OU PRSSA Takes Austin

A group of OU’s PRSSA members went down to Austin, Texas to network, tour agencies, and learn more about the PR industry. Thursday and Friday the group met with Edelman, Bread and Butter, Giant Noise, Ketner Group, GSD&M and Pierpont Communications. The agencies explained what their company does, tips for jobs and their internship and job opportunities.

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Edelman was our first stop and with over 70 offices, they usually have a location anywhere we visit. Edelman addressed what made their agency unique and here are some key takeaways:

- They have direct access to senior leadership.

- Smaller offices have the opportunity to work across many different work-streams.

- Their internship program offers interns the freedom to think for yourself.

Bread and Butter’s Austin office was the definition of cute and quaint. They are a boutique agency with 11 different offices. Bread and Butter Austin works mainly with local clients focusing primarily on food and beverage. Key takeaways:

- They acquire most clients through word of mouth and actively reaching out

- Talking to clients every day and meeting with the media are key components to how they operate.

Giant Noise is a Public Relations agency focusing on the entertainment realm. They specialize in events, multicultural, festivals and photography. They were very prepared and did a great job of presenting our students with a detailed overview of their company.

When visiting the Ketner Group, we had the opportunity to talk with their CEO, Jeff Ketner. It was great to talk with the person who started this tech, retail and CPG public relations agency. Jeff was an open book and made our group feel at ease. The Ketner team informed us about what made their company take off, skills to have and their company values. Some key takeaways were:

- Their specialized expertise caused an increase in clients

- Important skills: time management, reading, over communicating

- Values: work/life balance, flexible, professional development

GSD&M is an advertising agency we got to visit. They pride themselves on their work with Southwest Airlines, Popeyes and many more well-known brands. GSD&M believes in “stand up and stand out” and coming up with “first and only ideas”. GSD&M talked to us about their company and gave us helpful tips when looking for a job.

Pierpont, a public affairs, public relations and marketing agency was our last stop. Their clients are primarily in the oil and gas industry. Pierpont gave an overview of their company, their work environment and their internship opportunity.

The ability to visit Austin with OU PRSSA was a great opportunity for our chapter’s members. Being able to connect with others in the PR industry, especially in other cities, is extremely beneficial. Until our next trip!

Written by Amanda Hughes, Edited by Makenzi Smith

OU PRSSA Hears from Director of Diversity Enrichment Programs, Dorion Billups

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Our PRSSA chapter had the pleasure of hearing from OU’s very own, Dorion Billups. Dorion is the Director of Diversity Enrichment Programs here at the University of Oklahoma. He graduated from the Gaylord College in 2013 with a journalism degree and has worked for Gaylord’s Diversity Enrichment Program for over three years. His job consists of working with a team of individuals around the university creating strategies to build a diverse environment on campus.

The University of Oklahoma’s Diversity Enrichment Program strives to expand diversity at OU through strategies and programs held on campus. Their goal is to make OU a diverse community that welcomes all people into classrooms and extracurricular activities.

Due to the racial issues involving the university, the need for unity in the student body has risen and the necessity of the Diversity Enrichment Programs increased. He spoke of different situations the Diversity Enrichment Programs has dealt during his career at the university. Billups emphasized the importance of diversity in a community. Diversity should not be ignored but rather celebrated because it brings different perspectives and ideas to the table in a classroom or workplace. It is not an easy process, however it is a process of continuously being intentional with one another.

To move forward it is our duty to be present, supportive, inclusive and intentional with one another. In a PR perspective, Billups key takeaway is to always be listening and reading. We must work on empathizing and understanding with one another. It is up to us to encourage diversity in the classroom and workplace through body language, conversation and questions.

You can keep up with Dorion and his successes on Twitter @DorionBillups

Written by: Natalie Blakley; DIgital Content Committee

Edited by: Makenzi Smith; Digital Coordinator

An OU PRSSA Member's Take on Her Public Relations Experience

Hello everyone! My name is Natalie Blakley and I am a member of OU PRSSA’s Social Media committee!

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What on earth is PR? If you are like me, my initial thought was, “Oh, it’s probably some boring job where you sit at a desk all day in a cubicle.” Well, lesson learned. Do not judge a book by its cover.

Two years ago I was attending OSU majoring in apparel design. Long story short, I did not love it. It was too limited upon what I could do and where I could live in order to be successful. I am a rare breed who loves the concept of change because I get bored fairly easily. I interviewed people and talked with friends about my crisis of choosing a major that would suit my personality. One of my best friends, explained why she admired her degree in PR and the unlimited possibilities it holds. Just like that, I was convinced.

Junior year I transferred to OU knowing Gaylord has an outstanding PR program that will prepare me for my future career. I still was uneasy of what exactly public relation practitioners do; though I had a surface level understanding, I was fearful of what PR had in store.

I am now a senior in the program, and I can confidently say the courses I have taken have enhanced my skills, cleared my understanding and has well prepared me for my future career.
— Natalie Blakley

I am involved in OU PRSSA, a member of its social media committee and help create content for the OU PRSSA social media. Attending the meetings has allowed me to gain insight from previous OU PR students and being apart of the committee has enhanced my graphic design and social media marketing skills. I highly recommend getting involved with the Gaylord community because it is an opportunity to connect with classmates, mentors and programs, which will be beneficial for your future.

I have always been fascinated by the entertainment business, specifically the music industry. I could go on and on about my love for music and the industry, but I will spare you the time. My ideal career is to be a public relations practitioner for artists and music labels in Nashville, TN. I recently accepted a summer internship with Music City Media in Nashville, which brings me one step closer to my goal. Music City Media is a public relations boutique for artists in Nashville; their clients have consisted of Keith Urban, Eddie Money, Alabama and etc. As an intern, I will work hands on with the clients creating content, such as graphics and tour press for artists. Words cannot describe my excitement for this opportunity and I cannot wait to see what the summer has in store.

Internships are like “dipping your toes in the water” to the industry you want to pursue. It is the chance to develop your skills and find your interests before entering the “real” world after graduation.
— Natalie Blakley

If you are applying for internships, my advice for you is to not be afraid to put yourself out there. For example, making cold calls to a company and asking for information about an internship. Also, connect with as many people as possible because you never know if they will help you get your dream job. These are the steps I took to get my internship and now I on the road to my future career.

Author: Natalie Blakley, Social Media Committee

Devon Energy's John Poretto Speaks to OU Chapter

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This week, our chapter had the privilege of hearing from John Porretto, corporate communications director at Devon Energy. He is a very accomplished journalist and had a lot of wisdom to share with our chapter.

John Porretto graduated from Louisiana State University with a degree in journalism. After graduating, his’s first job was writing for a local newspaper in Baton Rouge. He then moved to Mississippi to work for another newspaper, covering hurricane Katrina. Next, he worked for the Associated Press for several years and held several different positions there. He started as a business focused writer in Jackson, Mississippi, went on to be the automotive writer in Detroit, Michigan and then he became the oil and gas writer in Houston, Texas.

After spending  20 years in journalism,  Porretto decided that he wanted to do something different. He became interested in public relations and left the news industry. He worked for Marathon Oil as an External Communication specialist for 9 years, then moved to Oklahoma City and started as a manager for media relations at Devon Energy, before moving up to communications director. he explained that in his current position he mostly deals with media relations and the morale of the company.

He had a lot of very helpful career advice to share with our chapter. He emphasized the importance of being a good writer, and encouraged us to really focus on working to improve our writing skills. Porretto told us,

As someone who hires young people, I’m telling you, you have to be able to write.
— John Porretto

He also really emphasized the importance of building positive and meaningful relationships with journalists that could potentially be writing about the company you work for, and he was able to share with us several stories of how this has been beneficial to him in his career.

We are so thankful that we got to hear from John Porretto this week and are looking forward to our hearing from our next guest speaker after spring break.

Written by: Hannah Hunnicutt, Social Media Committee

CCO and Founder of bread & Butter PR, Meredith Vachon, Speaks to OU PRSSA

OU PRSSA Alumni, Co-Founder and Chief Culture Officer of bread & Butter Public Relations, Meredith Vachon, came to speak to the chapter last week. She spoke to the chapter about how she ended up in the successful place she is now and what it took to become a Co-Founder of the amazing bread & Butter company. She was extremely passionate and our members loved hearing all the wisdom she had to offer.

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Meredith started off by telling the chapter a little about how she came to be in the position she is now, which included waiting tables in Los Angeles to make ends meet. While trying to decide what to do with the rest of her life, a man happened to ask her about her life story. This ended up landing her a position in what she loved most, Restaurant Public Relations, where she also happened to meet her best friend. Flash forward of a couple of years, Meredith and her best friend decided to collaborate and create bread and Butter PR, which now has twelve offices spanning the country.

Bread and Butter PR does Public Relations, Social Media, Influencer Marketing, Hotel and Travel, Digital Marketing and Creative. Meredith explained bread and Butter as being hands-on and emphasized the importance of keeping personal relationships with their clients. She shared some of the core values of bread and Butter PR some of which included: Always say yes, be honest, and trust your heart…it knows best. Meredith also offered the chapter some advice below.

Be optimistic, say yes to everything, we will figure it out. Not just in work, but life in general.
— Meredith Vachon

Written by: Chelsea Black

Edited by: Makenzi Smith

Former National Committee Members Return to Speak to PRSSA

This week two OU Gaylord Alumni, Dea Pennington (7 Eleven Corporate Communications Manager) and Joshua Lachica (Candor Digital Media Coordinator), spoke to the chapter about their experience of being on PRSSA’s National Committee.

Dea Pennington graduated from OU almost four years ago and was the VP of professional development for PRSSA National Committee. Currently, Dea is a manager at 7 Eleven corporate in Dallas and claims her day to day work is different every day. She listed her top 5 major things she thought of when she thinks back to PRSSA National Committee that is listed below:

  1. When she was running, she felt she wasn’t qualified. She emphasized how great Gaylord is and how we are all qualified because she believes OU is the cream of the crop for Public Relations. 

  2. The election process is not a popularity contest; they elect people based on the speech you give. She was intimated by the platform of where she would have to speak because public speaking wasn’t a strong thing for her at the time. She believes this is an important skill to work on during your undergrad because it is needed every day in the working world and was grateful she got the practice of speaking through PRSSA. 

  3. She was grateful that she joined PRSSA National Committee because it opened up many job opportunities for her and even got her the job she has today. 

  4. PRSSA National Committee was a tremendous networking opportunity.

Joshua Lachica, digital media coordinator at Candor PR, graduated from OU in 2017. He went through Linsey+Asp and joined the PRSSA National Committee in 2016 where he served as Vice President of Public Relations. His primary responsibility in this position was social media, which is a skill he continues to do at Candor now. He discussed how although it felt like a part-time job, it was the most fulfilling membership he had in college. Joshua emphasized the relationships he built with this tight group of people and how they all became his life long friends. He stated, “if you are the dumbest person in the room, you are definitely in the right place.” Joshua felt this exact way as he saw his peers’ work ethics and ideas. Feeling this way inspired him to work harder. He believes overall he’s become a better person in the working world because of them. 

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Written by: Elizabeth Clarke, Social Media Committee

PRSSA Alumni Feature: Bryce McElhaney

One of our Diversity+Inclusion initiatives includes highlighting Gaylord College alumni, the diverse career paths they took after graduation, the different skills they acquire during and after college and their personal backgrounds on our social channels and blog. We continue our alumni series today! 

Meet Bryce McElhaney. He first came to the University of Oklahoma in the fall of 2015 with two simple goals: to earn a bachelor’s degree in journalism and to begin a career in his field directly after. “It was a bit overwhelming since I was a transfer student, but I felt pretty comfortable in Gaylord” McElhaney said. As he followed the two-year path that would lead him to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in online journalism, he began to seek other possible career paths in media such as social media marketing and video.

During his time at OU, Bryce worked for the OU Daily, beginning as a reporter, then serving as a videographer during his last two semesters. He also landed internships with The Journal Record Legislative Report and The Enid News & Eagle. Some of the experiences he valued most during his time at Gaylord were taking more hands-on classes with Julie Jones, Ken Fischer and Kyle Bergersen, as well as meeting professional journalists from outlets like Al Jazeera, Los Angeles Times and The Oklahoman.

Bryce is currently a web editor at The Oklahoman/NewsOK where he manages NewsOK.com and their social media accounts. Beyond this, he is also working as a documentary filmmaker for a nonprofit group, Calle Dos Cinco, in the Historic Capitol Hill district in Oklahoma City. He is filming a project that will later be released on their website and Facebook page as a six-part series, covering events and showcasing a collection of stories from residents, historians and politicians about the district's deep history.

As OU alumni, McElhaney has some words of wisdom for those who are just beginning their journey at the university:

“Change is inevitable, adaptability is key to survival.”
— Bryce McElhaney

Although he notes that it sounds a bit heavy, it is certainly a fantastic piece of advice.

Though it may seem that he already has a full plate, McElhaney has found room for yet another creative project. In the midst of a transitional phase of his life, he decided to create Generally Speaking Podcast. “It's a fun project that allows me to meet interesting people, and I'm very proud of that,” he said of the show, which is “a weekly podcast exploring happiness, struggles and passions,” according to its Facebook page

There is certainly a bright future ahead for Bryce McElhaney, one that has only just begun. You can follow him and all his projects on Twitter, @bryce_mac

By: Rylee Haley

PRSSA Alumni Feature: Micayla Payne

Public relations is a diverse profession where you have the opportunity to work in any industry you desire. The skills PR professionals are expected to have are endless - social media marketing, professional writing, media relations, rebranding - to name a few. The expectations are high but, if done right, public relations can help bridge the gap between different audiences and brands around the world, to establish and foster relationships. So, the OU PRSSA Chapter set out to interview former PRSSA members to learn about the different paths they took to arrive at their career today. We’ll explore diverse skills PR professionals possess, their responsibilities and the different industries our alumni are working in.

Everyone loves someone who is available.
— Micayla Payne, former PRSSA member

As a first-generation college graduate in her family, Micayla knew OU was her “end goal” before she set out on her college journey. Now, she is the marketing director of a 30,000 square foot music and event venue in downtown Oklahoma City called “The Criterion.” She interned at The Criterion for more than a year before she decided to pitch her services to the owner. In January, while still attending OU, she became the active social media manager and marketing coordinator for the venue.

Payne’s responsibilities include:

* Creating and cultivating various awareness campaigns on social media for upcoming shows and events

* Monitoring social media channels

* External communication (press releases, media kits and client pitches)

* Organizing show promotions and giveaways

* Audience research

* Radio and media buying

Some advice on dealing with the real world?

“Everyone loves someone who is available” because people are “more inclined to work with you if you respond quickly, are informative, and are a hard driven worker with options and answers,” Payne said. Along with availability, she says that learning to accept “no” as an answer, then taking that experience to form a new angle to pitch is so important.

“I don’t think I was prepared for how many times I would be told ‘no’… But that’s not always the case; “no” sometimes means finding a way that turns a ‘no’ into a ‘yes.’ Moral of the story: Don’t Give Up!!
— Micayla Payne

Author: Brianna Rhodes

PRSSA Hosts Saxum

PRSSA kicked off its first meeting this Tuesday, January 29th! We had the privilege of having OU Alum and Saxum account Executive, Madison Malget speak to our chapter.

Madison talks with Dean Kelley and professor robert pritchard.

Madison talks with Dean Kelley and professor robert pritchard.

Madison has just started her journey in the world of public relations and yet, she’s already accomplishing so much. She considers herself to be “one of the lucky ones,” but her work speaks for itself as she recently got promoted to account executive at the Saxum’s OKC office.

Through involvement in the Gaylord community, Madison was given the opportunity to find internships working at Ground Zero, LDWW Group and TSET through events like Top Jobs. She encourages students who are looking for internships to use LinkedIn as a tool to get to know people before and after a networking event. She said how important it was for employers to be able to “put a face to the name”. She was also involved with PRSSA and Lindsey + Asp.

Madison’s time at OU taught her many valuable lessons that she still follows today in her current position. She emphasizes the importance of networking and says that “you’re never too young to start.” She also tells students that it’s important to stand up straight and “exude confidence.”

Many people are unfamiliar with the specific tasks of what someone in account service for an agency like Saxum does. Madison explains that in simple terms, account service manages relationships with the media, stakeholders and vendors. Other tasks include supporting your team with day to day activities, being the face of the agency for the client and advocating between client and creative team.

Along with fulfilling duties for your positive, like account service, Madison has suggestions that can be applied to any job or position beyond the field of PR. She recommends that you do anything you can to “make your boss’s life easier” including being excited to learn, help and being good at time management.

Blog written by Sienna Severns, PRSSA Social Media Committee

OU PRSSA Takes on Downtown Dallas

This past weekend, I joined other OU PRSSA students on the Dallas trip. We met with several agencies in downtown Dallas to tour and get our foot in the door with companies that many of us hope to work for in the future. From learning about how to polish a resume to meeting and talking directly to employees, we spent our Friday visiting SPM, Ketchum, Fleishman Hillard and the Richards Group.

OU PRSSA Members pose at SPM.

OU PRSSA Members pose at SPM.

SPM

SPM is ranked as the 5th Independent Public Relations Firm in Texas. We met with this agency first and learned what they look for in personal interviews, resume tips and an overall idea of what they do as an agency.

First, we took a tour of their office. It was very modern- every office space in the building had a white desk, and the walls were painted in bright colors. Each employee had a personal desk placed in smaller office rooms aligning the building. In the middle of the building was a big conference room, where we eventually all sat down to watch a slideshow presentation put on by each employee in the office.

The employees spoke about their roles within the company and the names of their clients, including Mimi’s, Nothing Bundt Cakes and Cici’s Pizza. Two of the employees are former OU graduates, and one of the interns graduated from OU in 2017. The intern, Shelby, was the secretary of PRSSA when she was a senior at OU. One unique thing I noticed about this company is that it is very dog friendly. Everyone is allowed to bring their dogs to work, so there were several dogs hanging out around us. Overall, I left with these tips below…

In-Person Interviews

  • Bring in personal resume

  • Research interview questions before

  • Prepare at least 3 questions

  • Look professional (women: have your nails done)

  • Be responsive

Resume Tips

  • No more than 1 page

  • Be descriptive about what you have done (sent press release to [list specific company])

  • Find a mentor to read over your resume before you turn it in

  • Send a great email with an attached resume

  • Cover letters are not too big of a deal

Ketchum

The next agency we visited was Ketchum. This agency is 95 years old and is part of Omnicom. They have teams and resources in over 70 offices around the world. We met in their conference room with two Senior Account Executives, the retail sector, the head of Influencer Relations and three new employees that had just finished the summer fellows internship program.

OU PRSSA Members pose at Ketchum.

OU PRSSA Members pose at Ketchum.

The employees discussed their roles at the agency and told us which clients they worked with directly. The retail sector employee, Jamey Peters, welcomed us with the history of the company. Sr. Account Executive Amy Baker discussed the work she had done with Wendy’s, including a Wendy’s Twitter campaign that targeted millennials and eventually appeared on Ellen DeGeneres’ talk show.

Amy achieved this with the help of Carter Wilkerson, who made Twitter history on his post about Wendy’s. With 18 million retweets, Carter Wilkerson surpassed Ellen DeGeneres’ Guinness World Record of retweets.

Gabby Caballero, the influencer relations at Ketchum, spoke to us about her role at this agency. She personally works with the client Orange Theory, where she connects with bloggers who she hopes will post positive things about Orange Theory. Another Senior Account Executive, Madilene Lake, discussed issues and crisis management that she works on with the company Exxonmobil.

Finally, the three new employees spoke to us about the Summer Fellows Internship Program. Their biggest advice to us was to begin building connections. Below are the notes I jotted down about the Summer Fellows Program…

Summer Fellows Program

Fleishman Hillard

The next agency we visited was Fleishman Hillard. This agency is located on the 34th floor of a building in downtown. They greeted us with fresh warm cookies when we arrived, and there was a full kitchen in the conference room that was available for the employees to use on a regular basis. One of the employees told me how many of them joke about getting the “Fleishman Hillard 15” in relation to the “freshman 15”, as they have people constantly making sweets in the kitchen.

OU PRSSA Spring President Demery Pennington presents at Fleishman Hillard in collaboration with one of the agency’s employees.

OU PRSSA Spring President Demery Pennington presents at Fleishman Hillard in collaboration with one of the agency’s employees.

Overall, the employees were diverse yet shared the same value of providing quality work to their clients. We had several employees discuss work they have completed with clients such as Longhorn Steakhouse, Lowe’s and Google. Below are a few facts the employees shared with us...

Facts

  • 92% of consumers are likely to trust peers over advertising

  • The people are who consumers look at for inspiration or advice

  • You can’t force an influencer to say something positive; therefore, building strong relationships is important

  • When writing a press release, use the strategy of “and, but, therefore” to get your point across clearly

Two employees spoke to us about what an average day looked like as a Fleishman Hillard employee:

Day in the Life of Fleishman Hillard Employees

  1. Reading and replying to many emails

  2. Spreadsheets

  3. Stalking companies to make a scoring process

  4. Building product sheets

  5. Creating and producing case studies based on research

The Richards Group

Lastly, we visited The Richards Group, a branding agency that endears brands to people. This agency is located in a beautiful building over Central Expressway. It was designed by the CEO with special intentions behind each piece of the building. Two job recruiters gave us a tour of the agency and pointed out each design that the CEO created. Listed below are some of the designs I wrote down…

Building Designs

  • Each room is named after one of the longest working employees currently in the office (honoring them for their committed years spent with the company)

  • The printers are located by the kitchen so people could multitask

  • The elevators are located on the outside of the building, so there is a 360-degree view of the Dallas skyline on every floor

  • No offices are closed off because the CEO believes in an open-door policy

  • The top floor of the building is a workout facility, spin studio, yoga studio, juice bar and nap room, because the CEO is passionate about health

This agency is composed of 750 employees that work amongst themselves, so everyone is valued in the agency, and they don’t have corporate titles. Some of their major clients are Fruit of the Loom, Home Depot and Zales. After the tour, we met with three new employees that gave us advice for getting a job at an agency like the Richards Group. Below are the notes I took…

Tips to Get a Job At The Richards Group

OU PRSSA members pose at The Richards Group.

OU PRSSA members pose at The Richards Group.

  • Attend networking events at your school

  • Take an accounting class; you use these skills often

  • Build a LinkedIn profile and use a professional picture

  • Make a website for yourself

  • Learn about different companies

  • Use a traditional resume when you apply for the job


This trip was a great experience, and we learned a lot about the different agencies. As we left, we were all astonished by the amount of things we learned in one day. It was truly an enlightening experience, and I encourage more OU students to get involved with OU PRSSA, because it gives you opportunities to learn more about companies and network with them, further preparing you for a future career in PR.

-Elizabeth Clarke