Why did you decide to become a member of the Illinois State University Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America?
It was for the same reason I decided to study public relations. It sounded like a good idea at the time, and it was something I could put on my resume. However, now that I have been a member of ISU PRSSA for three semesters, I’ve had the chance to delve into the organization and everything it offers, which is a lot.
What does your job as development manager entail?
I oversee all the socials and fundraisers. I have both a social and fundraiser chair who make sure everything runs smoothly. I set deadlines and keep an eye on how everything is going with each social and event. After the event is over, I analyze each fundraiser to see how we can better improve for next time. The fundraisers we put together help pay for Chapter events such as guest speakers at Chapter meetings and socials throughout the year.
Tell us about your internship this past summer.
I interned this past summer at WTMJ-4, which is the NBC affiliate in Milwaukee. I assisted in the production of a TV talk show called the “Morning Blend” where I wrote the scripts that were used. It was cool to be on set and hear the television hosts say things that I wrote! I also uploaded new videos online of segments of the show and updated the online descriptions for videos we posted. It reassured me that I want to do something in entertainment because it was very high energy and fast-paced, which are factors I look for in my future career.
Where would you like to work after college?
I am open to anything at this point. Joe Bennaroch, Facebook corporate communications, just spoke in one of my classes. I thought to myself that maybe I would want to work for a company as innovative and dynamic as Facebook. I am also interested in fashion, so I could see myself going into fashion public relations and possibly work for an agency.
What advice would you give to underclassmen who are considering a career in public relations?
I would say get involved, like right now. Seriously, start now! Whether you join ISU PRSSA, obtain an internship or just go online and research things that interest you, try to create some sort of direction for yourself. Start in some way whether it is having a blog, making videos or just showing your creativity while also creating something that you can show your future employer. Also, speak with your teachers. In my experience, they are extremely helpful and more than willing to give you direction, especially since many of them worked as public relations professionals prior to teaching.
Questions composed by Becca Williams
Kate Keener is a junior exploring new opportunities at Illinois State University, meeting everyone she can through her membership in the ISU Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America. Between changing her major three times and recently switching schools, Keener has had a unique college experience. The value Keener places on learning and family has helped her get to where she is now and come closer to her career goals.
Tell us about yourself.
I am 20 years old and from Crystal Lake, Ill., a suburb northwest of Chicago. I just transferred to ISU from Indiana State University. I have changed my major three times because until now, I have never been sure of what I wanted to do. I started off as a special education major, changed to marketing, and am now in public relations. I transferred to ISU because of how amazing the public relations program is here. It has really challenged me, and I can already see a difference in what I am learning.
What attracts you to public relations?
I chose the public relations major because I love working with people and thinking creatively. I want to gain experience in event planning or do public relations for a sports team in the city. My dream job is to work with Special Olympics, where I want to intern this summer.
How has membership in PRSSA benefited you?
I joined ISU PRSSA as a way to get involved on campus, meet people with the same career goals as myself, and network. Being a member has helped me meet a lot of wonderful people who have made my transition to ISU easier.
What are some things most people do not know about you?
I have a twin brother who has intellectual disabilities. He has participated in Special Olympic events since he was 15 and is the reason I want to work for the organization. I have a passion for the outdoors and love hiking, traveling, and anything to do with water. My favorite season is winter because I love the snow. I have been snowboarding for the past six years and look forward to visiting Colorado for the second year in a row during winter break.
Questions composed by Chloe Kasper
Kelly Conrad is finishing her first semester of senior year and on her way to earning a degree in public relations with a minor in political science. The Naperville, Ill., native originally attended Illinois State University to study broadcast journalism but switched to public relations last year and joined the ISU Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America. Joining ISU PRSSA provided Conrad the chance to meet fellow public relations students and become more involved.
As an active PRSSA member, Conrad is involved with the Chapter’s student-run firm, PRogressive Image. Last year she developed ideas for upcoming events and created posters for Her Campus, a global online community for college women. This year she is working closely on The Castle Theatre account and has enjoyed interacting with real clients to gain professional public relations experience.
Aside from PRSSA, Conrad has gained professional experience by interning with GSA Public Relations, located in South Korea. As an intern, she produced a social media campaign and conceptualized innovative ways to improve the clients’ overall image to product carriers and consumers. Now she works at Palace Events in Bloomington, Ill., as a wedding coordinator intern.
Conrad is passionate about music and hopes to find a career in the entertainment industry, where she can combine her love for music with public relations. Her favorite place in the world is Chicago, where she has attended Lollapalooza for the last five years. Her dream job is to coordinate the music festival.
Conrad’s advice for new students at ISU is to get involved in multiple organizations. She suggests taking general education courses having no prior knowledge of the subject to explore the different opportunities ISU has to offer. Gaining new experiences is vital to discovering more about yourself and your passions.
Interview by Kimi Sanden
Junior member Allie Keck is an individual with a unique story. She transferred to Illinois State University this semester as a public relations major. Keck has a passion for people, writing, and undeniable musical talent.
Tell us about yourself.
I am 20 years old and from a small town in central Illinois called Neoga, which is about two hours away from Bloomington, Ill. I chose to major in public relations because I am a people person, and I love to write. The only organization I am involved in on campus is the ISU Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America, and I am so glad I decided to join. My dream job is to work in the public relations department for any music or record company.
What are you passionate about?
My passion is music. I have been singing since I was able to talk. Singing is something that I pursue outside of my regular coursework. I perform whenever I can and to whomever will listen. I play three different instruments: the piano, ukulele, and my favorite, the guitar. I have played the guitar for about five years, and it is kind of a comfort blanket for me when I perform on stage.
Why did you choose ISU?
ISU was the only school to which I applied. I loved the campus, and I heard nothing but great reviews of the public relations program here. My favorite part about ISU so far has been meeting new people and challenging myself in the courses in which I am enrolled. I also have family members who attended ISU and loved it. I am so glad I picked this school.
Tell us a fun fact about yourself.
I tried out for the reality television show American Idol for the fourth time this summer. This summer was the first time I made it through to audition with the executive producers. I gave the best performance of my life that day; it just was not for what the judges were looking. It was an amazing opportunity to see all of the hard work that goes into making the show, and I loved every minute of it. I have met some of the coolest people at those auditions, and I plan to try out again next year.
Questions composed by Allie Trosper
“Hands up, don’t shoot” is one of many iconic phrases sweeping the media after the shooting of unarmed teen Michael Brown nearly three months ago in Ferguson, Mo. The death of Brown and verdict of officer Darren Wilson are still under investigation. The incident sparked riots and protests centered on racial discrimination throughout the nation and created a media firestorm.
The protests are still occurring, according to CNN as of Friday, Oct. 24. “There is never a day where at least one person is not outside the Ferguson Police Department sitting or standing near an anemic tree, the only place for a bit of shade.”
Nearly three months after the shooting of Brown, public figures continue to use effective public relations strategies to gain control of the conversation and present justice and objective information of the case as it proceeds.
"When their hands are up, you don't shoot," said Rev. Al Sharpton."If you're angry, throw your arms up. If you want justice, throw your arms up."
With these statements, Sharpton stressed the importance of remaining non-violent in an attempt to calm the tension surrounding Brown’s death. As a result, college students across the nation voiced their concerns in a non-violent manner to shed light on this controversy. Sharpton used public relations tactics in his speech by stating his opinion, which he knew the African American population would respect. He spoke out about the shooting of Brown to specifically shape protestors’ actions and curb the violence resulting from this controversial case.
On Aug. 14, five days after the phrase “Hands up, don’t shoot” was coined, a powerful photo of dozens of students at Howard University holding their hands up in the surrender stance was posted on Instagram. The photo has over 6,500 shares, likes and retweets and received placement in USA Today, the New York Times and other top media news outlets. Aside from impressive media coverage, the photo ignited a peaceful movement among college campuses around the U.S. to capture and post similar photos to social media.
Public relations has the power to take control of a conversation and make a positive impact in events like the shooting of Brown. The nonprofit organization FCKH8.com created, “Hey White People: A Kinda Awkward Note to America” by #Ferguson Kids. The video vocalized their accounts of prejudice and received more than half a million views on YouTube. The kids in the video make the bold statement, “Racism isn’t over. But I’m over racism.” The “isms” of life are a reality in any field, especially for public relations professionals. It is important that we understand how the words of key opinion leaders can shape people’s actions and how social media can be used to start a movement.
By Kellian Reed
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.