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