You rarely come across students that apply to only one college during high school. Tori Allen ‘08 is one of those people, but it was the ideal experience she was looking for to get away from the cold up in New Jersey.
Her experience after graduation came unexpectedly when she left Auburn too. But, then again, few people saw the economic crisis of 2008 coming.
“As a journalism grad, I wanted to be a reporter,” said Allen. “[But] all I could get was just ‘temp’ jobs.” She worked as a receptionist for 18 months while volunteering at charities and donating blood and platelets whenever she could.
While still in school she landed an internship with CNN, and unknowingly developed her strength in media and public relations. The internship didn’t count toward Allen’s curriculum because she was missing a prerequisite, so she later did another internship at The Row at CNN doing script approvals for packaged stories. With two internships under her belt but no job yet, the economic crisis made it a graduate’s worst case scenario.
One day, while giving blood, Allen told the employees there about her situation. They knew her well; Allen had donated 55 times for platelets, the equivalent to about 1,000 pints of blood.
Seeing her dedication, LifeSouth Community Blood Centers hired her as a donor recruiter.
When that didn’t last, she decided to pursue a new career. “I was flying home to New Jersey for Christmas and I still hadn’t told my parents I was laid off,” she said. “I had this recent interest in public relations lately, especially with restaurants.” Allen sought as much experience as she could in the field of public relations, completing two internships simultaneously in 2011, which helped her land her first job in the industry in May.
She worked with the top PR firm in Atlanta, Reynolds Group, which was later acquired by Phase 3 Marketing and Communications in 2014.
Throughout Allen’s multi-year job search, her main objective was to network as much as possible. This is where her heavy involvement in volunteering came in. However, ever since she came to Auburn, she has always enjoyed staying involved in everything, from writing for The Plainsman, being a Camp War Eagle Counselor, and a Successfully Orienting Students Counselor. As she spent more time in Atlanta, she continued to see the need for community involvement while working her internships.
Even after starting her own company in 2014, ToriAllenPR, she still found time to volunteer at charities around the city of Atlanta. Only now, she applies her knowledge of PR and marketing to boost these non-profit organizations.
The majority of her time is spent towards her clients, but she also does loads of charity work(compared to the average person). She volunteers at StandUp for Kids-Atlanta, a non-profit that ends the cycle of youth homelessness, while also serving on their board in an advisory marketing capacity. “I specifically offer pro-bono assistance with media relations and any marketing needs they have,” she said “like re-doing flyers, website content, etc.”
At Nicholas House, a nonprofit agency that operates a transitional housing shelter as well as scattered apartment sites for homeless families, Allen joined their board last month in a media and marketing role as well. Soon she’s going to oversee a media campaign to highlight Nicholas House in-depth with media.
Allen does volunteer work for the Special Olympics Summer and Winter Games, helping run one of the venues there for nine years and counting.
With Atlanta Community Food Bank, a client at her company, she oversees their storytelling campaign. “I seek out feature stories that show off the different sides of hunger. For example, we did a 4-part series with 11 Alive about the different sides of hunger and included refugees, children, elderly and the working poor – not showing homelessness or low income.” She also volunteers at the Birthday Party Project– which helps throw birthday parties at homeless shelters for kids. Allen is being considered for one of the top choices as party coordinators for the new shelter.
Allen even ran a Valentine’s Day Card drive for homeless people by herself. “I thought back to elementary school days,” she said. “You had to have the good candy. So I asked all of my friends on Facebook to donate money or candy.” She raised $400 and bought tons of Valentine goods to give to the homeless shelter.
Even her dog is from a program called Canine Cellmates, a program at the Fulton County Jail where inmates raise rescue dogs. “After I adopted him, I did about six months of pro bono work for them with media relations, and one of their stories was picked up by USA Today.”
Allen is still finding the time to volunteer about once a week. But now that she is running her own company, it’s never a set schedule. When asked about how confirmed her weekly schedule is, she laughed at first, “My schedule changes hourly,” Allen said.
With 31 clients she manages all herself, it’s no wonder how precious time is to her, yet she still can still find an extra two to four hours to help those in need.