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

A Memorable Meeting to End the Semester

On Tuesday, November 27, we had our last PRSSA meeting of the Fall 2018 semester. Although it feels like this semester flew by, the meetings we had were filled with exceptional speakers and helpful information.

We finished off our last meeting with an appearance from our three incredible professional advisors. Not every PRSSA chapter has a professional advisor, but ours is lucky enough to have three- Sandra Longcrier, Alyson Moses and Jennifer Dennis-Smith.

These women have been very successful and have an impressive amount of experience working in the PR field. Sandra Longcrier owns Longcrier Communications, Alyson Moses works at Autodesk and Jennifer Dennis-Smith owns Spontaneous Pop.

From left to right: Jennifer Dennis-Smith, Alyson Moses and Sandra Longcrier shared their advice about how to succeed in the PR field.

From left to right: Jennifer Dennis-Smith, Alyson Moses and Sandra Longcrier shared their advice about how to succeed in the PR field.

They gave us a brief history of how they each started their careers, where they have been, and what they have accomplished, while also giving advice throughout their presentation. A profound thing they all agreed on is how every work day within the world of PR is different, which makes the job interesting and exciting.

Here is some of the advice they shared:

  • “The ability to understand what or who you are working for is very important to me while working in the Public Relations field.” -Sandra Longcrier

  • “It is very important to see a task from beginning to end and to be a very responsible person and employee in the PR industry.” -Alyson Moses

  • “A sense of humor is a necessary trait while working in the Public Relations field.” -Jennifer Dennis-Smith

Hearing from our very own professional advisors was beneficial for our entire chapter. It was interesting to hear the opinions and insights from three different people about what working in the PR field is like.

Undoubtedly, we all learned something from these women that we will be able to apply in our future PR endeavors. We are thankful for our professional advisers and the wisdom they shared, and continue to share, with our chapter.

PRSA-OKC Career Day Mingle Event

From left to right: Haley Carson (Historian), Chelsea Journee (President), Alyssa Danley (Digital Coordinator), Jensen Armstrong (Treasurer), Pritch Pritchard (pro adviser & PRSA board member), Emory Hood (PRSSA member).

From left to right: Haley Carson (Historian), Chelsea Journee (President), Alyssa Danley (Digital Coordinator), Jensen Armstrong (Treasurer), Pritch Pritchard (pro adviser & PRSA board member), Emory Hood (PRSSA member).

On Wednesday, November 14, PRSA-OKC held an event for PR professionals and students at Remington Park in Oklahoma City. It was a night filled with networking, eating, playing bingo and winning raffle prizes.

Four of our exec members and one PRSSA member attended the event. Our professional adviser Pritch Pritchard was also present, as he serves on the board for PRSA.

The room was lively and brimming with conversation from the moment the event began to the end. An unexpected horse race occurred during the event, which made the night even more exciting.

Some of our exec and PRSSA members attended the PRSA-OKC Career Day event held at Remington Park.

Some of our exec and PRSSA members attended the PRSA-OKC Career Day event held at Remington Park.

There were representatives from Gooden Group, Koch Communications, Smirk New Media, VI Marketing and Branding, e-ventures, OG&E, Candor PR, Saxum Communications, Visit OKC, and more. Students had the opportunity to share their resumes, chat with PR professionals, exchange business cards and learn more about the local PR industry as a whole.

The Jingle Mingle is the next PRSA-OKC networking event on December 6. This event will feature a cash bar, food, Santa pictures, raffles and prizes, and will serve as another opportunity for students and members of the PR community to connect with local PR professionals. All of the proceeds will benefit the Dream Fund, a charity that has helped PRSA colleagues in Oklahoma.

We are looking forward to this upcoming event and encourage our members and other Gaylord students to attend!

In the wise words of our adviser Professor Pritch: “If you don’t leave without at least three business cards in hand, you aren’t networking enough.”



An Open Letter from OU PRSSA

To the OU family -

The statue by Tom Otterness sits outside of Gaylord College. ( OU Daily, 2018 )

The statue by Tom Otterness sits outside of Gaylord College. (OU Daily, 2018)

We, members of the Stewart Harrel Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America in Gaylord College at the University of Oklahoma, wish to register our disapproval of the installation of Tom Otterness’ ‘Covered Wagon’ statue, a donation by William Obering, located on the front lawn of Gaylord College. As young public relations professionals, we are taught that transparency is critical to an organization’s reputation and are particularly concerned about the lack of transparency which preceded the installment of the statue, as well as what we have come to learn about the artist’s past.

As one of the nation’s top journalism and mass communications programs, we are very proud of our public image and the successful recruitment efforts which have contributed to our success. We believe the statue and its placement outside Gaylord Hall will negatively impact the image of our college, our recruiting efforts and potential donor and alumni support. Most of all, we want to express our solidarity with members of the OU community who feel disrespected by the statue’s reference to Oklahoma’s colonialist past, as well as the artist’s mistreatment of animals.

Art is a wonderful way to enhance the beauty of our campus. We also know that beauty often lies in the eye of the beholder. However, we are confident that this statue has not and will not be viewed in a positive light nor will it enhance our campus community.

Sincerely,

The Public Relations Student Society of America

Steward Harrel Chapter at the University of Oklahoma

CO-SPONSORS:

Gaylord Ambassadors

Lindsey + Asp Agency

National Association of Black Journalists, OU Chapter

National Association of Hispanic Journalists, OU Chapter

Society of Professional Journalists, OU Chapter

On your marks... get set... GO! : Speed Networking Fall 2018

Students and representatives communicate about the PR industry and what to expect after graduation  (OU PRSSA, 2018).

Students and representatives communicate about the PR industry and what to expect after graduation (OU PRSSA, 2018).

On Tuesday, November 6, we held our annual Speed Networking event in the Gaylord Library. There were several representatives from local companies who chatted with various OU PRSSA members and Gaylord students.

We were honored to have representatives from OKC Dodgers, Oklahoma Blood Institute, Brides of Oklahoma, StellaNova and Candor PR, as well as Micayla Payne, a recent graduate from Gaylord College who currently works in the entertainment PR industry.

Students had the opportunity to speak with each representative in a group setting for 15 minutes. They rotated from table to table in order to connect with each representative and share their resumes.

Topics of conversation included information about each company that was present, tips and tricks to make it in the PR industry, what to expect after graduation and other valuable insight from experienced individuals who have worked in the PR industry.

Back row (from L to R): Lauren Snodgrass & Jennifer Mathis (Brides of Oklahoma), Larisha Hunter (Candor PR), Alex Freedman (OKC Dodgers), Micayla Payne (Chesapeake, BOK), Lacy Young (StellaNova), Heather Browne (OBI)  Front row (from L to R): Lisa Johnson (OKC Dodgers), Lauren Gensheimer (Programming Chair), Programming Committee: Caroline Baker, Amanda Huse, Madi Quine, Jarrett Sipes, Naomi Walker

Back row (from L to R): Lauren Snodgrass & Jennifer Mathis (Brides of Oklahoma), Larisha Hunter (Candor PR), Alex Freedman (OKC Dodgers), Micayla Payne (Chesapeake, BOK), Lacy Young (StellaNova), Heather Browne (OBI)

Front row (from L to R): Lisa Johnson (OKC Dodgers), Lauren Gensheimer (Programming Chair), Programming Committee: Caroline Baker, Amanda Huse, Madi Quine, Jarrett Sipes, Naomi Walker

Not only did the students enjoy the experience, but Jennifer Mathis from Brides of Oklahoma said that it was one of the best networking events she has been to, and Larisha Hunter from Candor PR asked us to send her pictures from the event. We were pleased to see all representatives and students engaged for the entire two hours, and our executive members even participated in the fun.

Our fall Programming Chair Lauren Gensheimer was in charge of planning and organizing the event, and her Programming Committee worked tirelessly to help make it the best Speed Networking event we have had up to date.

We know how important networking is in the field of PR, so we hope that every student made meaningful connections with each representative so that potential future opportunities can unfold.

We would like to thank all representatives, students and PRSSA members that attended, Chick-fil-A for catering, and Lauren and her committee for putting their plans into action. We look forward to next year’s Speed Networking event and the many to follow.