Pamplin Reinventing Social Media is more than a club. It’s an advertising agency, a

marketing firm, an analytics powerhouse. It’s a group of people who are so obsessed with

the best and the latest that they’ll do anything to see a client succeed. Oh, and we’re

students too. Once a month, PRISM will be posting a Spotlight on some of our members so

you can see how PRISM might be a fit for you in this crazy little thing called life.


Michael Harnisch, Chief Marketing Officer

Age: 21

Grade: Senior

Major: Marketing Management and Business Information Technology

Favorite Social Media Site: Twitter, Instagram is a close second


Who inspired you to apply and becoming involved in PRISM?

Throughout high school, I was very involved with DECA. I was competing in District, State,

and National competitions as well as leading my school’s chapter by my senior year.

Through DECA, I met a marketing teacher named Mr. Behne who really piqued my interest

in marketing by connecting it with sports. He recognized my talent and pushed me to apply

myself in competitions. It was through his mentorship that I really started learning what

marketing was and how it drove business.

Fast forward to my freshman year at Virginia Tech. I was sitting alone in D2 one day

looking through the table cards (I swear I am the only one that does this), when I came

upon a card for PRISM applications. If I hadn’t seen that card in D2 I don’t know if I would

have applied to PRISM, which is funny because I don’t know where I would be without this

organization. It’s not really an inspiring story regarding getting involved with PRISM, but it

definitely shows that you should stick yourself out there and take chances.


Now, who in PRISM do you look up to most?

On first thought, I obviously have to think of Donna [Wertalik.] She does amazing things for

Pamplin and for PRISM as a whole. She provides so much leadership and guidance to us all.

However, I do remember my first PRISM meeting in Spring 2013… I really had no idea what

to expect from it. Tara and Clayton got up and just ran us through the whole organization in

an hour or two and I remember leaving the meeting and thinking, “I want to be them, I

want to be CMO of PRISM one day.”

So they were a huge inspiration in driving me towards that goal. On a day-to-day basis, I

look up to everyone in PRISM as colleagues and friends.

What’s the most fun part of your position as CMO?

I love interacting with all of our members. Just learning everyone’s personalities and their

talents is awesome.

I also love to teach people and help them out and I think that’s a role that I have to take as

CMO that isn’t necessarily obvious. At the same time, what most teachers won’t tell you is

that they are learning at the same time while they teach. I’m not just helping new members

out, as they are always showing me new perspectives and skills. Constantly interacting

with everyone is the best way to grow yourself and I love that my position allows for that

more than any other within the organization.


What’s the hardest thing about your position as CMO?

Being CMO is tough because of the amount of things you have to keep track of. It’s all of the

accounts, and all of the members, and all of the projects. Everything is so much less about a

task or project and more about the organization as a whole.

All of the challenges are so worth the reward, though. If we compared PRISM a year ago to

PRISM now it’s almost unbelievable. How did this evolve so quickly, and how did we get

from there to here in just 12 months? It really seems impossible, I have to pinch myself

sometimes just to make sure it’s real.


What are your plans for after graduation?

Right now, I have a lot up in the air. Being a double major in BIT and Marketing I have been

trying different things the past few years. I did a couple of years of technical and Big 4

internships but I just couldn’t get into it. So this semester, I rejected my full-time EY offer

and I am currently looking for a marketing internship for Summer 2016. I need to get my

feet wet in an agency environment before I do anything long term. I have my sights set a

little high but hopefully I can get what I am looking for. There are a lot of variables I can’t

really determine right now, but I’ve always trusted my own judgment and choices so I think

things will keep working out. If PRISM has taught me anything, it’s that following your

heart always pays off.