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JEFFREY DEGRAFF

Atlanta, Georgia | C: (281) 705-0173 | jdegraff2@gmail.com| www.jdegraff2.com | linkedin.com/in/jeffdegraff

An experienced bilingual (Spanish & English) communications professional capable of conveying key messages in circumstances ranging from national crisis coverage to local human-interest stories. Possesses extensive knowledge in messaging, crisis communications, media production, and traditional and digital dissemination techniques. Career spans a variety of industries, a testament to adaptability and quick learning.

Skills


Strategic & Crisis Communications | Governmental Affairs & Public Policy | Executive Communication | Community Outreach | Media Relations | Social Media Management | Event Planning & Coordination | Bilingual Communications

Select Accomplishments


Media spokesperson for multiple Fortune 200 companies (local to international level coverage)
Direct proactive and reactive media activities
24-hour response readiness, both on the ground and remotely

Extensive experience and training in crisis communications
Specialized crisis communications training from Harvard Kennedy School of Government
Led communications responses for natural disasters, industrial accidents and law enforcement activities

Developed and directed short- and long-term strategic communications campaigns
Covered brand transition, leadership restructure, and issue related topics
Consulted closely with executive teams and provided specific counsel

Website content creator specializing in communications and management messages
Designed, maintained, and promoted personal website
Researches, writes, and edits posts detailing professional and personal experiences

Experience


Norfolk Southern Corp, (Atlanta, GA) 

Class I railroad operating in 22 states across the eastern half of the country. This position manages and coordinates all external communications and media interactions.

Sr. Communications Manager: Operations & Safety, July 2021 – Present
  • Counsel Operations Division leadership on effective internal and external communications strategies
  • Develop communication programs in partnership with Operations Division leadership that strengthen employee engagement and promote a strong safety culture
  • Lead communications initiatives in the areas of precision-scheduled railroading, labor relations, and the safe transportation of various materials
  • Collaborate with external stakeholders to increase awareness of safety initiatives.
  • Serve as media spokesperson as required.
Media Relations Manager, Feb 2020 – Present
  • Respond to all media inquiries from local, regional and national outlets
  • Proactively pitch media placements and opportunities
  • Prepare and train company leaders for media interactions and interviews
  • Assist Corporate Communications department with internal communications and policies
  • Develop crisis communications plans, policies and strategies for deployment across company
  • Formulate and coordinate messaging across departments for external use

HDR, Inc, (Houston, TX)

International engineering firm serving clients in the public and private sectors. This position leads strategic communications efforts for projects across the Texas Gulf Coast, specializing in public engagement.

Strategic Communications Lead,  Sept 2019 – Feb 2020
  • Act as freight rail specialist for communications projects across entire practice
  • Coordinate public meetings and outreach efforts for projects, including along and across Mexican border
  • Prepare media and communication strategy proposals for a variety of infrastructure projects
  • Assist in developing department protocols and procedures for growing Strategic Communications practice

Union Pacific Railroad (Houston, TX) 

A Fortune 150 company that operates across twenty-three states. This position served as the primary media and communications lead for eleven states.

Senior Director of Media Relations, July 2014 – Oct 2018
  • Monitored communication needs, identified opportunities for outreach, and secured executive participation to support strategic corporate communication goals
  • Coordinated responses to all inbound media requests and inquiries, and prepared, pitched and placed proactive stories and content in local outlets and trade publications
  • Led on-the-ground crisis communications responses, and directed efforts to mitigate potential crises
  • Provided strategy, input and content to internal projects, social media efforts and overall communications positioning
  • Regularly interfaced with the CEO and other senior executives, providing communications insight and logistical support
  • Worked with the Government Affairs team, providing messaging and analyzing legislation and policy response

Louisiana Housing Corporation (Baton Rouge, LA)

A state agency tasked with providing housing opportunities for low to moderate income individuals and families. The Public Information Director leads all public relations, media responses and marketing activities

Public Information Director,  Sep 2007 – July 2014
  • Regularly interacted with media (local/state/regional) by issuing news releases, crafting statements and acting as spokesman in interviews
  • Member of the Leadership Team during the transition to the newly formed Louisiana Housing Corporation
  • Led the creation of the Community Outreach Department
  • Helped stand up the legislatively mandated Housing and Transportation Planning and Coordinating Commission
  • Managed all public relations events, meetings and trainings
  • Coordinated participation in expos, workshops, statewide public meetings and celebratory events

BPM, LLC, (Baton Rouge, LA) 

A small business-consulting firm that helped Louisiana entrepreneurs achieve success. The Project Manager was the lead director of day-to-day activities and marketing efforts.

Project Manager, Sep 2005 – Sep 2007
  • Directly assisted small businesses and franchisees with start-up and growth
  • Management of more than 12 rental properties
  • Developed the business plans and market studies that secured financing for the construction of 7 quick-service restaurants

Louisiana TIMED Managers, (Baton Rouge, LA)

A joint venture of GEC Inc., Parsons Brinckerhoff, and THE LPA GROUP INCORPORATED and was contracted to lead the single largest transportation infrastructure improvement program in Louisiana history. The Public Outreach Coordinator was key to promoting construction activities and interacting with communities.

Public Outreach Coordinator,  Feb 2005 – May 2005
  • Coordinated outreach activities to publicize the rebuilding of the Huey P. Long Bridge in New Orleans
  • Planned and conducted public update meetings between the construction teams and the local business leaders
  • Designed newsletters and other publications to keep the residents of the impacted areas informed
  • Set up a satellite office for future outreach use

LA Department of Wildlife & Fisheries, (Baton Rouge, LA)

A large state agency overseeing conservation efforts. This position plays a vital role in the department’s community outreach and communications efforts.

News & Media Relations Manager,  Nov 2001 – Feb 2005
  • Handled all media relations, including writing and distributing over 350 news releases per year
  • Maintained the media database and also prepared feature stories for publication in a regional magazine
  • Assisted with audio/visual productions, including an award winning promotional video for a national conference
  • Part of the coordinating team for an annual celebratory event that attracted over 10,000 people

Education



Louisiana State University
– Baton Rouge, LA, USA

Mass Communications – Public Relations (May 2001)
Minor in Spanish; completed Internship with University Relations Department

Harvard University – Cambridge, MA, USA

Leadership in Crisis – Crisis Communications (April 2011)
Part of Executive Leadership Program hosted by the Kennedy School of Government

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