Monthly Archives: March 2013

Ethics vs. Job Obligations: The Internship Experience

decision --microsoft imagesAs the current internship coordinator for the public relations area in my department, I receive lots of questions regarding the internship experience. Most of the questions are inquires from students seeking to obtain a public relations internship to earn degree credit. Additional questions are from individuals seeking a public relations intern, current internship site supervisors, etc. However, two weeks ago I received an internship question from a non-communications major. In short, the student sent me an email to ask whether the practice of making up quotes is common in public relations as the student has been asked to do this on several occasions by his/her immediate boss. (See the email below. Identifying information has been redacted.)

I applaud the student for seeking answers and for not disclosing the name of the company where this is an issue. However, it piqued my curiosity as to whether other students have come across this practice. During my tenure as internship coordinator, I have never had a student mention this particular issue. I have had to step in regarding issues between students and site supervisors, and most of those were easily rectified.

As for the student, I did inform him/her that the practice is unethical, and even provided brief unsolicited advice on how to address the situation. Yet, I wonder if other students, communication majors or not, would acknowledge their apprehension to this practice or just “go with the flow” because they were instructed to do it or they think their grade, job, etc. depends on them being in alignment with the company culture. Here is the email I received.

I am a [non-communications] major at GSU. I am currently interning for a large company in Statesboro and they frequently ask me to do things like write press releases.
I have no experience in public relations, but I do have journalism experience…
I wondered if someone would be willing to help me by answering a question I have about public relations, and I found you listed as the public relations internship coordinator, so you were the obvious pick.
My supervisor often asks me to make up direct quotes for people in the company because they are busy. She says they can just approve what I’ve written instead of having to take time on an interview with me.
…, this makes me very uncomfortable. I don’t know standard protocol for this situation or even if it’s typical, though. My supervisor is the head of marketing here, so I am predisposed to believe that she knows what she is doing.
Thank you for taking the time to read about my confusion. I hope you have time to respond.
What would you do? What would you say to the site supervisor or the internship coordinator? What advice would you provide the student?


Filed under internships, personal thoughts, public relations

Discussing fundraising events with Alex Grovenstein

Alex Grovenstein, Director of Annual Giving of Georgia Southern University

Alex Grovenstein, Director of Annual Giving at Georgia Southern University

Last Friday, students in the Events Management class received event planning advice from alumus Alex Grovenstein. Alex’s event planning specialty lies in a niche area of event planning–fundraising. Sure, most people think of wedding planning, release parties, corporate events, etc. as the area of event planning they wish to work in, but someone has to raise funds. And, depending on the industry, they must raise funds all the time.

Currently the Director of Annual Giving at Georgia Southern University, Alex shared his event experiences with students. His advice to them: (1) Get use to not getting public credit; (2) Events don’t always go as planned; and (3) Sometimes you have to do it all yourself.  He provided students with examples from his current and previous jobs to illustrate these points. One such example was a Hockey Classic he planned. He found out 48-72 hours prior to the event that the coils necessary to make the floor freeze were broken and there was no one in the area that could fix the problem. (Sidebar: It takes about 48 hours for the floor in this facility to freeze into ice.) Solution: The building manager of the facility made some calls and found individuals from 4 hours away that could come down immediately and fix the situation.

After relaying this story and others about his event planning experiences, students asked Alex some questions about event planning. Below are the bulk of those questions, and his answers.

Social media was not around when you began in the industry. How did you raise awareness of events without social media?

We held a number of events locally; used word of mouth; traditional print; had media partners in radio and television; and each event consisted of committees and those committee members were centers of influence. We knew if we had those members it would instantly boost the credibility of our event.

What are the best events for fundraising?

Career fundraisers do not like events as a model for fundraising, and there is a whole argument behind that issue. However, you have to cultivate relationships with potential donors. The best event, however, depends on your market. Typically, the most successful events allow for everyone to participate. That is why running events are so popular. But also, look for something unique to the area.

How do you handle the pressure of planning and executing an event?

You have to plan in advance, and do not sweat the small stuff. There will be points of failure, but there are times when you have to go with the flow. When you are in the moment of the event you get tunnel vision and you just get it done. Keep a running tally of what is needed for next time to help with the planning.

What advice would you give potential event planners?

Finding a job in strictly event planning will be difficult right now because people will pull someone from a larger project to run an event for them. Therefore, not as many people are hiring for just an event planner right now. You will need to move to a larger market for that. Be patient and keep looking if you want to exclusively plan events for your career.

What is the most challenging part of your job–besides fundraising?

Politics, but this is part of every job. Also, this job is a transition from a private sector to a university setting, so there are some differences there as well.

What additional questions would you like to ask Alex about fundraising and event planning? Maybe we can get some of those questions answered. Comment below.

Many thanks to Alex for speaking to the class.



Filed under classes, guest speakers

Are you the next “Public Relations Student of the Year?”

Picture courtesy of Microsoft ImagesHopefully you have seen the awards flier and heard the announcements. If not, consider this your personal invitation to submit your application and portfolio for one (or more) of the Advisory Board Student of the Year Awards. Each spring, members of the Public Relations Advisory Board judge submissions from public relations students who apply for “Public Relations Student of the Year” in one of the following categories: Public Relations Writing, Public Relations Design, Public Relations Planning, Public Relations Research, and Public Relations Student of the Year.

Let me reiterate, award winners are selected by non-faculty members of our Public Relations Advisory Board. These advisory board members are friends and alumni of the Department of Communication Arts at Georgia Southern University. Members currently work in various capacities within the public relations industry.

Below is a description of each award category. See the announcement for additional information. If you have not yet applied the deadline is this Friday, March 15 at 5 p.m. Do not forget to include your application with your submission. Drop-off submissions in the main office. Winners will be announced at the annual departmental banquet.

Award Categories

Public Relations Writing: Submit 3-5 short samples. Samples may include, but are not limited to, news, features, brochure copy, newsletter articles, communication plans, and web-based writings. Preference will be given to published works and successfully implemented communication plans.

Public Relations Design: Submit 3-5 samples. Samples may include, but are not limited to, newsletters, brochures, posters, advertisements, web pages, and PSA design elements. Preference will be given to original designs.

Public Relations Planning: Submit program overview and corresponding materials. Provide documentation of your contribution to this program. Indicate if the plan was completed by a group or individual. Describe each component of the plan and each team member’s contribution to the plan.

Public Relations Research: Submit 1-3 research papers and /or projects. Projects may entail academic investigations or applied projects that contribute to our understanding of public relations and communications. Co-authored work will be accepted based on applicant or applicants’ contributions to the project. Preference will be given to original research papers or projects.

Public Relations Student of the Year: Submit resume and mini-portfolio. The mini-portfolio should exhibit success in the following areas: (a) leadership and extra-curricular, (b) professional development, (c) academic works, and (d) academic or professional presentations. Finalist will be asked to complete an interview with advisory board members. At which time finalist should bring their comprehensive portfolio.



Filed under personal thoughts, public relations

5 advisement reminders

Picture courtesy of Microsoft images

Picture courtesy of Microsoft images

It is that time of year again–advisement. Before you rush to your adviser to obtain your registration access number (RAN), here are few tips to keep in mind.

1. Sign-up and show up

Things happen; it’s life. However, you only have one week prior to early registration to obtain your RAN. If you miss your advising appointment, go back to your adviser’s sign-up sheet to see if there are any additional time slots available for the week of advisement. Most advisers provide more time slots than they have advisees, but if no one signs up for the available times them then the advisor will probably not be in his or her office waiting for someone to show up. Also, advisers may not have advisement times for every day of the week. Sign up early!

2. See a peer adviser

If you are in the Communication Arts Department there are peer advisers available to help you plan your schedule. Peer advisers are also students within the Communication Arts Department. Therefore they may not know the answer to all your questions, but they will at least get you on the right path. They will also help you begin a list of questions to ask your adviser. Peer advising is available throughout the month of March but availability changes daily, so check the Veazey Hall conference door for times.

3. Bring your tentative schedule and folder to advisement

In order to obtain your folder you will need your ID. The main office will not accept other items, such as phones, credit cards, etc. in exchange for your folder. (And yes, students have attempted to exchange the aforementioned items, among other things, for their folder.) Your folder is necessary during advisement as it is a record of your appointment with your adviser and your time in the Communication Arts Department. Thus, additional important information will be housed in your folder upon completion of your advisement session. And don’t forget your tentative schedule. Peer advisers (see #2) will help you devise a tentative schedule.

4. Bring questions with you

Now is the time to ask your adviser pertinent questions concerning your schedule. Hence the word pertinent. Advisement times are short to accommodate the many advisees that must be advised within the one week time frame. Answers to some questions, although pertinent, can be found online. The departmental website provides course rotations, course descriptions and prerequisites, departmental minors, etc. Take the time to review this information, and your university catalog, prior to speaking with your adviser. If you are a public relations major, here are answers to some frequently asked questions regarding the major.

5. Focus on advisement

I know that faculty is sometimes difficult to catch, especially outside their office hours. However, your advisement time should focus on advisement, not internships, graduation clearance, class work, etc. Please be mindful that there will be people flowing into the advisers office before and/or after your advisement time.

What have I missed? What would you add?



Filed under classes