Professionals from PR Firm Advise Students on Breaking into the Industry

October 26, 2010 by · Comments Off 

By Meredith Crawford

Three human resources and public relations professionals from Burson-Marsteller, a leading global communications and public relations firm, came to SMU for the “Breaking into the Industry” event on Monday afternoon to speak to students interested in public relations.

“When you think of public relations, what pops into your head?” Ashley Greene, U.S. recruiting manager, asked the students.

“Communicating a message,” answered Sydney Holt, senior and vice president of membership for the SMU Public Relations Student Society of America.

PRSSA and the SMU Division of Journalism hosted the event. In addition to Greene, the guest speakers from Burson-Marsteller were Scott Summerall, client executive, and Maggie Easterlin, client staff assistant.

The panel focused their discussion on ways for SMU graduates to stand out in the industry. Greene emphasized to the importance of finding a niche and communicating it clearly through a cover letter. She also stressed the importance of connections through social media.

Greene said that whenever she is interviewing applicants, she always checks for their LinkedIn profiles. She said it is good to see someone with a social media networking presence and who recognizes that PR also means branding yourself.

Easterlin, an SMU graduate, found a job at Burson-Marsteller through networking at a similar event when a Burson-Marsteller professional spoke to her sophomore year. She took a business card with her and when senior year arrived, met the speaker again, connected with him, and applied for a summer internship. She did not receive the internship, but surprisingly was offered a full-time job instead. Easterlin said that opportunity would have never presented itself if she hadn’t made those connections.

“I’m here to tell you that networking really does work,” Easterlin said.

Summerall talked about Easterlin’s interview and how her positivity and preparedness for the interview impressed him. Summerall said that Easterlin came to the interview with questions prepared to ask him, and that really took him by surprise.

“I didn’t even look at her resume,” Summerall said.

The internships offered through Burson-Marsteller are open to juniors, seniors, and post-graduate students. The panel noted that an internship with their company looks good on a resume because it is recognizable worldwide.

Burson-Marsteller has clients in all areas of business, including technology, healthcare, public affairs, and media. The companies they represent include The Coca-Cola Co., Hewlett-Packard Co., and Ford Motor Co.

During the Q&A portion of the event, Jordan Lee, a sophomore CCPA major and member of PRSSA, asked the panel how they stay on top of what is important to their clients.

“You have to learn to juggle, like the Bachelor,” Summerall said. “With clients though, not brides.”

Greene said that no day is ever the same; therefore it is important to research and prepare for changes when working in public relations.

At the end of the event, the students were given the opportunity to do some networking, connect one-on-one with the panel, and follow in Easterlin’s footsteps by picking up some business cards of their own.

“I thought the event was very informative,” Holt said. “With graduation approaching I am definitely starting to seek out all opportunities to help in my job search.”

Welcome to the Global News Blog

January 27, 2009 by · Comments Off 

During the Spring 2009 semester, The Daily Mustang is pleased to be partnering with the “Communications, Technology and Globalization” course taught by Eric Van Steenburg of SMU’s Corporate Communications and Public Affairs (CCPA) program. Students will contribute weekly blog posts analyzing how technology is used in coverage of international news events. The blog posts will begin in early February. Please check back soon!

Students Converge in New Newsroom

October 16, 2008 by · Comments Off 

By Alan H. Rose

When students returned to the Division of Journalism this fall, they thought they’d see a new state-of-the-art convergence newsroom. Instead, they arrived to a work zone with yellow tape roping off an empty room filled with construction materials.

Tony Pederson, Belo Distinguished Chair in Journalism, said the construction was to begin in June. However, it started in mid-July.

“Of course, it’s no surprise that things on a college campus run a little bit behind,” Pederson said. “It was supposed to be ready before school and the construction (schedule) that we were given was about five weeks.”

The project encountered a few more delays during the first half of the fall semester. Meanwhile, students worked in a temporary lab to launch The Daily Mustang, a multi-platform news site.

“It’s the ceiling where we ran into a little bit of trouble with the air conditioning ducts,” Pederson said.

This week, students began working in the newsroom. It contains three flat-screen televisions and a 10-foot news ticker that will provide up-to-the-minute headlines. Multiple computer terminals are available for journalism student use.

Junior Nicole Jacobsen, a journalism and advertising double major, said she was excited when she heard about the convergence newsroom.

“I think it’ll be a great opportunity for students to get their work noticed,” she said.

Eventually, lights and a camera will be suspended from the ceiling, allowing a single student the opportunity to conduct a quick interview without firing up the traditional studio. Throw in a flash set, and you have a state-of-the-art convergence newsroom.

The cost of construction, furnishings, and equipment total about $200,000. The funds were raised over the past several years from several donors, according to Pederson.

Ann Wyatt Little, a recent SMU journalism grad, said she wishes she had these resources available to her. She believes that the opportunity to be in an environment were you can do everything on your
own is where the profession is going.

“The ability to bring all of the different aspects of journalism together to create one great product is incredible,” she said.

The new lab replaces an area which contained cubicles with desks; a dry-erase board for signing up to crew The Daily Update, the student-produced daily newscast shown on SMU-TV and online; and the home of the Web site

The site recently got a facelift and a name change. Recent hire Jake Batsell is the faculty adviser to The Daily Mustang. Batsell joined the SMU faculty this year after working in convergence media for The Dallas Morning News.

“We are trying to establish a real-time newsroom environment that is multi-platform,” Batsell said. “It is designed to prepare journalists for the real world of converging newsrooms.”

He plans to help students tackle the news of the day in a convergent way.

The next step is converting to high-definition equipment. While few colleges are hi-def at the moment, Pederson said he feels that being behind on technology is not acceptable.

The convergence of media is the idea that web, print and video can all be combined to create a more interactive news experience.

“We are teaching students to develop professional content for delivery across multiple media platforms, and it’s a venue that can do that very easily,” Pederson said of the new newsroom.