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Volume 1

September 2012

The Tour Train

September 2012

PRemier

A monthly publication of Illinios State University’s PRSSA

By Melissa Fortes

Former ISU PRSSA historian, Lauren Trentadue, gave Chapter members a tour and a presentation on the sales and promotion of 97.1 The Drive.

Tours are my favorite part of being a member of ISU PRSSA. When I heard about the first tour this year, I was ecstatic to find out our Chapter was going to visit three companies. On Friday, Sept. 21, Illinois State’s PRSSA Chapter took a trip to Chicago’s John Hancock Center to visit GolinHarris, 97.1 FM The Drive and XA, The Experiential Agency. You can only imagine how great of an experience this was. Our first stop on the tour was GolinHarris, one of the world’s leading public relations firms. The entire office was illuminated, balancing with the contemporary vibe flowing throughout its workplace. Conference rooms had unique dry-and-erase walls for brainstorming ideas, desks were set up with a low wall to generate more creativity, flat screen televisions were displayed for media monitoring purposes, and “Al’s Diner” offered employees a chic kitchen, foosball table, and hangout space. GH employees, Alyssa Bronikowski and Danna Wulf, spoke to our Chapter and led us through the company’s new “Prevolve” initiative. This G4 model created four different communities throughout the company: strategists, catalysts, creators, and connectors. By combining strategy, creativity, and engagement into one, “Prevolve” reflects the changing industry of communication. They also talked about GH case studies and the internship program. Hearing how GolinHarris redesigned its communication strategies for the future strengthened my love for public relations. The innovations in the PR world are amazing and excite me for the challenge we all face in the future. Continued on page 3 A look inside....  Public Relations from the Inside of 

COUNTRY Financial Work Hard Play Hard

 A Crisp Social Media Promotion  Letter for Executive Board


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Public Relations from the Inside of COUNTRY Financial By Shelby Ray

One of the things I love about ISU PRSSA

is being able to listen to guest speakers. Just recently, our Chapter had the opportunity to listen to two COUNTRY Financial employees talk about possible internships. A common assumption about COUNTRY is that you have to be a business or insurance major to work there, but that is only a myth. COUNTRY involves strategic communication and building mutually beneficial relationships, which is essential in public relations. The corporation offers three internships in the media relations and community relations departments. Chris Anderson, media relations coordinator, explained how their focus is on Melissa Libert, Public Affairs and Media Relations Project Manager for developing the intern’s writing skills and giving COUNTRY Financial, discusses the benefits and responsibilities of interning at COUNTRY. them real work. This skill is needed for students aspiring to be in public relations. Not only do they write press releases, but they also write about employee promotions and retirement stories, develop scripts, and create talking points for spokespeople and representatives. COUNTRY also makes it a priority to have a good relationship with media by pitching creditable news. Interns in the media relations department also work on projects such as helping to create a survey for Americans on their feelings of financial security, to hosting National Farm Safety and Health Week. They even support events for Money Smart Week and the COUNTRY sponsored farmer’s markets. Media relations interns get great experience that cannot be taught in the classroom. With all the great experience offered from the internships, competition is rigorous. There are only three internships available in the media relations department (one summer, two school year) and just one in the community relations department (in the summer). Melissa Libert, public affairs and media relations project manager, explained how this internship focuses on planning and Chris Anderson, Media Relations Coordinator for COUNTRY Financial, executing all events, managing the website, and organizing volunteers describes the real-world work the who work at the events. The department also supports development COUNTRY interns are exposed to. and implementation of the corporate social responsibility program and the projects that stem from it. Continued on page 3


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Public Relations from the Inside of COUNTRY Financial (cont’d) As the media relations department drives media attention to the farmers’ markets, the community relations department creates contests and challenges during those events. Just recently, they hosted a reusable bag design contest to promote a green lifestyle at the farmers’ markets. During the farmers’ markets, COUNTRY also sponsored a COUNTRY Chef Challenge, where professional chefs used ingredients from the market, created dishes using the local products, and competed for the title of “Master of the Market.” This year COUNTRY was selected as the United Way Pacesetter. COUTNRY was charged with raising money to benefit United Way and motivate the Bloomington-Normal community to raise even more money based on the dollar amount raised just within the company. Though many people think event

The Tour Train (cont’d) Next on the tour was 97.1 FM The Drive, a classic hits rock-and-roll radio station. Banners that read, “The Drive, The Soundtrack of Our Lives” and “97.1 FM, Enjoy the Ride,” greeted our Chapter as we walked through the door. As a PR student who appreciates branding, I loved seeing these signs throughout the office that overlooked downtown. The conference room was spacious, with a modern television panel and guitars displayed on the wall. We had the opportunity to hear from panelists of the Sales and Promotions department. Jim O’Brill, Vince Tassi, and last year’s ISU PRSSA executive board historian, Lauren Trentadue, spoke with our Chapter about their company’s success and other communication career options for students. This conversation was a great way to learn how a public relations degree can be used in ways other than at an agency, corporation or nonprofit organization. The panel also discussed The Drive’s sister stations and its internship program. All three 97.1 FM The Drive employees were former Illinois State University graduates, and seeing

planning is a fun career, Libert stressed that there are many factors that go into the success of each event, and it involves a lot of strategic planning. Since the internship program is highly competitive, the chosen intern’s opinion and perspective would be valued because the intern has been carefully selected. Anderson and Libert explained the importance of contributing to group discussions even as an intern. COUNTRY interns attend all meetings because they are considered a part of the team. Our PRSSA Chapter was very fortunate to have Anderson and Libert reveal the ins and outs of public relations at COUNTRY. As a future public relations professional, it was interesting to learn about the different areas of communication I could go into in the corporate arena. ❖

their success motivated me to get the best experience I can while a student in ISU’s School of Communication. To end the day we toured XA, The Experiential Agency. This company is an event-marketing agency and a small PR boutique, specializing in fashion, luxury, and lifestyle. Entering the office through the glass doors, our Chapter was welcomed by a modern lobby with an artistic XA backdrop. Throughout the office, the open conference room looked over the city and one room had various media publications spread across a workspace, giving a great visual to see the numerous print publications within specialized industries. Employees Chris Sofka, James Sims III, Gina Stefani, Michelle Pavlack, and last year’s ISU PRSSA executive board president, Michelle Ketcham, led the presentation at XA. Our Chapter learned about XA’s case studies and internship program. The presenters also provided us with great advice – stressing that PR is not all fun and event planning and requires flexibility with clients, using all your resources and always putting on a smile no matter what. ❖


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Work Hard Play Hard By Kelsey Nevius

After hearing three

Member of the M o n t h

representatives from As social committee chair Red Frog Events speak at she’s an event planner at heart Chapter on Tuesday, Sept. She’s quirky, talented 18, it is hard not to picture and really quite smart working for a company You may not know with such a unique culture. but she has a passion for cars At Red Frog, the people But don’t touch hers combine a “work hard, Red Frog speakers Chelsea Hartman and interns posing or she will kick you to Mars play hard” attitude. Since after presenting about the company. Shes an animal lover planning each event is and has a cute bunny so time consuming, the Talk to her for five minutes and you’ll company values rewarding its workers with a creative approach on workfind out she’s pretty funny life balance. As a waitress on weekends Red Frog Events creates a fun atmosphere to inspire employees to she has great people skills be productive and develop high-quality experiences for clients. They put And luckily it just so happens on six nationwide events: Great Urban Race, Warrior Dash, Beach Dash, to pay all of her bills Farm to Fork, Red Frog Bar Crawls, and Firefly Music Festival. These events consistently keep participants active and are designed to be a blast. She deserves member of the month for all of her hard work These events have been growing annually at a rapid pace, and Red Frog So help me congratulate anticipates the events to only continue growing. Heather Van Buskirk! The company is fairly new and was founded by Illinois State University alumnus, Joe Reynolds, in 2007. It all started when he launched his first Great Urban Race in Chicago. After the success of the first race, he added seven more events to the calendar in 2007, and in 2008 the company launched over Congratulations to 20 races nationwide. Red Frog’s next Heather Van Buskirk! successful event began in 2009 with the Warrior Dash. The first Warrior Dash sold out within one month with 2,000 runners. Red Frog has been growing and expanding its business, trying to make each event different and better than the last Red Frog is not just about having fun, but also about giving back. It partners with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, raising $3.5 million this year alone. Red Frog employees presenting on all the work that goes into the events produced at Red Frog.

continued on page 5


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A Crisp Social Media Promotion By Lisa Crocco

There is a tasty new social media campaign

creating a crunch among potato chip enthusiasts. Frito-Lay, the world’s largest food brand, launched the “Lay’s Do Us a Flavor” contest in July using social media to crowd source information. Crowdsourcing involves social media and Internet channels so mass amounts of people can give their input. This allows consumers to have communication with the corporation, while also effectively promoting their potato chip brand. People are hungry to win the $1 million prize for coming up with the next Lay’s flavor. Using the Facebook and Twitter apps that Lay’s developed allows people to create, view and judge potential flavors to be sold in 2013. Facebook replaced the “Like” button with the “I’d Eat That” button on the app for the contest. App users can vote on head-to-head flavor showdowns. With over 22,000 votes, Jalapeno Cheddar is in the lead. Grilled

Cheese and Beer Battered Onion Rings remain in second and third place with over 13,000 votes each. Lay’s is even using celebrity chef, Michael Symon, and actress, Eva Longoria, as the faces of this campaign. In an interview with New York Times, Ann Mukherjee, chief marketing officer of Frito-Lay North America, said, “It’s a new way of getting consumer research,” and, “We’re going to get a ton of new ideas.” The company has received a ton of new ideas and over 1 million Facebook app users monthly since the launch of the social media campaign. The campaign’s innovative use of social media is effective in gathering trend and research information on what people now-a-days are craving. Frito-Lay is not the first corporation to create a social media campaign similar to this; however, its use an app as a hub to design flavors and vote on them is a place where Facebook users want to be. ❖

Work Hard Play Hard (cont’d) With all of the appeal of its work environment and work ethic, it is no surprise that Red Frog receives 2,000 applications for jobs each month, and the selection process is tough. If you would like to be a “Tadpole,” you must be prepared to move to the Windy City and be ready to never have a “typical day” at the office. Tadpoles begin as paid interns and are required to work 50 to 60 hours a week. Although this seems like a lot, each event requires hands-on teamwork, and according to the speakers, the time spent planning is worth it.

It is easy to see the workers at Red Frog truly have a passion for what they do. They enjoy going to work every day, and they are always thinking of new ways for the participants of their events to have a one-ofa-kind experience. Whether I work at Red Frog or at another public relations company, advice I took away from the presentation is the importance in finding a career where you will be happy and love what you are doing. ❖


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Letter from Executive Board By Kelsey Carey, Chapter Treasurer

In every issue of PRemier, this column features a short article by one of the Chapter’s executive board

members. The purposes of this column are to introduce you to the person holding a particular e-board position and summarize the work that person does through the role he or she fills.  Leadership opportunities through committees, ISU PRSSA executive board, or PRSSA National Committee  The opportunity to tour public relations companies in Illinois

My name is Kelsey Carey, and I am the 20122013 treasurer. The duties of my position include managing the Chapter’s budget and finances, tracking membership incentive points (MIPs), and designing and ordering the Chapter t-shirts. One of the main responsibilities I have is collecting dues ($80 for the calendar year) from members who want to receive the full benefits of being a PRSSA member. There are many benefits of membership, and last year we had a record number of 104 dues-paying members. Some of the main benefits of becoming a dues pay member include: The reasons to become a dues-paying member:  PRSSA involvement on your resume  Discounted rates at events such as Regional Conference, National Conference, National Assembly, and networking dinners  Scholarships and awards offered exclusively to members  Access to the PRSA job center and PRSSA Internship Center

are almost endless! This year our PRSSA Chapter has already held four meetings with PR professionals as guest speakers and attended one PRSA networking dinner in Peoria, Ill., with professionals throughout Central Illinois. At the networking dinners, members can meet and talk with PR pros to build connections and talk about PR practice and career opportunities. However, guest speakers and networking dinners are not the only way to build relationships with professionals. The Chapter also attends tours of PR organizations both locally and in the Chicagoland area. Last year the Chapter toured companies such as Red Frog Events, GolinHarris, Edelman, LC Williams & Associates, and Ketchum. During these tours, members are given a tour of the office and a presentation from employees of the company to learn about the policies and culture. Employees also answer any questions members have and hand our business cards with their contact information. On top of building relationships, ISU PRSSA offers leadership positions for which all members are encouraged to apply. When positions are available members must submit a resume and cover letter and, if they have “the right stuff,” they would be asked to interview for the position. Applying for leadership positions is a valuable opportunity that allows members to gain interviewing practice that they will use later in life. So attending Chapter meetings is just the tip of the iceberg of value in joining PRSSA. Becoming a duespaying member creates virtually endless opportunities to grow as a public relations practitioner while in school. The deadline for dues is October 16, so mark your calendars and join PRSSA! ❖

Profile for Illinois State University PRSSA

PRemier Newsletter: September 2012  

This issue of PRemier includes Tour Train, Public Relations from the Inside of COUNTRY Financial, Work Hard Play Hard, A Crisp Social Media...

PRemier Newsletter: September 2012  

This issue of PRemier includes Tour Train, Public Relations from the Inside of COUNTRY Financial, Work Hard Play Hard, A Crisp Social Media...

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