By Brenna Parker
Media diversity and advocacy for marginalized groups was the subject of the PRSSA Kent and JMC Conversation "Breaking Down Barriers." The panel led by Traci Williams, a lecturer in the Department of JMC featured panelists Shanice Dunning, a reporter for Cleveland 19 News and a Kent State graduate; Lorraine Schuchart, founder and CEO of Prosper for Purpose; and Amanda Leu, the coordinator for the CCI Office of Academic Diversity Outreach.
PRSSA Kent collaborated with the School of Journalism and Mass Communication to continue the conversation of diversity and inclusion. The event touched on the difference between cultural capacity and cultural confidence. Students viewed controversial commercials including Pepsi's commercial featuring Kendall Jenner and discussed the need for storytelling for these minoritized groups.
By Hanna Moore
Movie fans and public relations students gathered in Room 213 Franklin Hall on Wednesday, Nov. 2 to hear from Emily Benedict, publicity manager for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Benedict said she originally wanted to go into journalism and was always interested in entertainment. When she started her career, she lived in London and worked as a copywriter and a researcher at an agency. Benedict also worked for the Academy of Country Music, where she mostly worked on social media.
When she made the transition to public relations, Benedict said it was a struggle because she was a 23-year-old intern working with younger student who had taken public relations classes.
When asked about her career at the Academy, Benedict said that every day is pretty amazing and that the first time working at the Oscars was really cool. Her favorite experience was being able to sit in on Adele's rehearsal for "Skyfall."
Benedict has had various other unique career opportunities, including working the press for the final Harry Potter movie premiere and escorting Barbara Streisand down the red carpet for a Clinton Foundation event.
So far, Benedict says that "Oscars So White" has been the biggest crisis she has faced in her career. She said that she went back to the principles she learned in her crisis communications class and used the RACE formula when helping the Academy respond to the controversy.
Benedict is currently working with the Academy on building the Academy Museum in Los Angeles, which she hopes will become a destination for movie fans around the world.
Her advice for students was to always network and stay in contact with people you meet at your internships and jobs. When applying for internships and careers, Benedict said to show you have passion for the position and include a spark of research or interest instead of sending a generic resume or cover letter.
Eventually, Benedict says she wants to move up in her career to supervise and lead strategy for a team.
By Hanna Moore
PRSSA Kent members participated in Skype meeting with Sruti Ramadugu, Communications Advisor at USAID in Washington, D.C. Ramadugu has experience working in the public sector with Lean In DC, First Lady Michelle Obama's Let Girls Learn Initiative, the Obama presidential campaign and internships with Senator Sherrod Brown.
Even though Ramadugu works in communications today, she was originally interested in policy. She said she hopes to go to business school get her master's degree and continue working in the field of gender equality and women's empowerment. Below is some advice that she gave to PRSSA Kent's members:
Network with alumni.
Ramadugu encouraged us to use the Kent State alumni network because if there is a specific city or state we want to work in, there is probably an alumnus who can help connect us to a job there. When asked about how she was able to leave Northeast Ohio, she said, "Ohio is a state, it's not a prison."
Gain a range of experiences.
Ramadugu first got involved with Hillary Clinton's campaign in 2008 when she was in high school. From there, she gained more experienced and went on to complete 12 internships in college, including some with Senator Sherrod Brown, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and MSNBC.
A typical day for Ramadugu at Let Girls Learn involves "a lot of writing." She shared that she was working with colleagues in other countries in preparation for the International Day of the Girl, which was Oct. 11.
Pursue leadership opportunities.
Ramadugu also shared that she and some of her female friends were inspired by Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, a book written by Nell Scovell and Sheryl Sandberg. They viewed this book into a "curriculum" that could be used to help more women gain leadership positions. Ramadugu is now the executive director of Lean In DC, where she built partnerships with local companies and organizations to develop events and opportunities to empower women to pursue leadership opportunities.
Become an expert.
Ramadugu offered advice for students who want to pursue a career in public affairs, saying that it is better to become an expert in one area, so you can become really familiar with it. She said that in D.C., a master's degree in communications is less necessary because relationships and experience are more important. She encouraged us to keep in contact with people we meet at internships and jobs because they can help connect you with other opportunities.
By Hanna Moore
For first meeting of the semester, we heard from new PRKent faculty member Cheryl Ann Lambert, Ph.D., who spoke to us about how public relations is portrayed in the media. Lambert received a bachelor's degree in English, a master's degree in journalism and a doctorate degree in public relations. She served as an editor for five years at a Chilton Publishing Company trade magazine and worked in corporate public relations at Sears, Roebuck and Co. Lambert then went on to work as an assistant professor at Boston University before joining Kent State's faculty this fall.
Dr. Lambert discussed the negative portrayals of public relations in society. She said, "If you believe that public relations is illegal, immoral and unethical, you're in the wrong major. People in PR don't think that." Dr. Lambert explained that the best way we, as students and soon-to-be public relations professionals can combat these stereotypes is by acting professional and leading by example.
Dr. Lambert addressed some depictions of public relations in popular culture, saying that even though Scandal sometimes gives the public relations profession a bad reputation, she is still a huge fan of Olivia Pope and Judy Smith, the real-life woman who inspired the show. She said that even though some parts of the show accurately depict crisis communications, obviously Smith was not really covering up murders or having an affair with the President in real life. Dr. Lambert also discussed Samantha Jones, who played a publicist on Sex and the City. She said that Jones perpetuated the stereotypes that female public relations professionals only partied and used their bodies to get new clients. As for which public relations professionals in movies accurately depict public relations, Dr. Lambert referenced Kristen Wiig's character in The Martian and Jason Bateman's character in Hancock. Both of these characters actually showed what public relations professionals do in their careers and were shown in a positive light, Lambert said.
By Zabrina Hvostal
PRSSA Kent members gathered Wednesday night to talk about ethical issues a professional may face during his or her career. Two professionals joined us and led the discussion: Kendra Davis and Tom Crilley.
Kendra Davis is a two-time Kent State University graduate and holds a B.S. and M.A. in journalism and mass communication specializing in public relations. As a media relations professional, Kendra has strategically managed proactive and reactive publicity garnering local and national publicity for consumer, B2B and nonprofit brands. Her media relations work on the Eighth Annual Avon Heritage Duck Tape Festival received a 2011 PRSA Cleveland Rocks Award. In addition to more than five years of media relations expertise, Kendra has agency, social media and content management experience.
Tom Crilley is the Director of Communications for software-development company Squirrels LLC in North Canton, Ohio. He manages the company’s PR and communications strategy, including media relations efforts, social media management and customer outreach. Tom began his career at the Akron, Ohio-based Smiley Hanchulak Marketing Communications, which was abruptly acquired just one month later by WhiteSpace Creative, an integrated marketing communications agency in Akron. He spent the next three years at WhiteSpace as the agency’s PR Coordinator where he developed client PR plans and wrote press releases, blog posts, eBlasts, social content and pretty much any other type of copy you can imagine. Tom graduated from the Kent State PR program in May 2012.
Many students were curious about difficult issues professionals faced in their work place.
Q: What is the most difficult ethical issue that you had to deal with in the work place?
A: “Well recently my boss asked me to help him put his voice out there about a community issue that has been big in Cleveland with the Tamir Rice case going on: racism. I had to look at this from two points, personally and professionally. Being an African American woman I had to think of a way to serve my boss, but still stay on the right side of the issue, which is hard when there is no right side.”
A: “ I was at Smiley Hanchulak for exactly one week before it was announced that our agency was being acquired by Whitespace Creative in downtown Akron. Our CEO was set to retire because he was ill. The original plan was the vice president was supposed to take over the agency when the CEO retired. But, at the last minute the CEO decided to sell to Whitespace and didn’t tell the vice president. So after dedicating his whole career to this agency, he was left with nothing and couldn’t even get into the building because the president changed the locks on the door. It affected all the employees, no one knew how safe their job was at that point.”
The second half of the meeting students broke up into groups to discuss ethical scenarios. Students were able to identify issues, determine internal/external factors, and apply key values. The discussion was open ended and allowed students to consider different perspectives.
Below are the links to the scenarios discussed at the meeting: