PRSSA Kent had the opportunity to hear from Child Welfare Policy Manager and Kent State alumna, Keri Hope Richmond, in a virtual meeting on Oct. 9, 2023.
She is currently the Child Welfare Policy Manager at the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Executive Director at Unbelievably Resilient,
Keri’s personal experience within the foster care system led her to advocate for foster care reform. Her advocacy has taken her to the halls of Congress and the White House, where she has shared her recommendations for changes to the systems.
Keri explained how she has been able to transform her traumatic childhood into something purposeful and meaningful. Some shy away from traumatic moments in their life, but Keri used it as a driving force in her career.
“I can look at my experience as a child and know that it prepared me for this moment as an advocate,” Keri said. “Policy isn't just policy to me. I’m thinking of it from a personal level.”
Storytelling is important in Public Relations, especially when becoming an advocate for someone or a group of people. Keri explained how storytelling allows you to be the voice for someone who might not otherwise have one.
Podcasts are great for storytelling and relaying information. Podcasts can be used in so many ways and not just for entertainment. Keri uses podcasts to take over the narrative around foster care.
“It’s a free marketing tool and you are controlling the narrative,” Keri said. “That’s the really beautiful piece of it.”
Keri gave valuable advice to the group on networking, working in group dynamics and overall, staying true to you.
In all of these instances, Keri explained the importance of authenticity. Always be authentic in everything you do, whether thats at school, with friends or professionally.
While wrapping up the discussion, Keri gave some final advice.
“If you value something, speak up about it,” Keri said. “Use your voice and be who you are because that is your superpower.”
PRacticing during War: Lessons and Challenges Working in UkraineWith Nina Bohush, PR Specialist at MacPaw, Mon. 10/23
On October 23, PRSSA held a hybrid meeting with Nina Bohush. Bohush is a PR Specialist at MacPaw, a software company in Kyiv, Ukraine that develops apps for Apple products, specifically MacBooks.
During the meeting, Bohush shared her top tips on managing a crisis that she learned firsthand during the Russian invasion of Ukraine, along with how her company prepared its team and products and how other PR specialists helped the world know what was actually happening in Ukraine.
Her top lessons were:
Ways her company prepared its team included:
Ways the company prepared itself and its products included:
PR specialists throughout Ukraine decided to unite within hours of the invasion. They understood the importance of the truth and that it was their duty to ensure the accurate dissemination of information about what was happening in Ukraine. They became the PR army. What started as a volunteer initiative is now an organization with over 300 volunteers.
MacPaw also began the MacPaw Foundation to raise funds for humanitarian aid in Ukrainian war zones. Another campaign created by MacPaw was Bathtub Creative, a fictional agency that’s actually a relief effort. The initiative uses tubs to illustrate the reality of working conditions for Ukrainians across advertising, tech, PR and related industries. All proceeds went to the MacPaw Foundation to provide Ukrainians with hygiene products.
Bohush was amazed by the support from everyone worldwide, even though she didn’t want to believe the invasion would happen until the last second. The campaigns created by MacPaw and others in Ukraine have received global attention. Bohush credits a part of the success to the preparation her team worked hard on despite the circumstances they were put in.
“It’s human nature to hope for the best, but we must prepare for the worst,” Bohush said.
Communication and Content Management Chair
Q: How long have you been a member of PRSSA?
A: I joined PRSSA last fall. I wanted to get more involved on campus as a freshman, and PRSSA seemed like the perfect opportunity to learn more about the field and gain professional experience.
Q: What is your favorite part about being on the exec board?
A: I have made so many close friendships from being on the executive board. This group of people are knowledgeable and so much fun. I also love having more creative freedom in the public relations field and the ability to discover what I like.
Q: What has been your favorite class so far?
A: My favorite class I’ve taken so far is Writing Across Platforms. I enjoyed learning more about journalistic writing, and I feel like I’ve become a stronger writer because of the class. I also really loved my professor.
Q: If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
A: My favorite food of all time is sweet potato. So, if I could only eat one meal for the rest of my life, it would be baked sweet potato with my mom’s spiced chicken.
Q: Who would you want to be stranded on a deserted island with?
A: If I were stranded on a deserted island, I would want to be with my little sister. My little sister is one of the funniest people I know, so I think we would have a lot of fun despite the situation. I don’t think we would survive though.
Q: What is a fun fact about yourself?
A: A fun fact about me is that I got the opportunity to travel to Paris, France a few years ago. The city is beautiful, and the experience changed my life. I love traveling, and I hope to go back sometime soon!
Associate Professor Cheryl Ann Lambert, Ph.D., conducted two research studies on different Governments' responses to the COVID-19 pandemic through a public relations lens.
The first study Dr. Lambert conducted in 2021, with the help of a doctoral student, Samuel Noi, in The College of Communication and Information at Kent State University, is titled “Credible, collaborative, cautionary: How Ghana’s government communicated about COVID-19”. Dr. Lambert and Noi presented their findings in August at the 2023 Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) conference in Washington, D.C.
“What we often think about when it comes to COVID is how these organizations communicate to individuals, and yes, that’s important,” Dr. Lambert said, “But these organizations also have a step in between.”
In the study, Lambert broke down Ghana's methods and tactics to reach that step in between that allowed them to influence the media and individuals in COVID safety.
“These health organizations were using public relations tactics and strategies,” Dr. Lambert said. “They were using press releases, speeches, statements, infographics, all of those things on their different platforms.”
They implemented these tactics and strategies on their social media, online and in-person on their news outlets. These organizations also used emotional appeals to get through to their publics.
“Ghana is a culture closely aligned with religion and taking care of those who are older in your family and honoring them,” Lambert said. “With these organizations, you had a lot of language there about how God will take care of you if you take care of others by doing things like social distancing and vaccination.”
The other study Lambert and co-author Foluke Omosun, Ph.D., conducted is titled: “Shaping the news agenda: A thematic analysis of CDC and WHO COVID-19 news and releases statements”. They presented their research at the Public Relations Society of America Educators Academy Summit at the 2022 ICON conference.
Lambert looked at how press releases and media statements from the World Health Organization and CDC utilized public relations tactics and strategies to get their information across to their publics.
“Certain language they used was meant to convey the fact that you can trust us, we’re reputable, we trust science, you can trust us. It was a simultaneous message of we’re trustworthy,” Lambert said.
Lambert noticed in both sets of studies that the organizations were working on establishing themselves as authorities so people would trust them and believe in the messages they were conveying.
“I think these (studies) can benefit PR students because they are real-world examples,” Lambert said. “It’s always beneficial to have these illustrations but also modern-day examples and to see how they work.”
Lambert is working to get both studies published so PR professionals and students can read and learn from them.
The PR Playbook for Sports speakers knocked it out of the park! Students had the opportunity to learn from three public relations professionals in the sports industry at the September general meeting.
Cleveland Guardians Assistant Communications Director Austin Controulis preached the importance of professionalism and “having good feel.” He described this as knowing the situation you’re in and acting accordingly. “Someone is always watching you,” Controulis said. “Having good feel can carry you a long way in this industry.”
Each speaker gave their best advice on how to make it in the sports industry.
Kristyn Hibbett, Corporate Communications Coordinator at the Cleveland Cavaliers, started her full-time journey with the Cavaliers in March. She is a 2022 graduate of the PRKent program. Hibbett urged everyone in attendance to not be afraid to ask questions. She described her first big project and how she “winged” it. This led to some mistakes being made and a pushback on the release day.
“I’m kind of glad it happened that way,” Hibbett said. “It showed me how people on my team and in my department were really rooting for me.”
Tara Byrne, an Account Executive at Falls and Co., explained to attendees the importance of making connections. “The people on campus are a really good resource for you,” said Byrne. “They really want to help you.” Byrne worked in the Sports Information Department at her university. The department director connected her to someone on campus where she interned her senior year. This connection resulted in her receiving a letter of recommendation, which she credits to her hiring at Falls and Co.
At Falls and Co., Byrne works on an account for the Senior Players Championship golf tournament held at the Firestone Country Club in Akron. Falls and Co. is one of the only agencies that has the opportunity to work with the PGA tour.
The PR Playbook for Sports was a success with more than 50 students in attendance. Sophomore PR major Savannah Mallozzi was eager to hear from these PR professionals.
“It was awesome to meet people from big organizations who are so well-known,” Mallozzi said.
Junior PR major Jess Davis hopes to have a career in the sports industry one day. She listened intently to all of the advice given by the speakers.
“It was nice to hear them talk about experience and how much you need it,” Davis said. “I want to start filling up my resume.”
Before attendees headed home to catch the Browns vs. Steelers game, Hibbett shared some final advice.
“Always ask what you can do,” Hibbett said. “It really just goes a long way because it shows you want to be there, you want to learn and that they can trust you.”