managing red carpets. Previously, she worked as a publicist at the Tribeca Film Festival and FRANK PR.

Ally Kennedy: Why did you choose the College of Media?

Eleina Elachkar: I have always loved Journalism, particularly writing, and I have always been a people person. When touring WVU, I was most excited when touring the College of Media. After a conversation with my Dad and learning about what PR was specifically, it sounded fascinating! 

AK: Did you always know you wanted be a publicist?

EE: I didn’t know publicity was my career path at first. Throughout college and post-graduation, I held public relations, marketing and social media internships and positions. Each offered a different experience and taught me different skill sets and ways to form a campaign based on the product. As the Victoria’s Secret PINK Campus Rep, I learned how to gain audience attention on campus through different strategies such as social media, events, word of mouth and so on. This creative way of thinking always came natural to me. In my public relations positions, I learned how to utilize press as a platform to spread the word about a campaign. And, during my event internship, I learned the process of planning a large event from start to finish.

When a role in NYC at a film publicity agency came up, I knew it was the right environment and industry. I always had a love for film, so this was a dream job! I moved two weeks later from Northern Virginia to New York.

AK: What is your favorite part about what you do?

EE: Working with press to secure stories and reviews. It is such a rush seeing a piece you helped secure in the New York Times, a spread in People or securing a TV segment with talent. The thrill of a successful campaign is exciting! Also, traveling for film festivals has been a great experience, although it is a lot of work.

AK: What are your future goals?  

EE: To work on an Oscar film campaign and see it win the gold statue. That will be amazing!

AK: What specific films have you run campaigns for/what talent have you worked with?

I've worked with a lot of talent and film / festival campaigns, big and small. Most recently, I ran the campaign for “Boundaries,” starring Christopher Plummer, Vera Farmiga and Peter Fonda. I also worked on “The Commuter” (featuring Liam Neason); “A Futile and Stupid Gesture” (Joel McHale, Will Forte, Tom Lennon and Emmy Rossum); and “Megan Leavey” (Kate Mara starring). 

AK: Do you have an interesting story about any of the campaigns/people you’ve worked with?

Working with talent is a learning experience every time. You come to realize that they are just people who are getting the job done, same as you. Whether I’m running around for press days while maneuvering through excited fans (or people chasing cars for autographs), walking them through a red carpet to get all their shots and interviews, or running out to grab a coffee; we're all there for the same reason and the same job. Though, my mom has a framed photo from the New York Times of me and Tom Hanks. I show up in the background of paparazzi shots from time to time which is always funny to come across!   

AK: How are you using what you learned at the Media College in your career? How has your education helped you? 

EE: My public relations classes gave me a really comprehensive knowledge of the field and introduced lingo that comes up every day in my job. Learning how to write press releases and how to identify and understand different audiences are skills I use all the time. And, my capstone class tied everything together. Dr. Rita Colistra brought a real-life agency feel to the classroom and taught us how to form a campaign and put our skills to use. That experience was very rewarding.