Discovering the Art of Communications
In this edition of our Congressional Spotlight Interview Series, I spoke with Peyton Holliday, Press Secretary for the Office of Representative Michael Guest (R-MS, 3). By actively seeking out fellowships and workshops, Peyton expanded her understanding of writing and research, further augmenting her skill set successfully securing her dream job in communications.
Can you tell me about your career path that you’ve taken that’s led you to where you are now?
I graduated college in 2018 with a history degree and my first job out of college was working as an archivist for a documentary. I learned really fast that this was not what I wanted to do forever. Since high school I had an interest in the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C. and I decided to pursue that interest and apply for an internship.
The spring of 2019, during the government shutdown over the border wall, I learned about how D.C. worked and fell in love with the city. I tried hard to find a job but ended up going back home feeling like a failure. A week after being at home my father connected me with the Tate Reeves for Governor campaign and they offered me the position as a Regional Field Director in Jackson, Mississippi. I was so excited and absolutely loved my job. When I finished working on the campaign, I was offered a job at Majority Strategies in Jacksonville, Florida as a project manager. I took the job excited for more opportunities to grow and learn. From this job, I learned how to work in a fast-paced environment, turn around projects, and clearly communicate messages that my clients were looking to share with their constituents. It was here that I fell in love with the idea of working in communications and started considering a role as a Press Secretary or Communications Director.
The summer of 2021, I left Majority to pursue a Master’s Degree in History at Liberty University. I love history and I had always said that if I were to go back to school, I would continue my history studies. Getting an MA in history taught me about writing, research, and how to find information on literally any imaginable topic. I am very thankful for the opportunities I gained through the Liberty history department. After graduating, I took at internship with the Media Research Center and spent my first amount of time on Capitol Hill. I learned about the Hill as a reporter and loved the environment. From there, I took a press internship on the Hill and learned even more. I am so thankful for my time as a press intern on Capitol Hill. After that internship, I took an internship with the Majority Leader’s office all while networking hard for a position. Time and time again I ran into roadblocks, but I kept pressing on for what I wanted and trusting that God was directing my paths. Through my network I found out about a job opening in an office in my home state of Mississippi and I guess you can say the rest is history. I am thankful for the opportunity and so far have thoroughly loved my job and am looking forward to all the opportunities that the future holds.
What policy issues are you most interested/passionate about?
As a small-town girl from Tupelo, Mississippi – the birthplace of Elvis, I have grown up with Christian values and morals. These have shaped who I am today and helped me to grow in my understanding of the world around me. Some of my personal policy issues that I am most passionate about stem from my growing up years. I am a pro-life advocate and also a huge advocate of religious liberty. Going all the way back to early colonial America, I think that religious liberty is something that has been a part of our history and helped shape us as a country and is still an important policy issue today.
The Hill is not for everyone, and I think the biggest piece of advice that I can give is to know if the Hill is where you want to be and if it is do not give up when things do not work out as fast as you thought they would.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone interested in working on the hill, what would it be?
As an example, I started an internship in January hoping to have a job by March and I was not hired until June. The Hill job hunt can take a lot out of you, so be prepared, and keep the stamina. I would also recommend that you stay committed to your values and what you believe in. It is important to stand firm on the truth and not let the people around you tear you down or lead you astray. Be sure to network, reach out, and stay on track if the Hill is where you want to be.
Professional development is essential at all levels. How do you balance your responsibilities at work and expand your skill set?
I think one of the biggest ways I seek to expand my skill set and balance my responsibilities at work is to seek out fellowships and growing in my understanding of writing, researching, and other skills I use day to day. As a history master’s degree grad, I love school and am always looking for classroom style opportunities to learn. This spring, I was a part of the America’s Future Writing Fellowship and absolutely loved it. There are many good options for learning out there, be sure to ask around, google, and work your network for opportunities to learn. Balancing work and growing my network is really balancing time and managing it well. When I am at work, I focus on work and get things done that need to get done. Instead of wasting time, I am always working to be one step ahead, stay organized, and manage my time well.