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SPRING 2014 | VOLUME 46, ISSUE 3 | The Publication of the Public Relations Student Society of America

Strong Research Wins Day-of Competition Consumers,

Clients Look to Integration for Branding Magic

BY VARIJI YELAGALAWADI AND SOM KANDLUR San Jose State and Kansas State University This year’s PRSSA 2014 National Assembly attendees had the opportunity to develop a campaign for Warner Bros. Television in the annual PRSSA Day-of Competition. Participants had an hour to plan a campaign promoting the CW’s show “The 100” and then five minutes to present their ideas to a panel of judges comprising of the sponsors and PRSSA National Advisers. “[Day-of Competition] gives members an opportunity to apply some of the lessons they’ve learned in their public relations classes to a real-world campaign,” said PRSSA Vice President of Member Services Heather Harder. “It was also an opportunity for members to engage with each other before National Assembly.” The competition is held on the first day of PRSSA’s National Assembly each year, giving attendees a chance to network with students they have just met. This year, 30 members participated and were divided up into eight teams. This year’s winners were Sienna Badura (College of Charleston), Laura Daronatsy (Biola University), Alexandra Digby (University of Dayton) and Maggie Stephens (Indiana University). The team impressed the judges with the depth of their research and by addressing the four components of the strategic campaign: research, planning, execution and evaluation. “Their research was spot-on,” said PRSSA National Faculty Adviser Robert Pritchard. “Day-of Competition is a good opportunity for students to realize how important evaluation is.” When the winning team was announced,

BY EMILY PARTEN University of Georgia

age demographic,” she said. “It was fun to compete with students from all over the country, make connections and get further involved with PRSSA.” For Daronatsy and her team, the time constraint was a challenge to overcome. Participating in the competition taught her to be more efficient with time and scheduling. “Because you have an hour to develop a campaign, you only have a small amount of time to get the task done,” Daronatsy said. “This can translate to the workplace when

IMC, integrated marketing communications refers to the functions of marketing, advertising and public relations working in tandem. An increasingly preferred model, IMC ensures efficiency and unity through all communication fronts, reaching each audience as intended and reinforcing a harmonious message. This coordination means that consumers experience and internalize a clear corporate message across all promotional channels, and it ensures resources are used efficiently. As integrated marketing becomes an increasingly expected approach, more agencies and corporate offices are adopting its strategies. Many universities notice the increased demand for IMC professionals and now offer programs in integrated marketing communications. Integration is more than an industry buzzword. It is imperative to successful




The PRSSA 2014 Day-Of Competition winners at National Assembly impressed a panel of judges by conducting thorough research prior to planning a campaign for the CW’s show, “The 100.” From left to right: Warner Bros. Publicity Manager Jeff Tobler, Sienna Badura, Alexandra Digby, Maggie Stephens, Laura Daronatsy and Warner Bros. Junior Publicist Ben Brown.

Publicity Manager Jeff Tobler and Junior Publicist Ben Brown of Warner Bros. said the team had clearly done its research before the competition. In their strategic campaign, the team members even tied in a charitable concept that Warner Bros. is known to work with. Daronatsy, a sophomore, said she enjoyed the competition because the client was both relatable and challenging for her team. “I loved working for a company that is known across the world and working on a show that was very relatable for our

Collaboration Key to Chapter Success

BY BRIANNA ROONEY Temple University

After each PRSSA national event, students come home on cloud nine, ready to implement new ideas and keep up with the connections they made. This year—more so than ever before— Chapters across the country are collaborating in ways that are leading to immense success. Whether it’s co-hosting an online Twitter chat or planning an inperson event like a Regional Conference, Chapters continue to build lifelong connections. Because collaborating on an event in-person is difficult— working out logistics and spending money traveling can be time-consuming and costly— Twitter chats are an easy and fun

alternative. To kick off the 2013 fall semester, Natalie Hines, public relations director of PRSSA at the University of Delaware, collaborated with Tyler Cameron, director of social media at Temple University PRSSA to co-host the “PRogress” Twitter chat. This was a way for both Chapter members and PRSSA members from around the country to share their goals for the semester and chat about upcoming classes, internships and meetings. Hines said the chat benefited members of both Chapters with discussions about how to balance professional development and academics during a hectic semester. “Overall, the chat was a great success that strengthened the relationship between Temple and


UD,” Hines said. If Chapters are close in proximity, collaborating on events is a great way to build connections. The Emerson College PRSSA Chapter and the Edward L. Bernays Chapter of PRSSA at Boston University have spent the past year working to strengthen their bond and enhance networking opportunities for their members. As a team, they co-hosted a networking event on Emerson’s campus to bring together a diverse group of professionals from around the Boston community. Chapter collaboration is important for students, as it helps them to comprehend the influence of PRSSA on a both local and national level.


Make sure your release doesn’t get thrown in the trash with tips from a student managing editor.



The 2014 Red River Regional Conference, co-hosted by the University of Texas at Austin (UTA) and Oklahoma University (OU) PRSSA Chapters, proved successful due to Chapter collaboration.

Meet next year’s leaders, the 2014 – 2015 PRSSA National Committee.


Want to attend law school? Learn how majoring in public relations can help you prepare.


Spring 2014 | Volume 46, Issue 3 |



What’s Next? Continuing the Journey with PRSA BRIAN PRICE PRSSA 2013-2014 National President

As the academic year winds down, it’s time to start thinking about transitioning. Whether you’re transitioning into a summer internship from school, into or out of a Chapter leadership position or into a career as a firsttime professional, this period can be crucial for upcoming success and for the legacy you leave behind.

TRANSITIONS IN CHAPTERS When April rolls around, the senioritis epidemic is widespread, the job hunt is in full swing and dedicating time to PRSSA can be a challenge. Good methods for transitions can include one-on-one meetings or the transfer of a flash drive or a binder of materials, but it’s important for those outgoing to make time for those incoming. Outgoing officers can preserve their legacy by passing down Chapter history, awards (won and applied for), records (including membership numbers) and even documenting the transition process itself. Leaders

have a responsibility to leave their organization better than where they found it, so make sure that is the case by helping the 2014–15 leadership build a firm foundation. TRANSITIONS TO PRSA Earning your degree and graduating from college is just the beginning. That’s why they call it a “commencement ceremony,” after all. So while professor-led classroom education may be a thing of the past, the process of lifelong learning and honing skills is still right at the start. PRSA has the resources to provide new graduates with the

skills, network and opportunities to jump in and make a positive impact. Joining PRSA, only $60 for former PRSSA members, allows members to also be part of the New Professionals Section for free. Connecting with others who have recently made the transition or who are also going through it is an opportunity not only to expand one’s network, but also to expand one’s knowledge of joining the profession. Tools like the PRSA JobCenter, special interest sections (think corporate, nonprofit, public affairs, tourism, independent practitioners),

on-demand webinars, industry briefing reports and Chapter speakers will bring your career to new heights. So even though the end of the semester involves a packed schedule, make time to transition yourself out of your PRSSA roles and transition yourself into the role of a professional. You will be putting yourself and your PRSSSA Chapter in a better place by carving out time. Start your career off on the right foot by leaving PRSSA in a great place and joining PRSA to continue your journey. See you all in PRSA!

Edelman Barometer Shows Leaders Must Step Up to Gain Trust After a year of governmental BY PARMIDA SCHAHHOSSEINI mishaps, from the shutdown Baylor University Trust is the foundation of every relationship and must be managed in any complex organization. In today’s society, it’s all about relationships — people want to work with people they believe in and trust. Despite its importance, key constituents and institutions are experiencing a crisis in trust management. The 2014 Edelman Trust Barometer, an annual survey that sampled 33,000 people across 27 countries, revealed the largest gap between government and business as trust in the government fell to a historically low 44 percent globally, while trust in business stabilized at 58 percent.

FORUM® STAFF 2013-2014

Publications Editor in Chief Mallory Richardson Managing Editor Emily Herrington Photo Editor Christina Riviere Design Editor Carli Thibodeaux Copy Editor Elise Bernard FORUM® is published three times a year for PRSSA members. The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the Society or staff. The Editor in Chief reserves the right to refuse all copy. Article submissions, comments and suggestions may be made via email to the FORUM® Editor in Chief at FORUM® is produced by students at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, La.

to the debacle, it is expected that people will distrust the institution, but the drop was more significant on a national level, as governmental trust dropped to 37 percent — 17 percent lower than the previous year. “This is a profound evolution in the landscape of trust from 2009 where businesses had to partner with government to regain trust, to today, where business must lead the debate for change,” said Edelman President and CEO Richard Edelman. These results don’t mean people that support deregulation. On the contrary, 79 percent of respondents prefer that businesses and the government form relationships when it comes to creating regulation laws. People want the institutions to form partnerships similar to a checks and balances system. One institution shouldn’t have all the power because that leads to corruption. Eightyfour percent of respondents believe businesses can meet

their organizational goals while contributing positively to society. “It’s the responsibility of business to redefine and reprioritize the way it thinks about value,” said Ben Boyd, the deputy chairman, practices and sectors, and global chair, corporate practice at Edelman. “Today’s world requires a shift from the historic, transactional nature of capitalism to a model of value creation that encompasses social benefit as well as shareholder value.” The gain in trust among businesses has been the result of increased transparency and product quality. With this newfound trust, it’s up to businesses to take responsibility. However, based on the results, businesses still have a long way to go in gaining the public’s trust. According to Edelman, the best ways to build are to focus on integrity and engagement, which means organizations must take the necessary steps to ensure ethical practices, be more transparent, listen to consumers, communicate responsibly and treat its employees well.

Another area that the survey focused on was value creation. To build trust, businesses must focus on long-term relationships. Creating value for employees, target markets and stakeholders is a simple way businesses can manage trust. The best way to accomplish this is to participate, advocate and evaluate. To participate, an organization must actively engage with others and get involved in conversations. Through advocacy efforts, a business is able to evaluate its goals based on input it receives. What does the Trust Barometer have to do with public relations? Everything — professionals must be consumercentric in order to give their organizations the best counsel so they can gain the public’s trust. Publics will only interact with companies they can trust, so it is vital that organizations commit to building trust. A business cannot succeed without its publics because the organization can’t sell or advocate to people who don’t trust the company. Public relations professionals must advise business leaders

and CEOs to be authentic and transparent because this ideal will drive behavior. While public relations professionals work on behalf of the organization, they also act as a liaison between the public and the organization. The main goal of a business or organization is to meet the needs of consumers. Once a business fails to meet those needs, it will fail. Public relations is no different. It’s the job of the professional to meet the needs of his or her clients. To have an effective partnership, both parties need to trust each other. A solid relationship has many benefits to sustain a partnership. Once trust is formed clients will open up more, explain their needs and move away from their comfort zones, which will lead to greater results. Trust must be the basis of every relationship regardless of the industry because, without it, the organization will fail to meet its goals.

WANT MORE? VISIT US @ PROGRESSIONS.PRSSA.ORG If you can’t wait until the next issue of FORUM for more public relations tips and industry news, check out PRSSA National’s blog, Progressions. It is updated weekly with posts from professionals and Chapter members from across the country. Recent popular posts include: 4 Things You Can Do to Enhance Your Design Skills

Take a Creative Leap of Faith

How to Think Like an Entrepreneur in Your PR Career

Sam Sanchez, Chapter president of Southeast Missouri State University PRSSA, is an experienced graphic designer. He explains his top tips for improving your graphic design skills:

Public relations students need to take initiative and begin teaching themselves new skills they may be lacking or want to develop. Rebecca Shaprio, director of public relations for Penn State’s Chapter of PRSSA encourages members to:

Being an entrepreneur isn’t for everyone, but the philosophy behind the lifestyle can help anyone advance his or her career. Ben Butler, PRSSA 2013-2014 vice president of public relations, says to:

• • • •

Play Around Recreate Use Shortcuts Take Advantage of Resources

• Check out for its video tutorials.

• Use Pik-to Chart to create infographics.

• Learn computer code with Coding Academy.

• • • •

Take risks. Be a sheep with sabreteeth. Understand business. Know how to move ahead.



Spring 2014 | Volume 46, Issue 3 |

Three Reasons I Won’t Publish your Release


Or Maybe Not Even Look at It BY AMANDA GAMBILL Middle Tennessee State University As managing editor of my university’s newspaper, Sidelines, I receive a lot of press releases. I always feel a special connection with press releases because I’m part of the public relations world. I remember learning the intricate parts of a release, and I’ll never forget the releases I wrote in class. But it is next to impossible to understand the value of what you’re writing until you’re on the other side. You may think your press release is important and newsworthy, but does your recipient think it’s important? Here are some reasons I wouldn’t publish your press release or even look at it:

1. Problem: The news doesn’t pertain to me. I’m the managing editor of a campus newspaper in Murfreesboro, Tenn. So why would I ever run a story about which hospital is best between New Jersey and New York? Why would my readers care what a local nonprofit in Ohio is doing? If I continuously receive the same irrelevant press releases from the same contact, I begin to automatically hit delete. The last thing you want is to end up in someone’s trash can without a second glance.

Solution: Learn your readership. Don’t just blindly send out a press release to all your media contacts. Instead, focus on crafting your press release to be relevant to your media contacts, and then only send that release to those it pertains to. Localize your news. If you represent a company in Texas but you really want me to run your story, do some research and figure out a way to localize the story. Maybe you developed a cool new way to make popsicles in Texas. Then tell me how hot it is in Tennessee and convince me that my readers need to order this product online.

2. Problem: You got my name wrong. Journalists are sometimes arrogant. And sometimes they just want their name spelled correctly. I, on the other hand, want emails addressed to me. If you want me to run your release, then send the email message to me. Don’t say “Hi Richel,” who was the managing editor more than a year ago. And don’t say, “Dear Sidelines.” As much as I’m involved, I am not the paper. The greeting is one of the first things I see in an email. If I see that you haven’t updated your media list or haven’t even bothered to make a media list, I’m less likely to think your press release matters. Worse, I may think it’s going to be inaccurate, too.


Looking Back: What PRSSA taught me MALLORY RICHARDSON PRSSA 2013-2014 Publications Editor in Chief

I remember my first PRSSA meeting like it was yesterday. I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into, like most of us don't at the time, but that first meeting changed my life forever. The professionalism, passion, intelligence and confidence of the people I met at that meeting blew me away. At the end of my freshman year, I knew I wanted to give back to this organization. I wanted to serve as a mentor to other students and make an impact on our Society, so I decided to run for the executive board of my PRSSA Chapter at Louisiana State University and later on, the PRSSA National Committee. After serving PRSSA on both the Chapter and National levels, I have learned

a lot about leadership and that the path to success has many different routes. I had heard of the term “ethics” before, but never really understood what it meant until an unethical situation was staring me in the face during my first year on my Chapter's executive board. I learned that people can manipulate you as long as you let them and that having integrity will earn you respect in the eyes of your peers. I also learned that leaders don’t sit idle—they solve problems directly and stand up for what they think is right. If you find yourself stuck in the middle of an unethical situation, don’t be afraid to trust your gut, seek help and speak out. As PRSSA members and future public relations professionals, it is our duty to act ethically. Don’t forget who you represent—your clients, your company, your industry and most importantly, yourself.


Solution: Create a media list, and then update it. Public relations practitioners are all about building relationships. I would argue one key facet to that is learning people’s names. Keep in touch with the journalists you know would be interested in publishing your news.

3. Problem: Your subject line is boring. Don’t think the subject line is the least important part of your process because it’s the first thing I’m going to see in my inbox. The worst offense is sending me a message with no subject line. That screams, “Spam!” like nothing else. If your subject line is missing or boring, I might not be inclined to open the message at all. Solution: Spend time on the subject line. Make it concise but punchy. I should be able to read the entire line on my phone and computer. Spend some time on what your message is about, and make it interesting. Try stepping away from your message for a few minutes and really think about what it is about. Then shorten that thought. Imagine that you’ve never read your message at all — what would you want to see when you load your inbox? What excites you? What is the most compelling part of your message? Send me that.

BY HELMA VON ZADOW PRSSA 2013-2014 Vice President of Professional Development Positive Reactions is one of PRSSA’s finest examples of a student-run firm that is producing excellent, professional work. Associated with the Minnesota State University-Moorhead (MSUM) Chapter of PRSSA, the firm’s mission is to provide their members with field experience and clients with quality services. The firm, led by Director Kelly Falk, integrates students of various fields such as public relations, advertising, journalism, film and photography. Depending on client needs, Positive Reactions offers services including marketing research, event planning, social media execution, web creation, video services and fundraising strategies.

“Recently, Positive Reactions created a ‘Breaking Stereotypes’ video for our client, FM Sheltering Churches. FM Sheltering Churches is a nonprofit organization in our community that works with local churches to open their doors to people experiencing homelessness during winter months when there is overflow in the shelters,” Falk said. Positive Reactions’ team created a video with the objective to “break through the common stereotypes and negative stigma associated with people experiencing homelessness.” “Our video featured interviews with Rob Sweirs, executive director of the New Life Center, and Bob Winchester, a resident of the New Life Center. The video has been shown at local conferences, hospitals, churches and throughout our university,” Falk said. That is only one example of the phenomenal work created by this student-run firm. To review the video and for more information, please visit Positive Reactions on YouTube at “PositiveReactionsPR” or take a look at their website at


Positive Reactions, the student-run firm of Minnesota State University-Moorhead PRSSA, participates in National Donate Life Blue and Green Day.

Social Media Connection FRIENDS, FOLLOWERS & MORE




Thank you to everyone who has participated in this year’s Twitter chats. Tweet at us this summer using the hashtag #PRSSA.

#PR is number two on the list. “Which Professions Drink the Most Coffee?” -@PRSSANational

Blogs, podcasts and webinars from PRSA can broaden your knowledge of trends in the industry.


JOIN THE CONVERSATION Follow the newest additions to the PRSSA social media family:

Connect with us further on our existing platforms:


Spring 2014 | Volume 46, Issue 3 |


Meet the PRSSA 2014-2015 National Committee

National President: Heather Harder

Immediate Past President: Brian Price

VP of Advocacy: Eric Winkfield

Goal for Term: To increase dialogue and engagement with Chapters to build Chapter-toChapter and Chapter-to-National Committee relationships. PR Icon: Brains on Fire Hidden Talent: I started tap dancing when I was four but took a few years off during college. Twitter: @HeathHarder

Goal for Term: To encourage PRSSA members to make the transition to PRSA and the New Professionals Section after graduation. PR Icon: Edward Bernays Hidden Talent: Knowing the host city of every single Summer Olympic Games. Twitter: @BrianDPrice

Goal for Term: To help members engage in conversations and actions focused on diversity, ethics and advocating for the profession. PR Icon: Edelman Atlanta Senior Vice President-Consumer Alicia Thompson, APR Hidden Talent: I played baseball for four years. Twitter: @Sir_EMWink

Goal for Term: To increase the quality and quantity of internships in the PRSSA Internship Center by encouraging members to request that their past internship post a position. PR Icon: Fred Cook, CEO of GolinHarris Hidden Talent: I love playing the piano—the Khachaturian Toccata is my jam. Twitter: @JonJonHill

Goal for Term: To encourage Chapters to collaborate and to share more tangible items to reach their individual goals. PR Icon: C.J. Cregg from “The West Wing” Hidden Talent: I play piano and can quote School of Rock forward and backward. Twitter: @paigeweber

VP of Member Services: Jordan Paquet

VP of Professional Development: Dea Pennington

VP of Public Relations: Ethan Parry

VP of Regional Conferences: David Watta

Publications Editor in Chief: Laura Daronatsy

Goal for Term: To help members develop the skills necessary to excel in their future profession and make a lasting impact on the public relations industry. PR Icon: Richard Edelman Hidden Talent: I want to be the next Iron Chef. One of my particular specialties is homemade macaroni and cheese. Twitter: @ethanparry3

Goal for Term: To improve attendance rates at Regional Conferences. PR Icon: Kelly “Cut-throat” Cutrone, CEO/Founder of People’s Revolution Hidden Talent: Like Cody from “The Thirteenth Year,” I am (in fact) a merman. Twitter: @davidleeWATTA

Goal for Term: To double the amount of PRSSA scholarship and award applicants by contacting Chapters and encouraging them to apply. PR Icon: Humphrey Bogart, original leader of the Rat Pack and director of public relations for the iconic crooners. Hidden Talent: I’m a music producer. Twitter: @jordan_paquet

Goal for Term: To add a new guideline for student-run firms gaining National Affiliation and improve communication among student-run firm directors, affiliate new firms. PR Icon: PRSSA National Faculty Adviser Robert Pritchard, APR, Fellow PRSA Hidden Talent: I have a knack for cooking. Twitter: @dea_pennington

VP of Career Services: Jonathan Hill

VP of Chapter Development: Paige Weber

Goal for Term: To continue propelling FORUM and Progressions forward as the leading public relations resources for PRSSA students. PR Icon: Matt Prince, Social Media Manager at Disney Hidden Talent: Hugs. I’m pretty sure I hold the world record for fastest time drinking a Slurpee while doing a handstand. Twitter: @lauradaronatsy

What Globalization Means For Diversity Today BY LAUREN FROCK University of North Texas The world is getting smaller each day. Messages can be transmitted across oceans in seconds. Global audiences can see posts on social media and even unite over the same brands, events and people. The rate of modern globalization is revolutionizing public relations and increasing the need for diversity. “It’s very important [to be diverse] because even if you’re just doing public relations here in the states, it’s such a melting pot,” said Deanna Preece, global training manager for Dallasbased casual dining hub, Brinker International. “You don’t have to leave the United States to encounter different cultures.” Brinker International, Inc. is the driving force behind casual dining brands Chili’s and Maggiano’s. With a diverse team of 100,000 members who collectively speak six languages and span 32 countries, Brinker International works with franchisees to manage more than 1,500 restaurants internationally and 297 restaurants internationally. Preece works primarily

with the Chili’s teams in India, Russia and the Middle East. She endures a 23-and-a-half hour flight approximately every six weeks to check on the teams she manages. “As a single female, I was a little nervous about traveling the Middle East at first because of all the bad things I’d heard from the media,” Preece said. “That was completely overturned.” She describes her partners as kind and hospitable and has developed close relationships to her colleagues and their cultures. Fear of the unknown is an obstacle to the potential of meaningful relationships. However, it’s important to be well-informed and cautious when interacting with diverse peoples. “What may be ethical in one culture may be considered unethical in another. You have to be careful with any communication you are doing because anything you do can go viral,” said PRSA Dallas ethics chair Samra Bufkins, APR. Bufkins, a faculty member at the University North Texas and a well-known social media professional, lived and worked in Saudi Arabia for three years during the ‘80s.

“In certain cultures, asking for directions requires payment, or you have to pay the customs officer to get into the country, which in America, is unethical,” Bufkins said. “The transparency of organizations is different in every country as well.” It’s important to know your audience and communicate accordingly, taking into account that messages could be perceived as offensive by someone with a different background. There’s no better time than now to start becoming a more diverse public relations student and future practitioner. As you learn and grow as a professional, make a point to grow in cultural intelligence. David Livermore defines cultural intelligence in “The Cultural Intelligence Difference” as “the capability to function effectively in a variety of cultural contexts, such as ethnic, generational and organizational cultures.” With the market becoming more competitive, it’s important to have insight into other cultures to help a brand become more globalized and internationally competitive. Here are a few tips to help you become more culturally intelligent:

1. Stay current

Be aware of what’s happening in the world, especially if you’re representing a brand. Two summers ago, Twitter was buzzing about the Aurora shooting. A fashion boutique, unaware of the news, tweeted, “#Aurora is trending, clearly about our Kim K inspired dress ;).” Although the motive was innocent, it became a crisis that could’ve been avoided, had the community manager known the circumstance. “When you see something is trending, find out why. Don’t just jump in, and don’t let isolation from our own world get you in trouble,” Bufkins said. “Be aware of what’s in the news, even if it isn’t impacting you directly.”

2. Learn a second language

Not only can another language help you learn more about another culture, but it is also a marketable skill for public relations practitioners dealing with international relations or niche markets in the United States. Try taking language classes, investing in Rosetta Stone or contacting your campus’s English Second Language (ESL) office to find someone who speaks the

language you want to speak. Setting up a weekly time to meet will help them learn English and will give you the perfect opportunity to learn more about their culture and language.

3. Study abroad.

If you have the opportunity to study or intern abroad during college, take it. Living in another culture for an extended period of time might be out of your comfort zone, but it will help you see things from a new perspective. “It will make you a better person and a better businessperson,” said Preece, who studied abroad in Spain during her college career.

4. Be open-minded.

Even within one culture, there are so many differences in religion, perspectives on important issues and ways of doing day-to-day tasks. There’s so much you can learn from others if you make an effort to talk to people who are different from you. “You don’t have to agree with everything, but have respect for it,” Bufkins said. “The first step to really embracing diversity is respecting people who are different than you.”


Real-time Marketing Puts Your Brand In The Conversation LAUREN GRAY PRSSA 2013-2014 Immediate Past President

As you browse social media today, you will see real-time marketing in practice from many brands. Real-time marketing (RTM) is defined as in-themoment marketing to customers at a particular time and place, usually during a live event or announcement in order to get the right message to the right person at the right moment. Recently, we have seen real-time marketing examples from the Super Bowl (@HilaryClinton: “It’s so much more fun to watch FOX when it’s someone else being blitzed & sacked! #SuperBowl”) and the Oscars (@theellenshow’s famous selfie: “If only Bradley’s arm was longer. Best photo ever. #oscars”). After every live event, we’ll also see round-up posts of “the best real-time marketing examples from ‘X’ event.” When RTM is done correctly, the brand’s focus is on the customers. According to Econsultancy, twothirds of brand marketers say monitoring trends and headlines is essential for best practice, realtime community management.

There’s even a hashtag you can follow to see RTM live during events, which is usually #RTMbowl or just #RTM. The advantage of realtime marketing is creating great content and the potential impressions you could have if your strategy and content work. I’ve never heard about Oreo so much in my life until it made the famous Super Bowl “dunk in the dark” tweet that launched this spiral of real-time marketing for every brand. This is where the challenge of RTM comes in. Brands have to be able to quickly respond to live events, but according to Econsultancy, 73 percent of brands plan for spontaneity. A social media manager is always online ready to respond and those RTM posts on Twitter are actually planned out days — if not weeks — in advance. Creating relevant, timely, well-done content of high value for your audience is a challenge. Brands working to consistently create real-time marketing content for every live event will have a challenge. It is also important for brands to stay relevant to their own messaging and not insert themselves in every event or experience that may have little or nothing to do with them. Real-time marketing wins when a brand’s audience

agrees with the messaging, it is clever and it doesn’t try too hard. Progressive made a smart move when it decided to stay out of RTM for the big game and tweeted this message before the Super Bowl: “What do car insurance and football have in common? Nothing. Talk to you after the game!” Authenticity always wins. It has also been pointed out that the only people paying attention to real-time marketing efforts are actual marketers. If you want to be noticed in this industry by other marketers, RTM is the way to go. For the future of this progressive trend, more brands will start to respond and activate with thoughtfulness and commit to responding to customers in real-time. Brands will begin to respond faster to customers instead of taking hours or days. Customers crave a response and with real-time responses, they will get one from brands they know care about them. Using data, marketers will be able to measure, analyze, reason and respond to customers and issues within minutes or within an hour. Is it really valuable to continue to try to create witty content for every event or create good content and conversations that are valuable to your audience every day? That is the question.


CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 “The best part of collaborating was seeing members from both of our Chapters kind of understand that PRSSA is something so much greater than just one Chapter,” BU-PRSSA Chapter President Julian Greene said. “Seeing our members benefit from this [collaboration] has been such an accomplishment. We have gotten a ton of inspiration from Emerson PRSSA, and I think they have gotten the same from our Chapter,” Greene said. Brittany Tatum, secretary of the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey PRSSA Chapter, recently conducted all of the Chapter outreach for her Chapter’s inaugural speed networking event. “I was not nervous about reaching out to complete strangers from other Chapters because we all have a common cause,” Tatum said. “I think it’s comforting for Chapters to reach out to each other.” Because Tatum took the initiative to connect with neighboring Chapters, four other Chapters attended Stockton PRSSA’s speed networking event. When coordinating an event of any sort, constant communication is crucial. Although new technology allows people to connect 24/7, finding time can be a challenge. Amanda Grindele, Red River Regional Conference event coordinator


Spring 2014 | Volume 46, Issue 3 |


CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 branding, and as more professionals recognize its power, integrated marketing communications will see continued adoption. Because marketing, advertising and public relations construct the consumer’s brand experience, it is crucial that all communications efforts reflect the same brand personality. For example, a consumer should read a tweet, a billboard, a Facebook post, a print ad and a blog and get the same message. Without integration of these disciplines, consumers are confused by inconsistent messaging and retention is lost. Integration has distinct value in reaching consumers who are exhausted of information. Consumers feel routinely bombarded by corporate messages on television, radio, social media, online ads, direct mail and countless other media. By harnessing one clear message and channeling it seamlessly through all outlets, IMC guarantees clarity, steady communication and greater audience retention. Evette White, partner and CEO of the IMC firm Sullivan Branding, located in Nashville and Memphis, agrees. “Each individual is so inundated that it takes an integrated, multi-disciplinary approach to have any hope of reach and frequency that cuts through the clutter,” White said. “To engage individuals, having a presence through multiple communication channels improves the potential to have a measurable impact.” Integration also boosts the client’s bottom line. Allowing all aspects of marketing communications to work

together, rather than in detached compartments, maximizes cost effectiveness, said Paul Lindsley, Sullivan Branding’s public relations director. “Clients with multiple communications agencies have more difficulty managing all of the varying expectations, messages, deadlines and tones of a message,” he said. Lindsley also noted that integration improves the audience’s understanding of the message. “Social media, blogs, alerts, bus benches, Facebook ads, mobile devices, Pandora ads and other outlets deliver countless messages, but if a consumer sees or hears the same message or branding from all angles, that reinforces their top of mind awareness,” Lindsley said. Assimilation of marketing, advertising and public relations efforts generates success for the company and is preferred by the consumer. Moreover, business communicators agree that public relations, advertising and marketing are interrelated disciplines. Why, then, are many communications firms reluctant to transition to an integrated approach? “Specialty firms have put a stake in the ground around what they do best,” White explained. “There is value in focus. It just doesn’t convey the message throughout a full communications continuum.” Integration is the consumer’s champion against clutter and the client’s advocate for efficiency. When marketing and communications work together, reaching a specific audience with a focused message through all channels, communications becomes branding magic.




The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey PRSSA Chapter hosted Communication Innovation 2014: A Puzzle Piece to Your Future, a speed networking event where members from local PRSSA Chapters attended. From left to right: Temple University PRSSA Chapter President Brianna Rooney, Stockton College PRSSA Chapter President Siera Smith and Monclaire State University PRSSA Chapter President Jonathan Molina.

from the University of Texas at Austin, found this to be a challenge when collaborating on the Regional Conference with the University of Oklahoma PRSSA Chapter. “We sometimes had to plan Skype meetings for 9:30 or 10 p.m.,” Grindele said. Despite the challenges faced,

Chapters are working together more than ever and enhancing member benefits as a result. “Communicate everything with each other,” Grendele said. “If you run into trouble or have trouble keeping up with your end of things, communicate that. Don’t be afraid of sharing little failures.”


Warner Bros. Junior Publicist Ben Brown and Publicity Manager Jeff Tobler inform the PRSSA 2014 Day-Of Competition participants of what they look for in a successful public relations campaign.

you have to meet deadlines and can’t keep the client waiting.” In regards to learning about time management, Daronatsy said that she and her team had to really think about how much time they devoted to research, putting everything together and

practicing the presentation. Daronatsy enjoyed working with other PRSSA Chapter members on a competition of this nature. She said she would definitely participate again if given the opportunity.


Spring 2014 | Volume 46, Issue 3 |




The Highs and Lows of a Public Relations Career

From Member to New Hire: Success Stories from CSUN PRSSA

RYAN MCSHANE Senior Account Executive, Taylor

I first started blogging advice to public relations students five years ago. The early years of “footprints” allowed readers to get a feel for the industry through the lens of a young professional. Nearing six years of full-time experience, my role within my workplace has evolved from a doer to a middle manager. In addition to continuing executional practice (media relations, event staffing, digital content creation, etc.), I am now responsible for providing junior staff with proper resources and an efficient process to achieve success. I officially made the move from “Cubeland” to “Officeville.” With that said, I’d like to revisit with Progressions with a revised take on some of my most favorite and least favorite aspects of my career.

BEST: Witnessing Growth of Mentees

To pay forward the mentorship that was provided to me, I made a conscious decision years ago to reserve time every week to help students seeking career guidance. Throughout the years, I have had the opportunity to sit down with dozens of students and young professionals to discuss a personalized career action plan. Witnessing the growth of my mentees is the most satisfying achievement I have accomplished.



Outstanding Chapter Chapter Development Chapter Diversity Chapter Firm Chapter Newsletter Chapter Website Regional Conference Community Service University Service PRSSA/PRSA Relationship • Faculty Adviser • Professional Adviser

STAR CHAPTER AWARD DEADLINE: JUNE 6, 2014 The Star Chapter Award is a distinction that Chapters of any size can earn by meeting specific Chapter and professional development goals. To learn more about Chapter elibibility and application requirements, visit:

Early on I learned there is always a relevant audience to showcase thought leadership, and one conversation can be life-changing.

WORST: Meeting Culture

Yes, meetings can be helpful in getting all parties on the same page, but they can also become redundant and/or unnecessary if measures are not taken to establish efficiency. They can also obstruct crucial times of the day for staff to pitch media. Fortunately, my agency instituted meeting blocks for certain times and days of the week. Client meetings always take precedence — as they should — but this tactic has helped restore precious hours in our work weeks. In addition, the default meeting length within Outlook is 30 minutes. To overcome this, our senior leadership challenged us to strongly consider 10- or 15-minute windows, if the respective meeting agenda can be covered within that span.

BEST: Competitive Environment

Athletics defined much of my childhood, so I was thrilled to find that the public relations industry satisfies my competitive nature. Early into my career, the junior staff — even if we didn’t speak of it — competed for the strongest media placement or the most interview bookings. This friendly competition drives strong results for clients and helps junior staff avoid complacency. We are also mindful of the results our competitors are producing, as we strive to stay three steps ahead. As great as competition can be, you can’t forget teamwork. My colleagues are always willing to share a media contact or a best practice to help deliver top-class results.

WORST: Misconceptions of What We Do

For those about to enter the public relations world, be prepared to explain what it is you do for a living — a lot. Friends, family members, in-flight companions and the rest of the world will make you feel like Bill Murray in “Groundhog Day” before too long. My only tip is to prepare a short elevator speech that covers the basics. I often describe our industry as a practice that offers brand counsel to clients and delivers strategic communications to a target audience through earned (e.g. traditional media), owned (e.g. social media handles) and paid (e.g. spokespersons) assets. If all else fails, tell them it’s classified. Ryan McShane is an account supervisor at Taylor and works from the agency’s Charlotte office. He served as FORUM Editor in Chief in 2007–2008 and provides advice to public relations students and young professionals through his blog:

BY CLAIRE MARSHALL California State University Northridge In the realm of public relations, networking is key to opening doors. The beginning of each semester brings new mentoring opportunities for Chapter leaders and members, with guest speakers and PRSA networking events. Every conversation with PRSA members creates potential for California State UniversityNorthridge (CSUN) PRSSA members who have not interned and want to expand their knowledge of the industry to prepare for their future career. CSUN PRSSA prides itself on maintaining a professional relationship with its parent organization, PRSA-Los Angeles. The Chapter mentors its members during networking events to demonstrate the benefits of on-hand and realtime experience. PRSA members add to the learning experience with smiles and a willingness to remain connected and available to mentor members long after the event. The student Chapter emphasizes importance in volunteering for special events, such as the annual PRSALA Prism Awards. Working alongside PRSA members at ceremonies moves students to the next level — from conversation to collaboration. During the 2013 Prism Awards, CSUN PRSSA was given special attention for volunteering and involvement with its parent Chapter. Past president and current graduate student Marcus Angelo Moreno received special recognition as the “Future of the Industry” for his contributions in the growth and success of the Chapter. Becoming involved with PRSA’s events has allowed him to grow his network and


Members of the California State University-Northridge (CSUN) PRSSA Chapter attend a networking event hosted by PRSA-Los Angeles. CSUN PRSSA prides itself on maintaining a solid professional relationship with its parent organization.

make meaningful connections. “Working with PRSA helps students learn lessons that may not be taught in the classroom,” Moreno said. “This can include topics sometimes overlooked, such as how to lead a conversation, when to follow up after you’ve received a business card or maintaining that professional relationship. It’s the first time for many students to have an opportunity to be professional in a true social setting.” Alumni relationships are also an important asset to CSUN PRSSA members. From guest speakers to the Chapter’s annual alumni panel, the most influential speakers are PRSA-LA members who graduated from CSUN. Past alumni frequently email the Chapter asking to be featured on the opportunity portion of the website because CSUN PRSSA interns have the reputation sought after in the Los Angeles region. “I landed my dream internship after two CSUN alumni from Wagstaff Worldwide came to speak at a meeting last

October,” said CSUN PRSSA senior Claire Grady. “I got their business cards, created a connection and was offered a spring internship with Wagstaff shortly after applying. It was through volunteering at PRSA events and networking with guest speakers that I was able to find the connections and receive insight that ended up leading to my first internship. Within the first few days, my supervisor noticed and complimented my professionalism, knowledge of public relations and quality of my work. It was a self-assuring moment that the Chapter is continuing to grow and represent itself with the help of PRSALA.” CSUN PRSSA’s tactics for helping members get internships and employment stems from the great reputation it has with PRSA-LA and alumni. It is representative of CSUN PRSSA’s foundation: What you can learn outside of the classroom is the most effective way to get ahead of the crowd.


Step outside of your comfort zone and you’ll be surprised at what you can achieve.

Think about how you want to be remembered and practice what you preach. All that seriousness aside, here are a few more tips to remember as you continue your membership with PRSSA (or even PRSA if you’re a graduating senior, like myself):

Pay it forward. I received my first internship because I connected with a graduating senior. She put in a good word for me, and I was incredibly thankful to be chosen. From then on, I made sure to help my friends and fellow members in the same capacity.

anyone, don’t wonder why you’re not making any friends or making connections. If you sign up to volunteer at events and connect with professionals, you’ll start seeing results.


Think you’re too young as a freshman to run for executive board? Go for it. Think you’re too unqualified for the internship of your dreams? Apply anyway. Fear holds us back.

Don’t be afraid.

Network. You get out of PRSSA what you put into it. If you’re not reaping the benefits, think about how much time you’re actually contributing to PRSSA. If you sit in the back at every meeting and don’t talk to

It’s difficult to put into words how much I love this organization and how much it has taught me. The PRSSA chapter (pun intended) of my life will close when I graduate this May but a new one in PRSA will open. Although I don’t know what the future holds, I know that PRSSA has prepared me for it. Best,


Make a Smooth Transition from Student to Professional Map out your own growth plan accordingly. KELLY J. DAVIS, APR PRSSA Board Liaison

Life is full of transitions. The key to a successful career is knowing how to manage those transitions in such a way that one learns, grows and prospers each time. When my father retired, he had spent 29 years of his 40-year career with the same company. The days of that kind of longevity are almost unheard of among younger professionals. Recent data from the United States Bureau of Labor and Statistics shows that employees currently average between four and five years with a company. It is clear that this relatively frequent rate of change will require the ability to adapt quickly to new surroundings, responsibilities, personalities and company cultures. Perhaps the most significant job change in my 20-year public relations career was the one I made last year. After nine years of managing my own independent public relations consulting practice, I joined an integrated marketing firm to start their public relations department. In addition to being the only public relations person in the building, I was once again the new kid on the block. My transition to this new job was not unlike a new professional entering the workforce for the first time. Whether you are moving from college to the “real world” or you are a 20-year industry veteran taking on a new challenge, some of the same tips apply:

1. First impressions matter.

Millennials have a bad rap. Prove everyone wrong by demonstrating from day one that you are mature, punctual, professional and willing to go the extra mile.

2. Hitch your wagon to a star.

Look for someone who is where you want to be in five years, and find out how they got there.

3. Be a team player.

There is no task too big or too small. Even if it’s not in your job description, show your co-workers that they can rely on you to step up and help out.

4. Join the family.

I’m lucky to work for a very fun company. We often refer to one another as “the family.” Recreate that family spirit by attending community fundraisers, networking events and athletic functions as a group. It’s not just about having fun, but also about showing solidarity and giving others a glimpse into your company’s culture.

5. See and be seen. Industry events matter.

As a PRSSA member, you already know the value of professional associations. As you make the transition to your career, get involved not only with PRSA, but also with business and other industry-specific groups.

6. Set a date.

My boss and I have a weekly check-in to discuss my projects and brainstorm new business prospects. Sometimes that meeting lasts five minutes, and sometimes it lasts an hour. A weekly check-in with your supervisor can be a great way to get regular feedback and to build rapport. Schedule it for the same time each week. There will always be an adjustment period. Be patient while you learn the ropes. No matter how many internships or jobs you had before this one, there is always something new to learn. Kelly Davis, APR, is the public relations director at Riggs Partners, a creative marketing consultancy in West Columbia, South Carolina. She is a director at large on the PRSA Board of Directors and a past president of the South Carolina Chapter of PRSA.

PRSSA 2014 LEADERSHIP RALLY May 30-June 1 Chaparral Suites Scottsdale Scottsdale, Ariz.


Spring 2014 | Volume 46, Issue 3 |


Public Relations Skills Prove Valuable in Legal Field BY KARLY WEIGEL University of Alabama Studying public relations is one of the best educational decisions I made during my college years. As a senior public relations major at the University of Alabama, I have had the privilege to attend one of the top five public relations programs in the U.S., according to PRWeek. Aside from the rankings, I am fortunate to graduate in May with incredible writing, editing and work ethic skills. But for me, the journey is just beginning. Unlike many of my public relations friends, I am attending law school after graduation. When I tell family and friends about my decision, a puzzled look crosses each of their faces as they question why I chose public relations as my major. Looking back, a handful of reasons stick out as to why majoring in public relations will contribute to my law school success. I feel that public relations has enabled me to write and think in a concise and systematic way, and in the end, I believe public relations will help me achieve my law school goals. First, public relations students work extremely hard. Since freshman year, I learned that working hard and being involved is key to being a

successful public relations graduate. I quickly realized the industry isn’t as glamorous as TV and film make it out to be. Public relations students have to get “down and dirty” and be willing to adapt to any situation. Having to keep up with my classmates and improve my skills every semester has allowed me to develop a strong work ethic that I know I can use to my advantage in law school this fall. Being a public relations major has given me a “can-do” attitude when facing any obstacle or assignment. Much of public relations deals with effective writing and editing. Instead of “fluffing up” stories, effective writers cut to the chase. Whether writing a pitch or feature story, learning to write in a concise and meaningful way makes a big difference. As we compete for attention from journalists, editors and potential clients, our writing must make an impact in a few short seconds or else it gets tossed aside. In this same fashion, law briefs must be written effectively and correctly. Not only is your legal reputation on the line, but a judge could misunderstand your point or rule in favor of the other party if you failed to write properly. Matthew D. Bunker, professor of journalism at UA and my media law professor, offered some valuable suggestions for

public relations students who want to attend law school. He opened my eyes to the legal side of public relations, whether dealing with libel, privacy or First Amendment free speech protection. “I think rigorous training in writing is very helpful, and critical thinking is a major component that is certainly instilled in public relations majors. In certain situations, law and public relations can work together, and a dual background can be a huge advantage,” Bunker said. For students attending law school in the future, Bunker recommends taking multiple courses that expose you to some aspect of the legal system — whether it is political science, media law or a business course. He believes having a strong background in writing, critical thinking and advocacy can be beneficial to pursuing a law degree. Whether you want to work in health law, corporate law or media law, public relations can help any student achieve his or her law school goals. The writing, editing and work ethic I have acquired are invaluable and prove that public relations is a flexible and worthwhile degree, especially for students interested in the legal field.


End Debate Over ePortfolios: Just Do It! RON CULP Professional Director of Graduate PR & Advertising, DePaul University

To do or not to do an ePortfolio? That appears to be the question many soon-to-be graduates are facing as they prepare for highly competitive job searches. Unless you have a job lined up already, the answer is a nobrainer. An ePortfolio can boost your employment chances if done correctly. The business world is somewhat split on the value of ePortfolios. Some hiring managers say they don’t look at them while others confirm they can become the deciding factor on whom to interview and hire. Many students wonder if they’re worthwhile or just extra work. Even with the debate over their value, more than 50 percent of U.S. college students last year produced ePortfolios, according to Educause, a higher education nonprofit. That’s up from 7 percent in just the past four years. Few recruiters ask to see an ePortfolio, but most agree that “if it’s there, we’ll look at it.” Jamie Wernet, Heyman Associates

recruiter, agrees. “We always Google our candidates, so if it’s on the Web, we’ll turn it up,” Wernet said. Wernet said that she looks at the quality of the pieces in the ePortfolio, but she also wants to see if the candidate is tech savvy and didn’t produce something that looks like a MySpace page. “You could have the most beautiful writing samples and showcase metrics from the coolest projects, but if it looks unprofessional and is difficult to navigate or isn’t up-to-date (a common sin), it is a point against you,” Jaime said. The public relations and advertising graduate program at DePaul University is discontinuing comprehensive exams next year after having initial success with ePortfolios that showcase student work. The academic director of our program, Dr. Teresa Mastin, is addressing Jamie’s concerns by developing a standard structure for ePortfolios, e.g. résumé, research, social media and writing samples. Tara Giuliano is one of the initial ePortfolio success stories at DePaul, while Dionne Gomez is another future pro who pulled together a fun, informationpacked ePortfolio.

Edelman’s vice president of recruiting Travis Kessel sees significant value in ePortfolios. “Regardless of whether someone reads it from beginning to end, the effort in and of itself requires students to be organized and can allow them to put their mouth where their résumé is,” Travis said. “While the number of employers looking at the portfolio might be low now, that does not show the ‘trend’, which, in my opinion, will likely grow more and more toward reviewing this type of content in the future.” Unfortunately, part of the bad reputation for ePortfolios stems from the fact that some students put in too little effort. The result simply becomes an electronic version of a résumé that fails to demonstrate their experience or capabilities. As Tara and Dionne did with their ePortfolios, make your professional and college experience come to life. Your next job could depend on it. Ron Culp is a veteran corporate and agency professional who now serves as professional director of the graduate public relations and advertising program at DePaul University. He blogs about careers at

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FORUM Spring 2014  

The Public Relations Student Society of America's spring 2014 issue of FORUM.

FORUM Spring 2014  

The Public Relations Student Society of America's spring 2014 issue of FORUM.