By: Latisha Ellison
A few weeks ago, I traveled to Scottsdale, Arizona to attend Leadership Rally hosted by PRSSA National. The weekend-long leadership training session is for Chapter Presidents and Student Run Firm Directors to network with each other and learn valuable skills to implement in their respective Chapters and Firms.
Leadership Rally is different from National Conference because I was by myself, and I didn’t have my PRSSA Kent safety net. Luckily, we’re PR majors, so we know how to talk! I met students from across the country and we shared best practices, problems, solutions and much more. Every Chapter is different and there’s no one way to run a Chapter, so it was great to listen and learn from other people in my position.
The weekend focused on leadership styles and best practices for being a Chapter President or Firm Director. Here are a few key takeaways from the weekend:
Different situations call for different leaders
Gary McCormick, APR, Fellow PRSA, talked about eight different leadership styles including: charismatic, innovative, transformative, pacesetter, command and control, situational, laissez-faire and servant. McCormick suggests that there will be problems that arise that will require you to change your leadership style when approaching the situation. For example, even though you are typically a laissez-faire leader, sometimes you will need to switch gears to become a command and control leader to address the situation correctly. It’s just like understanding that not everyone communicates the same way you do, so your approach to one person might be different from the person sitting next to him.
Delegate! Delegate! Delegate!
Did someone say “Delegate,” and I didn’t listen? Yes, I sure am guilty of not delegating. Sometimes, it’s just too easy to say, “It’s fine, I can just do it,” even though I probably already have enough on my plate. We think it’s easier if we do the task ourselves, when in reality it shows our lack of trust in others. As leaders, it’s important to know our limits and know when to pass a task onto someone else. They may do it differently than how you would do it, but that’s OK. A lack of delegation can be a major downfall for any leader.
The best leaders build other leaders
A friend told me this exact quote a couple of months ago, and then it popped back up again during Leadership Rally—it’s no coincidence. I am the leader I am today because of the peers I have looked up to and the professors who have taught me the skills I use every day. They have challenged me, believed in me and helped me grow. I aim to challenge my board, believe in them and look forward to watching them grow as leaders in our Chapter.
There isn’t a networking experience quite like Leadership Rally, and I’m so thankful I got to experience it! I can’t wait to try some of the ideas from other Chapters and introduce our members to those Chapters at National Conference!
By Natalie Meek
The Bateman teams were hard at work the past six months and finalized their campaigns April 5 to turn in their casebooks. Both teams feel confident in their final products, and are proud of the work that they produced for the community.
The Bateman Gold team consists of Latisha Ellison, Daniel Henderson, Lauryn Rosinski and Taylor Pierce. Their campaign was for The Campaign to Change Direction, focusing on the mental heath of senior citizens. Bateman Blue consisted of Nicole Zahn, Holly Disch, Brittany Prather, Kristin Slomiany and Charleah Trombitas. This team's campaign was "Are You Ok? #ItIsOkToAsk," which encouraged people to recognize and talk about mental illness.
Latisha Ellison stated that she and her Bateman Gold team view their project as a success.
"We reached our objectives and felt like we truly made an impact in the senior center community," Ellison says. "We had several seniors tell us they would share this information with their families."
After learning about the importance of research in class for so many years, the team members had the chance to experience research significance in a real life campaign. Each team's campaign was based off of the research they conducted. All of this work showed Ellison and her team members that creating a campaign takes a lot of thought and consideration.
"Every detail needs thought out and you always need to remember your objectives and goals," Ellison says.
Holly Disch of Bateman Blue also agreed that her team's project turned out well. She believes that all of the work they put in the past six months was worth the dedication, and is looking forward to finding out what the judges think of their work.
Just as it is in the real world, Disch believes teamwork was an important aspect of this project.
"The experience taught me the importance of teamwork, and being there for your friends rather than them just being a part of the school project," Disch says. "There were so many aspects of the real world I got from Bateman, and I will take the lessons of work ethic and time management with me in my future."
Although both teams are optimistic about their final products, they both overcame challenges along the way. Disch and team members turned these obstacles into motivation and found it was an important part of the journey.
"There were times I thought the book wasn't going to get done, or we were not going to reach our objectives," Disch says. " I think when those feelings hit, it is stressful, but it made me think about what we need to do instead of 'why is this happening.'"
Ellison also explained some difficulties that Batman Gold faced, many of which included issues with their target audience. They were targeting the audience of caregivers, however, they realized that not all qualified people identified themselves as such.
"For most people, they are caring for a parent, grandparent or spouse, so they were just doing the right thing and didn't compare themselves to paid caregivers," Ellison says. "This was a tough realization for our team because it meant that we had to change our audiences, objectives, tactics, and figure out how to reach an audience who didn't identify themselves."
Overall, both teams are excited to receive feedback from the judges and have gained valuable experience by being a part of the Bateman competition.
If you are interested in finding more out about the Bateman Case Study Competition, contact Tim Roberts at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Natalie Eusebio
1. You make all the plans
Whether it’s just a simple night out, or an elaborate road trip to the beach, you are at the center of it all. You set the time, you map out the route and you Pinterest the best restaurants. But that’s okay, someone has to keep the group together! At least you guys always have a good time!
2. You come up with the best Instagram posts
You know how to build your brand! Your Instagram profile has to match your personal brand. So yes, you know exactly how to pose your girls, and you know which filter you will use before the picture is even snapped! Not only that, but you have a list of clever captions already drafted on your phone. Social media queen looks good on job applications, right?
3. You correct everyone's grammar
When someone accidentally uses the wrong form of “you’re” in the GroupMe, you are not shy about correcting them. You even look for correct grammar use in tweets and emails. Everyone sends you their papers that need edited. You’ve got this, it’s your job.
4. You’re the first one to say “What were they thinking?” upon seeing a scandalous social media post.
We’ve all been there. You are scrolling through twitter and see that your BFF tweeted something incredibly vulgar. You are the first one to think about how this will impact her personal brand and future job opportunities. You text her right away and tell her how detrimental this tweet will be to her career and future. Then you wait for her to take your expert advise and delete the tweet. Phew! Crisis averted!
5. Everything is about your brand
From the people you hang out with to the concerts you attend, your personal brand is at the center of everything you do. It’s not a bad thing! You are organizing your life and planning for your future. You watch what you say to others and understand that words have power. After all, you wouldn’t want to do or say anything that could jeopardize your future presidential campaign!
While your friends might still be confused about what PR even is, you are the handy squad member that has everything covered. From the best plans to the funniest tweets, you are their go-to friend.
Natalie Eusebio is a sophomore PR major and is a member of PRSSA Kent's web and social media committee. Contact her at email@example.com.
By Latisha Ellison
DePaul PRSSA hosted a regional conference for music and entertainment PR called PRpalooza. I had the pleasure of sitting in on two sessions: one with Rob Walton from Allied Integrated Marketing (AIM) and the other with the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE). AIM represents major film studios and Walton heads GrassRoots Promotion and red carpet events, while DCASE is responsible for organizing and promoting seven free music festivals for the city of Chicago. It was my first time in Chicago, I had a blast, and even learned a few things along the way.
1. Entertainment PR is not glamorous.
It's hard work. These PR professionals work 18-hour days and wear several hats. They are part event planner, part travel agent, part tour guide and part food critic; that's what it means to be a publicist. As an entertainment publicist you will be up at 5 a.m. picking up talent to do press tours for the day or getting the media ready for an event happening later in the day. Then, you will be up late because your company will want a full report of the day's work. In Chicago, the PR professionals are right in the middle of two time zones, so Walton is expected to be answering emails until at least 7:30 p.m. to accommodate all clients. If you're thinking about entertainment PR, just remember red carpets are fun, but you're behind the scenes keeping everything from falling apart, not modeling for the shoe cam.
2. Genuine connections are crucial.
We are always told how important it is to network, but I think that sometimes we forget that part of networking is forming a real connection with someone. PR is all about relationships and now is the time to start building genuine relationships with those going into same industry as you. National and regional conferences are great places to meet your peers who will eventually become your colleagues. If the relationship is real, the connections will be better and mutually beneficial. I think this is especially true when networking with professionals in the industry. Real connections will last longer than the two-minute conversation you have after a breakout session.
3. Creativity is important.
AIM represented the movie "Sausage Party," and Walton had to discover a way to get some publicity for the film, so he reached out to the food section of the paper that wrote about different types of sausage and he got some buzz going about the film. Another time he did some research for a film and found that it had a connection to a local theater. Through his research he was able to connect the film to the city of Chicago which helped generate even more press. In entertainment, as in all branches of PR, you really have to think about who your audience is and what will make them interested in your movie or event. Thinking outside the box can make you more appealing to more people.
4. Current Events are important.
It's always important to know what's going on in the world, regardless of the industry you're in. In entertainment, knowing about the world can help you create more ideas for your communication plan. In the film industry, promotional screenings are held to get a preview of what the public will think about the film and how the publicists have to frame their messaging. The movie "Patriot's Day" came out at the same time the Chicago Police Department was facing scrutiny in the media. AIM invited 30 members of the Chicago PD to a screening of the movie as a way of calming things down a bit.
5. PRKent is preparing us for the real world.
Listening to DCASE's presentation made me feel like I was sitting in Eric Mansfield's media relations class and Professor Armour's PR Tactics class. Press releases aren't dead. In fact, they're incredibly important and need to grab the attention of the reporter reading it, and that reporter had better be the right person to receive the release! In entertainment PR it is so important to follow a communication plan, using a workback, months before your event. This plan includes a roadmap for the event and leaves room for potential roadblocks that are sure to happen. Research is the key to a successful event because through research we learn who our audience is and how they will receive our messages. Our key messages have to be targeted the right way--with a strong call to action--to each of our audiences if we want a successful event.
I learned a lot at PRpalooza and had a great time. Special thanks to DePaul PRSSA for planning a great regional conference! If any PRSSA Kent members are interested in attending future PRSSA conferences, talk to the PRSSA officers and learn about how you can attend.
Latisha Ellison is a junior public relations major and is PRSSA Kent's YouToo Committee Chairperson. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Brenna Parker
Public relations is not spin.
I’ll say it one more time for the people in the back. PR. IS. NOT. SPIN. For everyone at Kent State’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication “Journalism’s Way Forward” event, it was made clear that #PRKent is not about spinning the truth.
The event was a panel discussion of post-election America and the future of journalism and communication under President Trump. The panel, which was moderated by news anchor Russ Mitchell, of Cleveland's WKYC Channel 3, included Henry Gomez, chief political reporter at Cleveland.com; Cheryl Ann Lambert, an assistant professor in the public relations sequence at Kent State; Jacqueline Marino, an associate professor in Kent State’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication; Connie Schultz, a professional-in-residence within the School of Journalism and Mass Communication and a nationally syndicated columnist; and Chance York, an assistant professor in Kent State’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
Heading into the third week of the Trump administration, it is apparent that the need for a strong relationship between journalists and the American public is now more important than ever. The problem with Trump’s campaign during the election was that he manipulated his supporters into distrusting the media, therefore they now view media professionals as the enemies of the executive office. PR professionals and the media now have to maneuver a working relationship with President Trump, and more importantly, there has to be a sincere and strategic plan in building a relationship with the American public.
Another problem facing PR professionals is that the public is self segregating its news. Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter have algorithms within their site that tailor your content from your online searches and past browser history. The challenge for these professionals will be communicating with these segmented publics, especially when social media sites are kicking out messages and content before it even reaches people.
As an aspiring communications professional who wants to work in public policy, the past two weeks of this administration have been beyond frustrating because our work will be compared to the work of Kellyanne Conway and Sean Spicer. These two, who are furthering the negative stereotypes of public relations professionals, are perfect examples of what not to do when speaking to the press. Take Sean Spicer, for example. In his first press conference as press secretary, he completely shocked reporters around the globe when he scolded the press by reading a statement from the White House that included four verified lies about the crowd size for Trump’s inauguration.
For those of you that want to pay it forward and give back to the media, buy a subscription and support quality journalism. I do not think I am wrong by saying the millennial generation has taken for granted free information and news, but somewhere along the line we forgot to pay it forward and support these news organizations.
Brenna is a senior public relations major and is PRSSA Kent's vice president of professional relations. Contact her at email@example.com.