Scripps changing twofold

For my Journalism 231 course, we had to write a story and include a multimedia component. I did my story on how Scripps College of Communication is changing its curriculum in 2012 when the entire university changes from quarters to semesters and when the communication school moves to a new location. Below is my story and a video of the current and future communications buildings with audio from an interview with Dr. Robert Stewart.

Ohio University is making a major change in the fall of 2012 with a switch from quarters to semesters, but for the Scripps College of Communication, it will be an even greater change as they implement a new face on curriculum and offices.

Professors and students alike have mixed feelings about the changes. However, it is a necessary change because the entire University Council needs time to approve each school’s curriculum, said Dr. Robert Stewart, a journalism professor, current associate director of undergraduate studies and next year’s associate director.

“I have to confess, I was really not looking forward to a lot of these changes,” Stewart said. “Now, I see that there are some real good opportunities, and frankly, we have to change. We have to move forward because the industry is changing; everything is changing.”

The faculty has approved the newly proposed journalism curriculum that will begin in 2012, and much of the course ideas were based on feedback from journalism companies and alumni to incorporate more real-world journalism experiences by requiring a much wider variety of skills, Stewart said .

“The main change that is happening is breaking down the sequences into these two broad categories,” Stewart said. “Instead of having six distinct areas, there will be two broad areas.”

The two broad areas, which will be called “tracks,” are replacing the current six sequences. The “strategic communications” track will combine the advertising and public relations sequences while the news writing/editing, online journalism, magazine journalism and broadcast news sequences will be included under another track, called “news and information.” After students have decided which track they want to take, all the rest of the courses are in a “bucket,” as Stewart called it, to pick from a variety of courses. Then, there is a capstone class to finish the curriculum that can integrate all students from different interests.

“Now it’s just a matter of the fine tuning with what’s going to happen in each class, who’s going to teach it and making sure that the kinds of things that we think are important for students to walk away with are going to happen,” said Michelle Honald, assistant professor and public relations advisor for the journalism school.

While the academic side will provide the broad variety of skills to learn, many students can find the detailed and hands-on experience they are looking for through the on-campus opportunities such as WOUB, ImPRessions and The Post.

Since the curriculum is in place, the faculty will then receive training in how to advice the students that are going to be part of the transition, Honald said. Stewart agrees that members of the faculty have to be good role models through this change. The more the faculty plan ahead, the more they will be prepared to handle the current freshmen and the incoming students from now until 2012.

However, two students, Patrick Holmes, a journalism freshman in the online sequence, and Heather Bartman, a freshman in public relations, have yet to feel advised on the switch and are unsure of their next steps. They are both concerned that it will be during their senior year and do not want to get sidetracked or stuck behind.

“Because this will happen my senior year, I worry that it will cause me to graduate later,” Bartman said. “Also, my senior year I want to focus on finding a job and perfecting my resume and portfolio, not worrying about how my credits transfer.”

Because the entire university will be going through the same process and all faculties will do their best to help students, Honald advises students to not panic but also not get behind in their studies.

“I can only suspect that there is going to have to be a little bit of latitude to get people out of here on time, because that first year of students are going to be guinea pigs,” Honald said. “And I’m sure there will be challenging cases but only hope the administration will have some flexibility in terms of making sure we can let [current freshmen] graduate.”

However, Bartman said that from what she knows about the new curriculum, it is beneficial to future students because it will be more suited for what journalism students will be facing as a career right now and in the future.

Going from quarters to semesters is going to be difficult enough, but physically moving across campus and integrating all communication schools in the old Baker Center is an added obstacle.

Based on current planning, the new building will be occupied in two phases, Stewart said. Faculty will be moving into the building at the end of the first semester in December 2012 for the first phase. Within two years, phase two will include the transformation of classrooms.

“With five schools in the college, the fact that we would all be in the same building, I think allows for a lot more collaboration, which seems only good for faculty and students,” Honald said.

While the phases are in transition, the current communications buildings will be used for other purposes. For example, the E.W. Scripps Hall will still be used for classrooms and many of the faculty offices in the current Scripps Hall will be designated for student organizations. Also, the Lasher Learning Center in Scripps will turn into a “sand box” classroom for the capstone courses where students can come together in an innovative space, Stewart said.

“Part of my job as the director during this period will be to find ways to boost the good energy and help control some of the bad energy,” Stewart said.

PR Success

The 2010 Winter Edition of PR Success is a great issue! It's a student-written newsletter that is sent out to all journalism students, Scripps faculty and PR alumni. I love writing for it every quarter because it brings the OU chapter together and there are always interesting articles to read, experiences to learn and great advice from professionals and pre-professionals. For this issue, I wrote about the 2010 PRSSA National Conference in San Diego. It was a great trip, and I was fortune to have gone this year.


See my blog post called "Time management key to success" for the student-run PR firm at Ohio University, ImPRessions. I am the Co-Account Executive for the local College Book Store. ImPRessions has its own Web site and blog. Also, please check out the fall edition of ExPRessions, the organization's newsletter. There is a post about my account's success for fall quarter called "College Book Store's homecoming" on page 3. :)

The 5 Influential Experiences

When: Nov 5-10
Where: 2009 PRSSA National Conference in San Diego, California

The First Influence: Arianna Huffington
When: Sunday, November 8
Where: PRSA General Session

Arianna Huffington, the creator and editor of The Huffington Post, received a warm welcome from thousands of PRSA and PRSSA members. She is not a PR professional, but a reporter who has worked with countless PR pros on a daily basis. Out of her valuable speech, one quote stuck with me: "Framing is key." This goes not only with journalism but also public relations because you need to grab the attention of your readers before anything else, which all depends on how it looks and appeals to them. Huffignton explained that if she hadn't "framed" the blog post about Joe Biden's retirement, it would not have grabbed as many readers' attentions. She said that the frame causes drama, which is what people want and are drawn to.

The Second Influence: Wendell Potter
When: Sunday, November 8
Where: PRSA General Session with Arianna Huffington

Confronted with corrupted PR decisions, Wendell Potter told his story. He worked in an insurance industry where customers were treated unfairly. At this insurance company, he was required to use a front group and share untruthful information about the purposes and services that the company can provide. To justify his reasoning and guilt, he told himself that he was telling the public what they wanted to hear. "If you start to do it for so long, you think it's okay," he admitted. He told Huffington that we should all ask ourselves if we could tell our parents, family members and friends what we do for a living--if we can't, is it ethical? "If you're in constant fear, do a check and ask yourself," said Potter. He decided to share his experiences because he felt it would make a difference to others. Instead of working unethically, he is writing a book about it and his life experiences dealing with it.

The Third Influence: Dr. Joseph V. Trahan III
When: Saturday, November 7
Where: PRSSA Professional Development on Media Relations - "Palm Trees & Press Releases"

Dr. Joseph Trahan is the president and CEO of Trahan & Associates. His enthusiasm and knowledge about his work makes the whole room excited to listen. He started with what he called the "three C's of media relations." The first one was being in CONTROL even when asked the difficult questions you're not aloud to answer or don't have the answer to. COMPETENCE is the second "C" and it means to stay in your own lane, do what you're supposed to and don't make up answers, lie, or do things you don't need to. For the final "C," Trahan said to have CONCERN for everything you do. Along with each "C" comes preparation such as one hour of prep time for every minute of airtime at news conferences, and commanding messages such as short, clear, honest and simple messages. Explain (from the heart, not generic) what you want the audience to remember.

The Fourth Influence(s): Ron Culp and Kevin Saghy
When: Saturday, November 7
Where: PRSA Professional Development on A View From the Top: How Young Talent Can Stand Out

Both speakers are professionals at Ketchum in Chicago but each are at different areas of their careers. Ron Culp gave the perspective through a Senior Executive's position and Kevin Saghy as a Junior Assistant. Each PR professional explained their generation's idea of success, contrasted the answers and compared the results from their peers. From a senior professional, being a team-player is most important for new pros to stand out. On the other hand, for a junior professional, they answered that going the extra mile is what counts. To succeed, each side has a similar answer: produce quality work. However, the senior pros recommend new pros know the business while junior pros are concentrated on exploring new areas. If junior pros don't own up to their mistakes but instead throw their co-workers under the bus, they have committed the Cardinal Sin in PR. Senior professionals would rather new professionals don't seek credit all the time but instead follow their team's agenda. Advice from senior to junior: "be current, curious and creative" and even if you're in the hot seat knocking elbows with the VP, don't be intimidated but contribute ideas and brainstorm as much as possible.

The Fifth Influence(s): Harry Medvet & Bill Shaikin
When: Sunday, November 8
Where: PRSSA Professional Development on Entertainment & Sports - "Entertainment & Sports PR Roundtable"

Harry Medvet: Head of PR at Fandango. Always take the chance even when you don't think you can, especially for that dream job. Research the place you want to work before the interview. Be the actor in a way by reading every article, being enthusiastic and pretending to be the person as if you have the job already.

Bill Shaikin: Sportswriter for LA Times. Everyone is interested and has an opinion on entertainment and sports. Because of this, social media can make it a blessing and a curse. In all of journalism, it is about building those contacts, especially when 95% of jobs aren't advertised.


Another meeting in Chicago but this time with three times the wisdom. Joseph Tateoka (Account Executive at Ruder Finn), Bryan Blaise (Senior Account Executive at Fleishman-Hillard), and Kevin Saghy (Account Executive at Ketchum). Imagine the PR intelligence at one table!
Where do I start?

I'm going to write what comes to my head from the meeting. Straight to the point, intelligent opinions and pieces of advice.

  • Working with different people--clients, bosses, co-workers, audiences--is one of the best qualities in a PR career.
  • Know how to manage your time. The hardest part is working on so many accounts--having different bosses and meeting all their deadlines. It's not the same for interns who can go up to the different managers and tell them you can't handle everything. At first, you're not expected to. When you have the job, your counted on to finish your tasks. It's good to volunteer, but be careful what you accept.
  • Work in at least one agency and one corporate firm for internships. This way, you can understand the differences and similarities of the two and have a versatile background experience for either side.
  • Know when to confront people. Sometimes your bosses or coworkers are just having a bad day--sometimes you just have to find the appropriate time that works with their schedule. Also, know when to implement your ideas. As an intern, it's good to listen. You don't have to come up with a whole new idea/plan and pitch it every time--sometimes there is a time crunch and no room for new ideas. Sometimes bringing new ideas is just what the company is looking for. Along with this piece of advice is knowing where you stand. It's different for an intern compared to a professional who has worked in the industry for awhile and built up a reputation.
  • Don't go overboard when you don't agree with others. Tell them directly but don't approach them as if you're right and they're completely wrong. Hear whey they have to say first; then, place your ideas with reasons/background information/creditable sources. Make the best compromise if possible.
  • Your bosses might have a different plan than you have for yourself. They could be looking for your future and their company's future. They might know what's best right now and have something different down the road for you instead.
  • Writing is the most critical skill to have in PR. Know AP Style. Know how to write as well as know how to be creative with writing.
  • Working at a place for an internship where you get the most hands-on experience could be more beneficial than working at a place where they just have a great (known) name.
  • Get involved with PRSSA as much as posssible--even at a national level when you're outside of college, starting a career in PR.
  • At the end of the day, enjoy where you work and what you do.

Coming out of this meeting was more than I expected--more knowledge that I can use, more experience that I can learn from. Thank you Joseph, Bryan, and Kevin! Please comment if I forgot something.

Also to my readers, please comment and share your experiences as well. Thank you.

(Pictures from Ruder Finn, Fleishman-Hillard, and Ketchum Web sites.)

From the PR binder

For every paper I receive at every meeting I go to, every
interview I schedule, I kept in a blue binder labeled "PRSSA & ImPRessions." Creative title right? No, but it holds my notes, speaker's information, rough drafts, resume examples, and interview Q & A's from the last year.

Through three pounds of endless information, I will share what I feel is most important. This may take a few posts though. Here is what I will start with:
  • "The idea is Boss." No matter who comes up with it, if it is a good idea, it works. -Matt Dickman (Digital Marketing Strategist for Fleishman-Hillard)
  • Lessons learned from Mary Garrick (Account Coordinator at SBC Advertising) and Hartley Mikus (Account Executive at Fahlgren Mortine Public Relations):
  1. Everyone makes mistakes
  2. Get advice from people you trust at work
  3. Not done learning
  5. Paid to be detailed
  6. Don't make mistakes twice
  7. Be flexible
  • On a hand-out labeled "What We Learned in the 'Real World': Lesson from the FD Team," Shannon Stucky (Assistant Vice President at Financial Dynamics in NY City) stressed the point of being authentic. "Let people get to know the real you and really get to know them, as well."
  • Out of the many bullet points of Mary Cusick's speech (Senior Vice President of Restaurant Marketing for Bob Evans Farms), "developing leadership as you develop" is one that I found most interesting, especially asking someone to be your mentor while looking for opportunities.
  • "Always assume you are responsible for everything. Get everything. Bring everything," says Jamie Heberling (Communications Director for Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray)
  • Sarah Irvin Clark (Irvin Public Relations) says to use creative pitch ideas by "rising above other PR people, building relations and creating fun packages."
  • Find out who you want to talk to get your best opportunity. "The best person may not be the VP of PR," says Todd Sharrock (VP of Public Relations for the Columbus Blue Jackets); it may be someone less in the rankings.
  • Do something you want to do. Alexandra Barkulis (Assistant Account Executive for Finical Dynamics in Chicago) told me in an informational interview, "I feel like I'm actually doing something meaningful and valuable."

Thank you to all the speakers, mentors, pros, peers, and friends that gave me the advice that I can use not only through my academic career, but also my professional career. There is much more information that I have not mentioned in this post as well as much more information I still have to learn. Add your own advice here; I appreciate any comments. Thank you!

(Pictures in this post are from PRSSA and ImPRession's Web sites.)

Advice from a PR Pro

The best way to get on the right track is to find a mentor. Everyone needs a little advice, criticisms/praises, and help along the way. Thankfully, I have found a great mentor already.
Joseph Tateoka is an Account Executive at Ruder Finn in Chicago. I met him on the networking trip with my Ohio University PRSSA chapter in March and have kept in touch with him since. We planned to met for lunch and coincidentally, his office was holding a meeting titled "How to make the most of your internship" the same morning. Joseph was kind enough to ask Adrienne McGarr, the Vice President of RF in Chicago, if I could attend the presentation. So last Wednesday, I caught the 9:04 train to Union Station and was in the office to take my two pages of notes on what they want in their interns.
This is the information that I found most useful:
  • Volunteer--ask to help and offer proactive ideas
  • "Don't know? Just Ask"--no one expects interns to know everything, but RF says their interns should want to know everything
  • "Learn to manage your time"--know your priorities; when you have a lot on your plate, go to your manager (boss) and tell them "these are my priorities; what do you think?" This might help make that plate a little lighter--once they know you are swamped, they may tend to give you later deadlines or take something completely off your to-do
  • "Fail Gracefully"--everyone makes mistakes and if you do, first admit to it and then tell your boss/team how you think you can fix it
  • Have FUN!
At the end of the presentation, Adrienne McGarr added some "last minute tips," which were interesting and now, have found myself doing:
  • "Always be the last to respond in an e-mail chain." For example, if you are talking with a client over e-mails and the last e-mail that he/she sends is not something you need to respond (such as no questions/corrections), you should still respond with at least a conformation or a conclusion so they know that you received their message.
  • "Respond to e-mails within a day--or least by the end of the day before you leave work." I know this may be time consuming, but if a client e-mails you and even though you might not know the answer by the end of the day, at least respond back saying you will get back to them with their answers soon; this way, (again) they'll know you received their message.
  • "Think of your manager as your 1st client." Your manager is your top priority; as a result, hand in project on-time, accept projects with a good attitude, and check-in even if assignment is not due for awhile.
After all the information from the presentation that I consumed, I still had to go to lunch with Joseph Tateoka. Much of the talk from our lunch consisted of our busy schedules and his advice for a PR college career.

The one thing that I remember us talking about was this blog. Apparently RF was impressed that I had kept a blog, which gave me momentum to keep posting to it.

PR is an around-the-clock job, I understand that. However, Joseph reiterated the fact that he can always be reached by his coworkers 24/7 (only if needed), and the amount of contact outside the office depends on the person. For Joseph, he is not constantly on his phone, but he is considering getting a Blackberry for its e-mail access. On the other hand, he mentioned that some coworkers can be reached 24/7 no matter where they are, what they are doing, or how small the problem--they have that reputation. The job sometimes requires it of course when you have international clients that are on the opposite time schedule as you.

Joseph also mentioned that PRSSA and PRSA are two a great organizations for the PR world, and every PR student should utilize its resources--he found some of his closest friends in Chicago from networking with PRSA.

"Volunteer and take every PR opportunity you can." Joseph regrets not accepting a PR offer in college. He suggests that as a student, I should get involved as much as possible to gain experience (it's also a great resume builder).

I asked about the internship program at RF of course--it is a great program (unpaid unfortunity, but at OU, students need internship credit). I even met a few of the interns before lunch and Ruder Finn defiantly gives their interns a good experience--they do hands-on work everyday for real clients (keep in mind, their top client is their manager).

I also learned the best restaurant to find French crepes, right next door to RF off East Ontario Street called Momis Cafe.

By one o'clock, I was full of advice and my delicious lunch. Of course, there is always room for more. Comment on here or send me an e-mail--I love feedback. Thanks for reading!

(Compliments of picture from Ruder Finn Web site)