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The Auburn Reporter

Jessie King Practices What She Preaches King is an instructor at Auburn and also a practicing professional by Nicole LaMontagne

Jessie King, an instructor at Auburn University, not only teaches several public relations and communication courses, but she also is a practicing professional. Therefore, she practices what she preaches. “I bring a different perspective to the table,” King said. “I can bring the experience I am dealing with on a daily basis into the classroom.” Outside of the university, she is the marketing manager for The Villager, both its brick and mortar and online operations. Her love for art instigated her to begin marketing for AuburnArt.com online, which because of the success of the website, it opened a retail store in downtown Auburn. She also does the marketing for two other websites – CollegeFootball.com and NFLTeamArt.com. “My specialty is marketing and PR online, but I do freelance work on the side and am also co-owner of createTWO, an interactive art studio,” she said. King is a public relations graduate and has also received her Masters in Mass Communications at Auburn University. She has taught at Auburn for six years and instructs three courses per semester, which typically includes public speaking, communication in organization, argumentative discourse, foundations of public relations and writing for public relations. “In grad school, I became a graduate teachin g assistance for COMM 1000 (public speaking), and realized I had a comfortable knowledge and ability to teach,” King said. “Public relations and communications is something I am passionate about, so it is easy to share and teach it to others who appreciate it, too.” Due to her dedication to her students, King has won the Outstanding Instructor Award, which was given to her for mentoring graduate teaching assistants during an academic year from her department. This year, for the first time, King became

“I bring a different perspective to the table,” King said. “I can bring the experience I am dealing with on a daily basis into the classroom.” the advisor to Auburn’s Public Relations Council of Alabama (AUPRCA). She is responsible for continuously communicating with officers, as well as maintaining the club and increasing club growth. And this she does very well. AUPRCA’s membership and reputation has dramatically flourished, so much so that King received Auburn’s Most Outstanding Advisor Award at the student government association’s annual award ceremony this year. “In our department we have something special, and I love that we are able to give much one-on-one time to our students,” King said. A teaching position became open to King after she received her Masters, so the opportunity was ideal - to continue teaching and to also pursue employment outside the university. She became the public relations director for the Lee County Humane Society after graduating grad school.

“I feel as though I have the best of all world.” “I feel as though I have the best of all worlds,” King said. “I teach and have academic experience, I work for non-profit, business-to-business and corporate clients and I

manage marketing strategies for my online clients. By being engaged in all these different aspects ofpublic relations, I am continually building my portfolio.” When King is not working, she has a few other passions. She loves art. Even though she doesn’t create art herself, she simply appreciates artistic talent. King also enjoys organic gardening. This might be due to growing up on a farm in southern Alabama. King also has a love for animals. “My husband and I are foster parents to abandoned dogs and we are currently nurturing our 39th dog,” she said. All of her foster dogs have had successful adoptions. King’s goal for her future is to continue in her professional development, “I’d like to get my PHD,” she said. No doubt will King reach her goal. She impressively accomplishes everything she sets her eyes on and will always be a great role model for her students.


The Auburn R eporter “She really found her niche,” said Ric Smith. “She has that connection with media she always wanted, but she found this perfect connection where her passion is and where her talents lie.”

Molly Parrish Auburn Public Relations Alumna’s Great Success by Stephen Kelly An alumna of Auburn’s public relations department, Molly Parrish’s career has been nothing short of an adventure since she left the plains just six years ago. Originally, Parrish came to Auburn with her sights set on becoming a pilot. She promptly switched her academic concentration from flight to media and began to study radio television and film where she found a mentor in professor Ric Smith. “I started on the broadcast side, but I noticed that the things I liked to cover were not necessarily newsworthy topics,” said Parrish. “As Ric Smith will tell you, most of my stories were about social activities more so than news.” Smith enlightened her to the media relations aspect of the industry. Her interest transitioned more to journalism and public relations classes, and in 2004 Parrish graduated from Auburn University with a degree in public relations. “She really found her niche,” said Smith. “She has that connection with media she always wanted, but she found this perfect connection where her passion is and where her talents lie.” Out of school Parrish struggled finding a job as a fresh graduate, and looked to

Habitat for Humanity as a philanthropic use of her time when she found an entry-level opening in media relations at the organization. Parrish was offered the job and moved to Americus, Ga. where she spent two years working for Habitat for Humanity. Her experience with the organization quickly turned to birth by fire when Hurricane Katrina hit the gulf coast in 2005. “At one point I took a group of about 10 reporters down to the gulf coast and we built for a week,” said Parrish. “Instead of just telling them the story and giving them details they were there and they got to experience it which is something really cool that Habitat does for media other than just your typical pitching.” The next step for Parrish’s career took her from non-profit to Atlanta, Ga. where she began work at a for-profit boutique public relations firm. Over the two years she worked at the firm she was able to develop mutually beneficial relationships with reporters in the Atlanta area and built strong relationships with her clients. The firm was eventually forced to downsize and Parrish, along with some of her colleagues, was let go. Fortunately, her clients

were so pleased with her performance they asked her to continue servicing their accounts after she left the firm. “That was a really refreshing point of my life because I was considering doing something else, I was somewhat burned out, but the feeling that my clients really appreciated the work that I was doing and asked if they could come with me was refreshing,” said Parrish. Parrish now owns her own public relations firm, Polished PR, that she manages out of a home office. Her client base has snowballed into a healthy collection of businesses that she believes in and cares for. She prides her business on her ability to keep her client base at a level in which she can provide the quality of service required for them to succeed. “The friendship I’ve developed with my clients has given me the opportunity to treat these people not just as clients but as business partners because they are helping me succeed in my business and I’m helping them succeed in theirs,” said Parrish.


The Auburn R eporter “She desires to see her students succeed and works with each of us personally to encourage our individual skills and aspirations.”

A Fresh Perspective Newest Faculty Member Brings Fervor, Impact & Challenges to the Public Relations Students by Whitney Adams “Dr. Waters is a wonderful professor and person,” says senior Meg Beasley. “She desires to see her students succeed and works with each of us personally to encourage our individual skills and aspirations. She is a very busy lady yet I have never seen her without a smile on her face.” Public relations students have been praising the newest faculty addition to the Communication and Journalism Department, Dr. Susan Waters. As her second semester comes to an end at Auburn University, she has presented challenges and brought joy and fervor to the department. Dr. Waters was born in Philadelphia and raised in Cleveland. Like many of her friends from the suburbs of Cleveland, Waters had childhood aspirations of becoming a highend fashion designer. She later traded in those dreams and found herself teaching adjunct at Missouri Southern State University. With knowledge of advertising and public relations experiences from working in downtown Cleveland, she recognized her love for teaching and received a master’s degree from Pittsburg State University in Kansas. With steadfast determination, she ventured to the University of Kansas, embarking on obtaining a doctoral degree. Perceiving media as a “fascinating” subject, she began studying age-related issues in TV commercials and other forms of media for her dissertation. She left the home of the Jayhawks (ABD) to teach public relations, advertising and communication courses at Pittsburg State

University for two years and then moved to Missouri State University for five years while finishing her Ph.D. Establishing, organizing and advising the new chapter of the Missouri State Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), she welcomed in about 40 to 50 students into the society. They visited different agencies, had speakers and went on field trips. Each year Waters challenged the students to plan one large PRSSA Day event, which proved to be successful and a good learning experience. While at Missouri State, Waters found a love for research and decided to explore the possibility of working at a larger research institution. With her passion for research growing deeper, Waters sought out an institution where she could explore her research more thoroughly. She saw a job opportunity at Auburn University and pursued it. At the time, Dr. Debra Worthington was the chair of search committee. “We both had gone to the University of Kansas,” says Waters, “so that gave us some common ground and helped move the conversation forward to learn more about Auburn as I was going through the process of interviewing. Debra was very helpful, knowledgeable and warm, a good indication of how the faculty would be at Auburn.” Along with being amazed at the beauty of Auburn University in the spring, Waters was also thrilled that “the public relations students are tops in the communication

field here.” Because of this, she feels she can teach concepts at a fast pace in order to move forward more quickly than she has at other universities. Waters is proficient in Adobe Creative Suite and incorporates the programs into her assignments. This year she taught Public Relations Writing, Public Relations Campaigns, Social Media and Gender Communication courses. “Dr. Waters has been an amazing professor,” says public relations student Samantha Mays. “She always wants her students to do their best and is willing to help you anyway she can. I have learned so much from her and am extremely thankful for all of her wisdom and support.” By implementing service-learning into the coursework where students go out into the field and work with clients, she has encouraged and changed the perceptions of Auburn University’s public relations students. “Dr. Waters makes learning fun and attending class a pleasure,” says senior Nicole LaMontagne. “She is always upbeat and smiling, but better yet she is truly invested in teaching her students the details about succeeding in the communications industry.” Waters’ 2010 noncompetitive grant that she received from Auburn this year for summer will help fund hours of research on aging and service-learning to write manuscripts for publication. Through assessing the collaboration of the work of the university, students, professors, community partners and their partnerships, she will teach others how to evaluate these relationships in her publications. Waters anticipates doing research in other fields besides aging and service-learning, especially in the fields of social media and public relations. More importantly, she desires to stay in contact with graduates from the department, wanting them “to come back, give back and remain friends with us. LinkedIn and Facebook will help us stay in contact with our graduates, and they assist us in staying current in the PR industry.” “I love it at Auburn and feel very comfortable here,” says Waters. “I think I’ve found a home and I am planning to stay for the long haul.”


The Auburn R eporter “As a senior and a first year member of the AUPRCA, I would definitely recommend everyone to get involved with the club,” said Duffy.

AUPRCA: On the Rise for Student and School Success Auburn University Public Relations Council of America by Caitlyn Shatlock The Auburn University Public Relations Council of Alabama, AUPRCA, is on the rise this year with more than 70 active members. With this growing Auburn chapter comes success stories from students and faculty that not only affect Auburn, but the students personally as well. Vice President of Programming, Nicole LaMontagne, has put much effort into making this organization flourish. From planning each meeting to finding and securing speakers to come to Auburn, LaMontagne has developed many skills that will help in her future careers. “The club has been beneficial to me because I have been fortunate to develop leadership skills from being one of the officers,” said LaMontagne. She is also learning about new companies and the importance of networking in her public relations career field. Having the opportunity to speak with practitioners already entrenched in their industries and learn about their roles for various clients is another beneficial aspect of being a part of the club for LaMontagne. With many opportunities to arise for her, LaMontagne said she is proud to be a part of this club and hopes it continues to succeed throughout the years. Another member of the AUPRCA, Kaitlin Duffy, feels the same. “As a senior and a first year member of the AUPRCA, I would definitely recommend everyone to get involved with the club,” said Duffy, “especially younger classmen so they

can really gain knowledge about their career field.” Duffy is a public relations major who has found the AUPRCA to be very beneficial. At a recent meeting where the Director of Public Relations for Concentrics Restaurants spoke at, Hannah Amick, Duffy was able to present her portfolio to her where she was then asked to set up a formal meeting to discuss a potential job opportunity. “It was good to meet with her and learn more about restaurant PR and to hear about what they do day-to-day,” said Duffy. “She even gave me references to other PR agencies in Atlanta if I was interested in looking for more opportunities.” Aside from the guest speakers, Duffy has learned about agencies and corporations from all ends of the spectrum. One week the club may hear about Edelman, while at the following meeting there may be a representative from a smaller industry, such as Concentrics. Duffy has been involved with the Liberal Arts Homecoming Tailgate that members were in charge of organizing, as well as taking part in workshops where public relations practitioners help members with their resumes. “I really enjoyed going to the open-house workshop that the AUPRCA put on for all students, not just public relations students,” said Duffy. “It was cool to have a professional look at my resume and give advice on how to make it better.” Duffy will graduate in May 2010 and

she hopes to be working for a boutique in Atlanta. Aside from students benefiting from being a part of the AUPRCA, facultymembers are becoming just as successful. This year the adviser, Jessie King, won the “Outstanding Adviser of the Year Award” from the Student Government Association’s annual award ceremony. Much of this comes from King’s hard work in turning around the Auburn chapter. “Last year the club had only 20 members,” said LaMontagne, “and this year membership has increased drastically to 75 members as a result to King’s hard work.” Additionally, King worked closely with members and officers to become more organized and to develop their leadership skills as well as setting things up for the Public Relations Council of Alabama to host its annual conference in Auburn this year. The 2010 PRCA Student Medallion Awards will take place in April, and with encouragement from King, 39 members have submitted entries in hopes of receiving the award. Through the work from faculty advisers, to the efforts made by officers and members of the AUPRCA, the club is morphing into a successful chapter at Auburn. The organization hopes to continue on this path with a chance of having more members receive awards and recognitions with the years to come. To learn more about the club and how to get involved, please visit the AUPRCA Web site.

The Auburn Reporter  

A newletter consisting of Auburn faculty and student stories.

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