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.”