Otterbein PRSSA presents a fresh new theme with an important lesson

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By: Lindsey Hobbs
PRSA Professional Adviser, Online Marketing Strategist for Champion Real Estate Services
Heading back to my alma mater to library room 124, I was so happy to walk through that familiar door to a full house at an Otterbein PRSSA meeting. Granted, there was free pizza involved, but I knew that more went into this attendance than just Donatos.

This semester, the executive board of Otterbein PRSSA has designated a theme of consumer and lifestyle public relations. This is such a fresh idea for the organization, and I should know because I ran it not that many years ago. I was very impressed at the executive board’s out of the box thinking and not going for a typical agency/corporate/nonprofit curriculum for the year. Especially because the lessons that the day’s speaker, Tom Santor, executive director of brand marketing for Donatos pizza, were so applicable to the true fundamentals of public relations.

Santor talked about his experiences with placing news stories for the newest line of bacon pizzas and giving reporters what they need to help them turn around a story in the short amount of time they usually have. He talked about handling the crisis of a rogue employee on the show “Undercover Boss.” He talked about the process of research and development to get consumers to fall in love with a new type of pizza. These were great examples of some day-to-day functions of someone in the public relations profession, and I think it helped make things a little more concrete than most ideas that I remember having as a freshman and a sophomore in the major.

I look forward to seeing how Angela Sedivy, the Polaris Fashion Place’s marketing director, built upon the lessons that Santor presented. Speakers for the semester with this theme will hopefully highlight one important fact of public relations: and that is how customer service oriented it really is.

This fact was one that I did not realize until my final semester of college when I was working in the communications department for the Ohio Department of Transportation. We were doing public relations, there is no doubt about that, but we were achieving that public relations by being the communicator to the general public and making sure that their questions and concerns were always addressed. This was when I realized that brand and message control often goes hand-in-hand with customer service.

Even now, as I do online marketing for the real estate industry, I have to keep the customers in mind to achieve our ultimate goal of defining a brand. I do social media, but you know what a brand’s social media accounts are really for? Connecting with the customer. I write ad copy, but you know who I am really writing it for? The customer looking for an apartment who just needs good information, fast. I do website analytics, but you know what I am really looking for in that data? Things that need improved, so that our customers can use the site more efficiently and effectively.

Whether your brand is dealing with the general public like Donatos or the Polaris Fashion Place or it is B2B and you have a roster of clients, you are in the customer service industry just as much as you are in the communication industry. That is why we communicators are so important, after all.

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Thank you for writing for our blog, Lindsey!

COMM hosts High School Media Conference

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Westerville, Ohio – Hundreds of high school students converging in one area might seem to some a frightening phenomenon, but on Otterbein’s campus Oct. 14, a gathering of high school media students pointed toward a hopeful future.

For the tenth year, Otterbein’s Department of Communication hosted the Ohio Scholastic Media Association Region 5 Workshop, a day-long program giving teenagers a closer look at Otterbein’s state-of-the-art facilities through hands-on media production sessions.

The more than 300 students from 15 central and southwestern Ohio high schools were not just taking selfies and misspelling the King’s English in texts.  Instead they were learning how to take better news photographs, discussing investigative story ideas, and willingly improving their grammar.

“For a decade this workshop has been a unique opportunity for bright high school media students to experience a bit of Otterbein’s strong communication programs,” said Jean Kelly, associate professor of communication. “They attend sessions taught by our faculty and talk to current students who volunteer to help as facilitators of the event.”

Several students who have attended the event over the years have eventually enrolled in Otterbein’s communication majors, Kelly added. “We look forward to hosting this event for years to come because these teens have what it takes to become successful communicators.”

Otterbein PRSSA launches fall semester theme

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By: Adam Piccin ‘16

Otterbein PRSSA President


Otterbein PRSSA’s fall semester theme is consumer and lifestyle public relations.  Three public relations and marketing professionals are visiting to discuss how they go about gaining publicity for the product or service they represent.

Megumi Robinson of Experience Columbus visited Otterbein PRSSA on Sept. 15 (pictured above).  Robinson, associate director of public relations, was the first of three speakers to come this fall.

On Oct. 27, Tom Santor, executive director of brand marketing for Donatos Pizza, will come to speak in lieu of National Pizza Month.

The final speaker of the semester will be Nov. 10; Angela Krumpelman Sedivy, the Polaris Fashion Place’s marketing director, will round out the speaker events for the semester.

Otterbein PRSSA executive board members said they hope students appreciate this semester’s speaker theme.  After all, “Customer service is public relations,” David Fleet of Edelman said.

Additional information is available here.

Keep COMM- Awards Edition

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Check out the latest edition of our dept. newsletter Keep COMM! This issue is a “year in review” to recognize the hard work and achievements of both students and faculty for the 2013-14 school year. Thanks for a great school year and remember to be on the lookout for Keep COMM publications next fall!

Keep COMM- May Edition

Featured Practicum: Tan & Cardinal Magazine Practicum

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Sophomore PR major Heidi Olander browses through the latest edition of the Tan and Cardinal Magazine

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Get hands on experience working for Otterbein’s own magazine publication with the Tan & Cardinal magazine practicum.

The process of creating the magazine first begins with practicum students and staff brainstorming newsworthy story ideas. The stories are then divided into two groups to determine their deadline based on length and subject matter.

Next comes the process of writing, interviewing, and editing articles. Students follow the schedule which the editor has laid out for each issue and report back each week on the progress of their stories. They also inform the designer and photographer on what graphics or pictures they would like to accompany their story before finally seeing their work fresh from the press.

For senior creative writing and psychology double major and editor of the T&C magazine Josh Park, the opportunity to engage in real-world responsibilities is a key asset of the practicum.

“Students are more independent in working on articles and have a more applied sense of responsibility,” said Park. “For example, missing a magazine story deadline means there’s a hole in the magazine. There’s a strong emphasis on student responsibility, which is why I think it’s so important to be available for students to take. Students can even hold positions of leadership which can apply outside of college and be great for resumes.”

The T&C magazine practicum meets Tuesdays at 4 p.m. and is worth one credit hour.