Jenn Yokley's three-year journey from Kent State student to Cavaliers Communications Manager
Kent State University’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication awarded PR Kent alumna Jenn Yokley ’10 the Fast Track Award during its 2013 Homecoming celebration.
“I truly cannot express how excited and honored I was to be nominated and selected as one of this year’s Fast Track Award recipients,” Yokley said. “My education and experience at Kent State University was invaluable and really launched me to become the professional I am today, so I look forward to continuing on the fast track for years to come.”
When Yokley was a public relations student at Kent State University, she searched for job opportunities in the music and sports industries. As she was finishing her degree in 2010, she found a position as an assistant for the Cleveland Cavaliers and Quicken Loans Arena and immediately pursued the job. Today, Yokley serves as the corporate communications manager for the Cavaliers.
“I was an athlete in high school and an avid fan of music, so I always kept an eye out for opportunities in either industry,” Yokley said. “It’s funny because when you graduate, you’re looking at anything and everything as a new adventure an opportunity. This business is incredibly difficult to get into, so when I saw an assistant position for the Cavs and Quicken Loans Arena, I knew I had to jump on it.”
Phyllis Salem, senior director of corporate communications for the Cleveland Cavaliers and Quicken Loans Arena, said Yokley opened doors to integrating social media into the Cavs’ communications process.
“I was immediately impressed with Jenn’s genuine enthusiasm and passion for her craft, her ability to connect the dots at such an early stage in her career, and her natural talent for engaging with people - be it a reporter or Cavs fan - through creative storytelling or simply in 140 words or less," Salem said.
As a student, Yokley was an active member and leader in PRSSA, participating in the Bateman Case Study Competition and serving as the intercampus liaison. She also interned at American Red Cross and worked as a PR assistant for Kent State Dining Services.
"I got to know Jenn when she served as a PRSSA Kent officer and a member of the 2009 Bateman team," said JMC Professor and PRSSA Kent Faculty Adviser Michele Ewing. "Both positions involved significant responsibility and time, and I could count on Jenn to solve problems, rally the team and work hard – always with a smile and contagious energy. Jenn's positive attitude and strategic thinking played a key role in her early career success."
Yokley said part of her success came from learning how to work and meet deadlines with a group of people. She was able to nurture that skill through her PR courses and participation in Bateman.
“Your personality and ability to work with others - in both good and bad times - professionally will take you a long way,” Yokley said. “Always be ready to help and work hard for the organization you are a part of, and you’ll succeed.
If students are interested in pursuing a career in sports PR, Yokley said they should expect to work unusual hours. She once had to work at 4:00 a.m. to coordinate with a circus visiting the Quicken Loans Arena.
“Take on every task in the book and absorb everything you see on the news, on blogs and team websites,” Yokley said. “The more you know about what’s happening around you – standard in all PR roles – the more you’ll grow as a professional.”
Ben Brugler is executive vice president at AKHIA, a Cleveland public relations and communications agency.
He's well-aware of a PRKent education's value.
"In my experience and from what I have seen, Kent State has exceptional real-world preparation. Students are taught to use public relations as a base skill and apply it to other disciplines," Brugler said.
He offered three tips for students looking to obtain an internship or job. Read them here
Brugler says he loves public relations because he likes to communicate - not just talk. "That's something not everybody can do. As a communicator you should bring something of value and help every audience you interact with."
He knows this career path involves a lot of work, but he believes it's worth it.
"If you want to challenge yourself and you want to learn, PR is a good field."
I transferred to Kent after going to a branch campus for two years. After my first PR Principles class, Michele encouraged everyone to join PRSSA to gain experience and get to know the other students in the PR Kent program. I have never once regretted my decision to become a member because it has given me so many great experiences and opportunities. From being a member, to VP of Fundraising and finally, President, I gained valuable contacts and made some of the best friends I could ever ask for. My best advice: Join PRSSA and try to get involved in as much as you can. And remember, you never know when you're going to me your future employer at an event!
Current job: I am an associate at True Digital Communications, a PR/Marketing agency focused on digital strategy.
Through the encouragement of Michele Ewing in Principles of PR, I joined PRSSA Kent as a freshman. And boy am I glad I did! Throughout my four years at Kent State, I evolved from member to National Delegate to VP of Programming and eventually President. Not only did I build incredible friendships (one of the girls was a bridesmaid in my wedding!), I was also able to network with other students and professionals through PRSSA National conference and local PRSA chapters to better determine what internships and jobs I was interested in pursuing. PRSSA Kent strengthened my already terrific experience in the PRKent program – so much that I come back as often as Michele will have me to advise current students in Campaigns! My advice? Join PRSSA as soon as you can, be as active as your schedule will allow and take advantage of every opportunity to network. You won’t regret it!
Current job: I am a Social Media Strategist at AKHIA, where I lead social media strategy using an integrated marketing approach for the agency’s B2B and consumer clients.
Being part of PRSSA can open many doors in the Cleveland area and even around the country. Many professionals are former PRSSA members and understand the value and hard work that comes out of being part of the organization. Through PRSSA, I received not only an internship, but also turned that internship into a full time job through the lessons and networking opportunities I learned. PRSSA is also not only a great place to network with current professionals, but future ones as well. I’ve met many of my close friends through PRSSA and now that we are all working in the industry, use our experiences and jobs to help each other.
Current job: Social marketing specialist at Rosetta, a national digital marketing agency. Currently, I work with CPG and financial services brands to plan and execute social marketing campaigns.
I joined PRSSA as a freshman, It was a great way to become more involved and more excited about my major. I got the chance to serve as an officer, one as president, but served on several committees which gave me the chance to meet older students and professionals. PRSSA also helped me gain insight into the different routes I could take as a professional through speakers that came. I gained both of my internships through PRSSA, as well as my job. I've met hundreds of people from across the country as well as some of my best friends through PRSSA.
Current job: I am a Publicity/Promotions Coordinator for Allied-THA, a nationwide integrated marketing company. Our main clients are the major motion picture studios and I assist with everything from advance screenings to publicity about the movies to social media. (company website: http://www.alliedim.com/)
Mary Jo Spletzer
Attending my first PRSSA Kent meeting was one of the best decisions of my college career. I had just transferred from another university and didn’t know many people. Not only did I meet some of my closest friends, but I gained practical knowledge and valuable leadership skills. My favorite PRSSA memory was when I attended National Assembly as our chapter delegate. The enthusiasm for public relations was contagious and being there inspired me to run for chapter president.
Current job: I am a PR Account Executive for Marcus Thomas, an integrated advertising agency in Cleveland. I work with B2C clients in the home and garden category, planning and executing public relations and social media campaigns.
Meghan Caprez is a sophomore public relations major hoping to minor in both business and theatre management. She has worked as a public relations and marketing assistant in the College of Communication and Information's Dean’s office since January 2012. Caprez previously interned as a communications assistant at the Akron Civic Theatre, and she was the performing arts reporter for the Summer Kent Stater. One day, she hopes to be a public relations practitioner for a major theatre company.
Caprez worked with the PRSSA Kent homecoming committee during the fall 2012 semester. She was in charge of making calls to local businesses to remind them of the event and ask if they would donate to the chapter’s silent auction. On homecoming weekend, she helped set up and run the auction Friday evening. She also took photos and video.
She is also on the Communications Connection committee, and she is currently in charge of the social media subcommittee. With six helpers, her team is generating buzz about the event online.
“Being on committees like these really enhances my college experience. I think 50 percent of what you learn is in the classroom, and 50 percent is what you learn through experience. Fundraising and event planning are two aspects of public relations I hadn’t necessarily explored before joining these committees, and I’m glad I’ve had the opportunity to dive into them in college. It gave me a better idea of what area of public relations I’d like to go into when I graduate,” Caprez said.
“PRSSA helps foster relationships between Kent students and professionals we will work with in the future,” Caprez said. “It also gives students the opportunity to gain out-of-the-classroom, real-world experience in certain aspects of public relations through the different events and committees open to us.”
Learn more about joining a PRSSA Kent committee here.
Christine Morgan is a highly motivated senior public relations and business
student at Kent State University. Currently, she is a Global Communications
Intern at The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, Chapter President of PRSSA
Kent and Web Editor for KentWired.
So far as PRSSA Kent’s president, Morgan has helped win the National Teahan award for
Outstanding Chapter website, assisted in writing and editing content for the
Star Chapter Award, developed and defined the Chapter’s strategic direction and
Morgan strives to advance the reputation of the chapter, convey the benefits of membership to potential members and uphold the rules outlined in the Chapter bylaws.
She recently earned the National Gold Key Award – the highest individual honor bestowed upon PRSSA members. Although it is an individual award given to only select members each year, it assisted in elevating PRSSA Kent’s reputation nationally. The last time a PRSSA
Kent member received the award was 2002.
Morgan is also a Web Editor for KentWired and occasionally volunteers at the Northeast Ohio Pet Shelter SPCA in Cleveland. Outside of school, Morgan enjoys reading, doing yoga and walking her two dogs, Blackjack and Ace.
After graduation, Morgan plans to stay in Northeast Ohio with her friends and family. She hopes to receive a job offer
from her current employer, The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, but she would also enjoy a PR job in London or Spain.