Blake Mirzayan Named 2017 Rising Star at Virginia PR Awards

At the 2017 Virginia Public Relations Awards held May 10, Blake Mirzayan was named this year’s Rising Star. The award was instituted in 2010 to recognize an outstanding new member of the public relations profession who has five or fewer years of experience in PR.

An account executive at Padilla, Mirzayan is a 2014 graduate of VCU’s Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture, where he earned a B.S. in mass communications and a minor in general business. As a student, he interned at ExCELL, Johnson, Inc. and The Hodges Partnership. While at VCU, Mirzayan also received the David P. Hurdle Memorial Scholarship from the Richmond Public Relations Foundation. In addition to involvement in PRSA Richmond, he is an active board member of VACA – Visual Arts Creative Ambassadors, the young professionals board of the Visual Arts Center of Richmond.

What does receiving the Rising Star award mean to you?

I’m still processing how much of a privilege it is to receive the award. In short, it’s simply humbling to know that my colleagues at Padilla, clients and community took the time to nominate me.

There are many groups in Richmond that make this city stand out. I’m involved with several of them, like PRSA Richmond and the Visual Arts Center of Richmond. I cherish every moment I’m able to support them. It’s an honor to receive this award and be considered a valuable contributor to both my agency and my community.

How did you decide to get involved in the public relations industry?

My family always encouraged two things: creativity and hard work. In this way, I was almost born to be a PR and marketing practitioner.

All of my life I’ve had a hard time sitting still, with too many interests and the energy to boot. Instead of stifling my varied interests, my family encouraged me to chase all of them.

There are only a few industries that allow for people to do something new every single day, and I noticed early on into college that PR was one of them (especially at an agency). I’ve been lucky to work at a place that values curiosity and hard work, and constantly offers opportunities to try new things. It couldn’t be a more natural fit.

Do you have a highlight that comes to mind when you think of your career thus far?

It’s often said that no two days are the same when you work at an agency. That’s certainly been my experience.

So, it’s hard to narrow to just one highlight, even during my short time in the professional world. There are several client projects that come to mind, from supporting the passage of state legislation, to building digital marketing campaigns for universities, to helping counsel a client through a hip-hop-related brand crisis. The common theme is that all of these projects revolve around teamwork, which is one of the hallmarks of working at Padilla and in the PR industry in general.

On a lighter note, perhaps what stands out most is the Halloween I dressed as one of Padilla’s senior executives – a past Thomas Jefferson Award recipient – and was able to keep my job! That was fun.

How did you get involved in PRSA Richmond? What has your experience been like as a member?

I joined PRSSA as a student at VCU but was always hesitant to attend the “big kids” PRSA luncheons. After some consistent encouragement from professors and an internship supervisor, I finally caved. That’s where I shook hands with some of the people that would become my mentors to this day. Later that year, I was lucky to receive the David P. Hurdle Memorial Scholarship from the PRSA Richmond Foundation board. The group of professionals that make up PRSA Richmond are my mentors, friends and role models. In them, I always have something to learn, a place to grow and individuals to look up to. I hope everyone is lucky enough to have the same experience.

What advice do you have for young professionals?

Never stop learning – and if you don’t already love to learn, learn to love learning! Ask for advice (this can be a great networking tool) from more experienced professionals and even peers. Join professional development organizations like PRSA. Build relationships with mentors. Take art classes. Read the news. For students: intern, intern, intern.

Oh, and have fun with your work! You spend most of your life doing it.

Is there anything else that you would like to share?

I’d only like to reiterate that receiving this year’s Rising Star Award is a fantastic honor. I’m lucky to be surrounded by many people – at Padilla, PRSA and in the Richmond community – that lift me up each and every day.