Norawong will speak at the School of Communications Convocation at 9 a.m. on April 26
The first time Spencer Norawong applied for the public relations major, he didn’t get in. He started looking at other career paths like marketing or elementary education. But, at the end of the day, he couldn’t shake the feeling that he was on the wrong path. “I definitely went back to my roots and thought about it for a long time and prayed,” said Norawong. Norawong’s decision-making process was influenced by his grandfather, who fled communist rule in Laos and became a refugee in the United States. “My grandpa Soukphaly is a man of resilience. He has been through so many trials and challenges in his life. He’s a fighter,” said Norawong. “He honestly taught me the importance of making decisions based on how you feel and making sure that what you feel is true within your gut.” The realization that PR was the right decision for him came in one of those gut feelings, said Norawong, something he’s glad he listened to, despite his initial rejection. One of Norawong’s biggest challenges has been learning how to deal with rejection, but it’s also a process that he’s learned a lot from. “Instead of being a product of a situation, be a product of triumph and struggle,” said Norawong. During his time in the PR major, Norawong has proved he’s more than the initial rejection he faced. He has worked as an account executive in Y Digital, something he says is one of his proudest accomplishments along with being asked to speak at graduation. “I didn’t realize I was noticed by that many people or that they would feel comfortable with me representing the School of Communications,” said Norawong. During his time at BYU, Norawong has worked on multiple projects for the Y Digital Agency. One of his favorites was a campaign for Wimbledon, where he and other students had to create content for an Australian audience. “We’re at the Brimhall building from like 12 in the afternoon till about 3 in the morning,” said Norawong. “It was cool to see all these people engage with our posts and our comments.” Working with peers on projects both in and out of class have had the most impact on Norawong. “My best learning moments were when I was with talented people in groups, where we had guidance from our professors, but they weren’t necessarily willing to solve every single thing,” said Norawong. “That’s what really helped me to learn how to succeed in public relations.”
During his time in the program, Norawong came to better understand his love for PR. When he first got into the program, he thought he liked PR because he liked people. Later on, however, he realized it was a lot more than that. “I like the strategy behind everything and how PR emphasizes using all these different things to create a data-driven solution to a tough problem,” said Norawong. He wishes that people knew PR isn’t just about crisis management. “We’re not the cleaner-uppers; we’re the preventers in the corporate world,” said Norawong. As graduation approaches, Norawong is excited to dive into the professional world, something he feels the PR program has thoroughly prepared him for. “By the end, the PR program definitely equips you with the tools you need in your toolbelt to succeed in a career,” said Norawong. He is moving to San Francisco after graduation to work for Methods+Mastery, a digital marketing agency that is housed under FleishmanHillard. He hopes his time working in an agency will be a springboard for his dream job: a chief marketing officer (CMO).
Q&A with Spencer Norawong, BA ‘19 Communications | Communications: Public Relations
What did you want to be when you were a kid? 'I wanted to be a whale doctor. I don’t know why, I think I went to SeaWorld and I was obsessed with the trainers, but I was like ‘I can’t ride the whale because that’s scary,’ so I wanted to be a whale doctor. I’m glad I didn’t choose that path.' What is your fav snack? 'Takis. I’m obsessed with Takis; I owe my whole college career to them.' Where are you from? 'Puyallup, Washington near Seattle.' What are your hobbies? 'If I had money, I would go to Disney every day. I enjoy spending time with friends. I’m also obsessed with Marie Kondo, it’s like fancy spring cleaning. You throw out things that don’t make you feel joy. I really enjoy that stuff, so hit me up if you ever need someone to organize your stuff.'