College is a time for public relations majors to learn countless theories that will never be useful in the professional world, right? Wrong. On Tuesday Sept. 23, members of the Illinois State University Chapter of PRSSA gathered for the Central Illinois PRSA Chapter dinner to hear presenter Chris Orris, a public relations specialist from QuickSilver Edge Communication. Orris told his story of winning a Silver Anvil award by utilizing the tools and theories he learned as a public relations major at ISU.
Orris graduated from ISU in 2011. Formerly a member of ISU PRSSA, Orris began his post college career by teaching English to Korean students through the Chungbuk Office of Education. He began his public relations career while working in video game development with FullByte Games.
In 2013, Orris took a huge risk by taking on a client through the popular funding website Kickstarter. Orris was able to use his gaming knowledge and passion for independent games with his new client, a video game company, Snowed in Studios. With less than two weeks to raise over $30,000, Orris got to work with the help of his mentor and the knowledge he had garnered at ISU. The result was a brilliant campaign that was submitted for a Silver Anvil Award and won!
Orris’s story is remarkable for many reasons. He proved that when push comes to shove the fundamentals learned during your college education are useful. Only two years out of college Orris won an award that most public relations professionals only dream of while also helping an underdog gaming company achieve their goals. Orris’s story was an important reminder to students who will soon be working in the professional world that a campaign does not have to be flashy or complex to be successful; it just has to be done the correct way. Relying on the skills and theoretical concepts you learned from your professors at ISU can result in success and maybe even a Silver Anvil of your own.
By Becca Williams
Second semester senior Becca Williams is wrapping up her time at Illinois State University (ISU) and is ready to begin her professional career.
Williams began studying communication at Morraine Valley Community College and is now graduating from ISU in December. When she's not studying, she enjoys running, exercising, singing, acting and writing.
"I initially wanted to be a theatre major," said Williams. "But when I got to ISU, I grew an interest in organizational communication studies.”
Williams has been an active member in the Illinois State University Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America for two years.
When I asked Williams about her motivations and inspirations, she said the role models she has met through ISU PRSSA have influenced her positively throughout her involvement with the organization.
Outside of ISU PRSSA, she noted her professors have been a major source of inspiration for her. Williams also recognizes her hardworking, doting parents as strong motivators in her life.
Preparing for her post-college plans, Williams is still deciding what particular industry she wants to join but has an interest in sales and recruiting. She eventually hopes to work in human resources. She said she wants to stay in the Chicagoland area for a bit after she graduates because of the many opportunities it offers.
I could tell that ISU PRSSA has played a huge role in Williams’ life. So I asked her, "How important has ISU PRSSA been to you?"
Her first response was a passionate, "I love PRSSA!" She smiled and her eyes lit up when she spoke about how much it changed her life and matured her.
"Even though I'm not a public relations major, ISU PRSSA provided me wonderful opportunities outside of my schoolwork,” said Williams. “The workshops are extremely helpful and there are great volunteer opportunities,” she said.
Williams said she gains a lot of satisfaction from helping others and being around positive, like-minded individuals in ISU PRSSA. She said she will miss this experience after moving on to the next chapter in her life.
Interview By Eric McEwen
The recent CNBC article, “PR Pitch: We’ll Pay You to Mention Our Clients,” by Allen Waslter, brought an ethical dilemma to the public’s attention. This article featured a search result engineering company based out of Texas called Status Labs, which attempted to bribe journalists to add their company’s information to their stories.
In the professional world, it is not unheard of for a company to reach out and promote itself in the media. In these cases, the relationship between the journalist and public relations firm is strictly professional and kept within the limits of the Public Relation Society of America (PRSA) Member Code of Ethics.
According to George Johnson, PRSA Board of Ethics & Professional Standards chair, this situation violated the code.
“Three, if not four, provisions in [our] code of conduct” were violated, said Johnson.
One of the journalists, as mentioned previously, is a writer at CNBC and was faced with a very difficult ethical decision: to write and take the compensation offered by this firm or to alert his supervisors and protect the reputation of his company and the integrity of his journalism career.
This example shows how the PRSA Code of Ethics comes into play in the professional world. This writer knew there would be severe consequences if he accepted an offer from the firm. Not only would his current employment be terminated, his future employment opportunities would greatly diminish as well.
The journalist set a great example when he chose to inform his superiors of the ethics violation and allowed his company to address the issue.
In the public relations industry, ethics is a key component for a successful business and career. In a world where blurred lines in communication frequently appear, your awareness and knowledge of ethics is vital to making smart decisions. Following the PRSA Code of Ethics is not only about saving your career. Ultimately, it’s about doing what is right.
By Emily Raschke
Public relations professionals are now aided in making tough decisions at a speed that keeps up with their ever-changing environment. The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) has partnered with MLSGROUP to make its code of ethics more accessible by creating a mobile app. This app is all about the PRSA Code of Ethics, which promotes advocacy, honesty and loyalty. The mobile app helps public relations professionals make ethical decisions at the touch of a button.
So what’s the big deal? This app proves the public relations industry is advancing with innovative ideas and resources. The convenience of opening an app and receiving instant answers is exactly what public relation professionals need. Also, the principles and guidelines of making ethical decisions will become more apparent to the user.
“The app will give professionals at all levels, who are committed to upholding the principles of ethical communications, easy access to real-time guidance to know that what they’re doing is right and, if they face questions, the support they need to justify their counsel,” said PRSA Chair and CEO Mickey G. Nall, APR, Fellow PRSA.
Did I mention this app can be downloaded for free in Google’s Android Market and Apple’s App Store? Once you’ve done that, the app features an ethics quiz. Take the quiz and see if your communication ethics are ready for the professional world. Ethics-related posts and updates about new standards that offer guidance on emerging ethics issues are also included. If users have questions about the code of ethics or think some changes are necessary, there is email access to a committee that handles refinements.
I highly recommend downloading this app to further educate yourself and understand the importance of ethics. If you find yourself debating if what you are doing is right, the answer can be found right at your fingertips.
By Cindy Kirchner
Eric McEwen enrolled at Illinois State University his junior year as a transfer student studying public relations. As a new student to campus, McEwen wanted to become involved in his field, so he joined the Illinois State University Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America.
Tell us about yourself.
I’m from Bolingbrook, Ill. I attended Joliet Junior College for two years before coming to ISU. I am studying public relations, and I am currently involved with ISU PRSSA. I hope to combine my passion for law with public relations in the future.
Why were you interested in ISU PRSSA?
I came here in August, and ISU PRSSA is one of the main reasons I really wanted to attend ISU. I read that this Chapter would help me hone in on the skills necessary to be successful in this industry. I’ve only heard good things about the public relations program at ISU, and several people emphasized it was a great school for anyone interested in the communication field.
Outside of ISU PRSSA, what are you involved with and interested in?
I want to focus on my studies my first year here at ISU, so I am not involved with any sports or registered student organizations besides ISU PRSSA. I plan to get involved in more organizations in the future. However, you can often find me in the Student Fitness Center. Besides my scholastic endeavors and ISU PRSSA, I enjoy reading, writing poetry, listening to music and playing guitar.
I also have a fascination with exploring the idea of other realms of existence beyond what we currently know about. I love watching documentaries on the unknown, sociology and philosophical ideologies. I am intrigued by what goes beyond the typical mundane human experience. I embrace the fact that life is complex, and I enjoy researching various aspects of reality.
What is your dream job?
My dream job would include both public relations and law. I would love to be a criminal defense attorney. I haven’t decided on my career yet, but I have considered going to law school.
How did you become interested in law?
I've had an interest in criminal defense for quite some time because I love debating and using facts and information I've gathered to defend a claim. The career has a very respectable salary, too.
Where do you find your greatest motivation?
Believe it or not, my greatest motivation is fear. I believe that fear is an active presence around me, but it doesn’t come from within myself. Figuratively, I keep fear caged, and I monitor it to make sure it doesn’t escape and take over my will to persevere. Basically, I live life motivated by the fact that if I fall into the wrong crowds, I will succumb to negative influences. I’m self-motivated and strive to get lost in my education to see the true potential of my capabilities. Some say it’s weird, but I find peace in my own philosophies.
Questions composed by Kellian Reed
The moment I sat down with Kellian Reed, her enthusiasm and spark for life explained what has fueled her many successes thus far. Reed is an outgoing and articulate person who wears many ‘hats.’ Let’s explore her background and see where she envisions her future.
Reed is a senior public relations major with a minor in civic engagement. Her true passion lies in public relations, but she hopes that her studies in civic engagement will bring a multicultural aspect to organizations that struggle to reach everyonepeople of around the world.ll regions . Reed came to Illinois State University as a sophomore. After hearing about the strength of the Illinois State University Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America, she decided to take a stab at public relations her junior year, not knowing exactly what she was getting herself into.
The idea of professional opportunities and building relationships was something that Reedlooked forward to by becoming a member of ISU PRSSA. Since joining her junior year, Reed has been involved in two different committees: development and relations. She spent her time in development her junior year and really enjoyed it. For her senior year she wanted a bit of a challenge and joined the relations committee so she can improve her writing skills and build her portfolio. In addition, Reed attended PRSSA 2013 National Conference where she was able to improve her networking skills. She is attending PRSSA 2014 National Conference and is looking forward to expanding her knowledge and communicating with professionals.
Reed’s past internship experience is extensive and definitely worth noting. Her first internship was with ISU’s Ice Hockey Club team as the marketing and promotions intern. By the end of her time with the team, attendance increased more than 50 percent. Her next internship was at Campus Recreation as a marketing assistant. Reed was responsible for scheduling interviews and collecting new student stories about the Student Fitness Center. In addition, she also ran the Facebook account and Twitter handle. This past summer Reed was a public relations intern at Golin. This internship has been her most rewarding and exciting, she says. At Golin, she worked on consumer brands and business to business. She did traditional media monitoring, such as the New York Times. While monitoring, Reed looked for brand placement, and scanned for new discoveries and products relevant to the clients on which she worked . She was also a part of strategic planning for campaigns of current clients and performed a ton of research. Reed accomplished more than she ever thought she would and learned a lot in her short time there.
When I asked Reed what advice she would give to younger students in the field of public relations at ISU, she gave me a few gems of wisdom. Reed says to never underestimate the power of a conversation. She advocates for building relationships with professors and taking advantage of the guest speakers in all classes.
“Those conversations will help you along your journey,” Reed said. “Also, put yourself out there. Do not be afraid to talk to anyone and stay involved.” Studying abroad is also something she recommends. Reed wishes she would have done this in her time at ISU and regrets not taking advantage of the ability to see another part of the world.
I decided to ask Reed some fun facts about herself. If she could go anywhere in the world it would be Luxembourg because it has beautiful castles and amazing food. Her favorite place is her grandma’s small town in Arkansas with around 500 people. The peaceful scenery with acres of hills and corn is worth the no cell phone service to Reed.
Post-graduation, Reed plans to stick with agency public relations. She loves putting her hands in a lot of pots and thinks that she could go somewhere with agency life. I can tell that Reed’s fiery ambition to change the world for the better will take her far.
Interview by Cindy Kirchner
Seventeen members of the ISU PRSSA Chapter traveled to Chicago for their first agency tour of the year. Members toured Red Frog Events and Current Lifestyle Marketing on Friday, Sept. 5. Despite the early wake-up call and sporadic storms, the group showed enthusiasm for the day’s events.
Red Frog Events
Upon arrival for our first tour of the day, the Red Frog Events office portrayed a campground with a hard-working, busy, but fun energy. Just beyond the main entrance resides a life-sized tree and camper, which employees can use as a workspace. There is also a conference room that fits the campground theme. The floor looks like grass, the conference table resembles a picnic table, and the lights are encased by mason jars hanging from the ceiling.
Leading our tour was President of Passion Cynthia Yang. President of Passion? At Red Frog Events, you have the ability to create your own title. Yang began by explaining how Red Frog Events is an in-house company, meaning it works on its own events. Some of the Red Frog Events brands include Firefly Music Festival, Warrior Dash, American Beer Classic, the Bacon Chase, and more. According to Yang, only a few employees work on an event that can take at least six months to plan.
In the past, the company produced “frogs,” who are full time employees, from “tadpoles,” who were interns. For efficiency purposes, the internship program at Red Frog Events no longer exists. Now, frogs are hired from the outside as opposed to being cycled through the company. The advantages to being a frog strongly outweigh the disadvantages. Yang joked, “The only thing I have to worry about is gaining weight because there is food everywhere!” As a frog at Red Frog Events, you have the opportunity to create special bonds with fellow frogs, travel while working, and you also receive unlimited vacation days. If this wasn’t enough to convince you that Red Frog Events is a fun-loving and caring workplace, then perhaps knowing that employees are allowed to bring their dogs to work will change your mind!
Current Lifestyle Marketing
The atmosphere, employees, and work at Current Lifestyle Marketing definitely live up to its name. The office is modern with pops of color, employees were playing bags during “happy hour,” and the women who led our tour were very up-to-date and knowledgeable on “current” topics.
Four employees welcomed our group and showed us a presentation on the “current” Current Lifestyle Marketing. To expand a campaign to a wider audience and gain more attention, Current Lifestyle Marketing reaches out to celebrities to be spokespeople for the product. Country singer Kellie Pickler and football linebacker Patrick Willis recently promoted the “Rockin’ Refuel” campaign. The opportunity to work on large-scale campaigns such as this one is invaluable, especially for the one lucky intern.
The Current Lifestyle Marketing internship program offers one intern the chance to work on several accounts within different industries. This opportunity provides a way for the intern to find their “niche” within the company and put it to good use. Former ISU PRSSA member Maddie Zenz was the most recent intern and explained the variation in terms of time spent as an intern. She said there is no set limit on how long you are an intern. It is decided based on client needs and your performance.
Both Red Frog Events and Current Lifestyle Marketing taught the group about the importance of organizational culture. Members should take advantage of the agency tours because they are an excellent way to interactively learn about a company.
By Page Crane
In addition to being an active ISU PRSSA member, Kimi Sanden is a student-athlete and public relations intern for the ISU Redbird Hockey team. Who said doing it all was impossible? Sanden proves them wrong by balancing her time with everything she enjoys.
Tell us about yourself.
I am from Manilus, Ill. where I attended high school, danced and ran cross country. I am a part of ISU’s cross country and track teams. I originally wanted to study physical therapy, but after joining ISU PRSSA my sophomore year, I realized that public relations was what I wanted to do. I have studied abroad in London, Paris and Amsterdam, which was the most interesting experience of my life!
How do you maintain in peak physical fitness while balancing school, ISU PRSSA and your internship?
I think it’s important to stay stress-free and learn when to say no. Staying organized is important too. I stay healthy and in shape by running an average of 55 miles each week. In addition to running, I usually go to the gym where I bench-press, squat and do other strength-building exercises. I also try to have a balanced sleep schedule. Sleep is the most important to me because it helps me stay focused and alert with my daily responsibilities.
How has running for ISU influenced the other things of which you are a part?
I feel as if I have gained a better experience of what ISU has to offer. My involvement with track and cross country allows me to have a reputation for hard work amongst my peers. It has given me confidence to branch out and become involved in other things on campus too.
Tell us about your internship with the ISU Redbird Hockey team.
I am the public relations intern for the ISU Redbird Hockey team. This position gives me experience with working in sports public relations. I assist in the creation of press releases, promotions, advertisement, sponsors, professional relationships and more. Outside of weekly intern meetings, I attend every home game where I assist with in-game operations.
Have you experienced a moment in which you overcame a barrier that you thought was insurmountable?
Running is 90 percent mental. Confidence is what enabled me to overcome any doubts I had. You do not realize what you are capable of until you try. I push myself a little bit each time I run. For a while, my longest run had been 11 miles. Over the summer I decided it was time to push my limits. One day as I was running, I decided I would attain that goal and make it to 12 miles. Despite how my body felt or what my mind told me, I knew I could reach it. I apply this mentality to areas other than just running. Your mind is a powerful tool and when you believe in yourself and push your limits the outcomes will surprise you!
Questions composed by Eric McEwen
As former treasurer, it was my responsibility to explain the various benefits of becoming a dues-paying member for the ISU PRSSA Chapter. For only $80, good for one academic year, you can attend agency tours, networking dinners, National and Regional Conference and be eligible for national scholarships and awards.
ISU PRSSA allows you to:
· Enhance your knowledge of the field and apply it in class
· Broaden your network by attending events and being active on social media
· Build your writing portfolio in the relations committee
· Work on fundraising and event planning in the development committee
· Gain experience working with real-world clients with our student-run firm, PRogressive Image (PRi)
· Improve leadership skills in one of the many leadership opportunities available
These features all help launch your professional development in public relations or in any field by exposing you to real-world experiences and networks that will assist you in your career. Students of any major can benefit from joining ISU PRSSA. If you’re looking to do any of the above, please join us at our weekly meetings on Tuesday at 8 p.m. in Schroeder 138.
By Ryan Smart, 2013-2014 treasurer
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.