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What’s Inside?

November 2011 Issue

#CommComm Blog: http://psuprssa.wordpress. com/

PR & Political Campaigning...2

Twitter:: @PennStatePRSSA

National Conference Highlights...3

Facebook: The Penn State Chapter of PRSSA

Government Affairs Internship...2-3

Social Media Crisis Communications...4 Local Musicians Utilize PR...5 Professor Spotlight...6 Gender in PR...6 PRSSA Executive Board Spotlight....7 Alumni Spotlight...8 Acknowledgements...9


PR Tactics Used in Political Campaigning by Sarah Kurz Public Relations have played an important role in politics since Aristotle first employed the use of persuasive rhetoric as a means of communication. Today, the use of similar PR tactics is still being used as the primary link between voter and politico in three crucial measures. Publicity, an essential element to any candidate, is by far one of the most important uses of PR within a campaign. This publicity allows for name recognition; no one will vote for a candidate if they do not recognize his name! The next PR tactic of providing information to voters is not only important to the party representing the candidate, but also to the voters. This information will be what we use to determine a candidate’s legitimacy and whether or not we support them. Although this step may seem the most crucial, the use of public opinion to connect with candidates is by far the most important. The uses of polls, surveys, social media, etc. are all concepts created by public relations firms to communicate between the public and their candidate. With the ability to connect a candidate with the feelings and opinions of their voting pool allows them to alter their platforms and draw attention to subjects they know people will want to hear. The more a candidate can communicate and relate to its audience, the better chance they have in winning an election. Despite all the above mentioned, many voters will continue to think it is in the interest of public relations firms to not care about communication, but simply number of votes and money being directed toward their candidate. This is not true. Firms do not want to see last minute mud slinging or dirty tricks used to gain attention of voters; in essence the exact opposite of what they want.

So as Election Day and the 2012 presidential campaign sneak up on you, remember to look past the ludicrous TV commercials; our candidates are trying to communicate not for their own personal benefit, but for all of us.

An Internship in Government Affairs

3 hands with the first woman to hold this position in office was inspiring.

Advisor Dr. Ann Major accompanied the representatives.

Applying the skills that I have learned as a public relations major in a corporate setting was a rewarding experience. This experience helped me realize my desire to be involved in congress and apply my public relations skills toward government affairs.

Throughout the conference, our members attended several workshops and listened to distinguished guest speakers. Senior Brittany Greff, Penn State’s Director of Chapter Development, enjoyed Gary Buchanan’s, Social Media Managing Editor of Disney, presentation. Greff reflects, “At this session I learned the importance of creating a theme and telling a story that works with the theme. Gary talked about dating ideas, but not marrying them, because when you only date an idea, you allow for others to provide input and shape the idea so it goes beyond what you imagined it could do.”

by Allison Staszesky This past summer, I was the Public Affairs Intern at Bechtel, an engineer contracting company located in Washington D.C. My internship required me to sit in and take notes at hearings in the United States Congress at the Senate and the House. I was exposed to a wide range of topics, including health care, tax, trade and nuclear energy. I gained a firsthand perspective about current issues from the lawmakers themselves. I also gained exclusive access to a variety of think tanks and seminars for women in public relations, crisis communications and current events. My internship came alive when I had the opportunity to visit the Bechtel job site of the new Dulles Metro line in Washington D.C. My coworkers and I were able to tour the construction site and climb inside the Metrorail. In experiencing this with my coworkers I had a deeper connection and understanding of the products Bechtel produces. The most valuable skill I gained at Bechtel was how to make the complex topics I took notes on, such as nuclear energy, into understandable notes. My boss wanted the highlights from the hearings and presentations I attended in readable terms. It was my job to take succinct and precise notes. I also gained experience with web design and constructing communication plans. A highlight of my internship was meeting former Speaker of The United States House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi. Shaking

PSU PRSSA Attends National Conference by Jacqueline Till The 2011 PRSSA National Conference, “Perception is Reality: Inspiring Effective Communications,” was held in Orlando, Florida, and was hosted by the PRSSA chapter of the University of Florida. The five-day conference invited participants from PRSSA chapters all over the country to learn more about the PR world. Penn State’s PRSSA President Kristen DeRosa states, “One of the biggest benefits about attending PRSSA National events is the opportunity to network with other PRSSA members, PRSA professionals, and the speakers that they bring in for the seminars.” Along with DeRosa, Penn State PRSSA members Liz Ferrari, Cait Gossert, Brittany Greff, Hannah Tuke, Nicole Morgan, Steph Williams, Brittany Lorenz, Allison Lilly, Michelle Lawrence, Zach Dugan and Corey Lonberger represented Penn State’s Lawrence G. Foster at the conference.

The conference covered issues our chapter has focused on during our workshops and general meetings: ethics, social media, and crisis management. According to Greff, “Nationally, ethics is a big deal. What we are doing as a chapter is just a small part of the overall mission to get all PRSSA members working and behaving ethically.” DeRosa valued Richard Levick’s “Crisis Communications: Confronting Reality With Strategy” and recommends PRSSA members read his book “Stop the Presses.” During the award ceremony, Penn State PRSSA was honored with the 2011 Star Chapter Award and placed first for the 2011 NODAC Competition. Also, Communications Committee Chair Chelsea Sweithelm was awarded with the PRSSA National Gold Key Award. Penn State PRSSA representatives utilized social media to update fellow members with conference news and highlights. They used such outlets as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and the PRSSA blog- clearly executing social media at its best in order to include the entire society. Seminar and workshop summaries are available under the blog tab “PSUNC” on



Think Before You Tweet: Social Media Crisis Comm

Local Musicians Utilize PR to Prosper

by Jenny Johnson

by Equille Williams

Today, social media is a huge aspect of public relations. Thus, it is even more important to monitor what you, or your client, posts. Remember to keep comments appropriate; it is possible to voice your opinion while maintaining respect about the people or topic you are discussing. It only takes one insulting comment to spark a social media crisis.

There once was a time where it took a major record deal for an artist to make it onto the music scene and prosper. Those times are over.

On Oct. 19, 2011, Maroon 5 front man and The Voice judge, Adam Levine, exhibited what not do to on social media. Although Levine is known for blurting bold and blunt statements during interviews and live televisions shows, Levine’s latest stint involved got him in trouble via Twitter.

With the availability of quality music at an all-time high, it is difficult for artists to gain visibility in a crowded market. A good PR and advertisement strategy is vital to the success of a musician, especially for independent acts. Drew Jackson, front man for local band Atlas Soundtrack, feels that good PR is one of the most important cogs in the success of an artist.

Levine insulted American Idol and MTV, discrediting their contribution to the music industry and their overall goals as music television outlets. Levine tweeted, “Dear Fox News, don’t play our music on your evil f**king channel ever again. Thank you.” Almost instantaneously, he received negative feedback from followers. One follower tweeted, “Hey Moron 5, you bunch of no-talent hacks. Go get real jobs and stop polluting the EMS with your noise.” A hash tag was created in response to Levine’s abrasive tweet: #ThinkBeforeYouSpeak. From a PR perspective, Levine should take heed to his followers’ advice, and learn to “think before he speaks.” Ideally, Levine should be use Twitter as a public relations tool, not for ranting or insulting others. In general, Twitter should be fun. Just remember to think before you speak, or in this case, post. Levine lost fans and respect after his outrageous accusation against Fox News. As a public relations professional, your image and your company’s reputation are always at stake. You do not want to lose credibility and respect from peers over a tweet or Facebook status. Information and pictures for this article were gathered from view/00044635.html

Here at Penn State, there are students who are able to make their own music at or near studio quality. Just 30 years ago, it took thousands of dollars to get the caliber equipment that is so affordable today.

“Public relations is an integral piece of your marketing campaign for the artist,” Jackson says. “Quite simply, if you have no relevance, you have no demand, and therefore, there is no need for supply.” Social media is becoming the biggest outlet for new artists and musicians. Taking advantage of any online outlet is important to any artist, including Penn State alumni and aspiring emcee Ugochukwu Onyianta, but more commonly known as The ‘U’. “Make sure you get an e-blogger, Facebook music page, Reverbnation, Tumblr, Bandcamp, and YouTube,” says Onyianta. “Get as many online outlets as possible so your music is available and easily accessible.” With so many avenues available to aspiring artists, visibility and noticeability are at an all-time high in importance. Without a good PR and advertising campaign, success will be hard to come by. The two are of utmost importance. “I believe that advertising and public relations are 90% of what get an artist known in the music industry,” says Jackson. For More information on Atlas Soundtrack and The ‘U’, visit and http://


Professor Spotlight: Dr. Ann Major by Jeannette Bordeau You may know Dr. Major as a public relations professional, your professor, or as our PRSSA chapter’s advisor. But, did you know she is also a certified emergency medical technician? It’s true. By day, Dr. Major teaches in the class rooms of Penn State. By night, she rides the streets of State College in a Centre Life Link ambulance. The public relations and medical fields united for Dr. Major while when she began researching at the Jim Jimirro Center for the Study of Media Influence, an organization that integrates teaching, research and writing for undergraduate and graduate students. Dr. Major helped establish the Center in 2003 with founder and Penn State alumnus Jim Jimirro. Most recently, Dr. Major conducted surveys to discover the drinking habits of college students at the Center. The interest in this research eventually led Dr. Major to pursue an emergency medical technician certification with Centre LifeLink, which provides emergency services to the Pennsylvania Centre Region. Transitioning from a researcher in the center to an observer in the field has been beneficial to Dr. Major. “[Being an EMT] has allowed me to move from survey research to ethnography, which has then informed my survey work,” said Dr. Major. As an EMT, Dr. Major witnesses nightlife in the streets among Penn State college students on average one night per week by following medical calls in the Centre LifeLink ambulance. While Dr. Major enjoys being an EMT, she has a passion for leading her students in the classroom and in PRSSA.

“[My students are] very intelligent and talented,” Dr. Major said. “They go on to do great things and I’m proud of them.”

Gender in PR by Ed Wons Take a second to look around the room in some of your public relations classes, or the office from your internship. You’ll probably notice that women greatly outnumber men. However, men tend to make more money than women and have more management positions. Why is this? A 2010 PRSA survey on work, life and gender revealed that PRSA members were 79 percent women. The report also stated that the average salary for a man was around $94,000, but just $73,000 for a woman. The salary gap also shows no signs of slowing down. A 2006 survey stated that women made 69 percent of a man’s salary and shrunk to 60 percent just last year. Since there are a greater number of women entering the field, this has the possibility of lowering the wages of PR practitioners as a whole. These statistics have even cause many young people to leave the public relations field for a more equal, higher paying profession. There are several troubling conclusions that one can make from these findings. One is that women do not have equality in a field where they are the majority. Second, fewer men are working in public relations today, although they used to be the majority in the past. As members of PRSSA who will soon be entering the workforce, we need to value both genders in the field and realize that different points of view are essential to success. Women need to continue to compete for higher salaries and more positions. And, as a seemingly dying breed, men in public relations need to get more involved. It will take efforts of both men and women to continue to make public relations a lucrative field.


E-Board Spotlight: Liz Ferrari by Madeleine Brown Meet Liz Ferrari, a senior majoring in Public Relations and Spanish with a minor in Economics. A member of PRSSA since her sophomore year, Liz worked her way up to become the Vice President of PRSSA by first participating in several committees and serving as the Director of Finance last year. As Vice President, the southern bell would like to see the members of Penn State’s PRSSA Chapter to understand what an amazing network they are attached to by being a part of PRSSA, not only their PRSSA peers, but also a connection to all of the professionals in PRSA. As if being Vice President is not already enough, Liz is very active outside of PRSSA. She is the Chief Financial Officer and President for the Penn State Yearbook, La Vie. She also was a former Account Associate for Happy Valley Communications, Penn State’s student-run PR firm. Finally, Liz interned for Summit Electric Supply, and has studied abroad in Madrid, Spain! Liz believes that while studying abroad last summer did not allow her to have an internship, she believes that now she has something fantastic to talk about that distinguishes her from others. Liz believes that listening is the most important aspect of PR. She has incorporated this skill into her activities and believes that you should “listen to your audience to hear what they want, to your staff for their ideas, and to media to see where trends are moving.” According the Liz, the moment a person stops listening and heads down a path only thinking their way is the right way, that person loses the chance to find improvement. Liz offered two great suggestions on how to succeed in PRSSA. First, Liz advises that you should not be afraid to apply for positions you do not think you are qualified for. Second, don’t compare yourself to your peers. To find out more about Liz, and her e-board position, email her at


PRSSA Alumnus Spotlight: Colleen Hanrahan by Rachael Kline Colleen Hanrahan, a past Penn State PRSSA member and current PRSA member, has both deeply benefited from and has impacted our chapter. Colleen joined PRSSA during her sophomore year at Penn State and held an executive board position her senior year, Director of Chapter Development. Before landing her e-board position, Colleen was part of the Communications Committee, writing articles for the newsletters, as well as securing speakers and organizing workshops on the Event Planning Committee. Colleen feels deeply benefited by being an active member of this organization. According to Colleen, PRSSA gave her great hands-on experience and information about the industry she was quickly entering. The organization was a great opportunity that provided her with experiences for her resume. Additionally, it helped her network and build connections with national PRSA members. Colleen notes that being a member of PRSSA can be extremely helpful when enduring the job interview process. A speaker from a PRSSA general meeting even wrote a recommendation for Colleen when she began applying for jobs. For those who are not specifically public relations majors, Colleen recommends PRSSA to anyone in the College of Communications. The skills taught in PRSSA are important in any job, and the versatility of joining a club not specifically related to your major shows great diversity. Colleen suggests taking advantage of all opportunities offered by our chapter. “This experience will help greatly later on during internship and job applications”, Colleen said. “PRSSA has a fantastic network of other students with similar interests and alumni.” Today, Colleen is an Assistant Executive at Rx Mosaic Health, a healthcare public relations agency in NYC. She found her time in the organization to be truly valuable to her current position. Colleen is a true Penn State PRSSA success story. If you would like to get in contact with Colleen, email her at

Editors in Chief:

Featured Writers:

Amanda Barrett Chelsea Sweithelm

Jeannette Bordeau

A note from the editors: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxx

Madeleine Brown Jenny Johnson Rachael Kline

Cheers, Amanda @ADBarrett90 Chelsea @CSweithelm

Sarah Kurz Allison Staszesky Jacqueline Till Brittany Walsh Ed Wons

Penn State PRSSA November Newsletter  

PRSSA students write on current PR issues.