Executive Communications Introductions: Meet Christine Alabastro
Executive Communications Professional
I enjoyed talking with Christine Alabastro to learn about her career path. This is her executive communications story.
Christine Alabastro manages executive communications at TikTok. She is passionate about strategic storytelling and empowering speakers to use their authentic voice.
Prior to TikTok, Christine worked at Hulu on its corporate communications team where she focused on telling consumer stories about the company’s brand and helped elevate the presence of its senior women leaders. She started her career at leading global PR firms, Edelman and Golin, where she provided corporate communications services to a portfolio of Fortune 500 clients.
Christine graduated from UC San Diego with degrees in Communication, Business, and Dance. She received her MA in Strategic Public Relations at the University of Southern California where she graduated the top of her class and received the Outstanding Graduate Scholar Award.
Christine currently sits on USC’s Center for Public Relations Board of Advisors, which is composed of industry-leading communications professionals from the agency and corporate world. She was also recognized as one of Business Insider’s 26 Rising Stars in Public Relations 2021.
Disclaimer: These viewpoints don’t reflect those of my current employer.
What sparked your professional path into Executive Communications?
I started my career in PR without really knowing that executive communications was a specialty that existed. Like many PR professionals, I first worked at an agency to build a strong foundation and gain experience across multiple industries. During my first job, at Edelman, I focused on media relations for consumer and corporate brands. I was initially most interested in media relations but later developed a strong interest in strategic storytelling through the voice of spokespeople.
I then expressed interest in learning more about media training and one of my EVPs took me under her wing and helped me learn about executive communications and executive visibility. I shadowed her and watched her grow executives into more confident interviewers, articulate storytellers, and combat their public speaking fears, and it didn’t take long for me to realize this is what I wanted to focus on.
One thing I really love about executive communications is that it feels like a true partnership as you understand the spokesperson’s strengths, challenges, and goals. From there, it becomes a collaboration with the spokesperson to set realistic expectations, find their distinctive voice in the marketplace, and further tell the company’s business story. It is really gratifying to watch someone become stronger in their own public speaking and communication style.
What are the critical skills needed in your profession?
Executive communications is a fast paced role that requires a high attention to detail. Apart from being able to adhere to deadlines, it’s so important to also nurture honest and trusting relationships with stakeholders, partners, and media. I firmly believe that having integrity as well as being professional, respectful, empathetic, and honest can go a long way in this line of work. I’ll also add that remaining calm and making sound judgments, especially in high pressure situations, is critical.
As a certified yoga teacher on the side, I’ve also found that some of the skills I’ve learned from teaching yoga have been helpful to me in executive communications.
Mindfulness and breathwork can be extremely beneficial especially when battling nerves before an interview or speaking on a panel. This practice can help speakers navigate difficult questions and other issues that arise.
Simplicity in sentences are key when teaching a yoga class and guiding students through movements and transitions. Working with spokespeople is often much the same. We take complex issues, ideas, and campaigns, and we help spokespeople tell their story, and the company’s story, in a clear and concise way that is authentic.
How do you describe executive communications to others?
In short: I work with leaders to develop meaningful narratives to enhance an organization’s external story.
To do this job well -- and to succeed in most any communications role -- you have to wear many hats: as a project manager, strategic advisor, creative storyteller, critical thinker, and well-informed background source. Most every executive has their own work styles, interests, challenges, motivations, and personalities. My job is to help the executive harness their unique characteristics to advocate for the company and for themselves.
Can you share an example of a project that you’ve worked on?
I have always been an advocate for supporting women in the workforce and empowering women to succeed in leadership positions. While at Hulu, I led the company’s women’s executive communications plan where I helped elevate the profiles of the company’s senior women leaders across Marketing, Data, Content, and Finance.
This initiative was like a crash course in Executive Communications for me. I started off by setting up casual interviews with each leader to better understand their personal stories, reflections on their industries, and their experiences with speaking and interviewing. From there, I developed a comprehensive communications plan inclusive of media, op-ed, conference, and award opportunities for each leader. Over the course of that year, I secured profile feature stories in consumer outlets like Refinery29, recognition in 40 Under 40 lists, several industry award placements, as well as women-led main stage speaking appearances at industry conferences like SXSW, CES, and Cannes. I’m really proud of how this initiative came to life.
How do you continue learning about the field of Executive Communications?
Learning never stops and there will always be opportunities to develop and grow. I’ve been very fortunate in my career to have an incredible network of mentors and colleagues with whom I stay in touch, exchange ideas, and discuss the PR industry. I’m fortunate to be a part of USC’s Board of Advisors for its Center for PR where I get to connect with some of the most well respected leaders in the Communications field.
Last but not least, I love to read! My bookshelves are stocked with self-improvement literature. These books don’t necessarily focus on the field of executive communications but they can apply to almost anyone in a corporate job. A few of my favorites are: