The room was completely packed during PRSSA Kent’s meeting on Oct. 21. Students engaged in a panel discussion on PR in the public sector featuring Iris Cumberbatch and Stephanie Smith.
Iris Cumberbatch has more than 20 years of experience in global organizations. She has been a corporate communications strategist and key member of executive leadership teams, a crisis manager, bringing organizational skills and expertise to solving sensitive, time-critical issues, and a senior spokesperson, developing and communicating corporate messages to external and internal audiences including employees, the media, customers and investors. Most recently, Iris served as the Vice President and Head of Public Affairs at the Federal Reserve Bank in Cleveland
Stephanie Smith worked for the CIA for 27 years, serving in a variety of roles in the collection of intelligence. As Director for Support, she was the senior-most woman at CIA and the first woman to hold that job. In that role, she led the largest of CIA's four directorates (which included a worldwide workforce) and managed the CIA's largest budget. She achieved the highest rank possible at CIA and was awarded the Distinguished Intelligence Medal, the CIA Director's Award, and 20 performance awards. And of course, she is now a full-time assistant professor at JMC.
President Gabrielle Woodard, former intern at the Federal Communications Commission, moderated the panel discussion. Some of the questions included the following:
What was your most memorable moment?
Cumberbatch said her most memorable moment was a “proud” moment. She addressed the room about a time when she worked for Wachovia, the fourth largest bank in the country. The bank had been on a downhill spiral for 9 months and was beginning to fail. Cumberbatch worked with the CEO to communicate with audiences such as stakeholders, shareholders, customers and employees. Even though it was a devastating time, Cumberbatch said at the end she was able to look back at the communications and conversations she had with people invested in this corporation and say, “What I did made a difference.”
Smith said her most memorable moment was 9/11. She told the room how for months after 9/11 she lived at her office and barely saw the inside of her house. Smith explained that this tragic event was her most memorable experience because of her employees that went above and beyond their job when they were called to. “I had a front row seat to history,” Smith said.
What advice do you have for people considering a job in government?
Smith told the room that anyone interested in government should have a good understanding of foreign policy. She emphasized to everyone to be risk takers and strategists. Smith also noted that anyone considering a job in government should apply a year in advance because of the extensive application and interview process.
Cumberbatch told students to learn how the interrelationships inside the government work and how many parts of the government are related. She told students to always be curious. “Spend time with yourself and find out what gets your animated,” Cumberbatch said.
On Wednesday Oct. 14 members gathered in Franklin Hall with their laptops to learn helpful tips on writing a press release. Professor Tim Roberts led the session by explaining the importance of getting your message across and the basic structure of a news release.
Professor Roberts’s first PowerPoint explained two types of messages public relations people focus on when writing a news release, core messages and secondary messages. Your core message should be the most important message you want your publics to remember or the key take-aways. Professor Roberts provided two examples of secondary messaging, perceptional and defensive. Perceptional messaging’s sole purpose is to improve the image of an organization. Defensive or pre-emptive messages counteract anticipated negative reaction or diffuse a negative situation.
Professor Roberts told the room it is important to make your messages clear, concise and to the point because “your client is going to forget about 95 percent of the things you say the next day.”
During the workshop Professor Roberts reviewed news release basics, which many attendees remembered from their multimedia newswriting class. Press releases, like any news release story, are written in subjective inverted pyramid style. Professor Roberts explained that this is because the more conformed your stories are to journalistic style, the less chance of a reporter or editor cutting it.
Professor Roberts explained that press releases should be written in the following format:
Some key points he stressed to keep in mind when writing a press release were:
At the end of the workshop students were given an assignment to help practice writing press releases. Students interested in doing the assignment or any other questions regarding this workshop can contact Tim Roberts at firstname.lastname@example.org
PRSSA Kent officers hosted a meeting on Oct. 7 to explain best practices for surviving the PR Kent sequence.
Key takeaways from the meeting included asking professors for help when its needed, always attending study sessions when offered and staying ahead on assignments for each class.
Officers rotated to different table during the meeting to provide course-specific advice. PRSSA members may contact the officers for additional advice on the following courses:
An additional announcement made at this meeting was that PRSSA Kent released applications for Spring 2016 chairpersons. Positions open include Editor and YouToo Social Media Conference Chairperson. If you are interested in running for one of these positions, fill out anapplication, and return it to Chapter President Gabrielle Woodard by Wednesday, October 28.
During this meeting members got to have a discussion with three public relations professionals in the sports industry. All three panelist offered great insight on how to succeed in the sports industry as a young professional.
Adam Liberman just completed his third season as the director of public and media relations for his hometown Akron RubberDucks, and has more than 20 years in sports media with 15 years in baseball. With the RubberDucks, he oversees all aspects of the franchise’s communications, including social media, community engagement, special events, and player-related media. Prior to coming to the RubberDucks, Liberman spent two years with All American Games, the parent company of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, and 10 seasons with the Atlanta Braves public relations department. He has worked numerous major sporting events, including two NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Fours, and he headed up communications for the Akron Racers in its inaugural season in 1999.
Andrew Christopher is a two-time graduate of Kent State University; earning his Bachelor's in Advertising in 2013, and Master's in Public Relations in May of 2015. As an undergraduate, Andrew gained experience by serving as a sales/marketing assistant for local companies, Momentum Media and REDfish Promotions. Andrew served as a Graduate Assistant for both Michele Ewing and Stephanie Smith in his final year of graduate school, where he assisted Michele in researching the use of social media in internal communications. Andrew developed a community relations plan for the AFL's Cleveland Gladiators as his graduate capstone project. Upon graduation, Andrew accepted a Community Outreach Internship position with the Cleveland Browns, where he works with both the Cleveland Browns Foundation and Cleveland Browns Youth Football. With the Cleveland Browns Foundation, Andrew works to communicate with grant partners and donors on current and upcoming rebuilding projects in the greater Cleveland area. Andrew's Youth Football responsibilities include strategic planning, event coordinating, and social media management.
A 13-year sports professional, Sarah Jamieson is entering her ninth season at Quicken Loans Arena and third in her current role on the Basketball Communications Team. The group manages all media relations for the Cleveland Cavaliers players, coaches, staff and front office, which includes facilitating interviews with local, national and international media. In her position, Sarah also works closely with the Cavs’ Digital Team on team and player-related content. One of her primary focuses is also publicizing the team’s Community Relations efforts in Northeast Ohio. Sarah spent her first six seasons at The Q working primarily with the Lake Erie Monsters, the organization’s American Hockey League team. She joined The Q after spending two seasons at Madison Square Garden with the New York Liberty (WNBA). During her time at MSG, she was also able to be involved with PR activities of the New York Knicks, New York Rangers and other MSG properties. Sarah has also worked as the Sports Information Director for the USA South Athletic Conference, based at Methodist College in Fayetteville, North Carolina. A 2002 graduate of Ohio University, Sarah received her bachelor’s degree in Sports Industry with a specialization in Journalism.
Stephanie Duffy works at WhiteSpace Creative as a public relations coordinator. As such, she supports the senior PR team with all aspects of public relations, special events and social media efforts. She received her BA in public relations at Kent State in 2011 and was a former PRSSA Kent president. Stephanie is a member of Akron’s PRSA chapter and a co-chair of the AAF-Akron communications committee. Additionally, she serves on the event committee for the Akron Zoo's Summer Safari and board of the Akron Chapter of the American Outlaws, a U.S. soccer supporters group.
Stephanie led our networking workshop with a PowerPoint presentation followed by a question and answer session. She began by telling us to start networking on our own campus by looking up and attending events and inviting friends. Stephanie also touched on the importance of attending PRSSA, PRSA, AAF and AMA meetings and how they can open you up to networking opportunities.
Stephanie gave us some advice on how to prepare before attending events. She said to research who is going to be at the event, find out their interest through their social media profiles and interact with them beforehand. By interacting with them before hand, whether it is replying to their tweets or reaching out to them and asking them a question, you are then giving yourself something to say when you approach them at an event, kind of like an icebreaker. Stephanie also explained the importance of cleaning up your social media profiles and making sure it reflects your personal brand. Your personal brand should also extend to what you wear to events, business cards and resumes.
When you attend networking events, Stephanie stressed on the importance of having your elevator pitch prepared. She advised us to make sure it doesn’t sound like a sales pitch. She also advised us to wear nametags and shake hands with every person we approach. After the event, follow up via email or send a thank you letter. You can also connect through social media or try to set up an informational interview to learn more about a company or position you are interested in.
To find Stephanie’s contact information look under the officers/advisors tab on our website.