Inspirational Women in Communication: Kathy Blandin

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All of the professors in the Piedmont College theatre department do more than just teach. They direct, they produce, they do tech work, but Dr. Kathy Blandin is the one in charge of the box office and marketing offices of the department.

Blandin found her love of theatre in high school at the recommendation of a teacher. She instantly fell in love when she performed in her first show as an ensemble member and continued her love for the art throughout high school. She attended Case Western University in Ohio, where she intended to study pre-med, preparing to become a doctor. However, after taking several theatre classes, Blandin decided to change her major to theatre.

“My mother didn’t speak to me for six months after I did this because she thought I wasn’t going to be able to make a living.” said Blandin.

Blandin proved her mother wrong by working in theatre throughout her career. Blandin got her first job at the Southeast Institute for Education and Theatre, which is a branch of the University of Tennesse- Chattanooga. She was hired as the director and had to start recruiting theatre teachers to attend their workshops and programs. This was Blandin’s introduction to marketing.

“That happens a lot in your career- you’re suddenly put into a position where you do things you’ve never done before.” said Blandin. “You fly by the seat of your pants for a little while and look at what’s been done before and how do I change it.”

Blandin found a free marketing workshop in Chattanooga and used that to learn more about marketing.

“At this time, it was pre-social media so a lot of marketing was print and I was really honing my written communications skills and matching with a visual.” said Blandin.

After working at UTC, Blandin moved to Atlanta and began heading up an independent school called the Cliff Alley School. The arts was the center of the elementary school’s curriculum and Blandin marketed the concept of how arts shapes a child’s life and how it benefits them. At this time, Blandin got to work with actual marketing professionals and learned more about marketing with them, as well as watch the social media marketing platform bloom.

From there, Blandin went on to become the executive director of the Sautee-Nacoochee Center in North Georgia. At first, Blandin was just the executive director, but when the Great Recession hit, they lost their marketing person and Blandin found herself marketing again.

In 2012, Blandin accepted a professor position at Piedmont College, teaching theatre. Blandin is in charge of three different programs at Piedmont: theatre for youth, theatre education and theatre management.

“Each of the four faculty here wear different hats and no one was wearing the marketing hat or any of the front of house [hats].” said Blandin.

While Blandin oversees both the marketing office and the box office, they are all student run, which Blandin believes is a great way for students to get into the industry.

“That can be a way into the profession and open a lot of doors if you have those skills,” she said.