The online semester has allowed PRSSA ISU Chapter to connect virtually with guest speakers from different parts of the country.
Mateo Aguirre graduated from Illinois State in 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations. Upon graduation, Mateo had a job offer lined up after working with a company for an assignment in COM 337-Public Relation Campaigns. He moved to Los Angeles where he began his career working with the company and he has since then continued working with social media in showcasing the entertainment world, holding different job titles with every opportunity that emerged.
He shared his application process, working with different companies and his most memorable moments when working in the entertainment industry. Although internships are not required, they do not hurt. Being able to get a grasp of the work force can better prepare you post-graduation. The biggest difference between his internship in Milwaukee with a local tv station and his work in California, is the environment. L.A being more liberal and allowing people to openly express themselves is a drastic change from conservative Wisconsin.
When searching for job positions, each application will ask for different requirements. The biggest support for applicants will be their portfolio. A compliance of all the work they completed while in college. In learning about customer service beforehand, you grasp the needs and wants of people. You see patterns and create content towards those groups.
The biggest pro he could give for working in the entertainment industry? The flexibility. Well, aside from meeting and working with notable celebrities. From showing Heidi Klum how to use Instagram filters to coming across Jennifer Lopez. His favorite production, "Making It”, has allowed him to be part of the show production. From attending the promo shoot, to getting close to the people on stage. All while ensuring to implement a diversity alliance and embracing it through the workplace.
With his extensive social media experience, aligning yourself with a company with similar views makes a big difference in the end. Do not be harsh on yourself and allow yourself to learn from past mistakes.
In his time with PRSSA, Mateo acknowledged that networking was one of the most significant steps in self-development. Being able to chat people up and forming connections will serve you in the future. Whether it is for a future job or a good friendship, those relationship will last and bring new opportunities. The friendship he made while in his two years with PRSSA are stronger than ever. The people you meet in PRSSA and conventions remain with you and you learn from them and they from you.
Mateo suggests “to not be afraid to take risks because chances are, they will work out in the end… Even if it does not pay off in the exact moment. It will lead you to where you exactly where need to be.”
By: Yasmin Carrillo
Starting off college I picked a major that I knew very little about. My freshman year I stumbled upon a PRSSA booth and immediately liked the way it sounded. It took me a long time to figure out what I was interested in and how to make a career out of it. PRSSA was a big reason for me finding out my minor and how beneficial it would be for my career. I learned so much about PR and have gotten good connections out of it. Most members I met were seniors, but it felt like a had a band of mentors to guide me through my freshman year.
I was really lucky because I liked my major right away and stuck with it, but PR is not my passion in life. Growing up I loved dressing up, fashion, and shopping. I knew this was a passion of mine, but I could not sew, thus I did not know how to tailor fashion to my major. With PR I knew I would be able to have more flexibility with what I wanted to do. I want my future career to be one that does not feel like a job and gives me creative freedom. I am the kind of person who wants to try everything and work on all the parts of a project. The fashion industry is not an easy industry to get into, but fashion brands will always need someone to handle their PR and promotional events from an expert's point of view. I have an extensive knowledge of fashion and following trends because it is a hobby of mine, however, I need to learn how the business side of how things work. Fashion merchandising felt like a perfect minor to add skills and give me the knowledge to successfully create brand content. As well as understanding the different needs of individual brands.
As a sophomore I am excited to see where my education journey will take me. These past two years, Illinois State University has given to so many opportunities and connections for my future.
By: Maggie Mokrzycki
This summer brought one of the worst storm systems in recent history to the Midwestern United States with the August 2020 Midwest derecho. Iowa and Illinois were hit particularly hard. With large storms comes lots of power outages. These storms happened in the last week of my internship with ComEd, who provide most of the electricity to the Northern Illinois Region. These storms resulted in the second largest total outages in the company’s history.
With their internet channels being relatively new and having never seen the high-volume flow of customer concerns and questions, they were required to implement new methods to reach all customers on the fly. The outage map that customers are typically directed to for outage restoration estimates crashed. The IVR phone system crashed and customers calling were not able to speak to a customer service representative. The feature on the website to report an outage went down. The only way left for customers to contact the company ended up being through social media. This began a rapid training of employees and interns from other departments, to respond to public and private social media mentions and messages. All that was able to be communicated to the public by the company was that the universal restoration time would take six days. Having interned with the social media team previously, I was able to reference my past training and used it to help respond to as many people as possible who reached out with their concerns escalated the tickets of those in high-risk and vulnerable situations. The social media team trained over 50 employees from other parts of the company to respond to messages on their social media platforms so they were able to help escalate customer issues and relay information pertaining to how the company was moving forward given the situation they were in.
It was an eye opening experience for me to be able to work during such an unprecedented time for ComEd. It taught me a lot about what is necessary to stay calm, prepare yourself and lead others during a communication crisis.
By: Josh Pozniak
Over the past year alone, people of every global social construct have become advocates and activists. We have come such a long way in understanding and applying the importance of individualism and equality in our social atmosphere. We’ve marched in solidarity. We’ve expressed our concerns and need for change over every outlet possible. We, as young individuals, and young professionals, are the change. We are the future.
Now, the question is, how can we keep going? How can we incorporate diversity and inclusion in every aspect from race to gender to disabilities and more in our everyday lives? The PRSSA executive board attended ICON 2020 this past week to learn all about diversity and inclusion in the industry, but more so in ourselves.
Here are some tips on representing inclusivity in your voice and writing skills that can seriously make a difference in your life, brand, and outreach.
It starts with yourself. In this day in age, it’s important to check yourself. Are you biased on any topics? Are you being intentional and authentic through every word you speak or write? It’s important to see other viewpoints and hear other voices, because words matter! Get a friend or mentor to review your work and have a feedback option for people who interact with your message to improve your inclusive communication.
Use appropriate titles and language. It’s important to refer to your subjects in a way that makes them comfortable. Knowing the gender pronouns that the people you’re referencing prefer, or even if a person wants to be defined by their disability or even race is important. Take the time to consider if a proper title for someone is Hispanic, vs. Latino, vs. Latinx. Capitalize “Black”. Do your best to avoid stereotypes by asking yourself “How would I want someone to describe me in a vulnerable situation?”
Accommodate to your audience. An inclusive platform should be accessible to all. Captions on videos can help someone with a hearing deficiency. Imagery and translations can help your message platform broaden to people who speak different languages. The more access for all people to your platform or message, the better. Do research when designing a web page or social media post to make sure all people can connect with your message.
The public is not limited to a certain type of people. Educating yourself on inclusion and discrimination in every piece of work you do is so important for your outreach so your message or brand can thrive. In everything you do, remember to have empathy, and have a sense of community for the sake of your image and that of the platform you represent.
By: Jessica Grzesiak
In the early weeks of the 2020 spring semester, like many other students I thought I had a set plan for how my college experience was going to go. COVID-19 at that time was still in the beginning stages, and I never imagined it would impact us in the way it has. Once all classes went online, and I was introduced to the new world of zoom, I found my once eager and motivated Freshman year self slowly slip away, and school had sadly felt like a low priority when it came to learning how to live through pandemic.
Amidst all the fast paced change, I had just applied and gotten the position of Secretary on the executive board for PRSSA. It was an impulsive decision, and although it seemed daunting at the time, being a part of the executive board for PRSSA would be my one saving grace from making my new college experience feel completely hopeless. In normal circumstances, I thought that creating a successful college career was going to be scary and difficult, but trying to meet those same goals all while not being able to have in person social interaction with my professors and classmates seemed next to impossible.
At the beginning of this fall 2020 semester, I had a pessimistic view of how the rest of the year would go. In normal circumstances, I thought that navigating college was going to be difficult, but trying to meet those same goals all while not being able to have in person social interaction with my professors and classmates seemed next to impossible. I felt like I was being robbed of crucial opportunities that would guide me toward a successful career in PR, and questioned many times if all the work I was putting forward was going to be worth it.
Being a sophomore, still trying to adjust to the PR major as well as a leadership position for a club revolving around PR came with more struggles than I would have liked. I’ll admit in the first few weeks of meetings for PRSSA I had a lot of doubt in myself and wondered if I was actually qualified for the position I had earned. But over these last four months and after I started to get to know everyone else on the executive board, it has completely changed how I view my future. PRSSA gave me back the motivation I thought I was losing and made me feel like my work had a purpose again. I am still very new to PRSSA, and still have a lot to learn, but this organization, in just a short amount of time, has allowed me to learn more than I could have ever imagined from just being in a classroom. I know that the future is never guaranteed, and unexpected change is inevitable, but it’s much less scary now that PRSSA is a part of my life.
By: Grace Huff
Growing up I had so many dreams to be so many things and when I came to college, I still had all those dreams. When it came to me choosing a major in college I didn’t know what major I wanted to commit to because everything interested me. When talking to my roommate about it she mentioned how much she loved the flexibility of being a communication major.
I didn’t take her comments about her major seriously until my sophomore year of college when I realized that I really needed to start to figure out what it was that I wanted to do with my life after college. I started to research different majors inside The School of Communication. That is when I found Public Relations, and fell in love with it.
While Public Relations is my major, I’ve noticed how much all the majors in The School of Communications are similar to each other. They all have their own unique quirks but they are all so similar at the same time.
Here are some of the things about being a communication major that appealed to me:
By: Sarah Johnson
I have come to learn that the field of Public Relations (PR) is similar to theatre. Just like theatre, PR is all about knowing your audience, telling a story, daring to be creative, and knowing that the show must go on. I can attribute much of my personality and success throughout my time at ISU to my background in the performing arts. As I near the end of my undergraduate career, I am still finding ways that my nearly two decades of theatrical performing experience have equipped me with tools necessary to be a successful leader in the world of PR.
At the start of the pandemic, I seized an opportunity to edit virtual and hybrid productions for a local Children's Theatre Company. Though I had little to no experience working as a video editor, I rose to the occasion and knew that the show must go on! Through this role, I have become an expert at using Adobe Premiere Pro and Adobe Audition, two softwares that I may use in my career in PR.
Though the arts may be dark at the moment, there is still hope, and that is shown through the hard work of these children. People in all walks of life within the arts and entertainment industry are out of a job right now and need our help. Actors, crew, publicists and marketers and many more need emergency financial assistance. To donate to these workers during these difficult times, donate to The Actors Fund at www.actorsfund.org.
By: Alana Guggenheim
Hello to all members, both new and returning! My name is Sarah Lisewski and I am the current president of PRSSA at Illinois State University.
When I came to ISU in Fall 2017, I was a proud Mass Media major. I thought that it was the major for me, and I was sold. One semester in, though, I started to hear people talk about Public Relations. I was slightly interested but unsure. That is when I decided to take the Introduction to Public Relations course in the fall of my sophomore year. This course opened my eyes to all of the amazing things I could do with PR.
It was in that same Intro to PR course that I learned about the Public Relation Student Society of America. The president at the time was the Teaching Assistant for the class and the second I saw her I knew that she was someone that I wanted to be like. She became almost like an idol for me to look up to throughout the semester. I quickly joined PRSSA and did everything I could to be involved.
PRSSA is a great space to grow as a confident pre-professional and student. Over the past two years, this has proven to be very true for me. Not only have I been able to connect with an abundance of professionals, I have also gained an immense amount of confidence, not only as a Public Relations student but also as a person in general.
This organization has provided me with more experiences than I could have imagined when I first joined. I have gained internship opportunities, toured numerous agencies, held multiple leadership roles, and most of all, I made a great group of friends that I could not imagine navigating the world without.
Our faculty advisor Dr. Becky Hayes once said to me that the “PRSSA mafia” is strong, and that could not be more true. The people that I have met through this organization are going to be there for me through every professional difficulty that I will face for the rest of my life. Whether I am FaceTiming our Progressive Image Director multiple times a day to get advice, or relying on the rest of my executive board to make me laugh, I will always be grateful for the people that PRSSA has brought into my life.
PRSSA doesn’t only help you become a great pre-professional, it also just brings an immense amount of happiness into your life.
When it comes to voting it may seem like one of the simplest acts to do because all you have to do is fill in a circle, however that is not the case. Voting has changed over the course of each decade from allowing colored people, to vote to allowing women to vote, to changing the age from 21 to 18 and things continue to change.
The question now may be what makes me qualified to talk to you about voting? I have been an election judge since the primary election of 2016, and I have worked a total of eight elections.
The general election of 2020 will be the first election that I do not work since I am away for college. Throughout these past four years, I have voted in every election. I have attended numerous trainings. I have worked every station that you see at your polling place. I have done voter check in, on-site voter registration, ballot distribution and the provisional table.
The last election that I worked was on March 17, during those times the coronavirus was a huge concern. We wiped down every ballot box after it was used and every pen as well. Every voter entered their own ballet into the tabulator. Voting booths were six feet apart and when waiting in line voters were six apart as well. The pandemic is no excuse to not vote. We have held an election during a pandemic before and we can do it again. Just make sure you wear your mask to this one.
Here are my tips and requests you should consider when going to vote.
#1 Get there early. Polling places open at 6 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. in the state of Illinois.
#2 Expect to wait in line. This may not always be the case but with the pandemic, the number of booths is limited along with space. My recommendation is to go as soon as the polls open
#3 When checking in, please consider that over 90% of election judges are citizens that are now retired. Please be loud and clear when giving them your first and last name
#4 Please follow all signs too allow voting to run smoothly within the polling place
#5 Do not interrupt other voters in their ballot booths
#6 Be kind to your election judges. We love it when you ask us how our day has been so far.
#7 In the state of Illinois it is illegal to ask for an ID when checking in at your polling place. HOWEVER, if the election judge is having difficulty searching your name in the database, I recommend that you give them your ID. Unfortunately, names may be registered incorrectly or in a different format that the system does not recognize. By providing your ID, we can search up the correct name and allow you to vote.
#8 My biggest tip of all is to take your time. You are not being timed, it is not a race, take all the time you need.
#9 May be the most important one; it is illegal in the state of Illinois to talk about the individuals on your ballot when inside of your polling place. If you do so, you will be asked to stop. If you continue, you will be removed by the police and be arrested. You may bring information with you however it cannot be out in public, it cannot be on any clothing, on your head or on your face. You may search up candidates when at your voting booth and can search any other questions on your ballot.
#10 Brag to your friends about voting. Because did you really go and vote if you did not post it on social media?
We are currently living in times where we question if our vote matters and if our vote will be counted. As an eligible voter you have the right to do everything you can to be able to vote. You can register and vote on Election Day, all you will need is two forms of ID, one with your current address. If your polling place is giving you some difficulty, please call your Board of Elections office.
Happy and safe voting!
By: Yasmin Carrillo
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.