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Alumna continues to make a difference in Columbia

Posted August 29, 2018


Merritt McNeely (PR, 2005) is vice president of marketing at Flock and Rally.

What do you do in your current job?
As the VP of marketing for a boutique integrated communications firm, I pretty much do anything I can to move our business and our clients forward to reach success. I perform a lot of project management and work with our incredible team members who are experts on social media, brand development, public relations and integrated communications to meet our client’s needs. I also perform client work. This can include anything that is necessary, such as developing messaging for a new brand or campaign, developing marketing campaigns, fulfilling public relations duties and assistance, managing media relations, developing advertising campaigns, buying media and much more. In addition to client work, I also work internally to make sure Flock and Rally is working efficiently and growing successfully. 

What’s the most interesting or significant thing you’ve done since graduating?
This is a really hard question because I have had the unique opportunity to be in charge of, or a part of, some really cool things in Columbia.

My short list: 
I led the project to erect the Hootie and the Blowfish monument in Five Points when I was the executive director and Jimmy Fallon mentioned it in his opening monologue one night while I was watching, which was a total surprise. It was also covered in GQ Magazine.

I served as the marketing director for the South Carolina State Museum during their $27 million expansion to add the planetarium, observatory and 4D theater, which was an amazing project completed by an amazing team. In addition to boosting revenue and attendance and receiving numerous awards, I was able to secure a special video message from Stephen Colbert that we showed to opening weekend crowds.

The most recent significant experience was serving as the founder and chair for the Total Eclipse Weekend in Columbia when I still worked for the museum. We created an economic impact of $48 million on the midlands region, which is the largest in Columbia history for any one event. Uniting so many businesses and organizations under one common brand and goal had never been done before and it is now being used as a model for future regional tourism events.

I was named one of Columbia’s Most Influential in 2011 by Columbia Business Monthly and named one of The State Media Companies 20 Under 40 in 2018.

What are you passionate about in your work?
I like having an impact on people and businesses. When I worked for the Five Points Association, my passion was rooted in the successes and failures of the businesses that make up the Five Points neighborhood. This passion drove me to work as hard as I could to help them. When I worked for the museum, I wanted the museum as an organization to be successful but I also paid close attention to the impact that the museum could have on the people who visited it. And now with Flock and Rally, all of my energy is dedicated to meeting the needs and goals of our clients. They make up a wonderful variety of businesses and audiences and that allows me to learn about new worlds and continue to expand my understanding about different communication strategies.

What did you learn while in school at the CIC that still resonates today?
I still remember so much from my PR writing class. For whatever reason, I remember more tools from that class that I still use today than any other class.

Do you have a favorite professor or a favorite memory from your time at the CIC?
Bruce Konkle. He was always my favorite professor and I kept in touch with him for a while after I graduated. I haven’t talked to him in a long time, so Bruce, give me a shout. LOL. [Editor's note: Dr. Konkle has retired.]