In this issue of Converging News:
Developing for the Future
By Hannah Cruz
After a few years of working for Ronald McDonald House Charities in Lubbock, Abbi Brickey, was excited to return to her alma mater at Texas Tech University.
Brickey was hired this summer by the College of Media & Communication as a full-time development officer. A Tech fanatic and alumna herself, Brickey said she was excited to get to work directly with other Tech alumni to help improve the college.
“It’s exciting to hear everyone’s experience at Tech,” she said. “Typically, it’s always good — they always love Tech. It’s neat to see their passion. No matter where they live, they cherish and remember their days here on campus. It’s neat to meet other people who feel that way. I think once you’re a student here, it’s always a part of you.”
Meeting with the college’s alumni frequently, Brickey said she has the opportunity to bring alumni up to date on current events about the university and the college. Brickey said once she forms a relationship with each alumnus, she hopes to develop that relationship into a gift for the college — whether the gift is monetary, real estate, volunteer work or even an internship for a student.
“I go through lists of alumni and I try to contact them and meet with them and kind of update them with what we’re doing in the college,” Brickey said. “At some point, if I build a good enough relationship, I talk to them about either making a gift to the college or putting the college in their will or some sort of monetary gift or gift of real-estate or something like that. My main job is to meet alumni and develop that into a gift.”
Interested in making a gift to the college? Contact Abbi Brickey.
Student Crisis Communication Competition
By Morgan Grubbs
A team of public relations majors from the College of Media & Communication earned third place in the statewide student crisis communication competition at the Texas Public Relations Association’s annual meeting Nov. 12, 2010 in Austin, Texas.
The team, which included Josh Blankenship, Sarah Johnson, Isaac Olivares and Amber Terrell, placed ahead of teams from the University of Texas at Austin, Texas Christian University, Abilene Christian University and Texas State University.
John G. Wirtz Ph.D., assistant professor of public relations in the college and faculty adviser for the event, said the competition allowed the students to draw on their individual strengths while working together, which was good practice for the professional world.
“None of the students on the team has had a specific class in crisis communication,” Wirtz said, “so it is impressive to me that they were able to place third competing against teams of students who had much more training in dealing with crises. I think it speaks well of the quality of our top students at Tech, and I’m very proud of what they accomplished.”
The annual meeting, entitled “Help – the Sky is Falling!” provided the students with a hands-on crisis simulation which allowed them to hone their skills and advance their knowledge regarding managing crises situations.
This professional development opportunity also featured many guest speakers and networking opportunities.
Amber Terrell, a senior public relations major from Dallas, said the competition was fun and exhilarating and helped her practice acting and responding to real life situations in real time.
“This was an incredible experience that I don’t think I could have ever gotten from a classroom,” Terrell said. “I think it’s hard to teach someone how to react to a crisis since there is no exact right or wrong way to do it. There is still much more to be learned and this competition was just a preview of what to expect in the real world. I’m so proud of our team for placing and TPRA for acknowledging our skill in crisis communication.”
Inspiring Students through Politics
By Hannah Cruz
With politics an ever-present force in society, Weiwu Zhang, assistant professor of public relations in the College of Media & Communication at Texas Tech University, hopes to teach his public relations students how to become involved in the political system.
Zhang will teach a special topics course on public relations and politics, offered for the first time in the spring. Zhang said he was surprised to see the 80 positions available for the class fill so quickly, let alone with majors and non-majors alike.
The class will integrate political communication with public relations, Zhang said, and will analyze a variety of topics such as lobbying, ad campaigning, and agenda setting, as well as the discussion of current political events. Zhang said his ultimate goal is to get students excited about politics.
“Public relations is everywhere — you may not even realize,” he said. “And that’s the beauty of it. [I want students to] learn some basics, learn some applications, but in the end the ultimate purpose is really to engage students and encourage them to participate in politics.”
Zhang said he wants to teach his students that politics can be positive rather than negative, in hopes of encouraging students to view politics in a different light. Zhang said he wants his students to know the course of politics is up to them.
“Politics is fun,” he said. “And a PR aspect is even more entertaining, but that’s not the ultimate goal of this class. I would say stressing the importance of public servants. And only by really participating in that process can you really change something.”
Special Topics Course for Spring
By Hannah Cruz
A new special topics course on rock and roll and media will be offered in the spring at Texas Tech University’s College of Media & Communication.
Kent Wilkinson, Ph.D., and Regents Professor in Hispanic and International Communication, will teach the class alongside graduate instructor Kent Lowry. They will cover themes such as musical globalization, music and technology, media economics of the music business, fan culture, and music and social identity in their “EMC 4301: Rock and Roll Media” class.
Wilkinson said he hopes students gain a greater understanding of the ties between media and popular culture, but said the class will improve students’ understanding of all-things media — not just in relation to rock and roll.
“The course will offer students an engaging way to learn more about a number of media-related topics including marketing and promotion, media economics, visual communication, political communication, sociology of media, and digital technology to name a few,” he said. “We hope that learning about these topics and how they are connected will improve students' media literacy and help them recognize and think through similar developments in the future.”
With 66 current positions still open for the spring, students with at least a sophomore standing still have time to enroll for the class.