Meet Weesie Vieira. Don’t let her sweet and bubbly persona throw you off– behind her amicable smile and fashion sense,she’s a diligent publicist proving her way to the top. Though her birthday cake candle-count has yet to reach 30, her lengthy list of accolades shows that age alone does not define ability. The position of publicist is frequently glamorized and Weesie can attest that there are nights on which the hard-work pays off; but the job also requires a lot of dedication and perseverance, which is exactly why Ms. Viera has been so successful thus far. Her #LYD attitude is truly what sets her apart- she makes things happen.
– Hi, Weesie. What do you do currently and how did you get here?
I’m the publicist for CBS News’ morning show, “CBS This Morning,” responsible for the public relations and communications for the show including segments and investigative stories, ratings growth and announcements. I also act as publicist for the show’s anchors and executive producer, which involves pitching profiles, Q&As, managing event requests and speaking engagements, keeping press materials up to date, etc. I’ve been at CBS News for a little over a year, and before that I worked for MSNBC PR for about 4 years, eventually managing public relations for 10 different daily shows and anchors, as well as the network’s slew of documentaries. It was a small department, which made it a really hands-on place to work. I really credit that job for giving me such an incredible crash course in PR. Prior to that, I was in the NBC Page Program, a one-year program where you rotate throughout different departments in the company. While in that role, I worked as a production assistant for two CNBC shows, in the talent department at “Saturday Night Live,” worked the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and my final rotation was in Corporate Communications for NBCUniversal. While I was there, the MSNBC coordinator left to go to graduate school; I interviewed for her position and the rest is history.
– What has been the “highlight” of your career thus far? Perhaps a specific moment, rewarding result, or exciting ‘project.’
It’s hard to name just one. Every day working in PR is different, and I’ve had some amazing opportunities over the years. The good part is that things are never boring, but I often have to stop and remind myself that something I’m working on or doing is actually really cool, and not just work. Sometimes we lose perspective when we’re immersed in the daily grind. This past year, our show got to ring the Closing Bell at the NYSE, which was a really cool moment. I loved getting to go to that. While as MSNBC, I got to work at so many cool events – including the White House Correspondents Dinner, the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte (definitely a highlight), the presidential debate in Denver, etc.
– Do you believe in specific moments or points in time when your purpose just clicks? If so, what has been one of your ‘aha’ moments?
That’s a tough one, because I still don’t know that I’ve fully found my ‘place’ or ‘purpose’ in the grand scheme of things, and I’m not sure how you ever really know that. I think that it is really important to trust your instincts, though. If something doesn’t feel right, at least in my experience, it probably isn’t. Go with your gut, ask questions and do what’s right for you.
-What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
Don’t take things personally. This is truly one of the easiest things to say and yet one of the most difficult to practice, but it really will save you so much time and angst if you can get past that right away. Business is business. Yes, sometimes people are going to be jerks. I once had a reporter respond to an email I’d sent calling me an idiot and CC’ing a major executive at the company on the email. It really shook me up, of course. But, in the end it turned out that it wasn’t about me. The reporter was angry with said executive for something personal and decided to take it out on me. Looking back, it was pretty pathetic on his part, but it sure did help me develop a thick skin. And while that case may have been personal, for the most part, it’s just business.
On another note, a professor of mine told me how important it is in business and negotiation to see the other person’s point of view – what are they trying to get out of the deal? How can you help them achieve their goal while also achieving yours? Even though my professor works in the finance world, I think this advice works for any job or industry. As a publicist, when I put together a pitch, I try to think like a reporter. What’s the story here? Why should this reporter care? What can I give them that they might not get from someone else? In many ways, you are like a reporter – you pull together the Who’s, What’s, When’s, Where’s, etc. – and then you have to take it a step further to make your story convincing and show why it matters.
-How do you handle setbacks?
Usually a bottle of red wine helps. All kidding aside, I usually abide by the Tim Gunn mantra, “Make it work.” Yes, it can be frustrating when something you’ve worked on for weeks falls through, or a last minute conflict comes up, or any number of obstacle gets in your way. But don’t beat yourself up about it. I always tell myself, we’ll make it work. It took me a long time to get there – I think women, especially, can be very hard on themselves – but honestly getting to that point where you can gracefully pick up and move forward is such a satisfying place to be personally.
-What are the attributes that you believe are most important for young women to stand out and find success?
I think having an positive attitude is so important. People pick up on that the moment you walk in a room. Being able to talk to anyone is such a valuable skill as well. It can be a little scary approaching a complete stranger at a networking event for example, but just remember they’re usually in the same boat as you are. Some of the best friends and connections I’ve made have come from striking up a conversation with a stranger. The ability to adapt and pivot is essential as well – it’s important to be able to stay cool in any situation. You want to be someone that people can count on. I also think creativity and not having a fear of sharing your ideas is important – but I think listening is just as important, if not more, than talking.
-If you could share just one piece of advice to all young girls what would it be?
I know this is hard, but I think such an important piece of advice to young girls is to stop comparing yourself to others – your friends, your family, a picture you saw in a magazine. I know it’s very difficult and honestly I’d say that that’s something that’s really come to me since I got into my 20’s, but the sooner you can know yourself and be happy with who you are, and be happy for those around you, the better off you’ll be. Trust me, it’s so much more satisfying to, as Judy Garland said, “Always be a first rate version of yourself and not a second rate version of someone else.”
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