UNO PRSSA Spring 2021 Newsletter

Page 1


IN THIS ISSUE Humility Not Hostility Campaign Diversity & Inclusion Panel Travel & Tourism Talk Winter Wonderland Activity Book

TABLE OF CONTENTS Letter from the President......................................................01 Letter from the MaverickPR Director...................................02 Meet the Board......................................................................03 SPRING 2021 IN REVIEW Humility Not Hostility............................................................05 MavPR adapts to COVID-19.................................................08

Design & Layout: Taylor Shipley Mars Nevada

Social Media Strategy Meet & Greet...................................10 Diversity and Inclusion Panel...............................................11

Faculty Adviser: Karen Weber

Travel and Tourism Talk........................................................13

Contributors: Rachel Brader Courtney Kilroy Rebecca Kisicki Elle Love Annaliese McCain Miranda McCord Kathryn O’Connor Katherine Peña Makayla (MK) Roumph Sydney Schneider Taylor Shipley Kylie Squiers

Winter Wonderland Activity Book.......................................15

BGSU PRSSA Mixer................................................................14

PRSSA Leadership Assembly................................................17 Find your Life’s Purpose..............................................18 Graduates and Inductees.....................................................20 Incoming E-board..................................................................21

Letter from the President And that’s a wrap on the first-ever virtual PRSSA year by Kylie Squiers Honestly, I don’t even know where to begin. It blows my mind-we’ve been virtual for more than one year, and I’d be lying if said I wasn’t sad about this. This year was difficult to say the least—for me, the chapter and the world, in general. As I gather my thoughts, I realize that I haven’t even met some of our new members in person yet—but I guess that’s not a surprise since COVID-19 has forced us to hold virtual meetings since mid-March 2020. My key takeaways and silver lining—if you will—highlight the not-so-great parts because behind every problem stood a strong group of leaders. Though COVID-19 separated us from our usual in-person interactions, we constantly challenged ourselves to think outside of the box. Therefore, I’d like to claim our chapter and class of 2021 to be the most innovated group, thus far. From tackling Italian Night and creating a new “On the Go” event and “virtual auction” all the way to the Zoom game nights and our “Winter Wonderland” activity book project, I’d say we did a pretty dang good job for keeping it together and navigating through a global pandemic.


As I wrap up my reflection on this past year, I want to say how incredibly thankful I am for the amazing faculty adviser we have, Karen Weber. If I ever had to survive another global pandemic, I’d sure hope Karen would stand by my side again. PRSSA has truly changed my life, and helped open doors I could never imagined at the beginning of my college career. I wish you all good luck as you enter the “new normal” and thank you again for all the memories—it’s truly been a time to remember. Sincerely, Kylie Squiers

Letter from the MaverickPR Director MavPR’s service to clients continues through COVID-19 by Makayla (MK) Roumph We have officially lived a year of the COVID-19 pandemic that brought challenges, disconnections and changes to daily life and the profession of public relations. Just like the ever-evolving world of public relations, our MaverickPR team also evolved, adapted and maintained connections between one another and clients during the spring 2021 semester. The 16 team members served 10 clients, providing a full-service experience of advertising, branding, copywriting and editing, graphic design, media outreach, social media, photography and videography. Being involved in MavPR for a year, I‘ve never seen such a creative, flexible and well-rounded group of young professionals, who supported and encouraged one another to succeed. The students treated this experience like a business, fulfilling real work for real clients. Our continued determination to serve our community of businesses and organizations


effectively has earned MavPR national affiliation with PRSSA as well as national recognition as PRSSA’s top chapter for student firms. The team was grateful to meet in-person this semester in the home for aspiring communicators: Arts and Sciences Hall (ASH). Although we wore masks and stayed 6 feet apart, we felt humbled and closer to normalcy than we did a year ago. The firm served as a safe, inclusive and connected family that we all needed in a disconnected time. My best, Makayla Roumph




VP of Member Services & MaverickPR Director


VP of Communications




VP of Public Relations


VP of Creative Services, MaverickPR Assistant & Creative Director

CRISTIAN ROBLES VP of Archive Services

TAVION DAVIS VP of Diversity

EMMA RYDER VP of Finance


VP of Social Media

MIRANDA MCCORD VP of Community Engagement

Spring 2021


Photo: UNO PRSSA Zoom meeting screenshot

Civility campaign earns honorable mention in national competition

The Humility Not Hostility team members pose with Karen Weber, their faculty adviser. Photo by Sydney Schneider

by Annaliese McCain & Kathryn O’Connor UNO PRSSA earned honorable mention in the 2021 PRSSA National Bateman Case Competition out of 54 teams that competed in a campaign to promote civility. Six PRSSA members created the Humility Not Hostility” campaign this spring designed to inspire professionals and students to become vectors of change and advocates for civility, whether in the workplace, classroom or even social circles.


The campaign, Humility Not Hostility” was part of the 2021 annual National Bateman Case Study Competition. Each year, teams from PRSSA chapters across the nation, research, plan, execute and evaluate a campaign for the same client. Each team has only 30 days to complete the execution component of the campaign.

This year’s client was the PRSA Foundation, a nonprofit organization that promotes inclusivity and civility. PRSA and the campaign’s sponsor, Delta Dental, tasked competing teams to create campaigns that promote civility in public discourse.The teams’ target audience was professionals in the communications field. “The Humility Not Hositilty campaign is dedicated to redefining civility,” says Emily Nguyen, research director. “Civility is the practice of disagreeing without disrespecting. It helps to promote meaningful communication and relationships regardless of individuals’ differences in beliefs.” Other team members were Courtney Kilroy, creative director; Rose McCaffrey, event director; Annaliese McCain, project director;

Miranda McCord, social Emily Nguyen; and Kathryn O’Connor, media relations director. The team chose “Humility Not Hostility” as the campaign name to encourage civil dialogue, dialogue, which involves listening to understand, not hearing to overpower. In an effort to communicate this message visually, Kilroy, designed speech bubbles and built bricks of different sizes, shapes and colors. This represented the importance of open dialogue, diversity, democracy and inclusivity. The result is not homogenous, but rather a display of how necessary each unique piece is to the whole. Civility does not mean always reaching an agreement, but remaining unified despite one another’s differences, according to campaign materials. This campaign included both primary and secondary research in the forms of scholarly resources, an in-depth interview, two focus groups and a survey. The team interviewed Dr. Whitney Gent, an assistant professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, who teaches argumentation and research method courses. Gent’s research focuses on rhetorical theory, criticisms and advocacy rhetoric. The first focus group consisted of Nebraska PRSA board members, and the second included four UNO PRSSA chapter members, all studying communications. The team’s

survey received over 100 responses. Of those respondents, 91% said they value civility, yet 52% of respondents avoid speaking with peers about controversial topics because they worry the conversation will become uncivil. “This year’s Bateman team members really had their work cut out for them,” says Shannon Hilaire, UNO PRSSA professional adviser. “As we have all experienced, civility is lacking in our everyday engagements—from approaching someone in the grocery store masked or unmasked to the voting polls.” Hilaire praised the team for facing the challenge head on. “I believe it will truly make a difference, and help us all think twice before engaging,” Hilaire says. To combat these issues, the team created the “Humility Not Hostility” interactive card game. Professionals and students can use this resource to spark civil dialogue on difficult topics. The team distributed the card game to local communications and PR professionals to share with their organizations.

Graphics by Courtney Kilroy


In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, UNO discouraged any in-person meetings and limited any gatherings to a maximum of 10 people. Due to this, the team faced the challenge of conducting virtual-only events and outreach. “With the campus operating at less than 40% in-person classes, the team faced challenges reaching its target audience with the campaign’s promotional materials,” says Karen Weber, faculty adviser. “The team discovered new, innovative ways to reach and engage audiences.” The Bateman team hosted five virtual events to engage individuals in the communications field. This included students, alumni and PRSA Nebraska members. These events were conducted via livestream, zoom and online watch parties and challenged participants to practice civil discussion, while also maintaining and encouraging inclusivity and representation. The team’s research found that the erosion of civil discourse affects every aspect of individuals lives, both personally and professionally.


“This motivated us to give communications professionals and students strategies for not only confronting this issue,” Nguyen says, “but being an active advocate for change. By taking the team’s pledge, playing their card game, or simply keeping the team’s core values in mind, civility will continue to be restored.” Team members closed their campaign book with this message:

“We encourage everyone to unite, not as one entity of sameness, but as valuable parts of a whole. The campaign encouraged all people involved in any dialogue to see themselves as a valuable voice and to recognize the same value in others.”

Photo by Sydney Schneider

MavPR adapts client services through COVID-19 by Rebecca Kisicki Mask-wearing MaverickPR members met on Tuesday afternoons in Arts and Sciences Hall, Room 101, a large lecture hall that allows for proper social distancing. This allowed the firm to continue working together to best serve clients.

“It’s an opportunity where students can gain a variety of experience in creating assets for real clients,” Weber says. “This results in an impressive portfolio and resume that makes the student more marketable to the job force when they graduate.”

Students continued to meet their clients through Zoom on Thursdays and worked virtually in break-out rooms or independently.

Weber says she has much evidence that the agency experience prepares students for the job market from contact with MaverickPR alumni who work in a variety of communication fields.

Founded by Karen Weber in 2007, MaverickPR is one of PRSSA’s nationally affiliated chapter firms. MaverickPR has earned national recognition as well, earning PRSSA’s top national chapter award for student firms in 2019 and 2017. The firm is run as a student business instead of a class, but students can earn credit as an Advanced Communication Practicum or Applied Journalism.


“MavPR provides a team-oriented, supportive environment because we are surrounded by other like-minded students with the intentions to learn from one another and grow as young professionals,” says Makayla Roumph, firm director.

The clients and tactics for the spring 2021 semester: Designed brochure, website and social media content for Balanced You, a medical esthetics practice. Wrote articles for CommUNO alumni magazine. Created social media content for DGMD Medical, a hair restoration and medical esthetics company. Designed new branding and website for Laura McIntosh massage therapy. Produced video to promote FASFA for Metropolitan Omaha Educational Consortium. Created new branding and website for Moxie Mo, a content creation company that specializes in SEO, social media, ghost writing and corporate events. Designed series of social media advertisements for Omaha Collegiate Consortium. Created “Quarantine Cocktail” book for Dr. Patrick Kelsey and successfully pitched a Sunday Living section front-page feature in the Omaha World-Herald.


Two social experts share advice to engage audiences during COVID-19 by Elle Love Developing the best strategy for social media engagement during a pandemic takes adaptability and flexibility, say to experts in the field. Andrea Hennings, Henry Doorly Zoo’s community engagement manager, and Kacie Hughes, Flywheel’s communication manager met virtually with UNO PRSSA members at their January chapter meeting. Hennings and Hughes discussed ways they continue to engage their brands with audiences through social media. Hennings has worked at the Henry Doorly Zoo for 14 years, handling the Zoo’s social media and website as well as doing videography and photography work for the Zoo and the Wildlife Safari Park in Ashland, Nebraska, She is the first to take on the role of the Henry Doorly Zoo’s communication engagement manager for eight years, Hennings, a University of Nebraska at Omaha alumna, served as UNO PRSSA’s newsletter editor and The Gateway editor-inchief. After graduation, she worked at Silicon Prairie News and Bailey Lauerman, before she found her niche working with the Henry Doorly Zoo. There, she gets to do her favorite tasks of snapping shots with animals and filing for storytelling.


“Anytime, I get to introduce myself to anybody or if they see a zoo local, they’ll ask if I get to work with the animals and I give them a jumbled answer of ‘yes, I do,’” Hennings says. “I get to go behind the scenes and help tell the conservation stories of keepers, their animals, and what they get to do at the Zoo.”

Photo courtesy of Hennings

During the pandemic, Hennings and her team collaborated with Millard Park Zoo in Bloomington Illinois to tell the story of rehabilitating newly-arrived snow leopard cubs with swimmer’s syndrome because of the zoo’s best reputation for behavioral husbandry. “That was one of my favorite stories because despite circumstances relating to the pandemic, “ Hennings says, “two zoos were able to do good for the animals.” Hughes has worked at Flywheel for three years, taking on many roles such as content manager, social media specialist, and currently communications manager. “With Flywheel, I love the versatility and getting to do a bunch of different roles and taking this really ‘boring software’ and turn it into fun. Like for example, we did a Fly July where it’s a Tasty-like videos of fun recipes like making Lemonades in July as a

whimsical way to promote our sales,” Hughes says. “and when I’m not doing social, it’s working with our leaders and telling stories of they have impacted the business or the WordPress community in Omaha.” Hughes manages not only Flywheel’s social media, but also WordPress, the company that that purchased Flywheel in 2020. Hughes’ work focuses on customer communications, public relations strategy, and media relations.

“Do not be afraid to reach out to anyone whenever you need help,” Hennings says, Adds Hughes: “Empathy plays a huge role in the PR world. You have to adapt, empathize, and be realistic but also, don’t forget to stay on top of the news.”

“My job title as communications manager is very broad so I’m not pigeon-holed into only doing social media or press releases,” Hughes says. Both Hennings and Hughes agreed that adaptability plays a role in excelling in public relations roles during the pandemic along with being empathetic to others in the workplace. Photo courtesy of Hughes

Diversity and inclusion demand respect. by Katherine Peña Diversity and inclusion is about representation and respect. That’s one of the key takeaways from February’s chapter meeting that featured a panel of three guest speakers.


“The DEI panel was a very engaging discussion of for various reasons,” says Tavion Davis, vice president of diversity and inclusion. “But, I think the single most defining factor on what made this panel so great was how they worked together to make the panel into a very dynamic discussion.”

The speakers were Leia Baez, communications director, Douglas County; Jessi Hichins, senior director for Student Life, UNO; and Preston Love Jr., executive director, and UNO black history adjunct professor.

A common thread within their comments was everyone’s responsibility to shed light on how to move forward with respect for one another.

Chapter members heard an important and moving discussion about diversity and inclusion, the Black Lives Matter movement and other key events from the past year.

“You have the power to be that positive voice,” Baez says. “It’s true, every individual can actively make a choice every day to be positive not only for themselves, but for others, too.”

The panelists also discussed how civility factored into the conversation about diversity and inclusion. “Civility is often qualified from the position of power; which from that perspective is not expansive enough,” Hichins says, “asking for civility is not compliance though it is oftentimes confused for it.” Love says people must not be too quick to adapt only what they want, but instead take culture for all that it is and understand what it means. “Learn and respect the culture before you get too busy in the culture.” Adds Davis: I would never guessed how much some of our members, including me, really needed to hear the things that the speakers talked about. The discussions ranged from their interpretations of diversity and inclusion to discriminatory situations what the speakers had gone through and how they overcame them.”

Photos courtesy of Love Jr., Hichins, and Baez


Visit Omaha shares how to market the city during COVID-19 by Katherine Peña The tourism and travel industry had to adapt to survive and continue to appeal to visitors while navigating the devastating financial fallout from the pandemic. Jasmyn Goodwin, director of marketing content for Visit Omaha and former UNO PRSSA president, shared how Visit Omaha overcame the challenges brought on by COVID-19. Goodwin gave insight to prospective travel public relations professionals during the March chapter meeting. Tourism is actually the only branch of government that creates revenue. This means that when the pandemic hit and the city closed down, Omaha lost millions of dollars from canceled events. This pushed Visit Omaha to come up with inventive ways to market for travel after the pandemic, which had no immediate payoff, Goodwin says. Instead of immediately focusing content on visitors outside the city, Visit Omaha chose to support their community. The Visit Omaha website became a resource center where locals could go to find helpful links about COVID-19 and safety protocols.


Photo courtesy of Goodwin

As more people are vaccinated, Goodwin says a recent survey showed 26% of American travelers want to travel by July of 2021. After reviewing the survey research, the Visit Omaha team got to work and created new content that would resonate with its target audience. Using fun characters like Bob the Bridge and Omar the Troll, who lives beneath Bob, Visit Omaha began to push out commercials to promote tourism in Omaha for July and beyond. Goodwin says overnight leisure for convention travelers are the group to focus on. Research has shown potential visitors are interested in cleanliness and traveling in less populated areas, which works very well for Omaha. “I loved Jasmyn’s talk on tourism because it opened my eyes to everything Omaha has to offer,” says Makayla Roumph,”and motivated me to stay and further share the message.”

UNO and BGSU PRSSA hold ‘Meeting of the Minds’ By Emma A. Ryder UNO PRSSA and Bowling Green State University (BGSU) joined forces this April through Zoom to highlight their chapter activities and provide a “show and tell” of the year. Although this was each chapter’s first meeting, the two faculty advisers are longtime friends. Karen Weber, UNO faculty adviser, met Julie Hagenbuch, BGSU faculty adviser, at the 2011 National PRSSA Conference in Orlando. They stayed in touch through the years and share best practices and resources. The last time the two met in person was the 2019 National Conference in San Diego. Each school has a relatively small chapter, BGSU with about 15 to 20 members and UNO with 30 to 40 members. The chapters gave a general introduction to who they are and what they do and highlighted their studentrun public relations firms, MaverickPR (UNO) and Falcon Communications (BGSU). UNO shared its success in placing in national PRSSA competitions, and the importance of community engagement. Weber discussed the pre-COVID annual Santa Paws fundraiser for Hearts United for Animals and participation in the National Organ Donor Awareness Competition.


Photo from BGSU PRSSA’s Twitter

Weber says the chapter adapted to the pandemic by converting its in-person buffet La Notte Italiana (Italian Night) benefit dinner into “Italian Night on the Go,” which delivered meals DoorDash-style to guests. Instead of special events for nonprofits, members produced a “Winter Wonderland” activity book for metro children in need as their main service project. Hagenbuch explains that all students at her Ohio university must complete two internships before graduation.

BGSU students Marianne Vanderbeke and Erika Glover shared their expertise in internships and aesthetics. Vanderbeke shared her experience getting internships as a non-traditional student. Her biggest takeaway was to network, and “try for internships even if it isn’t exactly what you are looking for.” Glover runs an apparel company, Words Strings Co, and focused on branding, using an aesthetic that is authentic to each individual person.

Both Weber and Hagenbuch say they hope the joint meeting becomes an annual event. They also plan to discuss the possibility of other chapters holding joint meetings at the 2021 National Conference Faculty Advisers meeting. “I enjoyed meeting with BGSU students and sharing how we’ve made the best of navigating through the pandemic,” Weber says. “ I also liked the feeling of camaraderie.”

Members create Winter Wonderland” book service project by Miranda McCord UNO PRSSA’s tradition of community service lives on even in the midst of a global pandemic. E-Board members brainstormed ideas last summer to continue the chapter’s tradition of community service within the campus COVID-19 restrictions that banned in-person events. The brainstorming led to creation of a children’s activity book called, “The Winter Adventures of Wren and Snowy.” The story, written by Tavion Davis and Emma Ryder, follows two snow friends throughout the activity book with a story to promote children’s literacy and puzzles challenge their problemsolving skills. During the late fall and early spring semester, members planned and designed the pages for the book. Twenty members donated their talents to create one or two pages of the book. Taylor Shipley designed the cover and Kylie Squiers completed the layout.


Coloring book cover by Taylor Shipley

The chapter printed 300 activity books for distribution across the Omaha metro. In a partnership with Raise Me to Read, UNO PRSSA donated the majority of the books to the Visiting Nurses Association (VNA) parenting support programs. Other donation sites included the Lydia House and the MICAH House. “I absolutely loved working on this service project,” Squiers says. “It definitely wasn’t a typical service project—but due to the pandemic, “we had to get creative while also staying safe.”

Story by Emma Ryder and Tavion Davis


Graphic from

PRSSA National Leadership Assembly adapts to the virtual world by Veronica Beck The 2020-2021 school year has brought about a world of adaptability and change. For the second year, COVID-19 forced the PRSSA National Leadership Assembly to be held virtually. In past years, students would fly across the country to a mega-hotel in Scottdale, Arizona and meet professionals who shared insights on how to be great leaders. This year was quite different. Rather than facing the speakers on a conventional stage, attendees faced a virtual stage in a landscape of virtual tables. PRSSA took this idea of adaptability by storm and, to me, threw one of the most entertaining, yet captivating online events possible.


The leadership assembly started a week before the actual event with one of the most important events in PRSSA: national elections. Through Zoom, electors watched and questioned a large number of potential candidates asking questions ranging from what they would contribute to PRSSA to qualifications. After

many hours of deliberation, electors voted through ElectionBuddy to choose their favorite candidates. The lineup for the next National Committee includes many wonderful students whose curiosity and insight will help guide the future of PRSSA. The first day of the leadership assembly was fun and insightful. Talks ranged from direct voices from the PR industry to motivational speeches. Two incredible people who spoke included Brandon “Jinx” Jenkins and Patrice Tanaka. Jenkins spoke of his experience leaving college and entering the workforce and gave comfort to many attendees about how life isn’t a straight path. During Jenkins’ address, he spoke of the hardships and triumphs he has had ranging from loss of employment to interviewing Kendrick Lamar and Kobe Bryant. Tanaka took an alternative route with her speech and spoke of motivation and selfcare. She advocated for the attendees to search for their life’s purpose because, to

her, when someone does not know their purpose, you have yet to “ignite your spark.” The first day was wonderful and a valuable experience to those looking to become leaders and those looking to simply be a better version of themselves. The second day of the assembly was much shorter than the first but the two speakers gave such timely and relevant speeches. Elizabeth Marsh exposed the truth of misinformation in the media and how the attendees as leaders can put an end to this. Marsh made connections to current events including the COVID-19 vaccine roll out and civil unrest. Her insight was powerful, yet so necessary in times of today. Rich Ferraro spoke to the attendees about LGBTQ+ depictions in the media. His professional experience at GLAAD allowed the students to see the undeniable need and want for LGBTQ+ depictions in the media whether it be television ads or even movies. Both speakers on Day 2 gave timely, necessary information to allow leaders to be well versed

and want for LGBTQ+ depictions in the media whether it be television ads or even movies. Both speakers on Day 2 gave timely, necessary information to allow leaders to be well versed in current events. The leadership assembly and the national election are two experiences that PRSSA students should participate in. Both events allow students to develop better leadership skills, legislative understanding, and allaround more professional experience. Networking and education are two prominent components of the PRSSA leadership assembly. To experience these events firsthand is something valuable and not common in many other college extracurricular activities. Though this year was untraditional, the value in this event did not deplete, it arguably may have even become more valuable.

Find your life’s purpose by Veronica Beck In life, it feels as though you’re constantly riding a roller coaster. Endlessly it feels as though you’re turning left, right, up, and down. To make this idea more complex, put the roller coaster in the dark because you truly never know what direction is coming next. Though this topic is not comfortable to talk about, Patrice Tanaka gave attendees at the 2021 National Leadership Assembly insight on how to stop being scared of life and embrace it.


Tanaka, CEO and creative director at Patrice Tenaka & Company, based in New York City, told attendees how life isn’t simple, but to truly live life to the fullest, you have to find and hold on to your life’s purpose. This is a daunting task for a group of young adults, yet Tenaka inspired many to try. Finding your life’s purpose is not an easy task and holding on to it is not much easier. This difficulty is something that does not go unspoken though. Patrice stresses the importance of grasping your purpose--no matter what.

“Your life purpose is your daily mantra,” Tenaka says, when discussing the idea of remembering your purpose. In life, people are bound to change. The person we all were several years ago most likely isn’t the same person we are today. Most college students walk into college without truly knowing what they want to do, but through exploration, everyone walks out with a future ahead. Our purposes change as we change. Whether it be drastically or minimally, change is inevitable. Tenaka taught us to embrace change even if the change alters our purpose. Tenaka also let attendees in on a secret: that knowing your life’s purpose gives you a competitive advantage. Employers would rather employ someone who speaks proudly of their purpose (especially if it aligns closest to the company’s) than someone who tries to blend in. Understanding your purpose and utilizing it is something each person should do. She explains that life is about how you leverage your talent and how you use it to serve others because life isn’t only about where you go but where everyone goes.


Photo from

Whatever a person’s life purpose may be, holding on and enjoying the ride is something that will lead you to live a more joyful life. Each person is unique, and by taking a hold of our individuality, and embracing others’ individuality as well, an inevitably positive change in social and work society is bound to happen. So go find yours!





VP of Member Services



VP of Creative Services





VP of Events

VP of Archive Services

VP of Finance

VP of Social Media

VP of Communications


VP of Public Relations



VP of Publications & Diversity

MIRANDA MCCORD VP of Community Engagement

Photo: UNO PRSSA Harry Potter game night screenshot