Alumni Newsletter: September/October 2012

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Volume 1

October 2012

Alumni Spotlight: Jessica Funcannon We appreciate our alumni and rely on you as role models and mentors! We also truly value your continued support of and intrest in the Chapter. We hope that you enjoy our newsletter, which should keep you up-to-date on all of our current activies and possibly bring back great memories of your own days in the ISU Chapter of PRSSA.


October 2012


By Kaylin Smith

PRSSA alumna, Jessica Funcannon, shows how a new graduate can be successful in this tough economy. Funcannon joined PRSSA her sophomore year at Illinois State University and jumped in head first by joining the Bateman Team. That year she helped create a campaign that rose awareness about the 2010 Census. That campaign went on to win the ISU Civic Engagement Award. During her senior year at ISU, Funcannon was Bateman Team Leader for the “isFit campaign” about childhood obesity. This campaign received a national honorable mention, a title ISU had not claimed for many years. While being heavily involved in PRSSA, Funcannon also completed four different internships during her time at ISU. Little did she know, her fourth internship would lead her into her current position as Lightspan Digital’s social media community manager. What internships have you completed? I completed four internships when I was at ISU. I truly believe that learning outside of the classroom in a real working enviro ment is unlike any other educational experience. As PR majors in a tough economy, the more valuable internships you can have, the better. It makes you more appealing to future employers, and you never know what internships can turn to job opportunities. My first internship was with Great Plains LIFE Foundation, where I was a project coordinator and helped raise funds for its nonprofit program for underprivileged students. My second was with Meatheads Burgers and Fries. This is where I first became immersed in the social media world—little did I know it would become my future career! My third internship was with Infinity Print Group, where I dabbled in social media and sales. My last internship was with my current company, Lightspan Digital. Lightspan was the agency for Meatheads at the time and one of Continued on page 3

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A Conference to Remember By Kaitie Ries

Senior to wa t c h Emma Newman By Kaylin Smith

ISU members posing at National Conference in San Fransisco, Calif.

As many of you know, ISU PRSSA recently attended PRSSA National Conference in San Francisco, Calif. Every year our Chapter attends this conference because it is a great opportunity for students to learn from public relations and communication professionals. For four days attendees can choose to attend various sessions regarding the multiple aspects of the PR industry. From sports PR to media training to travel, it’s highly unlikely that attendees aren’t excited about at least one portion of the conference. However, as the departure date approached, I was more nervous than excited. Why? Because our executive board was actually chosen to be a session presenter. We had been working on our presentation and practicing twice a week for months, and the date was finally near. I decided to submit a proposal for what is called a Chapter Development Session back in April. The proposal asked me to describe how our Chapter was qualified to present and the details and history of our Chapter. It also asked for a brief description and outline of the presentation, and why I was choosing the topic. I decided on our topic, “Tips for Building a Strong Executive Board,” after I attended the 2011 National Conference in Orlando, Fla. When I attended the vice president breakout session, I noticed that many Chapters had issues that could be traced back to the executive board. Some complained that their president didn’t attend meetings, and when I asked them if they had a contract to hold that person accountable, they said no. There were other Chapters who had similar problems, so I was able to share a lot of our executive board’s best practices with the other vice presidents. After submitting the proposal, I didn’t know what to expect. There are roughly 280 Chapters, and only eight would be chosen to present. When I found out our proposal had been selected, I couldn’t believe it. I called Dr. Smudde right away to share my excitement, and Continued on page 5

MAJOR: Public Relations EXPERIENCE: (May 2012 - Present)

- Lead Intern for the School of Communication Promotions and Development (SoC PD) Team (May 2011-2012)

-Public Relations Intern and Event Coordinator for Illinois State University-Illinois Wesleyan University Chapter of Habitat for Humanity (August 2011 - May 2012)

-PRSSA Social Chair FUTURE PLANS: My plans for after graduation are Continued on page 4

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Jessica Funcannon (Cont’d) her strategies was to have “Meathead Ambassadors” to help promote the brand socially. Throughout the process I worked closely with Mana and a manager from the local Meatheads and I just never lost touch! The following summer I was on the Board of Directors for @midwest which is Bloomington-Normal’s annual social media conference. I was able to bring Mana on board as well and after the conference was over Mana offered me an internship position at Lightspan.One interesting fact is that I found the last three internships through social media. Because I had a great online presence and made professional connections through sites like Twitter and LinkedIn, I was exposed to some pretty awesome opportunities.

How has your past involvement with PRSSA helped you after graduation? PRSSA gave me the encouragement and insights that I needed to succeed. Through PRSSA I was able to accomplish so much with Bateman, and I was given the opportunity to attend two national conferences. I also made lifelong friends!

You were a part of the Bateman team last year. Do you think being a part of that team helped prepare you for the “real world of PR?” I definitely think that Bateman is a real-world experience. There’s no better experience than planning, implementing, and evaluating an entire campaign from start to finish. Nothing ever goes exactly as you expect it to, so along the way you learn to handle tough situations, and it’s a constant learning experience. There’s no other experience like Bateman, and I would highly recommend it for anyone pursuing a career in public relations.

What does your current title, social media community manager, at Lightspan Digital entail? I manage several clients’ social media channels. My job is to not only create original online content and respond to customers, but also to create and

execute social media campaigns. Each client is different and each client’s targeted audiences are different, so it takes a lot of research and planning to properly represent each client. Social media is such a transparent and open means of communication unlike any other channel, so it is extremely important to understand my clients even more than they understand themselves at times.

How did you make yourself stand out from the crowd when applying for your position at Lightspan Digital? I had been working with Lightspan Digital for a while through my internship there, and after a few conversations with my boss, Mana, I made it clear to her that I wanted to move to Chicago. The rest is history. I didn’t even have to apply, and the position was made for me. Lightspan is only a couple years old and working here so close to the beginning is such an amazing experience. I have watched the company double in staff and sales, and it’s great knowing that the work I’m doing really matters.

What is it like working with celebrity clients, like David Tutera for his new jewelry line? It is so much FUN! Granted, it is a lot of work because, with celebrity clients, Continued on page 4 Jessica funcannon with client, David Tutera wedding planner and star of My Fair Wedding.


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Jessica Funcannon (Cont’d) there is more visibility to your work. Everything that I post has the potential of being seen by thousands of people. With scrutiny like that, there is absolutely no room for mistakes. It is a great responsibility to know that a celebrity’s image depends on how I represent him or her. David Tutera is such a fun client because it really follows my passion for lifestyle topics. As Lightspan continues to grow, I’m excited to see what other celebrity clients may come my way.

You also write/post many blogs for Lightspan Digital. Do you get to have creative freedom to come up with topics, or are they assigned to you? I have complete creative freedom to write about what I feel is useful for others to know. Two of our biggest values at Lightspan are continuously learning and teaching, so writing blogs and doing speaking engagements is my way of contributing. When I was a student I learned so much from others, and it is really great knowing that I’m gaining experience I can teach people. If anyone Jessica and coworker being interviewed by Huffington from PRSSA is interested in Post Live. writing a guest blog post, please send them my way and we can talk.

How are you continuing your involvement with PRSSA since you graduated? How would you like to help out PRSSA in the future? At this time I have been unable to officially join PRSA, but it is definitely on my to-do list! I would love to host a PRSSA outing at Lightspan Digital, if a trip to Chicago is planned. Social media is a growing field, and I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to have an online presenceto present yourself professionally and efficiently. Would you like to be featured in our next Alumni Newsletter? Contact the PRSSA account

very open right now. I like agency PR, but I want to end up in more of an integrated PR/ Advertising/Marketing type job. I am also very interested in PR and hospitality. I love everything about food from cooking it to eating it. If I could combine my love for PR and food, that would be my dream job. I would love to have some type of event coordinator profession as well. FAVORITE PART OF PR? Only one part? That’s a hard question! I’ve realized that PR people have certain characteristics that are similar to mine. I feel like I work well with other PR people because of the way we act. I believe that PR people are detail-oriented and forward thinkers. They are always the ones thinking 5 steps ahead. I also really like campaigns and crisis communication. I like seeing campaigns go from start to finish and the outcome. I like how PR professionals can deal with crisis management.

Emma Newman (708) 407-1087

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A Conference to Remember (cont’d) we got to work on the presentation right away. The executive board and I spent a lot of time revising the presentation to make sure we were giving plenty of information paired with real-life examples so attendees could stay engaged. After the presentation, people asked a lot of questions, and the moderator actually had to cut off the Q&A because of time constraints. Attendees were also tweeting about the presentation, congratulating us and quoting their favorite tips, which was a great feeling. We’ve also been receiving emails asking for examples of our documents because other Chapters want to implement our ideas. Knowing that our presentation is helping other Chapters with their issues is incredibly gratifying. I’ve learned so much from PRSSA, so being able to give back through our presentation was a great feeling. I want to thank the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 executive boards and Dr. Smudde for the work they put in to creating so many helpful documents during their term because it really built the foundation of our presentation. The overall focus was that organization

and documentation are the key factors for a successful executive board and therefore, Chapter. Without things like the contract, handbook, absence guidelines, and other documents, our presentation would not have been as effective. With each new executive board, documents will be modified, ideas will be formed, and the Tweets from people who attended the success of our Chapter will ISU PRSSA session. continue to grow. Presenting at National Conference was such a rewarding experience and I am so proud to be part of such a dedicated and successful Chapter. Thank you to everyone who was involved in this, I really appreciate it!