Public Relations: News Archive
- Public relations major Nicole Lundberg was recently named the runner-up with an honorable mention in the 2016 PRWeek Student of the Year competition at PRWeek's annual awards ceremony in New York City.
Lundberg, a junior PR and honors student from Albuquerque, N.M., is the second student in as many years from the Texas Tech University College of Media & Communication to make it to the final round of the competition.
Described as "a reporter's dream" by one judge, Lundberg said the Student of Year competition gave her the opportunity to network with professionals in the field and new hope for her budding career.
"Being recognized by PRWeek is a tremendous honor," Lundberg said. "As a finalist, I was able to travel to New York and meet some of the most accomplished people in the industry. It was a phenomenal opportunity for learning and professional development, and I am now more excited than ever about my future."
Sun Lee, Ph.D., started as Lundberg's professor and became her mentor during the competition. She said Lundberg's success is a testament to both the quality of the Department of Public Relations and to Lundberg's character as a student.
"Nicole is a naturally talented student in this area, but she also has a talent for seeking out advice from professors and other knowledgeable people, and she is willing to actually listen to and absorb the advice that others give her," Lee said. "I think that's when the synergy takes place, and I feel really thrilled when the synergy happens."
Trent Seltzer, Ph.D., assistant dean for graduate studies and former public relations department chair, said he hopes Lundberg's experience will inspire more CoMC students to compete in national competitions.
"Not only is this an amazing honor for Nicole, but it says a lot about the strength of our program," Seltzer said. "We've fielded two students in two years; both made it to the top five. It's just more evidence of what the faculty have known for a long time – our students are fantastic and can compete with public relations majors from any program in the country."
Lundberg said she initially entered the competition to gain experience, and she was thrilled by her success and by the fact that she was received so much support from faculty within the Department of Public Relations.
"Texas Tech has a phenomenal PR program that really sets students up to succeed," Lundberg said. "I would advise other students to take advantage of it. If you're willing to put in the work, it's a great opportunity."
- The Hub@TTU, a multimedia student-run publication within the College of Media & Communication, has been recognized with awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, the Barbara Jordan Media awards, and the Columbia Scholastic Press Association.
The Hub won multiple awards from the SPJ Region 8 Mark of Excellence awards, including Best Independent Online Student Publication for the third year in a row and Best Digital-Only Student Publication for the first time. The Hub also won the award for Best Use of Multimedia for the first time for its "West Texas Water Issues" microsite, which was created by Sarah Self-Walbrick, Nicole Molter, Kaitlin Thogmartin, and Anibal Galindo.
Sarah Self-Walbrick, the graduate executive director for the Hub, said winning national awards is very humbling, especially considering the fact that the Hub is only going into its fourth year of publication.
"I'm very proud of our past and current staff, as well as the students who frequently contribute, for making The Hub@TTU a prestigious collegiate publication," Self-Walbrick said. "For me, winning the Best Independent Online Student Publication for the third year in a row is the most exciting. That category is judged by content published this semester, so it is nice to be told that we are still doing a good job and maintaining high standards year after year."
Members of the Hub were finalists in the Mark of Excellence awards category of "Online News Reporting," including Breann Robinson's story "Does Towing Make You Trucking Mad?" and Maddy McCarty's story "Where Did the Vending Machines Go?"
The Hub also won first-time awards such as a "College Digital New Silver Crown" award from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association and a Barbara Jordan Media award for David Talley's story "The Navigation Equation – How Blind Students Take On Texas Tech."
Self-Walbrick noted that because of membership, this was the first year the Hub was eligible to compete in the CSPA Gold Crown Awards.
"This award is the highest given by CSPA, so even getting a Silver Crown is a big honor, especially for our first year," Self-Walbrick said. "It is a national competition, so it is always nice to receive those bigger awards. I think this is just a sign for what is to come."
Miglena Sternadori, Ph.D., the faculty adviser for the Hub, said she has watched the online publication grow over the last year in its use of multimedia elements and in its quality of news writing.
"I think the Hub has had a long history of excellence," Sternadori said. "What I have seen change since the fall is an increased use of multimedia elements, which is crucial for a digital-only publication. I have also seen a higher quality of news writing, which makes the Hub's content interesting and readable."
Rob Peaslee, Ph.D., chairperson for the Department of Journalism & Electronic Media, said he hopes the Hub's success will inspire more students within CoMC and Texas Tech as a whole to get involved.
"It gives me great pleasure to see the hard work of our students and faculty awarded at the national level," Peaslee said. "Alicia Keene, Sarah Self-Walbrick, and Dr. Miglena Sternadori should be recognized especially for their steadfast dedication to quality journalism and for bringing what is still a new enterprise to such levels of excellence."
Self-Walbrick said she believes the best is yet to come, and she credited the Hub's staff and volunteers with helping to make it the award-winning publication it is today.
"As always, The Hub@TTU has an awesome staff and volunteers," Self-Walbrick said. "Our reporters have taken on some great topics this past year, and I think the website's content has been more diverse than ever. Judging by our high page views and increased social media numbers, I think we're doing something right."
- Guest Speakers in PR Classes - Each year, faculty members from the Department of Public Relations in the Texas Tech University College of Media & Communication invite distinguished guests to speak in their classes, in order to give students a different perspective on the various facets included in the field of PR.
Jakob "Jake" Jensen, Ph.D., an associate professor of strategic communication at the University of Utah, visited Texas Tech this spring, when in addition to speaking to two undergraduate classes, he also spoke to CoMC faculty and graduate students.
"For the undergrad classes, I wanted the students to think more about the story behind the brands, rather than focus on how they use fancy communication technology," Jensen said. "For example, Kickstarter is a story about a guy wanting to raise money to bring in a musical group. And he failed, which drove him to find a way to facilitate grassroots fundraising. It's a great story."
When it came to faculty members and graduate students, Jensen said that he wanted to start a conversation about the future of communication research.
"To create a conversational space where we could be creative, and imagine what our field might look like if we started over," he explained. "It's an exciting time for communication, especially if we stay flexible."
Andy King, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Public Relations, is a good friend and former colleague of Jensen. He said that as an award-winning researcher and teacher, Jensen has expertise as a strategic communication specialist that made him "an ideal fit to supplement our in-house expertise on PR in the classroom."
"I think the students really enjoyed getting a different perspective on the material we had been talking about all semester," King said. "Having guest speakers like Dr. Jensen helps diversify the perspectives students get in the classroom."
Another classroom visitor, Chris Cook, managing director of the Texas Tech University Office of Communications and Marketing, said that as a guest speaker, he has covered a broad range of topics related to PR, including sports media, university media and social media.
"I do my best to relate my experiences to the subject of the course or to whatever the instructor requests," Cook said. "My goal is to provide some insight into the world of communications through my experiences and the lessons I've learned over the years."
When he was first asked to speak in a class at Texas Tech several years ago, Cook said that he was flattered, and that he still is to this day.
"For a faculty member or instructor to put stock into my experiences and what information I might have to share is humbling," he said,
Cook said that in his experience, he has found that experiences and lessons are both transferable and translatable.
"At some point we all face the similarities in our careers and can relate to others," he explained. "I want students to know whatever field they enter, they can be successful, if they work hard, network and communicate for your organization, your client and yourself, and, simply, be nice."
- PR Showdown - The College of Media & Communication kicked off its first Public Relations Showdown in spring 2015. This team-based competition gave students interested in pursuing careers in public relations an opportunity to gain experience in the field.
While PR students already gain knowledge in the areas of PR strategies, writing, pitching, creativity and social media in their classes, the showdown was designed to let them put their skills to the test in a theme-centered competition that prepared them for the real world of PR, said Trent Seltzer, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Public Relations.
Seltzer said that the idea for the showdown came from a group of faculty members who wanted to find a competitive outlet for students looking to sharpen their skills. He explained that there are not currently many competitions like this one in the area, and CoMC faculty wanted Texas Tech to set the groundwork for a competition that could eventually attract students from other universities.
"We had a lot more participation than we thought we would," Seltzer said. "We thought it would be great if we got 10 teams, and then we ended up with 29! We've been making notes as we go along of things we'd like to tweak and change, whether it's a specific challenge, or the structure of the whole thing."
The PR Showdown was split up into two rounds. The first round ran over a five-day period where teams were given a new challenge each day and 24 hours to complete it. The teams were awarded a certain number of points based on their performance in each individual challenge.
The second round was made up of the three teams who earned the most points in round one. These teams were presented with a hypothetical crisis and had to present their solution to the public.
In addition to winning various prizes for the challenges in round one, such as tickets to the Alamo Drafthouse, autographed footballs from Head Football Coach Kliff Kingsbury, and autographed basketballs from Head Basketball Coach Tubby Smith, the members of the winning team from round two received tickets to Dallas from Southwest Airlines and accommodations from the Gaylord Texan hotel for a PR Salon with experienced CoMC alumni working in strategic communications. They also received a second ticket from Southwest to fly anywhere in the U.S.
CoMC professors and doctoral students worked together to coordinate the competition. From judging the challenges, to promoting the competition, to getting student feedback along the way, Seltzer said that it took a team effort to put the competition together.
At the end of both rounds, Team 6, Under PRessure, earned the most points, and was awarded the grand prize. The team was made up of four senior public relations majors: McKenzie Hopson, Lauren West, Emily Jarrell and Chandler Moore.
The members of the winning teams agreed that although competing in the showdown required a lot of effort, it was worth it in the end.
"Winning the PR Showdown to us means that the 70-plus hours we spent together over the course of showdown week and this week was absolutely worth it," Hopson said. "We are so excited and we worked so hard."
Under PRessure found that they had some adversity to overcome throughout the competition, because Moore is a member of the Texas Tech softball team, and there were times when she was out of town. The team said they used applications such as Google Docs and text messaging, and found a way to work together through long-distance communication.
"Most of our stories, truth be told, ended with 'It's 11:56 p.m. and our file won't save correctly, and we're near tears trying to get it submitted,' " Hopson said. "Yet somehow, we pulled it off every day."
Seltzer said that he is happy with the success of the PR Showdown, and he hopes to make it an annual tradition.
"Long term, I'd love it if we could open the showdown to other programs in the region, and invite them in to compete against our students," Seltzer said. "I've gotten good initial feedback from students who have competed in it, saying that it was fun or challenging, not just for the specific challenges, but also for the grind of having to do it every day."
- PR Trip - In the spring of 2015, Tech PR, a student organization for public relations majors, embarked on its annual trip to Dallas where members had the opportunity to visit the Dallas Cowboys AT&T Stadium, Southwest Airlines and various PR agencies.
The trip began with participants choosing between Southwest Airlines and AT&T Stadium. Those who chose Southwest visited the company’s media monitoring center and learned more about possible internships with the airline from Linda Rutherford (BA journalism, 1988), Southwest vice president of communication & outreach.
"The command center was my favorite place," said Christiani Saucedo (BA public relations, 2015). "Southwest takes their customer service really seriously, and it was interesting to see behind the scenes."
The students who chose AT&T Stadium visited conference rooms, media rooms, press boxes, and learned more about opportunities in sports public relations from Joe Trahan, the Dallas Cowboys’ media relations coordinator.
Noelle Vela, a senior public relations major and vice president of Tech PR, said that she thought the trip was a great experience that provided members with "fundamental information to seek more opportunities within sports public relations."
Next, the Tech PR members separated into three groups. Each group visited two public relations agencies, from among M/C/C, Southwest Medical Center, Golin, Pierpont Communications, Edelman and American Red Cross. While touring the firms, students had the opportunity to ask PR professionals about what their average day is like, what it takes to work at a PR agency, and how each firm operates.
Ezra Chairez, a freshman public relations major, said he thinks it is important for public relations students to attend the trip because it is a great way for them to understand more about what public relations is and how a PR agency works.
"If you talk about engineers or doctors, for example, you know exactly what they do," Chairez said. "But public relations includes such a wide range of what one can do, so it is important to learn about the industry early on."
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- Study Abroad - Once a year, students in the College of Media & Communication have the opportunity to spend two weeks in London, exploring the city, learning more about the culture, and earning course credit with CoMC's study abroad program.
Students who enroll in the program can earn six credit hours in two classes: MCOM 4000: Global Communications and Evolution of the British Empire, and a second special topics course in advertising, journalism or public relations, all while staying in London.
Autumn Shafer, Ph.D., a former CoMC assistant professor, who went on the study abroad trip in 2014 and 2015, said that the classes officially started in Lubbock, where students began with research. Once they arrived in London, she said, the students completed their assignments through "experiential learning," where they had to a find media-related exhibit, take a "selfie," and then write a post about the exhibit's significance.
"Classes were hands-on and in-depth," Shafer said. "Our lead faculty did a great job in explaining media differences between the U.S. and UK media. It was very eye-opening – I had not realized that there were so many differences between them."
Roger Saathoff, Ph.D., an associate professor, also went on the trip in May 2015. He said that the trip was filled with cultural icons including castles, the Tower of London, Parliament, Stonehenge and Oxford University.
"The trip to London and the opportunity to see the BBC, the political PR firm, and the other media outlets was amazing," Saathoff said. "The walk along Fleet Street, where the early London printers and newspapers were located, was an entire history course in itself. We were on the go from 8:30 or 9 in the morning until 4 or 5 in the afternoon. And then the students were able to explore on their own."
Saathoff said that out of all of the sights on the trip, he was most impressed academically with the walk down Fleet Street. "Having taught journalism history courses in several formats, I was glad to visit locations and hear about people I had only known through textbooks and other resources," he explained. "That kind of learning is so valuable. And being there makes it more memorable."
Shafer said that from the application process, which is competitive, to the trip itself, the study abroad program is a great "maturity builder" for students because it gives them a chance to become more responsible and to find their sense of independence.
Jake Quintanilla, a senior media strategies major who went on the trip in May 2014, said that because of the trip he has more respect for both people from other countries and students who come to the United States to attend college.
"I am really big on culture, and I love learning about other people's culture. The trip gave me a chance to witness the English people and their culture, and to submerge myself in their daily lives," Quintanilla said. "It gave me a chance to see how a different part of the world works, and, most importantly, to explore the way people uphold their beliefs and traditions."
Ann Georgia Kapusta, a senior public relations major who also went to London in May 2014, called the trip an "once-in-a-lifetime experience," and said that she would love to go back.
"The Study Abroad Program is such a good experience because you get to know faculty on a more personal level. You can stay in touch with them and might ask them for a recommendation letter later in your academic career," Kapusta said. "It also gives you a chance to get to know other students well, learning from them, and possibly teaching them something."
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