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

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.





Our Meeting with OU Alum Jared Deimund

Our guest speaker at Tuesday’s meeting was Jared Deimund, an Account Executive specializing in Public and Political Affairs from Saxum in Oklahoma City. Deimund graduated from our very own Gaylord College in 2016 with a public relations degree, so we were so excited to hear about the work he has done.

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Diemund’s three main clients at Saxum are the Oklahoma Beer Alliance, Oklahoma’s For Criminal Justice Reform and the Oklahoma Lottery. His main focuses at the meeting Tuesday were how to choose between a small and large agency and the transition from college to the business world. He gave us these 5 tips to think about when trying to decide where you want to work:

1. Location- Where do you want to be?

2. What kind of culture do you crave?

3. Who are you going to be working with or for?

4. What kind of work do you want to do? In five years? In ten years?

5. Do I see this agency as a place I want to be for a while or simply as a stepping stone?

Along with this advice, Diemund also spoke about his experience transitioning from college to the business world and gave these 5 tips:

1. Relax. You’re not expected to be the CEO already.

2. First three months are vital

3. Be excited to learn.

4. Work is work.

5. Have fun.

So, whether you are transitioning into the business world, college or somewhere in between, Diemund’s advice is very helpful and, as always, it is good to hear from another successful Gaylord graduate.

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Erika's Summer Internship Experience: Influencer Marketing

Summer has come to an end, which means it’s time to reflect on what I learned during my summer internship. I had the incredible opportunity to be the public relations intern at i.d.e.a. - an integrated creative agency in sunny San Diego! Most of my time was spent conducting influencer marketing research where I learned a few things. Not only was this type of marketing fun for me to dive into, but it’s a growing aspect of public relations that young PR professionals need to keep in mind as they enter the workforce.

Influencer marketing - this form of marketing focuses on the use of influential people rather than directly marketing to whole publics. Whether you’re using an influencer database such as GroupHigh or doing organic research, there’s a few things PR practitioners need to keep in mind when making their recommendations to their client.

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1. Before you begin your research. Always keep in mind your client’s overall brand, goals and purpose before diving into the research. Your goal should be to find an influencer who can relate to the brand authentically so they can in turn share content that will resonate with their followers.

2. Budget. Influencer marketing is a growing industry with costs ranging from the hundreds to the thousands. It’s important to know your budget before beginning your research so you know what you’re working with. During this time you can establish how you will measure your return on investment (ROI). Are you really getting the most bang for your buck?

3. Social. In the world of technology, social media following and engagement is crucial. The more followers and positive sentiment an influencer has, the more likely your client will reach a bigger audience. It’s always a good idea to scan through the followers an influencer has too. Avoid being misled with bought followers.

4. Bloggers. It’s also important to check if the influencer has a blog. Depending on the client, product or service, blogs may not be as important. Bloggers really come into play in travel and food industries. You’ll want to research the number of unique visitors per month (UVM) the blog has. Resources such as Cision can help identify this number. Much like social following, UVM is important in determining the potential reach an influencer has.

5. Media landscape. If an influencer is big enough, they may have been featured in regional and local news. Do a quick Google search to check if their reach goes beyond social and blogging.

Influencer marketing is a growing trend within the public relations industry and although these tips are not all encompassing, they can be used as you begin learning more about and researching influencers.

Happy to talk more about my experience with you. Let’s grab coffee and chat. Contact me at erika.fierro-1@ou.edu.

Lee Reynolds: Sticking to Her Roots

At our meeting on Tuesday, we had the opportunity to hear from Lee Reynolds, the Director of Development at our beloved Gaylord College. Many of us were surprised and excited to hear that she graduated from OU with a PR degree! 

Lee gave us a brief history of her time thus far within the PR field. After graduating from OU, she lived in three different states before returning to her roots: Norman, OK.

She recommended five lessons that we should implement in all of our PR endeavors: 

  1. Importance of storytelling
  2. Every interaction is a networking opportunity
  3. You can never over-prepare
  4. Personal touches can be a game changer
  5. Utilize every resource available
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In addition to informing us of these helpful tips, she also gave us interview advice by suggesting we position interviews as conversations. We're trying to learn as much about them as they are about us! 

In honor of Lee's two favorite words, we say "thank you" to everyone who came to the meeting and heard the wise words of Pritch, Dean Ed Kelley and Lee!

And remember: "It's not the grades you make; it's the hands you shake." -Lee Reynolds