Agency Life with Larisha Hunter

Larisha Hunter, Candor PR

Larisha Hunter, Candor PR

At our last meeting we had the pleasure of welcoming Gaylord College graduate, Larisha Hunter, senior account executive from Candor PR to speak to us about her career path to success and agency life!

Starting out as a journalism major, Larisha had a strong passion for writing and was even published in the Norman Transcript! She eventually made the transition into public relations, where she flourished. After college, she landed a job at the State Chamber of Oklahoma after being reached out to from a recruiter. Larisha eventually transitioned from her position with the State Chamber into what turned out to be her dream job at Candor. She was able to be apart of Candor when they first opened a small office in downtown Oklahoma City and has since helped the them grow into the the award-winning agency they are today!

After the recent shooting in El Paso, Texas, Larisha was contacted by Candor’s client, Walmart, to be apart of the ground team that would manage media after this unspeakable tragedy had occurred. She spent time working with different media outlets, tracking memorial events that were taking place and tracking social media for important tweets and information. Larisha notes that it’s important to be ready and available to your client at any minute of the day, especially when a crisis occurs.

“If you’re considering going into agency life, take part in an internship beforehand”

Candor-Public-Relations.jpg

In Larisha’s eyes, it’s “all about the hustle” when it comes to agency life. She always looks for individuals who work hard and can be a “jack-of-all-trades,” just like her, when hiring. She also suggests “doing your homework” and not waiting until the last minute if you’re looking for an internship. It’s always impressive to compliment an agency on its recent accomplishments in an interview! Don’t forget that you should be asking the interviewer the “hard” questions too! This shows your interest in finding a job that is a good fit for you and your personality! Larisha also looks for people who have, what Candor refers to as, the “GSD Factor”. The GSD (Get Stuff Done) Factor is important at any job, and is a key factor in becoming your agency’s star player.

Taylor Ketchum - From Internship to Leadership

Last Tuesday, at our second meeting of the year, OU PRSSA welcomed Vice President of Jones PR, Taylor Ketchum to speak to our chapter!

Taylor Ketchum, VP of Jones PR

Taylor Ketchum, VP of Jones PR

Taylor first started her career in PR as an intern at...you guessed it, Jones PR! She’s worked her way up to becoming the Vice President of her agency and now serves on the Board of Directors for PRSA - OKC (Which she highly encourages students emerging in the professional world to be apart of). Following her success as an intern, Taylor has become accustomed to hiring on interns at Jones PR. She gave our chapter some tips and best practices when it comes to being a good intern and overall worker in the professional world.

As we all know, it can be hard to stand out in a sea of interns, so how can you fix this? Taylor gave us three pieces of advice that she used to gain her success at Jones PR:

  1. Always be willing to help (especially with technical problems and social media questions)

    • As a part of Generation Z, we are more accustomed to using technology, especially when it comes to social media, so never be afraid to speak up and put your knowledge to good use!

  2. When it’s appropriate, do a “show and tell”

    • Do you have a new and better way to improve a system that you or your colleagues are using? Show your boss that you’re an expert on this new skill/tool and show them why they should implement it!

  3. Make your boss’s day better (even small tasks help!)

    • Find a daily or weekly task that your boss has been doing for numerous years and ask if you can assist or take over! Be the person your boss can’t live without!

“Grow the company, improve the culture”

Taylor worked her way from being an intern in college, to being the Vice President at Jones PR. How did she do it? She created a seat for herself at the table and encourages you to do the same at your internship/job:

  1. Don’t rush to the table!

    • Get your thoughts, notes and plan of action in place. Come prepared to fight push back from every angle!

  2. Make it clear on how your “idea” will positively impact the bottom line of your company

“If you are not at the table, you are on the menu!” 

Ever wondered what you can do to land that dream internship of yours? Taylor had two tips for us, that she still lives by today:

  1. Never think you’re too good to do the dishes!

    • Always look around and assist others, especially those who are “newer”

  2. If you are fearful of going after what you want...do it afraid!

    • Try an industry that you love and dream about working in and go for any opportunity that you find!

download.png

PR and Politics with Kristin Morgan

Kristin Morgan    Account Lead at Sagac Public Affairs

Kristin Morgan

Account Lead at Sagac Public Affairs

OU PRSSA kicked of it’s first meeting of the school year this past Tuesday, August 27th, 2019, with guest speaker and Account Lead from Sagac Public Affairs, Kristin Morgan!

The chapter was happy to welcome back OU alum, Kristin Morgan back to Gaylord for the first time since her graduation, in 2015. Since leaving OU, the alum is now an accomplished Account Lead for Sagac Public Affairs, a public relations firm based in OKC. Sagac is known for their work with PAC (Political Action Committee) funding, helping 160 clients raise over $30 million in the 2017-2018 election cycle. Kristin, being responsible for 15 of these clients personally, says she gets to go to Washington D.C. each month to help with tasks like fundraising!

During these D.C. visits she works with clients like, the American Dental Association. For their 50th anniversary, Kristin was able to create lapel pins, for those who donate over $5000 to the organization and has also designed posters for their large events.

Kristin says that she attributes the connection of public relations to politics with this simple equation:

Awareness + brand/rep + influence

  1. Awareness of things like the PAC (Political Action Committee)

  2. Having a brand or representative that is trying to gain support/donations

  3. Gaining influence through events such as the Democratic debates

Her career in politics was first influenced by her dad who works as a Political Consultant. She knew that she wanted to pursue this career through her passion for making relationships and storytelling.

Image.png

After graduating from OU she moved back to her hometown of Kansas City, driving back to Oklahoma City once a week for 13 weeks until she landed her position at Sagac Public Affairs, where she works today.

Kristin gave the chapter some tips on what she had wished she had done while she was still in college:

  • Enjoy the summer after graduation because you don’t get breaks like this again in the working world

    • Kristin suggests taking a road trip by yourself!

  • Take more design and social media classes

    • It will pay off if you can help out your graphic designer

  • LEARN HOW TO USE EXCEL!

    • It cold help you turn an all nighter into a quick 10 minute project!

After a few years in the world of political public relations, Kristin says she’s learned a few things along the way and was kind enough to heed this advice to future members of the professional world:

  1. Critique yourself like you do others

    • Often times we are very harsh on others but we need to learn to “be judgemental internally” in order to produce an excellent level of work and become empathetic to others

  2. Say it in fewer words

    • “CEO’s don’t have time to read ten pages!” Kristin says that it’s important to be cognizant of your wording because we’re all busy people so it’s better to get right to the point, especially in emails too!

  3. Be thoughtful rather than an “overachiever”

    • Sometimes we think it’s best to turn things in earlier, rather than later, Kristin argues against this and says that clients “care more about good products” than having the bare minimum done in a short amount of time.

  4. Resumes must be PERFECT

    • “If you can’t do your resume in a perfect way, then I don’t want to even see it.” Take time to perfect your resume and fine tune all the little details before you apply to any job or internship!

Kristin was kind enough to offer to look over resumes for those seeking help! If you are interested in getting resume tips, internship information, or learning more about Kristin’s career in political public relations, please email her at:

kristin@sagac.com



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.

56271635_10211220084897192_9092095347840253952_n.jpg

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

DSC_0289.jpg

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!

Screen Shot 2019-01-16 at 4.28.05 PM.png

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

DSC_0161.jpg

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.

Screen Shot 2019-03-04 at 10.35.51 PM.png

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. 

Screen Shot 2019-03-04 at 10.36.47 PM.png


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