Imani Henry is a sophomore public relations major at Illinois State University with a minor in financial planning. As a first generation college student, Henry aspires to work for UNICEF and hopes to study abroad in Ireland upon graduation.
Tell us about yourself.
I am a first generation college student from Evanston, Ill. I began my journey as a Redbird last fall. Aside from being a PRSSA member, I am also a tour guide for East Campus. I hope to become a resident assistant next fall and study abroad in Ireland over the summer. I initially attended an ISU PRSSA Chapter meeting as an assignment for COM 178, Introduction to Public Relations. However, I instantly fell in love with the members and atmosphere this professional organization has and knew I wanted to become a member.
Why do you want to study abroad in Ireland?
Since grammar school, I have been obsessed with the Irish culture and secretly wanted to become a river dancer. I recently discovered there is a summer study abroad program to Ireland for 17 days, which is like a dream come true. I love that its only 17 days because it’s long enough to experience Ireland but short enough that I will not become homesick.
What are you involved in on campus?
I am involved in UNICEF, which is new to campus this semester. Last semester, I joined the Pre-Law Club because I have a passion for law and the justice system.
Describe your dream job.
I would love to work in agency or nonprofit public relations, but my dream job is to work for UNICEF on the crisis management team. I would relocate anywhere just to work for UNICEF.
What attracted you to UNICEF?
Last semester, I watched a documentary in a politics class about couples in America who were in the process of adopting children internationally but endured complications due to the faulty system. The documentary showed videos of orphanages in Vietnam, Haiti and Africa. It was painful to see images of malnourished children being treated more like farm animals then human beings. After the earthquake in Haiti, UNICEF intervened by successfully uniting couples with children that had been in the process of adopting for months, some even years. UNICEF changed the lives of those children. After watching the documentary, I knew UNICEF was the organization for me.
Who inspires you?
Lauren Conrad—she has done public relations for Teen Vogue and written a best seller. She is not only a well-known blogger but also a fashion designer partnering with Kohl’s. Lauren Conrad has accomplished many things that I admire.
What's one change you would like to see occur in your lifetime?
I want to see equality between men and women. I cannot wait to see the day where women and men have the same pay rate. We have come a long way since the women’s suffrage movement but we still have a long way to go.
Questions composed by Kellian Reed
Cindy Kirchner is a one-of-a-kind public relations major at Illinois State University. Through her abundant school spirit and love of sports, Cindy has been able to bundle her personality and passions into an internship that will set her up for a professional career in sports public relations.
Tell us about yourself.
I was born and raised in the small town of Nashville, Ill. I have two sisters, Becky and Allison, and one brother, Joe. I also have two dogs, Miaya and Libby. I have been a cheerleader for almost my whole life. I am currently an Illinois State University cheerleader and captain. Being a cheerleader for ISU has been an amazing experience that has allowed me to make many close-knit relationships. I love this school, and looking back I would never choose to go anywhere else.
What are your responsibilities as alumni chair, and why did you pursue this position?
As the alumni chair, I am responsible for developing and maintaining relationships between alumni and current Chapter members. I am also responsible for developing the alumni newsletter that is produced every semester. The newsletter features current Chapter accomplishments and alumni updates. Being the alumni chair is a great opportunity to network with professionals who love ISU just as much as I do. It's great to see what alumni have done with their degrees and how they apply what they learned to the workplace.
Tell us about your time as a member of the ISU Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA).
Last year was my first year in ISU PRSSA, and I’ve loved every minute of it. I have had many experiences and gained friends that have helped me grow as a person and professional. Last year, I took advantage of every agency tour, networking and volunteer opportunity. I am more prepared for the professional world because of the knowledge and skills I have gained through the Chapter sessions and committees. I have a better understanding of what opportunities to look for in the professional world and how important it is to stay connected with everyone you meet.
What internships have you had?
In the summer of 2014, I interned for Fabulous Affairs as an event coordinating intern. Fabulous Affairs coordinates weddings and creates materials such as invitations, programs and table cards. I assembled work for clients, made their invitations and programs, and met with prospective clients about design elements for their event. I enjoyed working with clients and seeing their ideas come to life in the finished product. I now intern for Redbird Athletics as a Red Alert/marketing intern. I run the social media accounts for Red Alert and have designed material for games. Since I have started working for Redbird Athletics, there has been an increase in game day attendance and engagement. I have an interest in sports public relations, and this internship seems like the perfect start to my professional career. It is a great work environment, and I am truly thrilled to have this opportunity.
What advice would you tell your freshman self?
Get involved ASAP! The sooner you get involved, the more opportunities you will have. I didn’t look for internships until my junior year and that was a big mistake. As a freshman, there are multiple opportunities to learn about the profession of public relations. It does not hurt to apply for internships and gain application experience.
By Chloe Kasper
Five days of networking with professionals, non-stop tweeting and an abundance of coffee, what more could a public relations student need? The Illinois State University (ISU) Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) attended the PRSSA 2014 National Conference in Washington from Oct. 10 to 14, where we gained the experience of a lifetime.
The Conference opened with a social event titled, "An Evening at the Embassies." This opportunity was the first for Chapters to connect, eat and dance the night away. Saturday morning started bright and early with the keynote speaker, Pam Jenkins, president of Powell Tate. Her insight and words of wisdom grasped everyone’s attention, but her final statement in the conclusion of her speech, “Millennials are ready to lead; I've seen it,” earned herself a standing ovation.
This enthusiasm was the perfect entrance for a Conference tradition, Chapter roll call. Each Chapter creates a chant to show their school spirit. ISU PRSSA created a remix to Eminem's "Just Lose It" that instantly became a crowd favorite.
Throughout the remainder of the Conference, our Chapter had the chance to attend sessions on different aspects of public relations. When we weren't filling ourselves with new knowledge, we went out to sightsee in Washington. Sightseeing included a trip to the National Mall, which included the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial and other war memorials. It was truly a sight! Other places visited by Chapter members were some of the Smithsonian museums, the Smithsonian National Zoo and Georgetown.
As our time in Washington came to a close, we spent time with our ISU PRSSA Faculty Adviser, Dr. Smudde. At lunch we reflected on our favorite sessions, the best thing we had seen and our overall experience. Needless to say, our Chapter had an amazing time in Washington and learned about the direction of our future profession. Everyone should take advantage of the opportunity to attend PRSSA National Conference as a member. It is an unforgettable experience that benefits all who attend.
By Cindy Kirchner
Junior Jackie Salamanca’s passion for communication is contagious. This passion has led her to leadership and involvement opportunities that have enriched her experience as an ISU student, and made her a good example for new communication majors.
Tell us about yourself.
I am from the suburb Lincolnwood, Ill., located on the north side of Chicago. My major is communication studies with an emphasis on organizational leadership. I chose this major because it focuses on the people side of business. I love that this major allows me the opportunity to work in several different areas and not be pinned down to one particular career. I also chose to be a communication major because communication is an important skill to have in all careers.
What is your dream job?
I would love to work in corporate communication because I can see myself working in a fast-paced and dynamic environment. A corporate setting would allow me to use and develop a variety of skills. I love how corporate communication also has marketing and management elements.
What organizations and clubs have you been involved in while at ISU?
During fall 2013, I was a part of the public relations and external staff at the student radio station, 103.3 WZND. I am a member of the ISU Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America. I am happy I joined this organization for the new and endless opportunities for professional development.
What are you passionate about?
I have a deep passion for communication. I have grown and matured from understanding all aspects of communication. I see the way people work, and it gives me an understanding of how organizations work and most importantly, why people are the way they are. It is this understanding that makes communication a beautiful skill.
Do you have a favorite memory or experience from your time at ISU?
I do not have an exact favorite memory. I would say that each year I spend at ISU becomes an amazing memory for me and in turn a wonderful experience. I think the transformation from a lost, shy freshman to becoming a confident and determined junior has been my favorite experience by far because of how much I have grown and learned.
Questions composed by Allie Trosper
Yes or no? In the context of sexual consent, these words carry great power. However, it is believed that one of these responses is more apt than the other to protect victims of rape and condemn those accused of rape. For years the word “no” has been pivotal to the consent movement surrounding cases of sexual assault, made popular by the saying, "no means no." However, in cases of sexual assault where victims are unable to give consent by saying no, this word falls short of its desired goal. Recognizing these problems, the state of California has taken steps to ensure that victims of rape and assault are protected in cases where they are physically unable to give consent.
On Sunday, Sept. 28, California Gov. Jerry Brown officially signed the "Yes Means Yes" bill into law. This bill has been widely debated and faces heavy scrutiny because it challenges the “no means no” ideology. The bill states that in any sexual act both partners need to give consent in the form of a “yes” instead of a"no."
The signing of this bill has benefited women by providing a clear definition of consent. The law also clarifies what is considered both sexual misconduct and rape. The “Yes Means Yes” law states, “lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent, nor does silence mean consent.” This clarification and strict definition of rape is expected to have a large impact on the number of sexual assault cases reported at colleges in California. There are numerous individuals affected by this new law because about one in every four college women are said to experience sexual assault.
The public relations efforts promoting the signing of the bill specifically targeted college-aged women. Much of the promotion utilized social media and brought key points of the bill to public attention. This promotional strategy spurred conversation in other states about the problems surrounding consent in cases of rape and sexual assault. Targeting the right publics and where they will look for information has allowed this law to be known throughout the United States, connecting all women to a legislative cause that seeks to change more than just language.
Public relations teams built off of this law’s momentum and developed the White House’s new public service announcement (PSA),“1 is 2 MANY.” This PSA targets a male audience. The inclusion of male celebrities and leaders speaking out against sexual assault is intended to increase the number of men in support of the “Yes Means Yes” law. The precedence this law has set will not be overlooked thanks to the strategies which have not only spread awareness about the new law, but also the information included in the law and how it can protect both women and men.
By Chloe Kasper
Involved and dedicated senior public relations major, Dana Gleason, is active around the Illinois State University campus, taking part in several organizations during the week while remaining attentive to her studies. When she is not in her public relations classes, you can find Gleason at the ISU Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America meetings Tuesday nights or interning for the School of Communication (SoC) and Office of Admissions.
When I asked Gleason why she chose the public relations major, she said, “I was encouraged to take Communication (COM) 178, ‘Introduction to Public Relations.’ After taking the course, I fell in love with public relations.”
“Introduction to Public Relations” did more for Gleason than help her decide her major; it helped her excel within the field through her involvement in PRSSA. Since her freshman year, Gleason has been an active member of the ISU Chapter. She discovered ISU PRSSA through a COM 178 class assignment, the “Get Involved” project. This assignment requires students to attend a registered student organization’s meeting and write about their experience. While attending her first ISU PRSSA meeting, Gleason made a friend within her major. They decided to continue attending PRSSA’s weekly meetings. For Gleason, this project served as the stepping stone to her extensive involvement within ISU PRSSA.
Freshman year Gleason worked with ISU PRSSA’s development committee by assisting in planning events. Gleason is currently involved in ISU PRSSA’s student-run firm, PRogressive Image (PRi), where she manages the Forever Redbirds account. Gleason has also served as the student ambassador for the Alumni Office where she managed social media.
When Gleason is not devoting her time to ISU PRSSA, you can find her working at one of her two internships, both of which are at ISU. Gleason is a SoC promotion and development intern. She handles the SoC’s social media accounts. She is also an intern for the Office of Admissions, where she manages its social media.
Gleason’s advice for freshmen public relations students is to attend several public relations events at ISU, join and become involved within ISU PRSSA, and start your first internship as soon as possible.
“Networking as often and early as you can is important,” said Gleason. She also suggested that public relations students should make relationships with their professors and ask them for advice because they really appreciate it.
Post-college plans for Gleason include moving to a big city and working at a public relations agency. If she cannot work at an agency, she wants to work for a nonprofit organization or sports team.
After speaking with Gleason and learning about all of the hard work and involvement she has done during her years at ISU, I believe that she will achieve great things in her future career. Because of her involvement within PRSSA and multiple internships, Dana Gleason is a role model for all public relations students.
Interview by Ashley Luecke
The Illinois State University (ISU) Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) embraced the fall season by holding its first mentor-mentee social of the year on Sunday, Sept. 28 at Director of PRogressive Image (PRi) Nick Hebert’s home.
The mentor-mentee program that ISU PRSSA offers allows new members to feel comfortable while adjusting to both their classes and ISU PRSSA. Mentors offer guidance to familiarize their mentee with the public relations industry and professional development opportunities.
Attendees enjoyed sitting around a bonfire, eating grilled food, and familiarizing themselves with their mentees and mentors outside of Chapter meetings at a personal level.
The event was held in an enjoyable, relaxed environment.
“My favorite part of the social was getting to know the other mentees and mentors and talking to them about public relations and everyday things,” said freshman mentee Caitlin O’Donovan.
Everyone had a great time and is excited to attend more mentor-mentee socials throughout the year. Most importantly, as members of ISU PRSSA, we look forward to growing as professionals in the Chapter this year and beyond.
By Ashley Luecke
Fashion is his passion. His name? Tyler Krivich. This sophomore public relations major has a full plate involving his dedication to membership in the Illinois State University (ISU) Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), work as a resident assistant at Watterson Towers, duties as an Office Admissions crew member and membership of the Students Today Leaders Forever (STLF) organization. Let’s find out how he does it all.
Tell us about yourself.
I was born and raised in Plainfield, Ill. I am a public relation major with a French minor. I joined ISU PRSSA this year, and I am a proud redbird. One of the best experiences I have had as a student at ISU was studying abroad in Paris and seeing La tour Eiffel at night.
You have to devote a lot of time to your role as resident assistant. How do you balance your responsibilities at ISU?
Yes, it can be challenging to balance my studies, resident assistance duties and the other obligations I have at ISU. On the other hand, I am grateful for the chance to expand my leadership abilities and employ my creativity through all of these opportunities. I enjoy being a resident assistant because I can design door decorations and bulletin boards, and put together programs for my residents.
Why did you choose the public relations major?
I came to ISU as a theater major but quickly realized that I lacked the passion I used to have for the art. I switched my major to English since it was my favorite subject before college. Still, I was unsure about the English major. After I expressed these uncertainties to my academic advisor, he suggested I look into communication. Last spring I took introductory courses for both public relations and mass media and attended COM Week. After immersing myself in this field I instantly I knew public relations was for me. I have a passion for people, social media and writing.
What is your dream job?
I want to work at a fashion public relations agency. Both Anna Wintour, editor in chief of Vogue Magazine, and fashion icon Kim Kardashian inspire me.
Questions composed by Imani Henry
Ready or not, National Conference is here! The Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) 2014 National Conference, Intersections: The Meeting Place of Communications and Culture, welcomes all PRSSA members. This year’s Conference is in Washington from Oct. 10 to 14. Setting the tone for national unity, the five-day professional development journey includes agency and career tours, nationally-recognized keynote speakers, numerous panels, specific area-related workshops, networking events and socials.
It is common for students to feel under prepared for the five-day event that will transform their career paths. In an environment with endless opportunities, you may be wondering how to look the part, what items to have with you, and what to say as you grow, network and immerse yourself in the public relations world. As the crucial event creeps around the corner, it is important to know what essential tools to have by your side. Some of these tools are right at your fingertips, and there are others you don’t need to pack! So, let’s break it down.
1) Resume: Bring several copies of an updated resume. As mentioned before, there will be hundreds of public relations professionals at the Conference who are interested to see the next generation. Be prepared to show potential employers what you have to offer; this will set you apart from your peers right at the start.
2) Business cards: Carry copies of your personal card. This is a quick way to build your network and share your information with peers and possible employers.
3) Elevator speech: The 30 seconds you have to sell yourself must be perfected before this event. It can be difficult to set yourself apart while in a sea of fellow PRSSA members. So, take some time before the Conference and create an elevator speech that shows your individualism and make you stand out!
4) Pad-folio: Stay organized at the Conference and have a pad-folio or briefcase with you. This is a great way to carry your resume, business cards and pens while keeping track of the information handed your way.
5) Phone charger: Need I say more? Conversing with several people, constantly updating your social media and capturing memories will demand that your smart phone is fully charged and in the palm of your hand to keep you in the loop.
6) Twitter handle: Social media is where conversations begin and grow! Create a professional Twitter account so you can participate in the conversations occurring throughout the Conference. This is a great way to network with fellow members and public relation professionals who have endless amounts of information to share. If you are already on Twitter, follow @prssanc and use #PRSSANC!
7) Professional dress: Don’t forget this is a formal event that requires both business casual and business professional dress. If you have any questions, ask those around you who are more familiar with this dress code or look online for examples.
8) Open mind: Last but not least, having an open mind at the Conference will make the journey more enjoyable and insightful. Attend a workshop or tour an agency that would not typically be interesting to you to broaden your experience. Where else will you have the opportunity to sample everything the public relations industry has to offer?
Take advantage of your PRSSA membership and grow with your Chapter this year at the PRSSA 2014 National Conference. This is a milestone for your professional development and an opportunity that can change the path of your future. It takes meeting the right people, making the right friends and learning about the right field to kick-start your successful career.
By Ali Geary
Members of the Illinois State University (ISU) Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) traveled back in time Friday, Sept. 26. The theme of the night was glory days, and members were encouraged to dress up as high school stereotypes. Costumes included jocks, cheerleaders, goths, nerds and a variety of more creative ones. Over the course of the night, members traveled to three apartments decorated as a classroom, pep rally and prom.
The first apartment was the classroom, complete with a chalkboard and school supply cutouts on the wall. The “Mean Girls” inspired “Burn Book” excerpts completed the theme. Everyone then moved to the second apartment, which was decorated like a pep rally. Prom court nominations were announced and voting for prom king and queen began. The last apartment was prom and included a photo booth. At this apartment, the votes were counted, and prom king and queen were announced. Seniors Nick Hebert and Analia Voss were crowned king and queen of glory days. The evening provided a social, less formal opportunity for members to spend time together and get to know each other while reminiscing about their glory days.
By Lauren Vahldick
Senior Analita Voss is the Forever Redbirds account executive for the student-run firm, PRogressive Image, for the Illinois State University Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America. PRi is a great committee to get involved in for members interested in agency public relations because it offers opportunities to do hands-on work with real clients.
Tell us about yourself.
I am a senior public relations major and joined ISU PRSSA last year after I transferred. I joined the relations committee and frequently wrote for the Chapter’s blog, PRecisely PR. When I was not blogging, I worked at Chipotle. I also love to travel. Many students study abroad in college, but I have grown up traveling with my family. My mom believed it was important to learn outside the classroom. I was not homeschooled, but she thought it was better for me to explore the world and learn about it from my own perspective. I also play piano, have my own personal blog and am a huge "Doctor Who" fan.
What is Forever Redbirds?
Forever Redbirds is an organization aimed at seniors encouraging them to give back to ISU after they graduate. The donations can go to any registered student organization (RSO) on campus or to the school. Forever Redbirds encourages seniors to donate the amount of their graduation year. For example, those who graduate in 2015 are encouraged to give $20.15. Many students choose to direct their gifts toward student resources like the Student Fitness Center or Tech Zone. PRi is spreading the word about Forever Redbirds to seniors through social media by educating them about who we are and what we are doing. My goal for Forever Redbirds is to make donating back to ISU a tradition because even after you graduate, you will forever be a redbird.
What do you hope to gain as an account executive in ISU PRSSA?
I hope to gain more knowledge about my major. Public relations is an evolving field, and the best way to learn about it is to get involved with internships or other professional development opportunities. Of course we all need the basics, but the cool thing about public relations is that you learn as you go. ISU PRSSA provides members in PRi the experience of doing what an agency does but at a learning pace.
What is your dream job?
I would love to do international public relations. It would be really cool if I could do freelance work. Freelance public relations would allow me to do my own thing, run my own show and would provide endless traveling opportunities.
Where do you see yourself in the future?
Definitely not in Illinois! I don’t know whether I will be in the U.S. or not but I know I will be doing something spectacular.
Questions composed by Deja Whitt
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.