Are you interested in pursuing a career in the event planning industry? Kasey Larson, founder of DBY Invitations, visited Illinois State University to speak to students about the industry and what it is like to work in event planning. Larson is an event planner in Chicago and has been in the industry for 15 years. Larson was one of nine keynote speakers at COM Week 2014.
On Wednesday, April 16, Larson was introduced with a warm welcome from Dr. Peter Smudde, giving the audience a bit of background on Larson and how she got into the industry. Audience members were encouraged to use the hashtags #COMWeek2014 and #EventPlanning if they were tweeting about the event. From there, Larson spoke a bit more extensively about her academic background and how she made her way in the event planning industry.
Larson focused on the reality of event planning because often times the career is glamorized, and people go into the industry with a skewed expectation of what they will do. She went on to explain that event planning is more than just showing up to events after putting it all together. There is a lot of paperwork, organization, anticipation and you have to have the ability to work with other event planners.
Larson referred to event planners as similar to the Red Cross because “we know when the hurricane is coming. We hope it doesn’t hit but we are prepared just in case.” The time frame for an event planner is that you have 364 days to plan for a one-day event, and you have to utilize all the time you have. Larson said she is always working, even if she thinks she isn’t working. It is all about multi-tasking.
Larson wanted to tailor the presentation to what people were interested in hearing and wanted to know, which led to the Q-and-A portion of the event. Larson gave insightful information based off the questions she was asked, including what it takes to be successful in the industry. She said that you have to be street smart, open, curious, hungry for success, willing to take risks and stay up to date on what is trending in the world. Larson also spoke about the confidence needed in the industry. If you are not confident and don’t own it, you client will not trust you or take you seriously.
The presentation on event planning was very insightful, and Larson provided the hard facts about the industry, which can be helpful to many who are interested in an event planning career after college.
By Maggie Ziemann
HerCampus was one of ISU PRSSA's student-run firm's clients for the 2013-2014 year with junior member Ali Geary leading the PRi team for the account.
Tell us about yourself.
I am a first semester junior at Illinois State University majoring in public relations and minoring in Spanish. I have had two internships at ISU and hold two jobs at Campus Recreation. Outside of school, I spend my time with my family and friends. I also enjoy running and dancing, whether it is in a class or just for fun. I always try to learn and experience new things. I am a busy body and love to spend my downtime at local coffee shops, exercising, or shopping. You will rarely see me sitting inside. I come from a very artistic and loving family who support all of my wildest dreams. I hope after graduation to work in the media industry in a role that will allow me to travel around the world and utilize my Spanish language skills.
Tell us about HerCampus.
HerCampus is the number one online magazine for college women, covering style, beauty, health, love, life, and career. HerCampus has chapters at colleges around the nation and even in Puerto Rico. Personally, I enjoy their creative writing style and relatable articles. The ISU chapter of HerCampus had many goals they wanted to accomplish this year, and I wanted to be the one to lead these talented writers down the right path using public relation tactics.
Why did you want the HerCampus account?
I wanted to be the account executive for HerCampus because I knew I would enjoy helping this client reach their goals. I am a very creative, driven, and ambitious person, and applying these traits to my client has led to many successes. My committee and I have been successful with helping HerCampus by spreading awareness, engaging with readers, and planning events. With the help of my committee, we have helped HerCampus become a registered student organization this year, put together a clothing drive, and helped promote the organization through different public relations tactics.
What have you learned from being an account executive in PRSSA?
I have learned how to strengthen my leadership skills and more about what works outside of the classroom with public relations. I enjoy being an account executive in PRSSA because I get to apply what I learn in my classes to the responsibilities that this position entails.
What is your dream job?
My dream job is to incorporate public relations in my work at a talk show or news station. I hope to work at programs or stations like Good Morning America, NBC, ABC or WGN. I would love to be employed in a city like Los Angeles, Chicago or New York. I enjoy the idea of producing work that deals with our ever-changing world and the opportunity to network daily with professionals in this industry. I enjoy connecting with people and the public and thinking of the best ways to promote something. I love to write and to present. I plan to travel and learn about different cultures and maybe even pick up more than the two languages I know! Most importantly, I see myself in my dream job always learning and experiencing new things in my professional career.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
When I am 30, I see myself established in a career where I am still learning and being challenged at a talk show or news station in a large city. I hope at this point I have had several different opportunities from which I have learned. I hope to have traveled to Europe, South America, and across the United States, too. I see myself providing for a family and living a very happy and fulfilling life.
Questions composed by Cassidy Obis
In addition to being a member of ISU PRSSA, Lindsey Clark is a staff reporter for The Vidette, ISU's student newspaper.
Tell us about yourself.
I transferred to ISU last January as a journalism major with a minor in cinema studies from a community college in DeKalb, Ill. I have always loved to write; I remember my cousin giving me a journal for Christmas when I was seven years old, and I have been writing ever since. I have so many journals from growing up; it is kind of like a timeline of my life, which is really cool to look back at now that I am older. I also enjoy being outside, riding my bike, dancing, watching movies, and reading biographies of people who inspire me. I am also a big fan of coffee, pizza, and sushi, not necessarily all together.
Why did you get involved as a reporter at The Vidette?
As a journalism major, I knew how important it was to get involved with some sort of publication while in college, and I knew The Vidette would be an awesome opportunity to do that. I would read issues of The Vidette my first semester here and thought how cool it would be to be a part of it. I also want writing to be involved in my future career in some way, so I figured the best way to get my feet wet with that was to apply to be a reporter and learn as much about the position as I could.
What do you like most about being a reporter?
I love how much I have been able to learn both about myself as a writer and ISU as a University. One of the best things for me to do to learn more about ISU after coming here in the middle of the school year was to become a reporter. Working for The Vidette has also helped me to develop much stronger interviewing and writing skills than I had before. I have grown so much as a writer in the last year in being a part of The Vidette and look forward to continuing to grow. It is a great learning experience that I would encourage anyone who enjoys writing to apply to – you don’t have to be a journalism major!
How has PRSSA helped you with your position?
Even though I am a part of the development committee now, I started off in the relations committee when I transferred here. PRSSA is actually the first registered student organization I joined at ISU. Doing some of the blog and newsletter writing for the relations committee is what gave me the confidence to apply for a news reporting position at The Vidette. I found that I really liked writing about events happening within ISU and wanted to keep up with that. There are a lot of common elements between journalism and public relations. I think of myself as a journalism student interested in the public relations side of things, so I also have that perspective to bring to the work I do from being a part of PRSSA.
Do you plan to keep writing after graduation?
I always want to keep writing as a part of my life no matter what. Some people express themselves through art or music. For me, writing is my creative outlet, both personally and professionally. As a student journalist, I love being able to help others learn more about the community they live in and keep them informed about what is happening in the world around them.
Questions composed by Maggie Ziemann
Illinois State University PRSSA members traveled to Chicago bright and early Friday, April 11 to visit Weber Shandwick, GolinHarris, and Ogilvy.
Former ISU PRSSA President Kaitie Ries led the tour at Weber Shandwick, where she is now an assistant digital associate. Ries encouraged members to tweet about the tour with the hashtag #WSWChat. During the presentation, digital analyst Alberto Fabian used the hashtag to demonstrate how Weber Shandwick analyzes social media and trending topics.
Members learned that Weber Shandwick is the second largest public relations agency in the world. However, they have evolved into what the presenters described as an “everything” agency, offering a 360 degree integrated marketing and communications program for their clients.
Ries and her colleagues explained that Weber Shandwick is a very millennial-friendly place to work and that the agency employs people from diverse skill sets. Weber Shandwick has an “evolving talent pool” of storytellers, reputation managers, directors, strategists, chefs, and more. Bringing variety into the agency makes Weber Shandwick a better-rounded, more creative firm.
The tour presentation explained more about Weber Shandwick’s healthcare, digital, creative and analytic teams. When it comes to analytics, it’s all about reports, tracking, and environmental scanning. The analytics team at Weber Shandwick uses the program Brandwatch to monitor social media engagement. During the presentation, Fabian used it to track #WSWChat and show what kind of engagement was happening and whether it was positive or negative. Members thought this was a cool way to “show, not tell” what analytics is all about.
The internship program at Weber Shandwick is called “engaging u.” Interns are included in everything from the start of the internship, even brainstorming sessions. Ries said that an intern’s attitude toward their accounts is really important, since it will affect how they will perform and enjoy their accounts.
Many agencies are known for the long hours their employees work, so members were relieved to hear that Weber Shandwick interns only work eight hours and leave at 5:30 p.m. every day. However, employees are dedicated and work until the job is done. Public relations is a 24/7 career.
In the Q&A portion of the presentation, members asked about the benefits of working in a large agency. Ries and her colleagues explained there is more opportunity, bigger and more clients, and a bigger budget in larger agencies. At Weber Shandwick, interns get exposure to a variety of clients and a breadth of resources.
Ries went on to say that mentorship and guidance is a big part of Weber Shandwick. Interns are not just thrown into the mix without direction. At a smaller agency, however, interns really “do everything” an assistant account executive would.
After the presentation, members were divided into smaller groups where they could get advice and ask more specific or personal questions. Members were encouraged to always tell their bosses and co-workers what they are interested in helping out with and to be their own advocate.
Next, members traveled two floors up in the John Hancock Center to visit GolinHarris, Weber Shandwick’s sister agency. Al Golin founded the agency after cold-calling Ray Kroc, who had just purchased a small hamburger chain called McDonald’s. To this day, McDonald’s is still GolinHarris’s biggest client. While the agency has a young feel, many employees stay at GolinHarris for a long time.
Presenters Rachel and Brianna explained GolinHarris’s revolutionary g4 Model, which places employees into one of four communities: Catalysts, Connectors, Creators and Strategists. GolinHarris offers a short quiz on their website that tells people which community is the best fit.
Catalysts are “change agents who drive the integrated campaign execution and champion new opportunities for our clients.” Catalysts are in the “eye” of the hurricane because they make everything come together.
Connectors are “channel experts who engage consumer, business and trade audiences through 15 distinct touch points.” Connectors engage the media and are storytellers at heart.
Creators are “bold thinkers who generate game-changing ideas, and design and produce highly engaging content.” Creators bring stories to life visually and think in terms of the big picture. Both Rachel and Brianna are members of the Creator community.
Strategists are “business analysts whose insights inspire campaigns and whose analytics measure success.” Strategists bring measurable data that help make informed and meaningful decisions.
The last agency PRSSA members toured was Ogilvy. This agency provided a unique insight into its culture and values through video clips.
David Ogilvy was “The Original Mad Man” and the agency has deep roots in the advertising world. Today, Ogilvy is a fully integrated marketing communications firm. The agency has many different branches and focuses including advertising, customer engagement, cause-related marketing, direct marketing, healthcare advertising, media relations and promotional marketing.
Ogilvy seeks interns and employees who harness eight specific habits that bring out inner greatness. These habits are curiosity, idealism, courage, persistence, candor, intuition, free-spiritedness and playfulness.
Visiting the offices of WeberShandwick, GolinHarris and Ogilvy gave members an inside look into the “real world” of public relations. Members left the tour better prepared for their internship and job searches thanks to this learning and networking experience.
By Lily Sherer
Two Blokes and a Bus was one of ISU PRSSA's student-run firm's clients for the 2013-2014 year with junior member Nick Hebert leading the PRi team for the account.
Tell us about yourself.
I am a junior public relations major at Illinois State University. Outside of my schoolwork, I love to hang out with friends and family. I also love dogs, cars and the outdoors!
Tell us about Two Blokes and a Bus.
First and foremost, they are a group of really nice and talented guys, and they are a pleasure to do business with. The Blokes run a food truck and serve delicious “globally inspired street food” around the Bloomington-Normal area. My team and I were able to work with them during their one-year anniversary this year, which was very exciting!
Why did you want the Two Blokes account?
The Blokes are somewhat local celebrities, and it definitely appealed to me that they were a new business here in the community. Match that with our friendly client contact, Steffan, and you have a recipe for a successful and rewarding public relations opportunity. It was easy to build off of the awesome platform that the Blokes already had going.
What have you learned from being an account executive in PRSSA?
I learned that as a leader, you really depend on your team to get things done. Without the help from my group and all the hard work they put in this year, we would not have come close to meeting all of our team goals.
How will you use this experience in your future career?
I think the teamwork and leadership skills are applicable in almost any position. The end result is just the sum of all the work each group member puts in, and I know now what that looks like thanks to my talented peers. Watching individuals in my group learn new things and advance into other PRSSA leadership positions for next year has been personally the most rewarding part of my time with PRSSA. I love seeing people around me do well!
What is your dream job?
My dream job would be to work in the automotive industry. My mom and dad have told me that “car” was my first word; I think it was a sign! I only have as much passion for a handful of other things in life!
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Hopefully in a rewarding position, with a company that has plenty of room for growth. Oh yeah… And somewhere warm!
Questions composed by Cassidy Obis
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have a career in sports television? Phil Bedella, current vice president and general manager of Comcast Sports Television, visited Illinois State University during COM Week 2014 to tell students about his career, along with other professional advice and plenty of life lessons.
Bedella kicked off COM Week on Monday, April 14, as one of nine keynote speakers during the weeklong event. Bedella’s journey through the sports media industry has been an impressive one, and it all began when he was a student at ISU, writing for The Vidette and interning forRedbird Athletics.
Bedella attributes much of his success to his time at ISU, where he began to develop the writing skills and sports experience he still uses today. According to his mentor and current faculty member Tom Lamonica, Bedella has always been eager to learn and work hard, traits that motivated his fellow colleagues and co-workers.
“Work hard, hustle and the rest will fall into place,” Bedella told students.
He has definitely worked hard throughout his career, from humble beginnings as a sales associate with the Chicago Cubs to becoming one of the first people hired to the Comcast SportsNet team.
Bedella even shared a story of the one time he chose rest over going to a sports game, and missed out on meeting his favorite band, U2. The moral of the story? “Don’t sleep through opportunities.” This advice can apply to anyone starting out as a young professional because you have to take risks in order to reap the benefits.
As a current ISU student, I was inspired by Bedella’s journey and success. By attending ISU, getting involved and seeking opportunities to gain experience, he was able to become the major player in the sports media industry he is today. Despite his success, he never forgot his roots, and returned to his alma mater to inspire other ISU students to follow their dreams.
By Becca Williams
Tell us about yourself.
I am a sophomore public relations major with a psychology minor. I am from a small farm town, Manlius, Ill. Aside from being a student, I am also a member of Illinois State University’s Cross Country and Track teams, which keep me pretty busy. When I do have free time, I usually like to spend it with my close friends and family, reading, looking for new ideas on Pinterest or finding opportunities to travel to different places.
How did you get involved in cross country and track?
Growing up, I always enjoyed running and loved competing at the annual track meet our school held throughout elementary school. In junior high and the first two years of high school, I was mainly interested in the sprinting events, such as the 200-meter dash and the 400-meter run. But I wasn’t fast enough to qualify for the end of the season state meet, so I gave the 800-meter run a try and ended up loving it. My junior year of high school, I went out for cross country to improve for track, and I received All-State honors in both cross country in the fall and the 800-meter run that spring. So, my senior year was spent running anything from the 400-meter dash to the three-mile race, depending on the season.
Why did you choose to continue your running career at ISU?
It was after my junior year in high school that I decided that I loved track enough to want to pursue a running career at the collegiate level. I began receiving several recruitment letters, and it was such a great feeling. I originally was looking to go somewhere smaller like a Division III school, but once I got a letter from ISU, I decided that I definitely wanted to experience running at a Division I level. I looked at a couple other schools, but I knew all along that ISU was the perfect fit for me. I am incredibly happy that I ended up here!
Do you have a favorite song, playlist or genre that you like to run to?
I usually prefer to listen to my “Country” Pandora station when I run by myself. It’s really relaxing, but sometimes I will change it up and put on the “Today’s Hits” station.
Do you have a routine for before you run?
Besides the standard warm-up, there’s nothing I really do that’s different from everyone else on the team. I do have certain pairs of socks that are specifically for racing only; I don’t like to change into them until right before my race when I put my spikes on. I like to think it brings me good luck.
How do you manage being a student athlete and staying involved with PRSSA?
I really enjoy being involved with PRSSA and getting to interact with other students who are also passionate about public relations. So when I see that there’s an event and I don’t have anything going on with track or school, I usually try to sign up and participate. My distance coach has been really great too about letting me miss practice occasionally for all-day events like agency tours in Chicago.
Running shoes: Nike, Adidas or Reebok?
If you didn’t run, what other sport would you compete in?
I’m not sure if this qualifies as a sport, but I used to be on the dance team in high school and loved it. If I wasn’t running, I think I’d try to do something that involved dancing.
Questions composed by Ali Seys
What are your main responsibilities as the director of development?
One of my main responsibilities is to oversee the organization’s social and fundraising chairs. The executive board gives me certain tasks, and then I decide how to distribute them to the chairs. I support the chairs and help them with the preparation and execution of socials. We try to get as many committee members involved as possible.
What was your favorite event executed by the development committee this year?
The first apartment social we had this year was my favorite. It was called a “Chill and Thrill Kind of Night.” It was our first one so we were both nervous and excited! The development committee put a lot of effort into it so it was really rewarding to see everyone having a good time. We got a lot of great feedback!
Why did you decide to join PRSSA?
I am a transfer student, so in my first semester at Illinois State someone came and talked about PRSSA in one of my classes. They mentioned that PRSSA does a lot of event planning, which is something I was and still am really interested in. I was looking to get involved in an organization, and PRSSA seemed like a good fit. After the first meeting, I was hooked! It provides a lot of opportunities to learn about the field of public relations.
When you’re not involved with PRSSA, what do you do in your free time?
I like to hang out with friends, especially with my roommates. We love to try out new restaurants in Normal, and we are trying to hit them all before graduating. I also love to watch movies and bake, especially cake pops!
What advice would you give to next year’s director of development?
Start early! Begin thinking about fundraising ideas right at your start of the position. Start planning socials and brainstorming new things you can bring to the committee. Also, think of unique ways to get committee members involved because that sometimes can be a challenge.
What is your favorite part of being a PRSSA member?
Since I was a transfer student I never had the dorm experience or the chance to meet other people outside of class. PRSSA was a great way to get involved at Illinois State University and meet other students. It has also given me a lot of professional experience.
What are your plans for the summer?
My plans for the summer are to start my job search! I hope to find a job in hotel event planning or nonprofit event planning. I also want to enjoy the summer since we had such a horrible winter. At the end of May I am planning to go to Ireland.
What is your dream job?
My dream job would be doing special events for Big Brothers/Big Sisters in Chicago. I really love the organization and the mission that they strive to fulfill.
Where would you like to travel that you have never been before?
Italy. I would love to try all the amazing food and sightsee since there are so many beautiful places to explore.
Why did you become a communication major?
I decided to pursue this major because I wanted to do event planning, and with a communication major you have a lot of opportunities for different jobs. The skills you learn can apply to a lot of different jobs, especially event planning.
Questions composed by Becca Williams
Since its launch in 2011, Yahoo Screen has been streaming videos to the public in an attempt to keep up with competitors in an increasingly changing online market. In May 2013, Yahoo Screen began providing videos for a segment called “Be Inspired” after the company struggled to meet viewer demand for more content.
“Be Inspired” incorporates short videos from independent filmmakers from both Yahoo and other companies. Each video is unique and aims to inspire viewers to change how they view the world’s current social issues.
The creation of “Be Inspired” allowed for a whole new audience to access Yahoo Screen. By providing content focused on important social issues, Yahoo is now attracting more conscious viewers while maintaining the viewers who were already there for pure entertainment reasons.
The videos on Yahoo Screen’s “Be Inspired” range from one to six minutes and, although there are only a handful of videos posted so far, almost every video has gone viral within hours of being posted, thanks to various different social media sites.
By associating Yahoo Screen with more appropriate and relatable content, Yahoo is greatly increasing its public image. They are reminding viewers that they care about more than just making a profit.
In a world full of people demanding positive and more thought-provoking media, it will be interesting to see how Yahoo’s latest adaption will affect its already booming video website.
By Megan Briesath
PRecisely PR is the blog of the Illinois State University Chapter of the PRSSA. We write about Chapter events, the public relations industry, member profiles, and more.