While entering my freshman year at Illinois State, I made the decision to become a Women’s and Gender Studies minor after I took a class titled, Introduction to LGBTQ Studies. In this class, I was exposed to the incredible history and impact of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer folks. Learning about past social movements, cultures and reflecting on my classmates’ thoughts and ideologies, I was inspired to proceed in this minor. Each semester, I was taking new courses that were not only educating me on the LGBTQ+ community, I was noticing my growth as an individual.
The curriculum is aimed to impact and challenge students. The lessons learned and the language that is cultivated within WGS courses have encouraged me to intervene in situations that generate change. Now proceeding as a WGS minor with a concentration is Queer Studies, my most significant goal is to use my awareness and ability to ask critical questions about myself in a professional work setting.
This past October, PRSA is celebrating Diversity and Inclusion month. By addressing the lack of diversity within the industry and improving the overall culture of public relations, I believe that this organization is taking the right steps benefit marginalized groups and LGBTQ+ professionals. Today, creating an inclusive and diverse public space within agency, corporate or institutional PR, is one of the most important factors that is valued and prioritized. While emerging myself in WGS courses, I have gained a new perspective on re-imagining what true diversity is while attending a public university and becoming more involved in PRSSA.
While developing a campaign or networking with potential employers or colleagues, being educated on recent social issues and movements can raise strategies that will increase consciousness within the industry. Now, the PRSA National Diversity and Inclusion Committee encourages all members to celebrate diversity this month by using #PRDiversity and follow @PRSADiversity to join the conversation.
By: Mia Rusch
“Joker”, directed by Todd Phillips and starring Joaquin Phoenix, was released to theaters October 4. Even though it has been about three weeks since its release and there is less media coverage, there is still something about the movie that speaks to me that needs to be said. Media coverage around such an infamous character as Joker was negative, not about the movie however. The movie itself is getting praises from every critic and casual watcher, and it’s now the highest grossing R-rated movie of all time. Instead, gatekeepers tell the wrong side of the story when it comes to this movie.
The Joker doesn’t have a specific origin, but he ends up as a man beaten down by life and driven to insanity and crime. One trait that adds to this reincarnation is that he is mentally ill. He goes to therapy run by the state hospital and gets medicine. At one point of the movie, funding to the hospital where he gets therapy is cut so he can’t receive therapy anymore. This is where Arthur Fleck starts to become the Joker. The rest of the movie is Joker inciting riots , violence and mayhem.
Leading up to the movie, mainstream media was worried that the movie would start an uprise in violence, specifically mass shootings. It was reported that there were undercover police officers in theaters in New York City in case of attempted mass shootings. Since Joker is a character that incites violence, people feared the movie would incite violence. Even though coverage as died down since its release, a more important topic was never discussed.
Arthur Fleck is severely mentally ill. He struggles in social situations and was delusional throughout the whole movie, but he was never violent. It wasn’t till after he didn’t get medication that he began his descent to madness. The lack of funding in the movie for mental health to me reflects the lack of care we have in our world. There are many days, weeks, or months dedicated to mental health, including Mental Health week early this October, and while those are great things to have more has to be done. The message and coverage of the movie instead focused on the violence instead of the more important topic that affects millions of people everyday. It is a shame that this is no longer the discussion and story for this movie, but kudos to the makers of Joker for telling a story with a message that is incredibly important.
By: Danny Rehm
May 29th was the first day of my internship this summer at David James Group. Chris, my supervisor had e-mailed me a list of what I could anticipate for my first day. As I walked into the office, I had no idea what to except it would be like, would there be someone to greet me? Would I have my own desk? Would there be training for how to do this? How will I know to do anything? Am I even prepared to intern at a Business-to-Business (B2B) agency? But don't worry, I survived.
The first hard task I was given was when I had to research TV stations within certain states where one of our clients was hosting an engineering camp for kids. I had to then call those TV stations every morning at 8 a.m. asking if they had received our news release and would be interested in hearing more about it. This my friends, is called cold calling and pitching. I had a script of what to say, but every phone call was different. Sometimes they wouldn’t answer, sometimes they would be short and hang up quickly and other times, the lucky times, they would be kind and polite and interested in hearing more, but those times were rare. Most of my luck was from my email pitching and was greatly rewarded by being picked up in CBS and ABC on TV. Getting my pitch onto TV was probably the highlight of my career so far. But don't worry, I got to do a lot more at David James besides just calling news stations the second I woke up. I was also in charge of gathering media lists for many different clients, creating email pitches to send out a press release, attend meetings and even a protest (that was pretty fun) and gather data afterwards whether or not we were able to get spots in the media.
I learned a lot in those three short months more than I had learned in the classroom. Although what I had learned in the classroom had helped me in some aspects, a lot of it was hands on learning. One piece of advice my supervisor left me with was “don’t be afraid to take feedback”. In this time period, I think a lot of people assume that what they do is perfect and that there is no room for feedback. But they’re wrong. There is always room for feedback and growing for someone in PR. There would be many times I would send Chris a pitch and he would send it back with many edits. Some people would look at that and be offended that they're work wasn’t exactly right the first time. But in PR it’s always important to get your stuff double, maybe tripled checked. You don’t want to send something with a million grammar errors or mistakes (may have had a few of those in my time), you want it to be the best version possible just like yourself. I don’t think anyone can prepare you for what working in agency is going to be like, every agency and company is different. Everyone has a different way of doing things and I think that’s something really cool about PR, it’s ever changing and you are ever learning.
Recently, stand-up comedian Louis C.K. returned to New York comedy club, the Comedy Cellar after nine months of being disgraced in the comedy/entertainment community due to sexual misconduct being brought to light in the wake of the #MeToo movement. I think what C.K. did was completely disgusting and unacceptable, but should that moronic behavior bar him from the opportunity to reflect on an awful mistake and emerge a better person? This was certainly an intense, controversial topic of discussion on social media.
Many celebrities voiced their opinion on the matter on Twitter and Instagram including “Saturday Night Live” cast member Michael Che on one side of the argument, and comedian Kathy Griffin on the other. Che made a statement saying he doesn’t know any of the accusers, but that everyone should have a chance to speak freely and make a living for themselves. Meanwhile, Kathy Griffin took to Twitter to point out that there are tons of talented, up-and-coming comics trying to get just a few minutes in the spotlight, and Louis C.K. gets to walk right back up on stage, taking that opportunity away from them.
It’s times like this when you take a step back and realize what a huge impact social media has had and the voice it’s given to so many people. Before the likes of Twitter, Instagram, etc., the public outcry over a controversy like this simply wouldn’t be heard. Whatever you might think of the Louis C.K. situation, we’re all empowered by the tiny devices in our pockets to speak publicly and demand change whenever necessary.
On the morning of August 12, 2018 racist and fat shaming tweets surfaced on Twitter belonging to beauty blogger, Laura Lee. In a series of poor actions, the YouTuber, who had amassed over 5 million subscribers, deactivated her Twitter, posted a regularly scheduled video without addressing the situation, and after backlash, uploaded a four-minute apology video.
The apology was not received well by her audience. Her subscriber count dwindled by the minute, with a total loss of over 600,000 followers. Major brands associated with the influencer, including Ulta Beauty, Morphe, Boxycharm, and more, severed ties.
In her apology video, the 29-year-old, who is an Alabama native, blamed the “so vile and disgusting” 2012 tweets on lack of knowledge, despite being 23 at the time of publication. She also claimed that they had been retweeted, when screen shots proved that they were in fact written by her. The backlash was obvious. Viewers did not believe crying for four-minutes on camera was the most effective way to acknowledge the situation. It resonated more with her feeling sorry for being caught, rather than accepting the blame of her mistake.
The infamous apology video received more than 671,000 thumbs down, earning a spot on the top 10 most disliked YouTube videos before being removed from her channel due to her believing “it doesn’t represent me well" as explained in a new video posted on September 25.
Today’s age of social media makes communication more prevalent than ever. One tweet can reach millions of people in a matter of days. Poor communication can have serious repercussions, as evident in Laura Lee’s case. By ignoring the outcry, her reputation was damaged. Now, her image will always be associated with her insensitive tweets and inability to own up to them.
On the morning of September 1, 2018, it was publicly announced that the Chicago Bears had acquired Khalil Mack from the Oakland Raiders via trade. During the three years that Mack spent in Oakland since entering the league he won numerous awards and built one of the more impressive resumés in football. Around the league, Mack had made himself known as one of the premiere defensive talents of this generation.
The Chicago Bears currently have one loss and one win on the season and seem to be picking up steam as the defense has been dominant. As an organization, they have already seen return on their investment. The Bears, after two weeks of NFL football lead the league with 10.5 sacks. According to Bleacher Report’s Winners and Losers from the Blockbuster, Khalil Mack Trade by Gary Davenport, the move to add Mack to the roster was bold but intelligent. As Davenport says, “General manager Ryan Pace demonstrated that he believes the Bears are close enough to contending that he's willing to sacrifice the future for the present.”
Behind strictly the business of the sport, it is evident that this trade was necessary to resurrect a sense of pride in the Chicago fan base. Since the Bears’ last playoff trip in 2010, Chicago has only enjoyed a singular winning season. Furthermore, since the 2013 season, the Bears only have 19 wins compared to 45 losses. In the article mentioned above, Davenport even referred to Bears fans as “beleaguered,” stating that “Over the past decade-plus, fans of the Chicago Bears have taken a beating.”
The upper management of the Chicago Bears organization have suffered a loss of support from its fan base due to a losing culture brewing in Chicago, and decided they needed to stop the bleeding. I think that with this trade, the organization had more than just on-field concerns in mind. Adding Khalil Mack to the roster was a Public Relations stunt between the franchise and its fans with a goal to reconcile the relationship between the two. As we have seen, it has already been a success. The Bears and their fans have enjoyed a win against a quality opposing team and fans have been coming out of the woodwork to show pride in the “Monsters of the Midway.” The team working to produce a revival in Chicago have seen glimpses of success as social media has been buzzing and the Bears are once again the talk of the league.
By: Ryan Musleh
By now, I am sure you all have been seeing posts on social media with the hash tag #metoo. These brave, strong survivors of sexual harassment and sexual assault are finally getting the chance to speak up about their experiences in only two simple words. This is one of the many ways that social media makes a difference. Social media has ability to bring individuals who have things in common together, no matter their location, socioeconomic status or ethnicity. We have seen this in many ways, from the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge to the hash tag #BlackLivesMatter. The #metoo joins as a powerful campaign. The hash tag #metoo is eye-opening in that it allows us to see just how many men and women have experienced sexual harassment and assault, at least those who are speaking up about it.
The message the people posting the hashtag are sending is that they all are standing up in solidarity. Social media can bring people together but has the potential to leave people behind. A large criticism of the campaign is that survivors do not need to share their story to be validated. Those who stay silent are just as valid.
The call to action for the men and women who have been seeing the hash tag #metoo is that they need to show support through social media to let these victims know that their stories are not being ignored. These individuals deserve to know their worth and know that they are not alone. This issue can no longer be ignored and with the help of media, victims can cope together with the support from everyone else.
By: Megan Rubinger
The day started early at 6:30 A.M. where 25 members of PRSSA gathered in the Student Service Center parking lot on Friday, September 15th. Our members traveled to Chicago for the first agency tour of the school year. The PRSSA members got the opportunity to tour two PR firms: Golin and Edelman.
We left Normal with seven packed cars traveling up to Chicago. The car ride was full of good music and great conversation. We arrived for our first agency tour with Golin. We all met in the lobby of the John Hancock Center where we travelled up Golin’s office space. It had a modern, open-concept style. The Golin employees welcomed us with warm, welcoming faces. Sarah Babcock, an associate at Golin, led the presentation along with other ISU alumni such as Nick Nottoli, Hannah Sheley and Kristen Kelley. In the presentation, the employees discussed the G4 method and different case studies such as Talenti, Humana and their famous client: McDonald’s. The G4 model is unique in PR; it allows professionals to have a focus whether that be research, creative content, pitching for new business or project management. As a member, I was incredibly interested in seeing the fresh take on what PR professional’s job description. After the presentation, Hannah and Sarah split us into groups and took us on an office tour (not after we took the beautiful view of the lake and the Chicago skyline).
We all met up in the lobby of the AON building where we all headed up to visit Edelman. Jordan Parisi, the Internship Coordinator for Edelman, led us to a conference room where Julia Fedor, Timothy Wrona, Molly Coyle and Jillian Collins Bohr. The time we had was spent asking questions regarding crisis communication, case studies, graduate school and many other topics. At the end of the time, we had time to network with speakers and again, take in the amazing Edel-views.
Both tours gave members the opportunity to see two Public Relations agency firms with vastly different work culture. Members were also given the chance to investigate the type of work they could be doing after graduation. The tours definitely give younger members like me something to look forward to.
By: Megan Pellock
My freshman year of college, I jumped into PRSSA and gained some great experience in the development committee, but wanted to do more even though I wasn’t sure what “more” meant. At the end of the year, I spoke to Tom Lamonica about what else I could be doing to gain experience. He suggested internships. I took that to heart and have since done seven internships. I’ve learned a few tips and tricks that I’d like to pass on:
1. It’s never too early to start! I started after my freshman year. I had grown my skills on the job in my internships rather than expecting myself to already have the knowledge.
2. It’s okay to not get paid right away. Many people told me not to intern with people that wouldn’t pay for my time. Contrary to their beliefs, I had the richest, hands-on experience with the places that couldn’t pay me. They let me jump in anywhere I wanted to learn and take on big projects.
3. Ask questions. I wanted to seem like I already knew all my stuff. I thought it would be embarrassing to tell my boss I didn’t know how to use some programs. I learned the hard way that if you don’t ask about what you don’t know, you will do something massively wrong. I promise. It’s always better to ask.
4. Use internships as a way to see what you do and don’t like. An internship is the time to try things out. It’s better to figure out that you hate media relations before you accept a fulltime position at an agency as a media relations specialist.
Most importantly, try to get to know your internship supervisor. They will be invaluable connections and friends.
By: Sydney Velez
Society labels people by what they look like, how they choose to dress or where they spend their free time. However, people no longer want to be solely defined by categories or labels. They want to define themselves as they are.
This fresh idea of gender in a modern society is starting to become mainstream, at least to the younger generations. The term ‘genderquake’ refers to a shift in power from men to women, and it is being represented through fashion primarily. Many fashion designers are fully embracing this new viewpoint by having celebrities and models be photographed in what many would consider gender backwards looks. Designers that have a large impact on the fashion industry take advantage of being represented by a celebrity or model because that is typically how trends in fashion begin in a society. Style helps liberate those who feel trapped by societal standards making fashion the perfect way for people to express themselves. This drastic change in fashion is something that would be difficult to come back from because it changes the entire way that gender is viewed by people; male beauty can incorporate femininity where as female beauty considers a suit and tie beautiful. Women for many years have had the opportunity to explore different iterations of femininity, but men have not been so fortunate. The change in fashion and style is causing people to open their minds to being more accepting of people’s differences in culture and society. Social media has had a large impact on this gender movement because celebrities and models are seen in these clothes causing trends among people. Being aware of a movement such as this helps open societies eyes to how ignorant our culture can sometimes be regarding sex and gender.
Media is one of the main ways that society determines the way gender is viewed in a society. Men and women both have been negatively impacted in our culture through typical stereotypes that are portrayed in our media. Our culture in general is widely exposed due to social media and the internet, so it is important for people to be aware of the changing culture we live in because people are who they are, and people’s preconceived notions of sexuality and gender are keeping us from evolving into a more unified culture.
By: Shannon Forst
Hello, new and returning members!
This year is going to be full of workshops, tours, traveling and networking. I encourage everyone to become engaged and seek out the opportunities PRSSA has to offer. I believe the more you put into PRSSA, the more PRSSA gives back to you.
I transferred to Illinois State University in my junior year and declared public relations as my major. My transition to ISU was more difficult than I anticipated, so I sought out a place where I felt I belonged.
At the beginning of the school year, I heard classmates and professors talk about PRSSA, so I decided to check it out. I sat way in the back and attempted to take in all the information, but honestly I was still confused about what PR even was.
As I continued my regular Chapter attendance, things started to come together. I began to understand the content presented in the classroom and was becoming familiar with my peers.
I finally became an active member once I toured two PR agencies in downtown Chicago with PRSSA. I now understood how this is a professional-development organization and how this experience would open new doors. It gives you real-world experience that builds on what you learn in the classroom.
Once I became an engaged member, I decided to apply to be our Chapter’s delegate to PRSSA’s National Assembly. I was selected to be flown out to Seattle, Wash., to represent our Chapter. I was with more than 200 other students from across the US who were also chosen by their local Chapters. I participated in professional-development workshops, attended leadership training sessions, and helped elect the PRSSA’s upcoming National Committee. I networked and met people from all around the world whom I still talk to today.
When the end of the school year rolled around, I felt motivated to apply for my current role as our Chapter’s president. I gained a holistic perspective of the organization when I attended the National Assembly and it fueled my fire for public relations and PRSSA.
I want to instill that fire in you and help you prepare you for your professional career. Please never hesitate to reach out to me or any of the Executive Board members. This is going to be a great year!
in marketing and public relations. Being involved in PRSSA allows me to gain a better understanding of the public relations industry. I also heard great things about the organization and the opportunities it has, and that really appealed to me.
What else are you involved in on campus?
I am involved in the service organization Circle K. The fellow members, along with myself, go out into the community and volunteer with other organizations and at various events. I am also a member of Women in Business. Learning different skills, networking with speakers and volunteering are a few of the things Women in Business offers.
What is something that others may be surprised to know about you?
Something others might be surprised to know about me is that I have a goal to visit all Walt Disney World theme parks around the world. I love to travel and I also love the magic that is connected to the WDW parks.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I’m not quite sure where I see myself in five years. I hope to have a stable job as a member of a marketing team for a company. As long as I have had graduated and have a job, I’ll be happy!
Who/what inspires you most?
My grandfather inspires me the most. He was a member of many organizations throughout his lifetime and served on the executive board for most of them. Whenever he was given a task to complete, he always put his heart and soul into it and made sure it was fulfilled to its full potential. I aspire to live my life with such courage and optimism as he did.
Illinois State University PRSSA members headed up to Chicago on Friday, Feb. 3 for the first agency tour of the spring semester. Our members had the opportunity to visit Porter Novelli and Walker Sands Communications.
Our first stop on the agency tour was Porter Novelli. The Porter Novelli office welcomed us with open arms and a warm energy, along with some breakfast foods and coffee (which was much needed after the drive from Normal to Chicago). The office had a modern and chic vibe, while still providing an environment that incorporated the organization’s culture and boutique atmosphere.
Account Executive Meghan Schulze led the tour, along with several other staff of various positions. The presentation began with a general overview of Porter Novelli and the work the organization does as a boutique public relations agency to make an impact in consumer brands, health and wellness, food and nutrition, as well as technology.
The presentation continued with a discussion of the difference between agency and corporate public relations and developed into tips and tricks for landing an internship or job. A key point that Schulze highlighted about internships is that it’s okay to intern after graduating; many companies design their internship programs to help new grads become acclimated to the company atmosphere.
A unique element to the tour was presented by Senior Counselor Rich Jernstedt, who dedicated an “Interview 101” section to the presentation. Jernstedt has extensive experience in public relations, and had advice on how to prepare for an interview, how to act during the interview, and courtesy acts after the interview. He offered to look at our resumes for critiques, which was an awesome resource for our members!
Porter Novelli was an excellent host and provided us with valid insight on, not only their company, but the public relations field as a whole.
To continue with the tours for the day, our members walked a couple blocks south to Walker Sands. The tour was broken up into three parts. ISU and PRSSA alum Andrew Cross gave an overview of the agency and several larger projects that generated much success for the company. As a technology based agency, Walker Sands works with business-to-business (B2B) operations, providing them with a unique edge compared to other agencies.
After walking us through the basics of the agency, ISU alum Brittany Martin went over the organizational culture of Walker Sands and the fun environment that the agency exhibits both in and out of the office.
Next, members broke into small groups led by Walker Sands employees to pick their brains about life at the company. This informal setting gave members the opportunity to ask questions on a more personal level and really conveyed the unique, family-like organizational culture that the company is based upon. It was beneficial to have this small group experience so members could really get to know what Walker Sands has to offer.
Both tours gave members a great opportunity to see two different Chicago public relations agencies. Members were able to get a glimpse into the professional world while networking with the agency employees who participated in the tour. The tours offered by ISU PRSSA are a great opportunity to network and gain valuable insight to public relations as a professional field!
Written by Anna Cachares
Some reviews of Lady Gaga’s halftime show question if her performance had political undertones. “This Land is Your Land,” “God Bless America” and the recitation of part of the Pledge of Allegiance were alleged by the media to demonstrate political undertones. During the 2016 presidential election, Lady Gaga supported candidate Hillary Clinton and rallied against now president Donald Trump outside of Trump Towers.
Because of her previous outspoken political demonstrations, reporters questioned Lady Gaga’s approach at a press conference in Houston. During the press conference, she did not offer any information about politics being incorporated into her performance.
Instead, she stated, “I believe in a passion for inclusion. I believe in the spirit of equality and the spirit of this country. It’s one of love and compassion and kindness. So my performance will uphold those philosophies”.
Lady Gaga has been an advocate for inclusion and diversity throughout her career as a singer and performer. To reflect this within her music, Lady Gaga changed the lyrics in “Born This Way” to address the spectrum of the LGBTQ community. Right before Lady Gaga sang a rendition of “Million Reasons” , she addressed Texas, America, and then the world. She performed this song for over two minutes, which is the longest amount of time she spent singing a song during the show.
Was Lady Gaga simply promoting a song from her new album, or sending a message about immigration and inclusion in America? Lady Gaga’s communication of equality is evident in her songs, yet the debate of whether or not her halftime performance was political is up to public interpretation.
What aspects of PRSSA have benefitted you the most?
Definitely the agency tours! Being able to visit PR agencies and get a first hand look at the work culture and view a typical work day in the industry was extremely beneficial for me to figure out what field of PR I wanted to get into. Not to mention all the advice we acquire from employees.
In your previous Member Monday interview, you mentioned being a part of three clubs and working at the fitness center; how do you balance your school work and having a social life?
I’m really just trying to focus on my capstones, PRSSA, working and enjoying my last year. During my senior year, I’m trying to immerse myself as much as I can into PRSSA and my schoolwork to prepare myself the best I can for graduating in May and hopefully landing a job as soon as possible.
multiple accounts and always have a variety in terms of your projects is very attractive to me. I think that aspect calls for a lot of creativity, teamwork and something new every day, which I find very enticing.
What is a word of advice to the freshman and sophomore PR majors who are just starting off in the major?
Get involved as much as you can in PRSSA and other COM related Registered Student Organizations. It’s not only attractive to employers but building a network of future colleagues who have the same interests as you is awesome in terms of learning and personal gain, in general. ""
Since you are a senior, what is on your "bucket list" to do during senior year and before graduating?
I’m trying to have as much fun as I can. I also want to leave my mark on PRSSA and have a memorable and eventful year with lots of member involvement. On a different note, playing one on one with a sloth at the zoo is also on my bucket list. I love sloths!
Written by Maddie Rose
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.