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Dr. Sherri Jean Katz

Assistant professor in strategic communications
September 8, 2015

Sherri Jean Katz wants to demystify the world of entertainment public relations and advertising. It’s not all glitz, glamor and cocktail parties. Still, Katz can drop some of the biggest names in the world.

Katz, who spent 15 years in advertising and public relations in New York City – including five years promoting Broadway and Off-Broadway productions and national tours – joined the SJMC in the fall as an assistant professor in strategic communications. She will teach Principles of Strategic Communication in the fall and add Psychology of Advertising in the spring.

In New York City, Katz crossed paths with Michael Jackson (his security detail almost bowled her over), Sir Paul McCartney (Katz had to ask the former Beatle a question), Dame Julie Andrews (Katz described her as a true professional) and a pre-teen Lea Michele (she was eager for Julie Andrews’ autograph.)     

“I did get to meet a lot of really cool people, movie stars. But when you are in the entertainment business you move very quickly from giddy fan to a professional and colleague,” Katz said. “It is good to step back and say ‘OK, it’s awesome to have this exciting experience, but at the end of the day what are we doing that’s strategic?’ You want to do work that is productive and meaningful.”

For instance, Katz initiated focus groups in cities across the country that resulted in the revamping of the advertising campaign for the national touring production of Fame the Musical because the advertising art and copy did not resonate with younger audience members.

After five years in theater, Katz moved on to public relations in the dean’s office at New York University. There she focused on faculty and donor relations. At the same time, Katz founded her own public relations and marketing company, handling clients in the real estate, technology and environmental conservation sectors.

That ability to adapt to a variety of content areas and communication needs is one tool Katz wants her students to take with them into their careers.

“The future of the communication industry is very unclear because we are so technology-driven,” said Katz, who added she has again found her dream job. “My goal is that students walk away with the knowledge of what the industry looks like today, as well as the ability to adapt their thinking and skills, and grow as it changes so that they are still leading the field 20 years from now.”

Katz’s research interests involve persuasion technology and youth. Most recently, Katz examined the effectiveness of cigarette warning labels and whether messaging aids or impedes a person’s likelihood of quitting smoking.

Along with her extensive professional experience, Katz also brings an exceptional educational background. She earned a Ph.D. and M.S. from Cornell University's Department of Communication, an M.A. from NYU's Culture and Communications program, and a B.A. in Public Relations (Honors) and Political Science (minor: Marketing) from the S.I. Newhouse School and Syracuse University. Katz also holds professional certificates in Advanced Event Management and Digital Media Marketing from NYU.

Outside of work, Katz spends time with her daughter, and also enjoys recreational gymnastics and dancing.