Senior member Nick Hebert leads the student-run firm, PRogressive Image, for the Illinois State University Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America. PRi takes on real world clients from the Bloomington-Normal, Ill., area. As a former account executive, Hebert uses his skills and experience to lead PRi.
Tell us about yourself.
I’m preparing to graduate in May, and I’m currently looking for exciting career opportunities. Those two things pretty much sum up my life at this point. I’m also focusing on enjoying my last semester of college by being around my friends and family at ISU.
What do you do for ISU PRSSA?
I am the PRogressive Image director this year, and it is the first year that this position has been on the executive board. It has been both challenging and rewarding finding my place within the executive board. Luckily, I work with an incredible leadership team of account executives and an awesome executive board to back me up if I ever need help.
What was different about PRi this year?
I think PRi has really taken a lot of the challenges we faced earlier this year and turned them into learning experiences. PRi is first and foremost a place to learn and grow as a public relations professional, so I think those challenges added to the overall experience. I have learned a ton over the past year, and I have plenty of information to pass along to the next director to make sure they don’t have as many hurdles to jump next year.
Is there any experience that has shaped what you want to do?
Almost every summer since I graduated high school, I have interned with my high school district in its technology department. I learned about the latest technology trends and what it was like to work in the information technology world. Getting experience in a field outside of my major made me realize that you never know where you will end up.
Describe the job you would like to have after college.
It wouldn’t necessarily have to be in public relations, or even in communication. I would love a job where I’m challenged every day and where I would have the opportunity to work with people. Being surrounded by people who are excited and motivated is important to me.
Why did you choose to become a member of ISU PRSSA?
After I switched to public relations from broadcast journalism, joining PRSSA was a no-brainer. My first meeting was a little intimidating, but I made sure to introduce myself to the executive board and everyone I was working with in PRi.
What are your plans for after graduation?
I hope to find a balance between work and personal life, pursue some more time-intensive hobbies, and read a few good books.
Questions composed by Alex Danko
Michelle Czosnyka is an exemplary public relations major who is an active leader on campus. Czosnyka transferred to Illinois State University last year as a junior and will be graduating in May. She first heard of the ISU Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America for her “Get Involved Project” in COM 178: Introduction to Public Relations. After learning more about ISU PRSSA, she became a dues-paying member to take advantage of all the opportunities the organization has to offer.
Besides her involvement with ISU PRSSA, Czosnyka is involved with Students Today Leaders Forever, a service organization that is student led and funded. Over spring break, she is attending a service trip called the Pay it Forward Tour. She is leading a bus with four other students as they travel to seven cities in nine days to do various service projects. Czosnyka strongly believes in giving back through the little things that we are capable of doing.
Czosnyka also stays busy as an intern for ISU’s athletics communications department. She has worked work on projects for ISU sports teams. Her favorite memories from this internship are being on the football field during a game and the first kickoff of the season.
Upon graduation in May, she would love to continue working in sports and possibly work for a public relations agency managing sports related clients. Her internship opportunity at ISU has helped Czosnyka feel capable and ready to pursue a career in sports.
Not only does Czosnyka find motivation from her internship with athletics communications, but also from her family. She is thankful for everything her parents have done for her and wants to prove that she is deserving of her degree. Czosnyka is a very self-motivated individual that will not have opportunities handed to her but earn them every step of the way.
Czosnyka described her approach to life in a quote by Winston Churchill:
“It’s not enough to have lived. We should be determined to live for something.”
Czosnyka is a caring and giving individual who not only wants to pursue her dreams, but also gives back along the way and shows she truly does live for something.
Interview by Alex Danko
Brock Zimmermann is a junior public relations major with a minor in history. Zimmermann has many interests in the field and joined the Illinois State University Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America to focus his career path and explore his interest in public relations.
Tell us about yourself.
I enjoy doing freelance graphic design and other miscellaneous art projects. I also spend a lot of my free time doing community service and attending ISU sporting events. I’m a huge animal lover, so hopefully after graduation I’ll be able to adopt a cat and maybe a chameleon. During my time at ISU, I’ve become pretty good at cooking ramen noodles.
Why did you decide to join ISU PRSSA?
After changing my major three times, I decided my junior year was time to start figuring out my plan after graduation. I attended an ISU PRSSA meeting to learn more information about the industry I could enter. Several of my friends from my study abroad trip were influential in persuading me to become a member of ISU PRSSA, which helped me decide to change my major to public relations.
What are your career aspirations?
I have many different career interests, and I hope to have a chance to work in the music, sports, advertising, and nonprofit industries. I’m helping my brother manage his music career and hope to one day be a promoter and manager for many musicians.
What is your dream job?
I would love to do something with sports marketing. My dad’s side of the family is from Wisconsin, so I grew up a die-hard Packers and Brewers fan. I’d love to work for promotions or daily operations with either team.
What other clubs or organizations are you involved in?
I’m the vice president for Alpha Tau Omega fraternity, and I was formerly a member of the Student Government Association before I started my internship with Great Plains Media.
Who inspires you?
My mother is my biggest inspiration. She raised my brother and me as a single parent while working full time and taking care of my grandparents. As an ISU alumnus, my mom played a large role in helping me decide to attend ISU.
What is something most people do not know about you?
Most people don’t know that I’m a huge soccer fan. The two teams I follow the most are Paris Saint-Germain in France and Newcastle United in England. The World Cup was occurring when I studied abroad so I watched several games in Europe. As a kid, I played soccer for 10 years, but most people are surprised by this fact since I played football and wrestled in high school.
What is your favorite memory of ISU so far?
My favorite memory at ISU so far has been studying abroad in Paris through the School of Communication. It was a chance for me to experience my familial roots, test out my language skills, and meet new people. Every activity I did abroad was its own interesting adventure. I would have never guessed how much I would learn while studying abroad.
Questions composed by Melissa Guerra
Viewers from all over the country tuned in to watch the Super Bowl XLIX on Feb. 1. In fact, according to Nielsen Ratings, it reached an audience of nearly 115 million people. Twitter stated that there were an estimated 28.4 million tweets posted about the game, and Facebook saw nearly 70 million people converse about it as well. Clearly, the companies that paid millions for their spots during the game received their money’s worth and then some.
Nationwide was one such company that paid millions to run its spot. Nationwide’s “Make Safe Happen” commercial stars a young boy who discusses things he will never be able to do—like learn to ride a bike, get “cooties,” or travel the world—because he died. The commercial cuts to various accidents in the home, like a TV that has fallen over, or an overflowing bathtub. We then learn that preventable accidents in the home are the number one cause of death for children in the U.S.
Reaction to the commercial was instantaneous, generating more than 300,000 tweets, according to Twitter. Many viewers expressed outrage that such a “buzzkill” of a commercial was aired during what many consider to be a family event. Viewers’ complaints ranged from the pain of having to watch the commercial alongside their children, to how it stood in stark contrast to other commercials, such as Microsoft’s ad that portrayed children as remarkable.
Nationwide responded the same day with a press release stating that it knew the ad would “spur a variety of reactions.” Nationwide has worked for 60 years to educate the public on how to prevent accidents in the home from happening. Adam Tucker, president of Ogilvy & Mather Advertising (the agency that created the ad for Nationwide), felt that this ad could shake things up enough to capture attention and raise awareness of at-home accidents.
“In 60 seconds, we can probably bring more attention, awareness, and action around this issue than we have in 60 years,” said Tucker at an executive meeting where CNN was present.
The ad certainly achieved the goal of grabbing attention and raising awareness of at-home accidents. Hundreds of thousands tweeted about the ad, effectively starting the conversation for Nationwide. In Nationwide’s press release, the company also stated that thousands of people visited MakeSafeHappen.com, the website Nationwide touts in the commercial, after the spot aired on TV.
Among the 300,000 tweets viewers sent out, some positive feedback was reported. Some viewers even thanked Nationwide for bringing a tough issue out into the open rather than brushing it under the rug.
“We wanted to stage an intervention and start a conversation,” said Matt Jauchius, chief marketing officer for Nationwide, in an interview with NPR. “If we save one child as a result of what we did in the Super Bowl, it is more than worth it.”
It is important to realize that although running this spot generated conversation about preventable accidents, Nationwide still took a huge risk in airing the commercial because of its startling content. The lasting impact of this commercial on Nationwide’s reputation is something that will need to be continually monitored by public relations, marketing, and crisis teams within the organization. Nationwide will need to keep an eye on public perception and the conversation that ensues on both social and traditional media in the months to come.
By Miranda Pietschman
Tackling the issue of hacked social media accounts and privacy loss is something all public relations professionals should learn how to do. The hacking of celebrity and high-profile organizations’ social media accounts is not a rare occurrence. On Sunday, Feb. 8, Chipotle’s Twitter account fell victim to one of these hacks. A profile picture change from the business logo to a swastika was not the only offense. The tweets that made it onto Chipotle’s platform were even more offensive.
In response to the situation, Chipotle’s new media manager, Joe Stupp, sent out an apology after regaining control of the account. Chipotle was quick to respond and apologized on multiple platforms. As of now, Chipotle is investigating the problem to determine who was involved.
Chipotle’s Twitter is not the only high profile social media account that has been hacked this year. Taylor Swift’s Instagram and Twitter account was hacked at the end of January. Tweets were sent out from her personal account (which have been deleted) to her 51 million followers. In these tweets, two accounts received shout-outs. It has been suggested that these accounts are notorious hackers. Swift reported the hack on her blog and is having Twitter investigate what happened.
Since public relations professionals use social media for branding and communicating purposes, they must remember the risks associated with it. Chipotle’s media manager set an excellent example of effective crisis communication in the wake of its Twitter account being hacked. Stupp quickly distanced Chipotle’s brand from the offensive tweets and apologized. As Stupp and Swift showed, dealing with the effects of being hacked in a timely manner is paramount to a recovery.
By Cindy Kirchner
Since switching majors from criminal justice to public relations, Alex Danko believes he is finally on the right career path. After transferring from Illinois Valley Community College last semester, he joined the Illinois State University Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America. Joining ISU PRSSA allowed Danko to meet many new friends with the same goals and interests as him. Guided by his faith and family, Danko is on a journey to making his dreams a reality.
What is the most important lesson you've learned as a college student?
The most important lesson I’ve learned in college is that making plans is overrated. It’s nice to know what you want to do, but nothing is ever set in stone. Sometimes in college you might plan to do homework this night or study on that night, but other things always come up. You have to learn how to juggle work, school, a social life, and family.
Is there anything people don't know about you?
A lot of people might not know how important my family and faith are to me. I feel like family and faith is sometimes not a top priority for many of my peers, but it’s the way I was raised. One thing that people always find shocking is that I attend church weekly.
What inspires and motivates you?
My family inspires and motivates me. My family has always believed in me. I doubted whether or not I should even go to college at one point, and they encouraged me to do so. My dad has always pushed me to achieve more than he has, whether it was in the gym or choosing a career path. My family means the world to me and without them and their support I wouldn’t be who I am today.
Why did you choose public relations?
I chose public relations when I decided that criminal justice wasn’t for me. I was at the gym one day and I was talking with a family friend who has known me my whole life. He told me that the public relations major is something I should look into because I’m good with people, and I love working with others. His guidance steered me toward this major, and I have been sold on this choice ever since.
What are you involved with in ISU PRSSA?
Recently, I was put on a team to compete in the PRSSA National Organ Donor Awareness Competition, of which I am very proud to be a part. We are working with the Gift of Hope Organ and Tissue Donor Network and 103.3 WZND to promote awareness of organ donation and encourage people to become organ donors. I have also started writing features on members for the relations committee.
What are your plans after graduation?
Upon graduation, I am not sure where I’ll be or what I’ll be doing. I would love to be living in Peoria, Ill., with my brother and working with him at Caterpillar, or working for a public relations agency somewhere close to home.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
In 10 years, I see myself engaged or already married and starting a family. I would also like to be making six figures and playing a lot of golf.
Questions composed by Michelle Czosnyka
Before meetings, the Illinois State University Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America plays music while members gather and converse. A variety of genres is played to suit a variety of people, and it was only a matter of time until our shared love of music brought us together in a new context. On Feb. 8 members of ISU PRSSA gathered to watch the Grammy Awards for this semester’s first mentor-mentee social.
Throughout the night, mentors and mentees conversed over treats ranging from a healthy vegetable tray to PUB II’s infamous cheeseballs. Once the snacking was complete, members cozied up on the couches and glued their eyes to the TV screen to watch Madonna get down with her dancing bulls and Katy Perry sing a heart-wrenching ballad. It is also safe to say that when Beyoncé came on the screen, the room went silent in admiration.
During commercials, members switched their attention to their phones for some Twitter trolling, sharing commentary on the extravagant celebrity outfits (specifically commenting on Rihanna’s pink ball gown), and how Sam Smith was slaying the entire show (walking out with four Grammys to prove it). Popular discussion topics also included Taylor Swift’s dancing, Kanye West’s second speech interruption, and how adorable Ariana Grande and Big Sean are together. Overall, the bonds between mentors and mentees were strengthened. Who would’ve thought that some good music and cheeseballs is all it would take!
By Chloe Kasper
Michael Capriotti, a senior public relations major from Tinley Park, Ill., recently joined the Illinois State University Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America. He had heard nothing but positive things about the organization and wanted to take advantage of the opportunities it provides. Capriotti’s dream job upon graduation in May is to be a pharmaceutical sales representative based out of Chicago, and he is already on his way to doing just that.
Over the summer, Capriotti interned with Astellas, a Chicago-based pharmaceutical sales company. Capriotti said that the internship made him want to pursue a career in pharmaceuticals, and he was offered a job opportunity after graduation. This internship experience is not the only thing that has prepared him to enter the work force. Capriotti credits his preparedness to his experiences at ISU in the School of Communication as well.
“My communication professors have influenced me the most. They have taught me so much. Not just lessons in the classroom, but life lessons that will make me a better individual in all aspects. I am so proud to say that I am graduating from an institution that shaped me into who I am,” said Capriotti.
There is a personal side to Capriotti that has shaped him as well. Capriotti loves wrestling and passes this love onto younger individuals by helping out with wrestling programs. Growing up in a family of five has helped shape him into the individual he is today. Capriotti says that his family is what truly inspires and motivates him in life.
“My parents, Bob and Marcia, are my inspiration. They have taught me integrity, respect, and all my basic morals. They have shown me what it means to be a part of a close family. I also look up to my older brother, Ryan, who is a school teacher. My twin sister, Michele, is autistic. My parents have not only devoted their lives to my brother and I, but also to raising my sister. She inspires me every day to take advantage of the opportunities I have,” said Capriotti.
This young man has a heart of gold and makes ISU PRSSA proud to have him as a new member.
Interview by Alex Danko
Nicole Weishaar is a junior at Illinois State University who sets a stellar example of what it means to be involved on campus. This active redbird is a member of several campus committees, aside from being a member of the ISU Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America. Her hard working spirit is countered by a softer side that loves all things Disney.
Tell us about yourself.
I am a junior public relations major. I am 21 years old from a small town near Chicago. I was a computer technology major for two years but switched to public relations because of its creative aspects and diverse career opportunities.
How did you become a member of the ISU Chapter of PRSSA?
I transferred from Purdue University Calumet to ISU this fall. I immediately fell in love with the university and have had many great experiences so far. I was interested in ISU PRSSA because it's a great opportunity to network and gain knowledge about the different aspects of public relations.
What else are you involved in on campus?
In addition to PRSSA, I am a part of the Honors Program and will study abroad in Germany with other honors members this summer. I am also involved in the University Program Board marketing and spirit and traditions committees. This semester, I became a student recruitment ambassador for the ISU School of Communication.
Describe your dream job.
My dream job has always been to work for Disney. Since I was a kid, it has always been an obsession of mine. I would love to work in corporate communications or customer relations for Disney in Orlando, Florida.
What is a fun fact about you?
I played club soccer for eight years of my life. It's my favorite sport to play, and I even coached children in kindergarten for a recreational league last summer. Also, I've re-watched the entire series of "Gossip Girl" on Netflix five times in a row because it's my favorite show.
Where do you find your greatest motivation?
My mom is one of my greatest motivators. She is my best friend and always pushes me to do more in life as well as take any possible opportunities. I want to make her proud and set the highest standard possible for my younger siblings.
Questions composed by Kellian Reed
Minutes after Go Daddy released its 2015 Super Bowl ad, an uproar ensued on social media. Negative feedback from animal rights advocates caused the website building business to retract its ad.
The ad features Buddy, a lost golden retriever, who bounces out of the back of a truck. The ad shows the owner rejoicing when the puppy finds its way home, and then proceeds to sell the dog on a website made with Go Daddy. The last scene of the commercial shows the owner shipping the dog out; This unexpected conclusion sparked mass outrage. Go Daddy is used to its ads receiving attention for their somewhat scandalous material. However, Go Daddy did not expect the mass backlash it received for its Super Bowl ad.
Animal rights advocates used Go Daddy’s ad as a platform to advance awareness on the “disposable pet” culture and animal euthanization across America. The emotional responses sparked by the ad flooded social media with hashtags such as #NoDaddy. Threats of pulling business were made if Go Daddy didn’t take the ad down.
Go Daddy has been known to create ads that receive a response, good and bad, but never a response such as this time. Go Daddy’s usual tactic of trying to receive attention through whatever means possible backfired in this situation. The website building company found a line it could not cross. The social media fueled backlash in response to this Super Bowl ad supports the modern public relations concept that not all press is good press. Receiving attention and bringing recognition to your brand is a good thing, but there is such a thing as bringing negative attention to your brand. This ad is one that will go down in history and Go Daddy’s recovery efforts will have to be strong to make amends.
By Cindy Kirchner
Davonte Longmire is a senior public relations major with a bright future. Longmire joined the Illinois State University Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America after learning that his friends were a part of the organization. He quickly became involved in ISU PRSSA in order to learn more about public relations.
Longmire loves to draw and has taken multiple art courses. He is a visual person and loves designing and creating art, which made him the perfect fit for the graphic design team. Longmire produces graphics for the socials planned by the development committee. This position developed his time management skills and taught him how to effectively target audiences to attend events through visual communication.
Previously, Longmire served as an event coordinating intern for Voice of the City, a theatre company in Chicago. Voice of the City provided him the opportunity to manage a group of young adults who produced performance pieces and organize and promote them by reaching out to organizations in the community.
Longmire also had the opportunity to study abroad last year. The Novancia Program in Paris was an experience Longmire will never forget. He has also studied in South Africa and believes that going abroad has helped him appreciate the importance of global education and communicating openly.
During his time here at ISU, Longmire wishes he would have been a part of Up Late at State or the University Programming Board. He admires these strong organizations because they produce amazing advertising and their events are very organized.
Longmire’s inspiration is his grandmother. She taught him so much; how to sew and knit, and a great deal about fashion. He sees himself and her as the same person in terms of spirit. Longmire loves his family very much and hopes that as he grows older he will not grow apart from his family.
Post-graduation, Longmire hopes to attend graduate school. The inspiration he gets from his family will motivate Longmire to succeed in his graduate school endeavors, the public relations world, and in life.
By Cindy Kirchner
Deja Whitt strives to open the world’s eyes to diversity and culture. After leaving her home in Calumet Park, Ill., a suburb of Chicago, Whitt’s freshman year has consisted of exploring new opportunities at Illinois State University, such as joining the ISU Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America. Whitt has a strong vision for her future as a public relations professional.
Tell us about yourself.
I’m a freshman public relations major with a Spanish minor. The School of Communication was the deciding factor in my decision to attend ISU, as well as the diversity on campus.
What is your dream job?
I try to steer away from getting my heart set on a specific “dream job” because I feel that it limits my potential. I always strive to keep my mind open to new ideas and opportunities. However, I would love the chance to be a part of a public relations team for a social media platform like Google or Twitter.
What are your goals for when you graduate?
After graduation I hope to jump right into the field. Hopefully, I’ll be able to move somewhere much warmer than Illinois!
What have you gained from joining PRSSA?
Upon first joining ISU PRSSA, I was a little weary about being a freshman because there are certain things I haven’t experienced that older members have. However, it has proved to be a huge learning experience. Surrounding myself with so many talented people who share the same passion for public relations as myself is really cool. I’ve learned so much and made some great friends.
What is something a lot of people do not know about you?
I’m a huge sucker for animals, especially dogs. I have a family of three Shih Tzus back home, one of which is turning 14.
Who inspires you?
My little sister, Nia, is one of my biggest inspirations. She’s only 12, but she’s an old soul. Being an older sister has always been hard work, but now that we are both older I’m more conscious of the fact that she’s looking to me as a role model. She inspires me to be the best possible version of myself not only for me, but for her too.
What is your favorite memory of ISU so far?
I honestly can’t pin point a favorite memory. I try to make the most out of my time here so every day is a new adventure. I can say, however, that living with my best friend, Chloe Kasper, who is also a member of ISU PRSSA, has been an absolute blast. It’s been great being able to share my college experience with her.
What impact would you like to have on others?
One of my favorite quotes is from Jackie Robinson: “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” It would be awesome to be able open people’s eyes to the beauty of diversity and culture. Hopefully I’ll be able to use public relations as a platform to accomplish that.
Questions composed by Taylor Torossy
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.