Guest Speaker: Kristin Sauro


by Shelby Westbrook

Last week at our general meeting, we had Kristin Sauro come speak to us about Burson-Marsteller, a global PR and communications firm. Kristin works in the New York office as a Human Resources Associate. She mentioned part of her job is recruiting at schools just like ours, attending career fairs nationally and coordinating the communication between the company and applicants for jobs or internships.

Sauro started off the meeting with a large and intricate PowerPoint that highlights everything about Burson-Marsteller. She talked about the company’s history, the company culture, and the main focus of the company brands. Burson-Marsteller works on several nationally known brands such as Ford, Chipolte and Bank of America.

Another great part of working for Burson-Marsteller is that they are known for their crisis management. They have specific classes for their interns to learn about crisis communications as well as many other components of the industry.

Burson-Marsteller is unique in that they have three companies that work alongside them in their offices worldwide that specialize in different expertise. These companies are known for client business guidance, government and politics as well as grassroots. Along with agencies that work underneath Burson-Marsteller, they have “sister” agencies that are constantly working together with the BM team to tackle a client’s problem or proposal.

In order to intern with Burson-Marsteller, you must be going into your senior year, graduating or going into grad school, with a GPA of 3.2 or higher. You will also have to send in a transcript when you apply for a position with them or internship. From what I gathered, the internship program is for the most elite applicants, as the application process is difficult and they choose only a few applicants every summer, fall and spring. You must also have very strong interpersonal, communication and research skills.

It was so wonderful hearing about such an esteemed public relations company, and Kristin gave the insight to several pointers and tips in order to be successful at the company. Kristin was very informative and helpful, as she also gave personal one-on-one sessions to students for three hours before the meeting so they could answer questions in private. We were so thankful to have her come speak to us as a group, and we are very much looking forward to having the next speaker come the Tuesday after Thanksgiving!

November 2017 Chicago Agency Trip

PRSSA members visited Cloud Gate before they headed home!

PRSSA members visited Cloud Gate before they headed home!

At the beginning of this month, a group of our members took a trip to Chicago, Illinois to visit a seven agencies and meet with alumni.

Our agency trips give members the opportunity to travel to big cities around the country and see what agency life would be like in the respective cities. Past trips have included Chicago, New York City and Dallas. 

For this trip, members visited Propllr, Ketchum, Edelman, Allison + Partners, Motion PR, the Chicago Cubs Communications Director and Walker Sands. The members also attended a dinner with OU alumni living in Chicago. They got the opportunity to talk to Sooners about their experiences in The Windy City. 

One of our members, Demery Pennington, wrote an amazing blog post about her experience on the trip, what she learned from some of the agencies and the fun sights she got to visit while on her free days in Chicago.

Check out Demery's blog post by clicking here.

Guest Speaker: Chloe Cumbie and Kylie Kallsen


by Sahra Somani

This week at our OU PRSSA meeting we had the wonderful Chloe Cumbie and Kylie Kallsen talk to us about BigWing in downtown Oklahoma City. They chose to discuss the various clients that BigWing has and define how the company helps benefit them. Cumbie and Kallsen also spent time discussing their work environment and why BigWIng would be wonderful place to work at for any senior or even junior at Gaylord College. This stands for both internships and future careers.

BigWing happens to be the biggest digital media marketing firm and is one of the largest agency in the state and is owned by the Oklahoma Media Company. Cumbie and Kallsen mentioned that their company focuses on their client’s online presence. They drive traffic towards their client’s online platforms and anticipate gaining numerous benefits from it. They have been awarded Google partner and are also known as one of the top five digital agencies in North America for the 2016 year.

BigWing does most of their work by a method that they like to call content marketing. They take the content from what the client is willing to portray and go forward with that on various online formats. This is the majority of what their job entails. They have numerous clients that they work with daily that allow for them to have a large amount of variety with their work. The number of clients that they tend to work with begins with a few and then continues to increase depending on their capabilities of what each worker can handle. They even mentioned that the people at the company tend to rely on each other’s strong suits so that they can gain knowledge from them and increase their own expertise. The agency works as a team and keeps from competing with each other relying instead on building one another up.

Cumbie and Kallsen then went on to discuss the various forms of content that they produce as a company and what forms of content they have worked on individually. Typically, in their work environment they tend to create content that differentiates their clients from their competitors as well as allows them to take the next step to five their business to the client. They also mentioned that not only are content marketers creators but they are also researchers. It is their job to determine how they are going to disseminate the created content and spread it to others.

Next, we were informed on the methods that we learn that the company uses in the workplace. Cumbie and Kallsen stated that not only is SEO research used, but client specific goals are applied to focus and fine tune the content to fit their personal client’s needs. They tend to use traditional PR in content marketing through press releases, media relations, community outreach and crisis management skills. They also mentioned that writing is the basis of most of their media through social media and press releases and that it is something we, as college students, should work towards perfecting. A proficiency in social media was also mentioned as beneficial due to social media’s current standing as a legitimate way to contact and connect or network with people. The world is now becoming immensely social media based in how we communicate. They listed various examples to highlight this as well such as influencers, engaging with audiences through online surveys and polls and even communicating to various consumers though these social media platforms.

We feel so lucky to have had two incredibly successful OU Alums be able to join us for this week’s PRSSA meeting. They not only educated us on how an agency functions, but also passed on some knowledge on what skills helped them to prosper. We gained so much wonderful wisdom from them and we cannot thank them enough for taking out the time to come and mentor us as a group! Thank you so much to Chloe and Kylie! OU PRSSA is immensely grateful to have you to guide our members and wish you two much success in your future endeavors! 

Guest Speaker: Matt Woods

by Sahra Somani

On October 10 we had Matt Woods from McMahon come by and share his personal tips for getting internships. He explained that while applying online allows for easy access nationwide a con that we don’t account for is only eight out of ten jobs are posted online. Even though we feel we have the upper-hand when sending out our resumes through the various online job search engines, the truth is we honestly don’t.

Woods went on to explain his three pillars to successfully stand out amongst your peers. The three pillars are as follows:

1) Develop Irresistible skills.

2) Hack the hiring system.

3) Build a three-circle network.

He made sure to discuss each of these in as much detail as he could manage.

When discussing the first pillar, Woods mentioned that to highlight your irresistible skills it would be beneficial to talk about your skills and achievements over focusing on your certifications. He even went as far as to mention that you could even pre-plan a pitch to the company by creating your own mock posts to display your knowledge rather than simply walking into an interview with just a resume. The most helpful concept is to show that you can do the work rather than to talk about what you can do. Show don’t tell. Another concept that Woods mentioned was to build a T-shaped experience. T-shaped is when you can show that you have a variety of schools and are just a specialist it shows that you have more capability than your peers.

When it came to the second pillar, Woods mentioned that it would be best to tweak your resume each time you submit it to a future job prospect. This simple technique of changing the skills and experience on your resume to cater to the job you would like to have will give you an edge over others applying for the same position. He also mentioned a concept called the unicorn card. The unicorn card is a concept that highlight what it is about you that allows for you to be unique and memorable. It needs to be the one thing that you do that no one else thinks about doing. Two other tips he had were to make sure to endlessly follow up with companies for a job position and to get internal referrals to advertise your application from inside the company. These will also tip the scales in your favor when it came to the hiring decision.

For the last and final pillar, he mentioned that you needed to build a three-circle network. It would start with your inner circle which comprised of your role models and mentors and have it grow naturally from there. The second circle consisted of a professional network. This could comprise of a list of 10-30 people who are better at networking than you. The third and final circle consisted of the crowd. A good way to approach the crowd could be through social media posts or keeping up with a blog. It was at this point that Woods unfortunately ran out of time to add any more detail to emphasize his third and final, however he did mention that if you went to his website and added your name to his e-mail list he would send constant updates and tips through e-mail. This presentation would be available to you through that as well.

OU PRSSA is so thankful for Matt Woods to come out and talk to our members! He was an immensely eloquent speaker while managing to remain relatable and comedic throughout his presentation. We all enjoyed him so much that we even requested for him to continue when he mentioned that he was running out of time to present. Hopefully, these tips will help you with your internships as well! We will see you again at our next meeting on October 24, 2017! Until then, take care!

PRSA OKC Luncheon: A Profession in Crisis: Public Relations in the Era of 'Alternative Facts'


On September 20, a group of our PRSSA chapter's members attended the PRSA OKC luncheon to network with professionals and listen to a speech by Robert Sheldon. 

Robert Sheldon has been in PRSA for more than 40 years and has a BA in journalism from the University of Minnesota. He spoke to all of the luncheon attendees about ethics in the PR industry.

Sheldon talked about what PR plays a key role in, including maintaining a few flow of ideas, reading and sustaining markets, helping a democratic society function and earning trust in business and government BUT there is still a deep distrust of PR. Although PRSA created the Code of Ethics in 1950 to counteract public distrust of PR and business, the distrust is still there and is being made worse due to the "fake news" claims.

Overall trust in government organizations, businesses, media, and NGOs has declined. An example Sheldon gave was that we are "getting some version of the truth or alternative facts from government spokespeople." Sheldon continued by telling us "the truth doesn't have versions." 

Proper PR is supposed to increase public trust. Our job as PR professionals is to make sure that what we are doing, writing and saying every day adheres to the ethical standards in the PRSA Code of Ethics and that our client or employer is also conducting its business in the public interest in accordance with high ethical standards. 

Now you're probably wondering why it is important to be ethical! Sheldon stated that it is important "because the reputation, success and even survival of the organization or client you represent can depend on what you do/say and how you do/say it each and every day."

To be able to follow the PRSA Code of Ethics, you first need to know the core values. 

  • Advocacy
  • Honesty
  • Expertise
  • Independence
  • Loyalty

Second, you should know the Ethical Principles of Conduct.

  • Free flow of information
  • Competition
  • Disclosure of Information
  • Safeguarding Confidences
  • Conflicts of Interest
  • Enhancing the Profession

To conclude the luncheon, Sheldon gave us a list of the "Top Ten Rules for Conducting Ethical PR."

  1. Know the difference between fact and opinion.
  2. Be loyal to your client, but act in the public interest.
  3. Write as if three people are looking over your shoulder: your client's competitor, a news editor and your mother.
  4. Never send out a finished product until it has been critically reviewed by at least three very picky people.
  5. Bad news doesn't keep. Get it out, explain it and move on.
  6. Acknowledge what you borrow by attribution or permission.
  7. Emails, tweets and Internet postings are forever. Act accordingly. 
  8. You're always "on the record." If you don't want to be quoted saying something you might regret, don't say it. 
  9. When in doubt, sticking to the absolute truth works best. 
  10. Always take the high road. You're in charge of your own integrity.

Our chapter's members are very grateful to have been invited to visit the PRSA OKC luncheon. We met some amazing professionals and had a great time! 

Guest Speaker: Savannah Jung


Our first guest speaker, Savannah Jung, recently graduated from OU and is now working for Saxum in Houston. She took some time out of her evening to chat with our chapter about the importance of networking and gave us lots of tips that will benefit us in the professional world. 

Savannah is a member of the PRSA Houston chapter as well as the Houston Young Professional group. She is involved in these groups because she knows for a fact that networking never stop. You should continue to join groups after you graduate. 

One point she made about PRSSA is "you get out what you put into PRSSA." You should take everything you do a step further and keep getting involved in as much as possible. Our PRSSA chapter gives you tons of opportunities to get involved so take those opportunities and you'll get way more out of the organization than just showing up for meetings. 

Here are some other tips that will benefit you in your professional work:

  1. Always do your research. You should research companies you are going to talk to as well as the specific people. If you are going to a luncheon, research the people that are going so you know a little bit about them. You don't want to go into anything blind. 
  2. Make business cards and always keep them on you. It is important to have something to give to people you meet so they remember you and have your information. You don't want to meet someone who may give you an internship and have no way to give them your contact information. 
  3. Look at an interview as a dialogue instead of an interview. This will calm your nerves a little and let you be able to act like yourself.
  4. Follow up after an interview. This way the interviewer will be reminded of you and you can thank them for the opportunity. 

Savannah's favorite class in Gaylord was Crisis Communications because she thought it was cool to learn how to handle the worst case scenarios in the agency world. She said this class is beneficial even if you aren't interested in working specifically with crises because crises can happen in any industry. This class will help prepare you for the chaos. Savannah specifically said "agency life is controlled chaos." 

We have really appreciated having Savannah speak at our meeting and give us insight on the professional working world! 

If you would like to connect with Savannah Jung, email her at and connect with her on LinkedIn.

Same City, New President: What New Leadership in Washington, D.C. means for its Communicators.

Guest post by Hannah Franklin,  Inclusion and Diversity committee member

Have you been on Twitter lately? Have you talked to your grandma on the phone, or maybe turned on the local news? If you have, then you know Donald Trump has a problem with the media, or “dishonest media.” Whether your answer to any conversation over politics begins with an “R,” a “D” or a “no comment,” as public relations young professionals, we must diligently watch how our role in the media and how media’s role in the U.S. is going through some changes. Will Trump’s administration set a new tone for politics and media or has the tone already been set? Most importantly for us, what is the best way for public relations young professionals to adapt to this new media environment?

I recently dove into a few articles that addressed the expected shift in media. One of those articles came from a website called “The Capitol Communicator.” The article zeroed in on how communications in the Washington, D.C. area will change over the course of the next few years. One of the more obvious changes predicted more Republican-minded communicators will be in demand as is typical when parties switch control. Other media shifts the article discussed included focused messaging and integrated digital campaigns, both of which were used heavily in this year’s election.

As a public relations young professional who's focused a lot on the social media realm of the industry, it's clear to see that political communication, and all communication, frankly, will be incorporating digital methods to reach greater audiences in a shorter amount of time. Digital presidential campaigns were first seen with Barack Obama's 2008 election and was heavily seen in the 2016 race.

My thoughts on this integration? The way social media is evolving and integrating itself into various forms of communication is changing rapidly, and it's never going to stop being interesting and conversation-starting. This works to the advantage of digital campaigns because it calls people to start or continue conversations about those campaigns, thus making numerous people aware of said campaign and politician. But how do D.C. communicators, digital and traditional alike, think about how to adapt to digital campaigns and one of its most frequent users being in the White House?

Al Jackson from EVP Public Affairs in Washington, D.C. offered great insight into how communicators will adapt during this time in the media industry:

There are some big lessons here for public affairs practitioners, not the least of which is the distrust of Washington embodied by the Trump movement. Indeed, voters demonstrated a distrust of government institutions that likely extends to private companies in the pharmaceutical and insurance industries. It’s something we’ve got to keep in mind as we develop programs for our clients. Additionally, the Trump team had a completely different approach to this campaign and this election than everyone else did. We can’t just stick with what has worked in the past — to be successful we’ve got to look at things differently.

I never gave that much thought to what happens to D.C. communication when a new president takes office, but it’s one of the most intriguing times in communications throughout the entire nation. Communicators around the United States and even globally are impacted with the national change in leadership, and this time of leadership has already proven to keep communicators on their toes.

5 Reasons to Attend Top Jobs this Year

Check out this amazing and colorful poster our friends in Lindsey + Asp designed!

Check out this amazing and colorful poster our friends in Lindsey + Asp designed!

By Meg Bradley, PR Chair

Top Jobs is this weekend! So get excited because this time next week you could have a internship or job lined up if you play your cards right. 

If you are still unsure about attending Top Jobs this year here are 5 reasons to register today. 

1. Endless networking opportunities

First of all, attending Top Jobs regardless if you are a freshman or a senior, gives you a competitive advantage over other students who did not attend. Lindsey + Asp brings in representatives from top public relations, advertising, media and digital agencies from across the nation to meet with you! You can sign up for one-on-one interviews and attend break-out sessions with employers you are interested in. Even if you aren't currently seeking a job or internship you will have the chance to build your professional network and hopefully make a meaningful connection that could open more opportunities for you in the future. 

2. Polish your interviewing skills

You will have numerous opportunities to practice and perfect your interviewing skills at Top Jobs. Whether you schedule one-on-one interviews with representatives or ask questions at informational break-out session you will be polishing your communication skills that will be key to landing your dream job. 

3. Build your professional portfolio

Having a well-rounded and professional portfolio (whether digital or physical) is an asset in the media industry. A portfolio will help set you apart from the competition when you are applying for internships or jobs. Top Jobs gives you a platform to showcase your portfolio to representatives. So get those creative juices flowing and design a amazing portfolio that reflects your personal brand. 

4. Learn more about industry trends and companies

With a diversity of employers attending Top Jobs this year you are sure to have options. There are 20+ agencies attending. Take the opportunity to explore different sectors of the media industry and maybe you will find your perfect fit. 

5. And finally fingers crossed you will make a connection and land your dream internship or job

gif source: 

gif source: 

Go register for Top Jobs today. It will be well worth the investment. 

Here is the registration link if you are interested: (you will need to copy and paste the link, sorry)

Diversity and Inclusion

Guest Blog Post by Teresa Flores Guillen, OU PRSSA Inclusion Director. 

When I hear about diversity and inclusion, the terms are very often used interchangeably. The message is usually that beyond tolerance, we are trying to create a campus that values every individual the same and gives everyone the same opportunities to succeed. As part of what we called the Inclusion Committee within PRSSA, however, I think it’s important to understand what those words mean individually and why they are both so crucial to the development of the OU community.

A few years ago, I heard someone explain it in such a simple way, I was shocked I hadn't heard it from anyone else. It was a speaker at a networking event whose name I can’t seem to remember but whose words stayed with me until now.

You can look at it this way, diversity is about who gets invited to the table, while inclusion is about who feels welcomed at the table.

It’s a simple enough concept, and it’s that simplicity that made its truth resonate with me. So how do we know the difference and where do we draw the line?

When we talk about diversity in the industry, I think people understand we’re talking about richer ideas that come from collaborating with a group of people with all kinds of backgrounds and knowledge, because they all have a unique view of the world. Diversity occurs in spite of oppressive or exclusionary attitudes or behaviors within an institution because of individuals' desire and drive to move forward and succeed in any industry. 

On the other hand, inclusion is about letting people know that their voices are important, that they have something to say on every matter and they should because their perspective will always be uniquely theirs. Our industry, public relations, is better off when it opens doors to those who can make a positive change and bring innovative ideas to the table, regardless of who they are. This is where it gets tricky. It's never a question of diversity for the sake of diversity, but we must understand how our neutrality can be perceived when the norm has for so long been that minority groups have less of a voice, if they have one at all. The growing effort within the industry to create more inclusive spaces communicates to both its professionals and its publics that public relations is ready to take on the expanding global market, acknowledging those who have a voice, both from within the an organization and from its stakeholders' perspective.

Why are diversity and inclusion important in a public educational institution like the University of Oklahoma? Because this is where many of us really get to see the world and learn about others' experiences. This is the first place that will welcome us as professionals, and give us new ideas and the tools to use them. It’s not about diversity for the sake of diversity, but rather about looking for innovation and understanding, both of which require varied perspectives. Both diversity and inclusion foster an expansion and exploration of ideas that emerge when the individuals in a group have different backgrounds, knowledge and expertise.

Industry Tips from a OU PRSSA Graduate

By Meg Bradley, OU PRSSA PR Chair

Our Sept. 27 general meeting speaker, Kate Brennen

Our Sept. 27 general meeting speaker, Kate Brennen

If you missed our Sept. 27 general meeting, here are four things you should know from our guest speaker Kate Brannen. Kate is the Managing Associate at Hill Impact, a communications and government relations firm in Washington D.C.. She is a recent graduate of Gaylord College. Here are four tips she gave our PRSSA members about navigating social media, moving away from home and networking. 

1. Standing out on social media 

Follow the people who influence you in the industry on social media. Also be sure to characterize yourself and show your personality when posting on social media. This is a good way to help you stand out. 

2. Networking in a big city

When networking in a big city, remember to throw yourself in as many uncomfortable situations as you can. This allows you to get involved outside of work with activities and organizations that interest you so you can discover like-minded people. This is where you learn and grow! Kate did this by joining a kickball league in Washington D.C.

3. Applying for jobs out of state 

It is important to reflect anything you are passionate about on your resume. This is especially advantageous when applying out of state. If you are eyeing a job somewhere far away from home, go ahead and apply for it. Who knows, it may be your dream job! 

4. Moving away for a job

Kate's big tip for students moving away from home for their first job is this: if you are sheltered in your own little bubble, then it might be time to bust out and experience something new. What great advice! 

Join us at our next general meeting to hear from another great speaker and to learn more about the industry. 

This is the first post of a series highlighting our awesome guest speakers. So stay tuned for more to come!