Ashley McCollum has been recognized for her tireless and extraordinary work in the digital media and entertainment industry. In 2017, only eight years after graduating from PC, she was named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 list.
That same year, McCollum was one of only 18 to receive one of Adweek’s Changing the Game Awards. The award recognizes “the women who are making bold moves and reinventing the rules of marketing.”
Now, this year, McCollum is one of two alumnae to receive the Outstanding Young Alumna Award. The honor is presented to an alumna under 40 years of age, as the award year begins, for early competence within the chosen field of endeavor and exceptional promise of future achievement.
“It’s an honor to be recognized by an institution that has meant so much to me, formed me personally and professionally and has given back so much to the community,” McCollum said. “On, on PC!”
McCollum essentially began her career in digital media when she was a PC student. During her junior year, she flew to New York City to visit friend and classmate Janna Cone ’09 who was interning at Vera Wang. McCollum grew up watching the Today Show and had a plan to get her foot in the door in the world of media. She went to a live taping of the Today Show and held up a cardboard cutout saying, “This Southern Belle wants to be NBC’s next summer intern.”
Her plan worked. The executive producer of the Today Show spotted McCollum’s sign and chatted with her. McCollum was prepared and had a cover letter on hand, complete with the day’s date on it. The Southern belle became NBC’s next summer intern the summer before her senior year.
After she graduated, McCollum landed a position in NBC’s prestigious Page program. Halfway through the program, she took a full-time position with the marketing and communications team for NBC News.
McCollum stayed at NBC for three years before deciding it was time to move on. She had two job offers to consider: one was with an up and coming media company called BuzzFeed that was venturing into covering news. The other was with the New York Times.
McCollum chose BuzzFeed and became the company’s first publicist in 2012, only three years after graduating from PC. Her job was to get stories to the news media when BuzzFeed broke stories, had scoops, or landed big interviews.
McCollum was among the first 50 employees at BuzzFeed. The company grew as fast as the viral stories on its website spread: There were 1,000 employees by 2015.
McCollum served in the publicist role for two years before transitioning to become vice president of business development and communications and ultimately chief of staff for the CEO of BuzzFeed.
After serving as chief of staff, McCollum became the general manager of Tasty, an experimental BuzzFeed brand whose videos were in everyone’s Facebook feeds. In the role, McCollum was responsible for “anything that had to do with Tasty,” she says, from advertising pricing to managing the creative team that shot the videos.
Join Us for Homecoming!
Homecoming is Friday, Oct. 18 and Saturday, Oct. 19. Please join us in Edmunds Hall at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, October 19 for the Alumni Awards ceremony.
Please see 2019 Alumni Award Recipients for more about this year’s honorees.