My Causerie

"All great change in America begins at the dinner table." ~ Ronald Reagan

PRSSA Announces Blogging Contest April 18, 2014

Filed under: SPC 213,SPC 313 — mycauserie @ 6:20 pm

Calling all current and former SPC213 and SPC313 students. Are you a member of PRSSA? Are you still actively blogging? If you answered yes to both of these questions, as all young public relations professionals should, then PRSSA has an awesome opportunity for you.

PRSSA is hosting “Progressions Writing Prompts,” a monthly writing exercise and contest. Each month Progressions will post a new writing prompt. Using the prompt, you write your response in a post on your own blog and then simply email the hyperlink to Progressions to enter the contest. Progressions will select one winner each month. PRSSA will promote the winning response via PRSSA National social media, which will draw attention and readership to your blog.

I know all of you have heard me say time and tine again, “Go online and search for different exercises to strengthen your writing skills.” Now you don’t even have to do the searching; PRSSA is bringing this exercise right to you. It can’t get much easier than that.

Go to Progressions for complete contest rules and to see this month’s prompt. All responses to April’s prompt are due by Wednesday, April 30.

Good luck and happy blogging!


PRSSA Wins RFL Spirit Award! April 15, 2014

Filed under: My Causerie — mycauserie @ 11:41 am
Purple PRoject team captains, Keagan and Ali.

Purple PRoject team captains, Keagan and Ali

We’ve got spirit, yes we do! We’ve got spirit, how about you? The Purple PRoject displayed their spirit once again at SIUE’s Relay for Life event, earning the coveted “Spirit Award” for the third consecutive year.

Relay for Life is a 12-hour event that helps raise awareness and funds for the fight against cancer. The SIUE Chapter of Public Relations Student Society of America has participated in the annual American Cancer Society fundraiser for the past three years. The Spirit Award is presented to the team that displays the most spirit throughout the night by participating in all the crazy games and activities, decorating their campsite and showing the most enthusiasm as they rally to “finish the fight” against cancer.

This year’s theme was “Hula Away Cancer. “PRSSA’s Purple PRoject team raised

Hawaiian Punch Pong Competition

Hawaiian Punch Pong Competition

funds by selling sweet treats at its very own Hawaiian tiki bar along with hosting a variety of Hawaiian Punch games like “Punch Pong” and “Flip-Flop Cup.” Purple PRoject team members also hosted a variety of fundraisers prior to the event including bake sales, selling “Cancer Sucks” koozies, spirit headbands and St. Louis Blues tickets.

The Purple PRoject team has raised more than $1,200 so far toward the fight against cancer, and donations are still being accepted. If you would like to support the Purple PRoject and the American Cancer Society, you can donate here.

Thanks to all the Chapter members who supported the cause.

PRSSA’s Purple PRoject 2014 Relay for Life team





Tell your story and Win! March 24, 2014

Filed under: SPC 213,SPC 313 — mycauserie @ 3:16 pm

The Council of Public Relations Firms is hosting its second annual Take Flight with PR Video Contest. They are searching for the video that most creatively answers the prompt: “What is your dream PR assignment?” Need a little inspiration? Check out this video from The Council of PR Firms.

AWESOME, right? I know we have some amazingly creative and talented young PR professionals in our ranks right now who can take this challenge on! You’ve heard the advice all semester: you have to find ways to make yourself stand out from the crowd? Well, hello…pick up the phone…or in this case, pick up your video camera! The deadline is June 16, and semi-finalists are initially selected by public vote, so you need to get moving if you want to secure those votes!

For more information and complete rules, go to The Council of Public Relations Firms website; you can also take a look at last year’s winning video submitted by Ashley Varner.

What an amazing opportunity! Who’s up for the challenge?

Pull up a chair and let’s talk…but not for long because you have some creative work to do!



Hustle, Hustle, Hustle: Graduation is just around the corner March 16, 2014

Filed under: SPC 313 — mycauserie @ 5:54 pm
Photo Credit: Chris Piascik via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Chris Piascik via Compfight cc

I couldn’t sleep last night, so I was perusing Pinterest and came across this little bit of wisdom. I liked the advice shared in the post. Oh, and did I tell you it’s coming from a senior public relations student about to graduate in May? Hmmmm, Olivia Adams just may be on to something.

I encourage you to read the entire post; in fact, look around her blog. Check out her resume and some of the internships she has held during her college career. She is currently interning at Come Recommended, which is an internship opportunity I also posted in our department’s alumni group on LinkedIn several months ago.

As for the post “How to Hustle as a PR Student,” I’d like to highlight the tips she shared because I happen to agree with each one including the precursory comment about how networking and strong experience help land most jobs. Now, who hasn’t heard that before? If you are a PR student, you have probably heard it multiple times, but it is a worthy reminder. Here are Adams’ other tips:

1. Wake up early…and be happy about it. My 8 a.m. students are going to love this one; just think of this class as a productivity kick-starter! I say look at your cup as half full the rest of the semester and put your early morning to good use. Remember, she said “be happy about it.”

2. Be your own publicist. This is so true. You have to take ownership. You are responsible for your online presence and your offline presence too. If you think taking the time to build relationships is not a necessity, think again.

3. Build your own business. This is great advice and it mirrors the advice shared at the PRSA Career Day event last month. There are so many opportunities available to you that will give you writing experience and build your portfolio that using a fictitious class assignment as part of your portfolio doesn’t send a positive message to prospective employers. You need to show initiative.

4. Start applying for summer internships now. Internships are a must and having multiple internships certainly gives you an advantage in this competitive job market. Don’t miss out on adding experience to your resume; it’s never too early to get an internship.

5. Attend networking events. Adams suggests PRSSA involvement, and I certainly agree with that. The SIUE PRSSA Chapter has offered some excellent programming and networking events for its members. If you are not a member, I encourage you to consider joining next fall and take advantage of the professional development opportunities offered through this student organization.

6. Make sure you’re blogging. Well, I’m not going to argue with this one! I just can’t stress enough how valuable your blogging could be to you if you would view it as more than “just an assignment.”

7. Make some new Twitter friends. Once again, changing your perspective on the different social media platforms that you use can help launch your professional career. You may have been using these platforms for several years, but are you using them strategically as a PR professional?

8. Don’t be afraid to let your passions shine. This is all about your inner drive; your enthusiasm for your own career. Nobody can teach you that. If it’s there, it is going to show through in your college coursework, in your initiative and in job interviews. If it’s not, well, that will show through too.

Don’t let the fear stop you; let it motivate you. Keep hustling.

Pull up a chair and let’s talk.


Where there’s a will, there’s a way March 14, 2014

Filed under: SPC 213,SPC 313 — mycauserie @ 12:46 am

PRSSA students attending the PRSA St. Louis Career Development Day last month brought back some valuable professional advice. I didn’t attend with the students, and in a way, I am glad I didn’t. Sometimes I think my relationship with students can emulate that of a parent/teen. You know that “I can talk till I’m blue in the face” lament of parents? Well, I sometimes feel that way.

Photo Credit: Jason Michael via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Jason Michael via Compfight cc

For example, I tell students that they need to make an effort to find real-world writing opportunities. I tell students the writing experience their blogging assignment provides is far more valuable to their professional careers than the points they get in class, and I also tell students failing to meet assignment deadlines is far more costly to their professional careers than the point deductions they incur in class. And, sometimes I wonder if they are even listening.

Yet, students came back from Career Development Day enthusiastically sharing advice like this: There is no reason why you should not have real-world writing samples in your portfolio instead of just fabricated classroom assignments; blogging is a great writing tool and an asset to your professional portfolio; and learning to juggle multiple tasks and keeping up with deadlines is essential to success in this industry. Hmmmm, where have I heard all of this before?

So, as we near the home-stretch of this semester, I just want to remind students, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” Take the initiative to find writing opportunities. They can come in the most unexpected ways…like when I gave my husband an old, rusty 1949A John Deere tractor as a Valentine gift, and it resulted in a feature story being published in Farm & Ranch Living magazine, or like when a former student served as guest blogger.

Meet the challenges of college life with a professional outlook. It’s a competitive job market. Use your college time wisely to better position yourself and be a great PR employee – by the way, take a look at this PR News post; I like the “goes above and beyond expectations” tip.

In the meantime, pull up a chair and let’s talk.



Alzheimer’s disease advocates testify in Washington March 2, 2014

Filed under: My Causerie — mycauserie @ 3:33 pm

Members of two different panels testified before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health & Human Services last week regarding the dire state of Alzheimer’s disease funding. Although the Alzheimer’s disease hearing lasted approximately two hours, the majority of the publicity generated by this hearing focused on comedian/actor Seth Rogen’s testimony…and the number of empty chairs he testified to during the hearing.

Rogen’s testimony came at the end of the two-hour hearing, and although most chairs were empty for the entire hearing, by the time Rogen addressed the subcommittee, he was speaking to only two members of the subcommittee, Sens. Tom Harkin and Jerry Moran.View image on Twitter

In our sound-bite, entertain-me society, I am not surprised that Rogen’s testimony stole the spotlight. A simple Google search provides multiple stories regarding his testimony and his reaction to the lack of attendance by subcommittee members. Some praised his testimony; others criticized it. Some believed he wasted an opportunity with too much comedic banter while others commended him for using his celebrity status to bring light to the growing epidemic that Alzheimer’s disease places before us. Given the fact few probably tuned in to watch the entire two-hour hearing, I count the publicity a win in the Alzheimer’s battle. If more people became aware of the need for more funding and the need to apply more pressure to the government to increase and sustain that research, then I think it’s a win. In fact, Harkin reiterated that “pressure point” at the end of the hearing when he encouraged each of us to apply pressure locally so that our government leaders pay attention to the pleas of their constituents.

As for Rogen’s testimony, he talked about his personal experience with the disease as his mother-in-law fights her losing battle with Alzheimer’s. He acknowledged his own misconceptions about the disease until he saw it for himself and said that was the impetus for starting his charity, Hilarity for Charity. Finding a way to correct those misconceptions, to make younger people take notice of a disease often thought of as just “an old person’s disease,” and to rally their support in the fight, are all reasons Rogen started the charity. He has also expanded its reach to the college community through the Hilarity for Charity U” program. I hope to see the SIUE Chapter of PRSSA spearheading an event as part of this program sometime in the near future too.

As for the rest of the hearing, compelling testimony was given by Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institute of Health, who led the first panel of experts in discussing the promising research being conducted and the critical funding needed to keep that research going. This point was also poignantly emphasized by former Rep. Dennis Moore who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2011 and now serves as an Alzheimer’s Association advocate.

Many of us have similar stories to tell, and we need to keep telling them. There is power in these stories, and if we don’t use this power, then sadly, what Dr. Oz said will indeed be true.Dr Oz Quote Alzheimer's 3 Let’s not see that happen. Instead let’s harness the power of storytelling and let our elected government officials know that they need to address this growing epidemic by allocating the funds needed to stop it. Alzheimer’s disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States. There is no means of prevention and no cure, and there are no survivors. We need research dollars to change this.

Let’s take a cue from Spiderman: “With great power comes great responsibility.” Let’s share our stories. Let’s all be superheroes.


Blogging Assignment…Yeah, It’s Staying! February 21, 2014

Filed under: SPC 213,SPC 313 — mycauserie @ 12:44 am

Students in all my public relations classes have to create a blog and post regularly. Semester after semester, I have some complainers about this assignment – not a lot, but a few. Yet, at the beginning of every semester, I open with the disclaimer that the assignment is here to stay because I see true value in it for the students.

My confidence in keeping the assignment in place often comes from former students as they share how their blogging experience is put to use in their professional careers. Case in point, Amy Curry, recent guest blogger for the Alton Regional Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Photo Credit: Annie Mole via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Annie Mole via Compfight cc

However, the need to have good writing skills does not belong solely to students entering the public relations industry. It’s true, some students may never write another blog post after this class, but I am sure that no matter what their chosen career field, they will at some point write an email to a client, supervisor or colleague. They will at some point write a project bid, maybe an incident report or possibly a grant for funding. No matter the writing need, the practice acquired through various writing assignments while in college can strengthen this in-demand skill.

And in demand it is. The need to improve the writing skills of college graduates has been a topic of discussion for years and across all industries. The articles, Why Johnny can’t write, and why employers are mad, For $100K, you would at least think college grads could write and Students struggle for words are just a few examples of the many articles discussing employers’ concerns regarding the writing skills of new hires. If students doubt my pleas for them to strengthen their writing skills in order to make them more competitive job candidates, they should read a few of these articles. I’m not making this stuff up!

So stop complaining and just keep blogging…with clear, concise sentences, active verbs, proper spelling and good grammar. Strong writing skills will not only make you successful in class, it will make you successful in your chosen career.

In the meantime, pull up a chair and let’s talk.



Luna's Landing

Another day, another lesson learned


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