The Gong Blog

Meet a Hodger: Julia Surber

Remember when we said that I (Hannah) had the most interesting “first week at Hodges” story to date? Scratch that. Julia has arrived, and thanks to COVID-19, her onboarding experience has been entirely virtual. She may not have stepped foot in the office yet, but Julia’s can-do spirit and foodie sensibilities make her the perfect Hodger. With only a week under her belt, she has proven herself to be an invaluable member of the team, pitching media and taking on new clients like a Hodges veteran.

Born and raised in Richmond and a VCU graduate, Julia received a B.S. in Mass Communications with a concentration in public relations and has always been passionate about telling meaningful stories. 

When she’s not subject to social isolation, Julia enjoys life in the Fan with her fiancé Colin. Things that bring her happiness include sweating it out in a spin class, cooking, and, most importantly, carefully curating her fur baby’s Instagram account (@rowdy_jameson_loudy).

Like us, you’re probably dying to meet her. Please say hello to Julia.

What do you love about PR? 

I’ve always loved storytelling, and I think that’s what pulled me into the world of PR. Over the years, I’ve really found a love for media relations. I enjoy making meaningful relationships with people while also telling stories for clients and products that I strongly believe in. I think it’s so powerful. 

What advice do you have for young people who want to get into public relations?

I have two. They’re both big-time clichés but still ring true. Read every publication that you can. Listen to every podcast, every radio station, tune in to every broadcast station and try to consume as much media as possible. Ultimately that will lead to your success and help you see how other brands have done things. It’s really important to get to know the writers and the outlets and who their target audience is. I would also say network, but in a meaningful way. Not just continually adding people on LinkedIn, but really making relationships with people in your industry. 

What is a misconception about working in public relations?

My mom specifically, and a lot of other people, think that I’m basically Samantha Jones from “Sex and the City.” She thinks I plan parties all the time and that I’m doing all this super glamorous stuff, which does happen every now and then but obviously not on an everyday basis. 

Can you think of a PR campaign that you particularly admire?

I don’t think this was meant to start as a PR campaign, but I remember when Nike came out with a plus-sized mannequin in its London store, and it got a ton of backlash. The public and the media felt like it was promoting an unfit lifestyle that went against the brand, but I loved that Nike never strayed from its stance on the matter and kept its mannequin’s plus-sized line. They never did a big proactive PR push around offering plus sizes, but that ended up making them seem even more authentic and helped to solidify awareness and trust with its customers. 

What’s your favorite Richmond eatery?

Definitely, Perly’s—it’s a Jewish deli here in Richmond, and they have the best food. It’s super homey, and I’m a big fan of the matzo ball soup. It’s owned by the same family that owns Stella’s and Little Nickel, pretty much anything they touch is gold. 

What’s something people would be surprised to learn about you?

I almost dropped out of college to become an aesthetician. I’m really into skincare and about four years ago, I told myself I was going to go into it, but ultimately, I realized that my passion and talent for communications outweighed my appreciation for skincare. 

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Hannah Robinson

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