Public Citizen News / November-December 2021
By Noah Henriksen
This article appeared in the November/December 2021 edition of Public Citizen News. Download the full edition here.
Those who know Shauna Burton best describe her as warm-hearted and ambitious. Something that many might not know, however, is that Burton loves to cook in her free time. She often finds her inspiration for recipes while watching cooking videos on Instagram and TikTok.
Burton is a social media associate with Public Citizen, who works on all digital platforms. Her main responsibilities include drafting posts for social media platforms, creating graphics, and filming video content.
Burton originally got interested in the public relations field while working as a communications intern on Capitol Hill. She didn’t solidify her interest in digital work until she landed a job as a social media manager working for a Senate campaign in 2020. She particularly enjoys this work because it gives her a lot of creative freedom and the opportunity to turn her ideas into reality.
When did you first become interested in communications work? When did you first become interested in progressive politics?
Burton: I did theatre growing up and double-majored in musical theater and public relations initially at American University—a super political campus. Being in an environment where people’s favorite things to do on the weekend are volunteering for campaigns and attending protests definitely shaped my feelings towards politics. I made the switch at the end of freshman year to double major in political science and public relations.
You have been a Social Media Manager for a Senate campaign. How does that work compare to your work at Public Citizen?
Burton: The biggest difference would be how I write content. Being on the campaign, everything I created or wrote was in the voice of the candidate. I had to think like them. And given that I was creating content for a reverend, I also spent time thinking and researching on how that applies to different political issue areas.
With Public Citizen, you’re writing more as an entity than as one person. This allows more leeway on strategizing Public Citizen’s voice and tone. I’m focused more on creative ways we can elevate the organization’s work to reach more people versus what are creative ways to reach the most people on why you should vote for the candidate.
What is the most rewarding part of working at Public Citizen?
Burton: The best part of working at Public Citizen is getting to work on issues that I’m passionate about and seeing the results of our work firsthand. It’s one thing to create content around Pentagon spending, taxing the rich, or student debt. It’s rewarding to see your content gain traction and spark conversations among people, and in some cases, help influence Congress.
Any advice for young people looking to work in PR or politics?
Burton: The most important thing you can do is network, whether that’s with a professor who has experience in the field you want to work in people at your internship. I think it’s critical to network. This helps with finding jobs, seeking advice, and just mentorship in general. I find interning to also be a great way to gain field experience and figure out what you want to do in the future. If you can, try interning at different types of places like a PR firm, business, nonprofit, government, etc. The type of work and the pace of the environment vary depending on where you choose to work.