Whether in the classroom or on the track, you shouldn’t be surprised to see her at the front of the pack. Leaders with her drive, vision, and passion are what make the Illinois State University Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America a great organization. Meet the spring 2015 Newsletter Chair Kimi Sanden.
Tell us about yourself.
I grew up on a farm in a small town in northwestern Illinois. I came to ISU for the incredible opportunity to join the cross country and track and field teams. In my time at ISU, I have ran too many miles to even count; studied abroad in England, France, and the Netherlands; and discovered an incredible passion for the public relations industry through the School of Communication and my experiences in PRSSA.
Why did you join the relations committee?
I joined the relations committee because I finally realized that great writing is extremely important not only in the public relations industry, but also every other industry. I jumped out of my comfort zone when I volunteered to write my first “Senior to Watch” article for the blog, PRecisely PR, but now I feel that I am a strong writer and enjoy encouraging others to write as well.
What is one opportunity you're grateful for within ISU PRSSA?
ISU PRSSA offers an incredible amount of opportunities to its members. The experience I am most grateful for is when I represented our Chapter as a delegate at the 2015 PRSSA National Assembly in Portland, Ore. It was a weekend filled with networking with other Chapter delegates, learning great lessons from the current PRSSA National Committee, and casting my vote on the new National Committee. It was definitely something I will never forget.
What is one thing you look forward to most about the Chapter's future?
I look forward to watching the new members grow and learn about public relations through actively participating in ISU PRSSA Chapter meetings, agency tours, guest speaker events, and workshops. I discovered my passion for public relations through joining ISU PRSSA my sophomore year and looked up to the senior students as role models. Their experiences helped me form a better idea of what I needed to accomplish early on in order to land a job after graduation. I look forward to being that mentor next year and encouraging new members to step outside their comfort zones to help them discover what they’re most passionate about as well.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to yourself as a freshman?
I would tell my freshman self is to work hard, be patient, and do not sweat the small stuff.
Questions composed by Dillon Maher
Hard work and dedication to benefiting others has helped sophomore Dillon Maher excel in his leadership role within the Illinois State University Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America. Maher’s drive not only makes him stand out in ISU PRSSA, but also within the ISU student body.
Tell us about yourself.
I am a sophomore majoring in public relations and minoring in civic engagement and responsibility. The most important thing in my life is my faith; as a Christian, I try to see everything through the lens of my relationship with Jesus.
I am from a small town of about 850 people. A lot of people from Chicago or the suburbs say that moving to Normal, Ill., is weird because it’s so small, but it’s a lot bigger and different from that to which I’m used. Transitioning into life at ISU has been easy because of the great friends and community I have found here.
What are your responsibilities as relations manager?
As relations manager, I oversee all of our Chapter’s publications, including our member and alumni newsletters and blog. I edit every article or post that gets published, as well as plan out an editorial calendar and work with the committee chairs to decide what we will cover.
What makes a great writer?
This may sound cliché, but one of the biggest criteria for me is that a great writer must put effort in what they write. When you take the extra time to craft the perfect sentence, to pick the best word, and to critically proofread, it definitely shows.
What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?
My parents always stressed treating others with respect and doing good work. Every opportunity I have taken advantage of has been a result of one or both of these rules. I believe that if you treat others right and work hard, good things will come to you. That’s how I went about the process to become the newsletter chair last semester, became the relations manager this semester, and plan to move forward.
If you could relocate anywhere, where would you choose and why?
I wouldn’t want to relocate there permanently, but I would love to live in Europe for a period of time. I had my first experience in Europe this semester when I traveled to Germany over spring break, and I fell in love with it. I’m studying abroad in Paris this summer, and I couldn’t be more excited to return.
Questions composed by Melaina Chromy
She brings the best work out of our members, and her love for current events and strategic communication will help her become successful in the world of political communication. Meet the Illinois State University Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America’s blog chair, Melaina Chromy.
Tell us about yourself.
I am a junior transfer student majoring in public relations and minoring in political science. I love writing and communication—especially analyzing and creating strategic messages. For as long as I can remember, dinnertime at my home has been the time where my family rehashes their day and discusses current events. This “current event environment” has developed my love for political communication. Sitting around the dinner table with my family discussing what certain politicians meant by what they said, and how they were communicating to achieve their goals, helped create my desire to be a public relations major. When I am not caught up thinking about what I would say if I was the White House press secretary, I love spending time with my family, hanging out with friends, and drinking coffee.
What has been your favorite experience in ISU PRSSA?
I recently went on my first tour with ISU PRSSA. I loved connecting with other members outside of Chapter meetings and learn from public relations professionals. The experience was invaluable professionally. This day was my first time driving into downtown Chicago, which was quite the experience! The members packed in my car may have been traumatized by the battle cry I let out when I had to suddenly change lanes downtown.
What is one thing most people do not know about you?
I am in love with British television and a PBS junkie. I absolutely adore murder mysteries. When summer approaches, my Sunday nights are reserved for “Masterpiece Mystery.” There is a certain depth to British murder mysteries that is not common in American television; I love dissecting and analyzing the puzzle. I am a fan of “Inspector Lewis,” “Grantchester” “Miss Marple,” “Endeavour,” and “Wallander,” to name a few.
What are your responsibilities as blog chair?
As blog chair for our Chapter, I assign blog posts to members, then edit and publish them on our website. Staying on top of various deadlines is important, and my time management skills have grown as a result. Most of my time goes into editing blogs. I enjoy putting my writing skills to work and bringing out the best in our members’ work. When I see common AP style errors, I discuss them at our relations committee meetings. I also discuss current events that may relate to the public relations industry.
What are three things on your bucket list?
1) I love ice skating but have never been to an outdoor rink. Rinks are often crowded, and I love to skate fast so my dream is to visit The Forks in Winnipeg, Canada. The Forks is the longest ice skating rink in the world. The huge skating “rink” is located on the frozen Assiniboine River and Red River. I would love to skate as fast as I want over a long distance.
2) I want to visit Jerusalem because I have heard it is a life-changing trip. I think it would be amazing to visit a place that would materialize my faith and give me the opportunity to experience a different culture.
3) I really want to see the northern lights. I do not know what country in which I want to see them, but as long as the scenery and food is good, I am game.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
In 10 years, I hope I will be married and living closer to my family in Calgary, Canada. I would love to live near the Rockies or in the Pacific-Northwest. I hope I have a successful career and that I love whatever public relations work I am doing. Life can change so much in a short period of time. It’s hard to plan the future, but I think it’s important to dream and be open to whatever opportunities life throws our way.
Questions composed by Tyler Krivich
The ringing in of the new year prompts individuals to set new goals for themselves. The start of the new year also signals the start of a new semester. As people seek ways to better themselves such as eating healthier, going to the gym, or taking more risks, students often create resolutions related to what they want to accomplish in the new semester. Whether your resolutions include making it through the semester alive or landing your dream internship, setting clear goals for yourself is a great way to ensure success for yourself. Read on for resolutions from some of the members of the relations committee:
Allie Trosper, “Build my networking skills.”
Kellian Reed, “Make the most of my last semester of college before joining the big-bad ‘real world.'”
Lily Sherer, “Start a personal website or blog.”
Chloe Kasper, “Make better use of my resources at school and improve my networking skills.”
Dillion Maher, “Gain more professional experience through internships.”
Bridget Anders, “Enjoy my last semester as an undergraduate student, graduate with at least a 3.5 GPA, and find a job after graduation.”
Kimi Sanden, “Break out of my comfort zone to gain experience in new areas of the communication field.”
Melaina Chromy, “Gain internship, academic, and writing experiences that will set me apart from my peers.”
Cassidy Obis, “Focus on a ‘just do it’ mentality. Accomplish tasks today rather than setting them off for tomorrow.”
From all of us in the relations committee, happy new year and good luck this semester!
By Melaina Chromy
Tell us about yourself.
I am a second semester junior and hold the position of relations manager for the Illinois State University Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America. I am pursuing a degree in public relations with a minor in Spanish. When I am not busy working toward my degree or managing various PRSSA duties, I enjoy spending time with family and friends, and taking part in 5k runs for charity, a new hobby of mine.
What are your responsibilities as relations manager?
As relations manager, I am responsible for delegating responsibilities to the newsletter and blog chairs. In addition, I am responsible for having a complete understanding of the committee. I edit all Chapter publications, as well as create the committee's editorial calendar. I am also in charge of starting conversations within committee meetings about current events for prospective newsletter articles and blog posts. I also work with the new position of alumni chair on the alumni newsletter. I believe that being involved in this part of the Chapter has improved my writing and editing skills, as well as opened my eyes to current events and public relations crises.
What lead you to choose public relations?
I have been involved in PRSSA for two years now and came to the decision to pursue public relations after taking my general education courses. I excelled in reading and English, which lead to my choice to major in public relations. It is my passion for writing and love for connecting with people that contribute to my overall interest in public relations. I feel that as long as I enjoy these things, I will never lose passion for this profession.
What internship positions have you held?
Throughout my academic career, I have held multiple internship positions, which have allowed me to practice public relations writing and social media outreach. These internships include working for the Illinois State University Hockey team, ISU Health Promotion and Wellness Center, Chicago Twenty Something marketing team, and Campus Recreation marketing department.
Tell us about your future semester abroad.
My experiences and passions have led me to decide to study abroad in Granada, Spain during the spring 2015 semester. During my time in Spain, I want to increase my fluency in Spanish, as well as embrace the distinct culture that Spain has to offer. I hope this program will open the door to an internship at the University of Granada and help pave the path to a job that incorporates international affairs or involves traveling.
Questions composed by Emily Raschke
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
What is your favorite part about overseeing the newsletters in the relations committee?
Taking on a chair position in a committee in PRSSA has allowed me to be more involved in the Chapter. As a chair, I have met more members than I did as a regular dues-paying member last year. I’ve also gained an incredible amount of experience to put toward my future career and to include in my portfolio.
What have you learned from your leadership role overseeing the publications of the newsletters?
This year as the newsletter chair has been a great learning experience. I have learned a lot about management and leadership, and the difference between the two, when it comes to motivating members to write.
Why are you interested in public relations?
I have always loved writing and public speaking. I started researching public relations as a major and a career when I decided that an English major wasn’t for me. I still wanted to write and interact with people, but I didn’t want to teach. I was accepted into the public relations program at Illinois State University. I was still unsure of what it was and if it was for me, but every class I have taken since joining the major has assured me that public relations is the field I want to be in.
If you could have any job, public relations related or not, what would it be and why?
I would love to found my own nationwide – or even global – nonprofit organization. I have a passion for helping others, and I’d love to put everything I have learned with public relations and apply it to my own nonprofit business. Another dream job of mine is to be a famous country rock star living in Nashville, Tennessee. That would be pretty cool too.
As a senior about to graduate, what advice would you give to younger members of our Chapter or in the public relations major?
Take on a leadership role. I have learned so much this year from my leadership role in PRSSA. I learned a lot about my own management and leadership skills, as well as improved my own writing and editing skills. It is not always easy to have a position in any organization, but the benefits far outweigh the sleepless nights!
On a Sunday afternoon we can usually find you…
Working on a group project…or taking a nap in between group projects!
List three things on your bucket list.
1. Travel outside of the country
2. Have my own animal sanctuary
3. Swim with dolphins
(Bonus item: Land an awesome public relations job)
Questions composed by Lisa Crocco
Maggie Ziemann, ISU PRSSA’s director of relations, is responsible for overseeing the Chapter blog PRecisely PR and the PRemier Newsletter.
As a junior, how have you benefitted from joining ISU PRSSA?
I have been a member of Illinois State University’s PRSSA for two years now, and I have to say that joining PRSSA has been the best choice I’ve made here at ISU. I have gained so much knowledge and met so many fantastic people. ISU PRSSA also offers awesome opportunities like going on agency tours, sitting in on panel discussions, and going to National Conference, where I made tons of great connections and met other awesome PRSSA members across the country!
What have you learned from your leadership role as the director of relations?
I have learned all the hard work that goes into managing publications. It is definitely a team effort, from the writer to all the people who edit and publish the work. I have had the opportunity to meet so many members in our Chapter that I may not have met otherwise. As director, I have definitely learned the importance of time management. It is like in the real world, where you have to stay on a schedule and do your best to produce quality work. It has been a great experience so far helping others produce writing pieces to build their portfolios.
What drew you to the public relations major?
When I was a junior in high school I was an editor for my school’s newspaper. Each year we attended a conference. The conference consisted of several seminars to choose to attend for the day. For one of the time slots none of the seminars really appealed to me so my friend told me to come with her to the public relations seminar and that’s where I first learned about the field. I immediately fell in love. I remember as the speaker was talking I just kept telling myself that one day I was going to work in public relations. I pursued that career path and I’m here today, still pursuing it and loving everything about it!
We love your blog, imPRess PR - what advice do you have for someone who wants to start their own?
Thank you! My advice is to not be afraid and to go for it! I have had so many people tell me that they want to start a blog but don’t know what they would write about. I have revamped my blog several times to fit the perfect niche I want it to have. My advice is to just start writing and see where it takes you. I used to blog about my personal accomplishments and then realized I wanted to go into a different direction. Be persistent and eventually it will come to you. Then, when you feel confident enough, tell others about your blog and you’ll begin to gain readership. Twitter is a great way to promote your posts and the public relations community on Twitter is so encouraging and welcoming. It’s a great support system!
How do you manage your blog, leadership role, classes and still have personal free time?
I really take advantage of my planner and staying as organized as I can. Every Sunday I sit down and plan out my entire week ahead. To-do lists are my best friend. I make several lists for all the assignments that are due that week, then one for meetings, and then one for all the other things I need to do or go to. It really helps keep me on track. I have also discovered that the Reminders App on my iPhone is a lifesaver and anytime an event comes up or I need to remember to do something on a smaller scale of importance I plug it into my Reminders and set an alarm to remind me.
If you could do public relations for any brand, what company would it be and why?
I am really interested in agency public relations, but if I could work for a specific brand it would be for Starbucks. Not just because I practically live there, but I love the company as a whole; its mission, customer service, and the brand loyalty it has built. I love following all the happenings of the company. They write impressive press releases, have a great social media reputation and I love all their campaigns. And it’s an added bonus that they have great products!
If you were given one ultimate all-expense paid trip to anywhere in the world, where would you go?
Italy. I have always wanted to go there. To me, it’s the full package. You can enjoy beautiful weather with a gorgeous view while exploring iconic tourism spots. I have heard nothing but great things about all the food and drinks!
We all have role models. Who is yours?
My role model is my mom. She has always been there, encouraging me every step of the way. She has worked so hard to put me through college, and I can just see in her face how proud she is whenever I accomplish something. It is a really rewarding feeling. She is such a hard worker, and I hope to have her support the rest of my life.
If you could only chose one for the rest of your life, which would get your pick: Social media or Starbucks?
Oh gosh, this is like my worst nightmare! I have never been asked this question before, and I never thought I would have to choose between the two! I think I would go with social media because I have gained so many great connections and opportunities through social media. I think it is such a powerful tool if you use it correctly. I do love Starbucks, but there are other places for me to grab my coffee fix! (Please forgive me, Starbucks!)
You have a free Saturday to binge watch any TV show of your choice. What would you choose?
“Desperate Housewives.” I watched all 10 seasons last semester and I got so emotionally invested. It is definitely my favorite TV series and I would not mind watching it again!
Questions composed by Melissa Fortes
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.