Texas Tech University

Converging News

April 2015

In this issue of Converging News:

Dean's Note

Dear Friends of and Colleagues in the College of Media & Communication:

David D. Perlmutter, Ph.D.

Dean David D. Perlmutter, Ph.D.

Every day is an exciting day at the College of Media & Communication, with our whirlwind of distinguished visitors, professional events, and our everyday inventive classes. But as I write this, we have just completed a truly special and unique event that marks another chapter forward for our students, staff, faculty and alumni.

Organized by public relations department chair Trent Seltzer and assistant professor of entrepreneurial communication Geoffrey Graybeal, we hosted our first Student Start-up competition—what I've been informally calling “Dolphin Tank.” I was honored to be one of the judges, along with our alumni Mat Threadgill, Joe Fairless and Will Lowry.

Four student teams competed, with ideas for new media products or venues that they had developed in class. The prize? The winners, if they choose to go on for a master's degree at our college, will be given full-time assistantships, as well as technological and advisory support, to continue to develop their idea.

Even though only several dozen students actually participated, we feel that the entrepreneurial concept is one that all 1,500 of our students should continue learning and adopting.

I grew up at a time when an “entrepreneur” was stereotypically someone not part of a non-profit, a company, or a government agency, but the proverbial guy in a basement. Now we know that all employers are seeking innovation and new ideas from within.

So many great American companies are either in decline or have already crashed and burned because they were good at what they did but not at innovating. Our graduates need to help build the revolutions in media, not just on their own, but as part of teams.

“Dolphin Tank” was thus just one event of what we hope will be a large variety of measures, events and venues to encourage and inculcate a culture and a mindset of entrepreneurship, not just for our students, but for our country's future.

Best Wishes,

David D. Perlmutter

David D. Perlmutter, Ph.D.
Professor and Dean
College of Media & Communication
Texas Tech University
3003 15th Street, Box 43082
Lubbock, TX 79409

806-834-8179 Office
806-742-1085 Fax


Bullet Ad Team goes to District Competition, Member wins “Best Presenter”
By Rachel Blevins

One College of Media & Communication student won an award for “Best Presenter” in District 10 of the American Advertising Federation's National Student Advertising Competition, held April 9-10 in Dallas.

Katherine Parker, a senior advertising major and business minor from Breckenridge, Texas, received the award at the competition. Parker said that she was honored to win the award and she felt that the competition as a whole was a once in a lifetime experience.

“I was so humbled and shocked to receive the special judges' award for best presenter,” Parker said. “A few of my teammates had mentioned the possibility, but of course I didn't want to get my hopes up. When they called my name, I was already in tears from the sweet things the judge had to say. It was a once in a lifetime experience.”

CoMC's Bullet Ad Team, which is made up of a group of select students from the student organization Tech Advertising Federation, placed fifth, in the District 10 team competition.

Shannon Bichard, Ph.D., associate professor, and chairperson of the Department of Advertising, has been the faculty advisor to the Ad Team since 2002. She said the students initially started working on a campaign for their client, Pizza Hut, in September.

Best Presenter

Bullet Ad Team presenting

Bichard noted that it took hours of research, creative brainstorming and production to put the campaign together, and that the team members were so dedicated, they even gave up their spring break.

“It was a fantastic team of students and I am very proud of the campaign they developed for Pizza Hut,” Bichard said.

In order to become a member of the Ad Team, students had to undergo a structured application process that included submitting content that included a “wow” factor, one-on-one interviews, and group projects that showed Bichard how certain groups of students worked together, and what strengths and weaknesses they possessed.

Taylor Condit, a senior advertising major from Boerne, Texas, was the Ad Team's media director. She said she initially wanted to join the team because she knew it was an opportunity that would challenge her skills.

“Being on Ad Team has taught me more than any other experience I've been a part of,” Condit said. “It's amazing to see how far you can push yourself alongside a team that is so passionate. Our challenge this year was extremely difficult, and I'm really proud of our final product.”

Condit said that in addition to learning from working with her own team, she also learned a lot from watching other teams present at the competition.

“Competition is really adrenaline-based, and it was really interesting to see what other teams came up with,” Condit said. “My experience on the team has given me the ability to objectively watch other presentations, easily recognizing good ideas and pin-pointing the holes in other campaigns.”

Parker said that although the team was disappointed when their campaign placed fifth, looking back, they wouldn't change a thing. “We went with a campaign that we were proud of, and we are still proud of it today,” she explained. “Our team did amazing, and I am so proud that we showed up and gave it our all!”

Bichard agreed, and said that while she would love to win every year, the team gave it their all this year, and learned a lot along the way.

“The learning process is so incredible though – they truly all win, even if they don't technically take first place at competition,” Bichard said.

The Ad Team includes Bailey Baethge, Kelly Berend, Peyton Chaney, Alyssa Chavez, Taylor Condit, Townes Donovan, Nicole Ficco, Benjamin Lambourne, Darcy LeDoux, Haley Ostrander, Katherine Parker, Jake Quintanilla, Adrianna Robertson, Amanda Rodriguez, Andrew Sellier, Samantha Serocki, Tyler Smith and Caghan Standlee.


Department of Public Relations Presents Student and Faculty Member of the Year Awards
By Rachel Blevins

Autumn Shafer

Autumn Shafer

Two students and a faculty member have been honored by the Texas Tech University College of Media & Communication's Department of Public Relations recently.

Lauren West was named Public Relations Student of the Year. Wesley Metter was named Media Strategies Student of the Year. And Autumn Shafer, Ph.D. was named Public Relations Faculty Member of the Year.

This is the first time these awards have been given.

Trent Seltzer, Ph.D., an associate professor and the chairperson of the department, said that the department started the Student of the Year competition as a way to recognize students who are going above and beyond, and who are working to better CoMC's public relations program, their community and the profession as a whole.

“In the interest of trying to celebrate students who do good work, we wanted to make them more visible and to award them for a job well done,” Seltzer said. “We have some really fantastic students in the program, and I don't think they get recognized enough.”

Andy King, Ph.D., an associate professor in the department, served as the chair for the awards committee. He said that students submitted applications, which were reviewed by the committee, and then three finalists were selected. Those finalists were then interviewed, and while all three received distinguished awards for being finalists, the committee chose one designated winner.

“We were looking for overall excellence, and a balance of academic and personal achievements, which included involvement with things such as student organizations within the college, internships, or other jobs and opportunities,” King said. “It's a difficult decision, and it was an opportunity for excellent students to make our lives a little bit more difficult, because we're trying to determine who's more excellent.”

Lauren West

Lauren West

Lauren West, senior public relations major from Coppell, Texas, received the award for Public Relations Student of the Year. She is the account manager for RaiderComm, the college's student-run public relations firm, as well as a member of the National Musical Honorary Sorority Tau Beta Sigma, the Goin' Band from Raiderland and its leadership team, and Tech PR.

West said that she was honored to win the award, and that it meant a lot to be recognized for doing something she was passionate about. She said she came to Texas Tech as “undeclared,” and chose to declare public relations as her major on a whim.

“As scary as that was back then, I have loved everything about PR from the moment I picked it, and this award validates the hard work and decisions I have made throughout my collegiate career,” West said. “It is an amazing feeling to be recognized for doing something you love and are passionate about, and not to mention my family is extremely proud of me too.”

West added that this award is made even more special by the fact that she is graduating in May. She explained, “Since I am graduating, it is nice to see the progress I have made and things I have learned building up to this. I have had an amazing undergraduate experience, and it is extremely cool to be going out on such a high note.”

Wesley Metter, senior media strategies major from Plano, Texas, received the award for Media Strategies Student of the Year. She is the vice president of the Media Entrepreneurship & Innovation Group, and is a member of Tech PR and Pi Beta Phi.

Wesley Metter

Wesley Metter

Metter said that she originally applied because she saw the award as a great accomplishment to include on her resume´, and thought that it would stand out when she is looking for a job after graduation.

“I was so excited to win the award because it showed me that the faculty thought my resume´ was worthy and that what I had to say in the interview was worthy,” Metter said. “It really meant a lot to me! It was such a great honor to end my senior year with!”

Seltzer said that in addition to recognizing the students, he also wanted to recognize the faculty's achievements. Faculty members in the Department of Public Relations were asked to submit applications highlighting their strengths in the areas of teaching, service and research. A committee of faculty members from across CoMC reviewed the applications, and one winner was chosen.

Autumn Shafer, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the department, received the award for Public Relations Faculty Member of the Year. She teaches undergraduate classes such as PR Campaigns, PR Strategies, Political PR, and Crisis Communication, and she is the faculty advisor for the student organization “Define Your Line,” which works to promote a clear and useful definition of consent by encouraging open sexual communication.

“It is humbling and feels quite special to be recognized in this way by other faculty who I respect,” Shafer said. “I have put a great deal of effort into creating the most useful classes for my students, doing research that matters, collaborating with other faculty, and also volunteering for service within the department. It is nice to be acknowledged, although all of the other faculty members are amazing – I just try to keep up with them.”


The Hub@TTU wins several prestigious awards for exemplary work in 2014
By Rachel Blevins

The Hub@TTU, a multimedia student-run publication in the Texas Tech University College of Media & Communication, received prestigious awards from the Region 8 Society of Professional Journalists' Mark of Excellence competition, the Texas Intercollegiate Press Association, and the College Media Association.

Seven student staff members from The Hub@TTU were recognized for their work in 2014, including Lucinda Holt, Sarah Self-Walbrick, Alicia Keene, Abbie Arroyos, Evan Dixon, Ben Jarvis and Anibal Galindo.

The Hub won two first place awards in the Region 8 Mark of Excellence competition, including Best Independent Online Student Publication for The Hub@TTU and Online Feature Reporting for “American dream, Mexican nightmare” by Holt and Self-Walbrick. Those stories will now advance to the national competition.

The Hub staff members were also finalists in five categories, including Best Digital-Only Student Publication for The Hub@TTU; Best Use of Multimedia for “ICYMI: Executive candidate forum and election coverage” by Keene, Arroyos, Dixon and Jarvis; Online In-Depth Reporting for “The lack of Title X funding” by Holt, Galindo and Keene; Online News Reporting for “ICYMI: Executive candidate forum and election coverage” by Keene, Arroyos, Dixon and Jarvis, and for “ICYMI: Farewell to the Hancellor” Keene, Self-Walbrick, Dixon and Galindo.

The Texas Intercollegiate Press Association honored The Hub@TTU with five awards, including first place for its Sexual Health microsite in Best Use of Mapping, and honorable mention in Best Use of Data; third place for its Parking series in Best Use of Data; third place for its Executive Candidate Forum coverage in Best Multimedia Package; and an honorable mention for the website ttuhub.net in Best Interactivity.

The Hub

The Hub team

The Hub@TTU's graduate executive director Alicia Keene and news director Sarah Self-Walbrick visited New York City in March to attend the College Media Association's Apple Awards. In addition to The Hub's West Texas Water microsite winning first place for Best Multimedia Package, Keene said that Self-Walbrick was featured on the Today Show, and former TTU student and current CBS anchor Scott Pelley invited them to sit in on an Evening News editorial meeting.

Keene (BA journalism, 2014), a master's student in mass communications, said that she is proud of how far the staff has come over the last year. When submitting the stories for possible awards, Keene said that she was in charge of doing most of the behind the scenes “grunt work.” She explained that she worked with Self-Walbrick, and journalism professors Pete Brewton, J.D., Randy Reddick, Ph.D., and Cam Stone, Ph.D., the SPJ chapter adviser, to finalize which stories were submitted.

Keene said, “It's not all about the awards. They are exciting and encouraging, as they let us know we are on the right track and push us to do just that much better next time. But we love what we do, and our aim is to provide quality, informative and interesting journalism to our audience.”

Self-Walbrick (BA electronic media, 2014) will complete a bachelor's in journalism in spring 2015, and plans to return for graduate school in the fall. She said that working with The Hub@TTU was her “ultimate collegiate goal,” and that having the opportunity to work as the news director has been a great experience.

“I'm thankful that I've had the freedom and opportunity to report on issues I think are important that impact the Texas Tech and Lubbock community,” Self-Walbrick said. “The fact that some of my favorite stories have won awards is an incredibly humbling experience that I know I would not have gotten elsewhere.”

Suzie Hannan, a senior advertising major and the social media and promotions director for The Hub@TTU, described the competition as one that challenged the staff to push themselves and to look at their stories in different ways.

Hannan said, “Our staff is extremely proud of the work we produce every day to keep the Lubbock community informed on breaking news, entertainment and popular stories each week. Our staff also works very hard to gather research for the entertaining and unique stories that each of them creates. In the end, we wanted to show off how talented our employees are and what topics have inspired them enough to inform the community about them.”

Rob Peaslee, Ph.D., an associate professor and chairperson of the Department of Journalism and Electronic Media, said that he is very proud of how much The Hub@TTU has grown over the last two years, and he looks forward to watching it grow even more in the years to come.

"I have watched with great pride as The Hub@TTU has matured over the past two years into a world-class online journalism platform,” Peaslee said. “These recognitions provide support to what we already knew: we have extremely talented and hard-working students producing incredible work under the guidance and mentorship of some dedicated and knowledgeable faculty advisors.”


Texas Tech Forensics Union Overcomes Challenges, Qualifies Three Teams for National Tournament
By Rachel Blevins

The 2014-15 school year was filled with obstacles for the Texas Tech Forensics Union. And in addition to overcoming these challenges, three of the union's debate teams qualified for the National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence that was hosted in Kansas City, Mo., March 20-22.

Each year, the union pursues two national tournaments: the NPTE and the National Parliamentary Debate Association. While NPDA's tournament is open invitation and typically hosts 700 teams that compete throughout the season, the NPTE is based on qualifying in competitions and is made up of the top 64 teams in the nation who have consistently placed high in invitational tournaments throughout the year.

Forensics Union

Forensics Union

Jared Bressler (M.A. communication studies) became the team's director of forensics in November 2014. He said that while Texas Tech usually has two teams that qualify for the NPTE, having three teams qualify was “quite a feat,” compared to previous years, and considering the obstacles they encountered this year.

“It has been an interesting year,” Bressler said. “We had a change in leadership in the middle of the first semester, so there was a lot of dysfunction. But we were able to pull it together later on in the year.”

Kevin Thompson, a master's student in communication studies, and the assistant coach of the debate team, said that after gaining experience in debate in high school, he wanted to further his debate career, and chose to join the team during his freshman year of college.

While Thompson said he became an assistant coach this year because he wanted to give back, he also said it has not been an easy year for the team. He explained that after Texas Tech hired a new debate coach who left the university after just a few months, it led to the team devoting the majority of fall 2014 to trying to re-establish stability, while also trying to compete.

“Without a head coach and the instability associated with that, we spent the entire fall semester frantically trying to create stability and go to tournaments when we could,” Thompson said. “For a while, we were even concerned that the TTU debate team would cease to exist as a result of the instability and lack of a head coach.”

Thompson noted that although the team was initially pessimistic about their potential to qualify, they rose up in the face of adversity, and turned things around.

“Considering the entire fall semester was a perceptive ‘bust,' it was kind of amazing we qualified three teams to the NPTE,” Thompson said. “Most teams collect qualification points for two semesters, and we functionally only had one.”

Bressler said that he has been helping with the team for six years, and that he believes what makes the Texas Tech debate team's accomplishments unique this year is the fact that they proved they were willing to work and to go through anything to maintain the Forensics Union.

“I'm working with a great group of kids who work really hard to overcome their difficulties and pull out some great qualifications,” Bressler said. “I'm really proud of them and their dedication and willingness to overcome all of the stuff that has happened this year, to still have a good season, and to qualify and accomplish their goals.”

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