Alumnus, PR exec tells students to protect their name, proclaim God's
In a world of snaps, tweets, and selfies, alumnus Mark DeMoss (’84), a leading public relations executive, cautioned Liberty University students in Friday’s Convocation to think about how they are branding themselves and, more importantly, how they are reflecting the image of their savior.
DeMoss, whose late father, Arthur, is the namesake of DeMoss Hall, the academic building at the heart of campus, is the founder and president of DeMoss, the nation’s largest PR agency serving faith-based organizations and causes. He is the author of “The Little Red Book of Wisdom” and served as the senior advisor for Mitt Romney’s 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns. He is also a member of the Liberty University Board of Trustees. DeMoss was a kicker with the Flames Football team.
President Jerry Falwell, who graduated the same year as DeMoss and lived in the same residence hall at Liberty, relayed the close bond his family and the DeMoss family have had over the years. He said the DeMoss family are strong believers in Liberty’s mission and, in addition to providing vital financial support to help build up the campus, shared business wisdom to university leaders as Liberty began to grow.
Falwell also noted that Mark DeMoss’ wife, April, is the daughter of Art and Angela Williams — for whom Williams Stadium is named — another family who has supported Liberty generously over the years.
In his speech, DeMoss relayed wisdom from years of creating, managing, and protecting names. He warned students to be mindful of their social media habits because they are — intentionally or not — building a personal brand and an online résumé.
“Would you want your social media feeds to replace your résumé when you graduate and start looking for a job?” DeMoss asked, noting that many hiring managers review social media accounts when screening applicants.
DeMoss also encouraged the thousands in the crowd, telling them that each of their names has God-given value. Some may feel they are merely another number, lost in a sea of faces or a vast digital landscape, but DeMoss reminded everyone of six truths about their name: God knows your name, you did not choose your name, you give your name meaning, you can make a bad name good, you can make a good name bad, and Christians carry the name of God.
For those who feel their name is tarnished or that their background is an insurmountable burden, DeMoss offered hope.
“Your name may come from people you’d rather forget than emulate,” he said. “You might be embarrassed if others knew your whole story. But you can reverse an ugly cycle and make a bad name good.”
DeMoss also warned that building a legacy can take years, but only takes a moment to shatter. Furthermore, as followers of Christ our Lord’s reputation is at stake when people watch us.
“We should be more about His name than we are about our own,” DeMoss said. He challenged the students to consider who they are seeking to glorify when posting on social media.
Beyond responsibility, with Christ’s name also comes promise for His children, DeMoss explained.
“All of us can name a lot of people who will let us down,” DeMoss said. “But the name we carry as a follower of Christ will never let us down. For His is the only name that we can fully trust — the name above all names. We see this throughout the entire Scripture.”
With that in mind, DeMoss issued a simple challenge: “Go and make your name count and make His name known.”
Earlier in the Convocation, President Falwell thanked the student body for how well they represented Liberty on national television Thursday night as the Flames defeated Coastal Carolina 24-21 on the gridiron. The game, broadcast by ESPNEWS, was the first nationally televised football game in program history.
Falwell also recognized a special Convocation guest, Flames Basketball legend Ed Vickers, who set several Liberty records on the hardwood in the 1980s. Vickers was visiting campus with his family.
Another face from Liberty’s past, the university’s former vice president for urban ministry Michael Faulkner, shared a brief word of encouragement with the crowd. Faulkner is the parent of a Liberty student. He is a prominent New York City pastor and is planning to run for mayor of the city in 2017.
He attributed his ambition and belief that God can use people in tremendous ways to his time working at Liberty with its founder, Dr. Jerry Falwell. Faulkner said the same fervor he saw in Liberty students in the 1980s is still very much alive and that they should embrace it while here.
“You are here to be an agent of change. You are here to become a transformer,” Faulkner said. “You are the answer that we need. You are the solution to the problems that we face.”