My Causerie

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

7 Common Blogging Mistakes to Avoid October 5, 2015

Filed under: ACS 213,ACS 313 — mycauserie @ 7:00 am

This infographic that I found on PR Daily shares advice on some common blogging mistakes you should avoid. Whether you are just blogging for assignment purposes or you’ve found a passion for blogging and plan to continue long after you leave this class, I think there are some great tips in the infographic. Take a few minutes to read through it.

7 Common Blogging Mistakes to Avoid2




Work Ethic: a belief in the moral benefit and importance of work and its inherent ability to strengthen character. September 28, 2015

Filed under: ACS 213,ACS 313 — mycauserie @ 7:00 am

Public Relations Student Society of America designates September as Ethics Month.

Photo Credit: Marlton Trainer via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Marlton Trainer via Compfight cc

Conversations abound throughout the month on the topic. So I felt like it might be a good time to squeeze in a talk about work ethic.

To put it mildly, I have always had a strong work ethic. It is just part of who I am. It is something I almost cherish as I know it is a trait that came from my dad, and it colors everything I do including the way I teach. Let me share a little of the back story.

When I was in the 8th grade, I got a job washing dishes at a local restaurant – a tavern actually, but it served food too. I was the sole dish washer, and let me clarify that, I WAS the dishwasher. I washed every single dish by hand. All night long, I stood at a sink and washed dishes. Sometimes they were so busy, they were waiting for me to get clean plates or silverware out so they could serve the food. After work, I would go home, rub petroleum jelly on my hands, put socks over them and go to sleep.

I didn’t mind the hard work; I knew it was appreciated by my bosses: Pat, John and Harry. Harry would often make me a hot-off-the-grill cheeseburger to take home at night, and I will always remember how John called me “Pocahontas.” I no longer worked there, but when I was elected homecoming queen my senior year, he called to congratulate me saying, “I knew you would do it, Pocahontas!” The last time I saw John was right after his wife Pat had died. I had the opportunity to just sit by his side, hold his hand and visit with an old boss who had become a dear friend. He died a year after his wife. He was 93.

I had other jobs throughout high school–waiting tables, cleaning houses, babysitting, and with all of them, my work ethic, sense of professionalism and understanding of the value of relationship grew stronger.

I joined the Army right after I graduated from high school. I went to basic training in December in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri–maybe that’s why I don’t like cold weather! I earned what they called a “Super Jock” award, which was basically an armband that gave you first-in-line rights at the mess hall. Trust me, in basic training, that’s a big deal! I wouldn’t classify myself as a super jock, but I am competitive especially with myself. So I pushed myself physically, which resulted in the armband, and in being one of only seven females in our company to graduate from basic training that cycle.

I earned the Expert Field Medical Badge while stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas. I remember the toughest part for me was the land navigation courses. I can study for exams; I can train for the physical demands, but when it comes to reading maps and finding my way around, I find that challenging. Just ask my family!

After serving six years in the Army, I was a stay-at-home mom raising our two daughters, and I always tried to instill that same work ethic in them. I can remember telling them that it didn’t matter what their job was, they should always strive to be the best at it. If your job is frying french fries, then fry the best french fries possible. They heard this often.

So fast forward through life, I was a nontraditional student when I finally went to college, but even if I hadn’t waited so long, I would have probably still had the same drive to excel. I maintained a 4.0 GPA while earning both my undergraduate and graduate degrees, and I won the Competitive Graduate Award, which helped pay for my graduate studies.

I don’t share all this with a sense of boastfulness, but rather to point out that my achievements stem from a strong work ethic. Nobody said I had to do anything but meet the minimum requirements, yet something within me has always wanted more than that. And I tend to want to see that same kind of work ethic in the people around me, including the students I teach.

I imagine for students who just want to meet the minimum requirements, my drive to push them to want to do more can probably seem overwhelming. It is not my intent to make the classes and assignments overwhelming; I just honestly want to see my students succeed, and I just honestly think it takes more than the minimum to do that. I’m not talking just GPA. I think you need more than just a diploma in your hand. The same diploma, need I remind you, that everyone else is getting when they cross that stage. Competition is tough.

Often times though, the reason for this minimalist attitude is, “we’re too busy.” I do not doubt this for a minute, but you need to find a way to make it all work. If there isn’t an inherent desire to do more than the minimum requirement, then I think the first step is rewiring your thinking and strengthening that inner work ethic, and organization and prioritization can help you do that.

I came across an NPR interview with Melvina Noel, author of “How to Thrive in College.” I would encourage all students, especially those who are struggling in these first few weeks of the semester to take the time…yes, take the time, to listen to the interview.

One of my favorite parts of the interview is when she tells her students, as they straggle into the classroom tired and frazzled from everything else in life, that “this is your time. It’s not a spa, but almost.”

I imagine the notion of class being “almost like a spa” is a tough sell, but it’s a great outlook. I mean, you did go to all the effort to enroll in the class for some reason…to get a promotion, to land that dream job or to maybe just stop frying french fries for a living some day. So why not step into class with a “I’m doing this for me” kind of attitude.

So as we wrap up ethics month, stop and consider your own work ethic. Are you prepared to do what it takes to achieve your goals? Do you want a “go-to-the-front-of-the-line” resume? It may mean doing more than the bare minimum; it may mean you will need to leave your “suitcase” outside the classroom door for 75 minutes, but take Noel’s advice. “Don’t give up. Never, ever, ever give up.”

And if you need a few tips on how to get started, this dish-washing, combat boot-wearing, pushing-to-excel teacher is here to help you! Pull up a chair and let’s talk.




What’s your reason to end Alzheimer’s September 21, 2015

Filed under: ACS 213,ACS 313,My Causerie — mycauserie @ 7:00 am

Walk 2014The Walk to END Alzheimer’s takes place in Edwardsville, Illinois, Saturday, Sept. 26 on the SIUE campus. The SIUE PRSSA Chapter is once again supporting the fight against Alzheimer’s disease through the efforts of its Purple PRoject team.

The theme for our Walk team this year is 10,000. Team members and donors are committed to taking 10,000 steps each day. This is not only a health benefit to each of us, but it also serves as a reminder that those living with Alzheimer’s disease, and their caregivers, are on a challenging path in life. One that is physically, emotionally and mentally exhausting.

We also want to raise awareness about the growing number of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. The number of Americans living3 with the disease is growing–fast. With someone in the United States developing Alzheimer’s every 67 seconds, there are 10,000 reasons why we want to end Alzheimer’s. As team members share their reasons, we hope to raise awareness about a disease that not only takes memories but lives too. In 2013, more than 84,000 Americans died from Alzheimer’s; my dad was one of them. That is one of the reasons I want to end Alzheimer’s.

To do that, we need to raise the money to fund the research that will eventually end this disease. Our team goal is $10,000. A dollar for every step we take. A dollar for every reason to end Alzheimer’s. By 2050, 16 million Americans will be living with Alzheimer’s disease. Lord willing, I may still be around in 2050 to enjoy my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, but will I know who they are? Until a cure is found, we are all at risk to have this disease rob us of our memories and our lives.

I am asking every family member, every friend, every co-worker to step up and support me in the fight. Please make a donation today. Just think, if everyone would donate $1, $10, $100 or $1,000…our $10,000 goal would be met…and maybe our goal of living in a world without Alzheimer’s disease would be in reach too. I need your support because…The END starts with you



Miss Rodeo Illinois is SIUE alumna September 14, 2015

Filed under: My Causerie — mycauserie @ 7:00 am

This past weekend my family and I traveled to Fort Madison, Iowa for the Tri-State Rodeo. This is an Kiddos rodeo picannual tradition for the Howard family. My husband and I can remember attending as kids and then going with our own daughters. Now we continue the tradition with our grandchildren.

It’s a lot of fun—crackling campfires, fantastic food, a pony-filled parade, an awesome rodeo performance and spending time with family and friends. I love traditions.

ArielThis year there was a special guest in the great state of Iowa…SIUE alumna, Ariel Weinman. Weinman, an applied communication studies/public relations major and former PRSSA Chapter member, is the reigning Miss Rodeo Illinois!

Weinman participated in the rodeo festivities each night and also rode in the parade Saturday morning. She also took time out of her busy schedule to autograph photos for my grandsons. Jonah was in awe seeing her up close with the sparkly hat, pink vest and sash…a true princess in his eyes! And from a public relations standpoint, I think she does outstanding as Miss Rodeo Illinois!

In addition to meeting her responsibilities this year as Miss Rodeo Illinois, Weinman is also a media Getting Ariel's autographspecialist at Lewis and Clark Community College in Godfrey, Illinois, where she works with  local media outlets to help meet the marketing and public relations needs for the college.

It was a great weekend of fun and made extra special by getting to see a former student living by the very words she penned on Jonah’s photo: “Always rope your dreams!”

What are you doing to ensure you rope your dreams? Pull up a chair and let’s talk.


10 Steps to Becoming a Better … September 7, 2015

Filed under: My Causerie — mycauserie @ 7:00 am

10 Steps to Becoming a Better Writer
Like this infographic? Get more
content marketing tips from Copyblogger.

I share this sage advice from Brian Clark every semester with my public relations writing students. It also came to mind in church last Sunday when Pastor Bev was encouraging us to amp up our prayer life. I said to myself, “This can be applied to anything we want to get better at…including prayer.”

10 Steps

Pastor Bev shared some statistics from a survey done in the U.S. regarding prayer. Approximately 86 percent of people surveyed said they believed that God does indeed answer prayer, yet the number of those surveyed who said they devote time to daily prayer was minuscule. So why do we do that? If we have faith in something that works, what don’t we put it into practice?

Clark’s simple “10 Steps list” was a humorous way to tell students there is no magic list that will teach them how to become a better writer, they just have to do it—and often! I think the same is true of prayer. If we want to become better at praying, we just have to do it. Just as writers who put this advice into practice see improvement in their writing, those who want to improve their prayer life will also get better at praying.

What’s something you want to get better at? Take Clark’s advice and apply his 10 step philosophy. Let me know how you do.

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


PRSSA membership: Sign up today August 31, 2015

Filed under: ACS 213,ACS 313 — mycauserie @ 7:00 am
Photo Credit: 21innovate via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: 21innovate via Compfight cc

What are you doing Monday? One thing you should have on your to-do list is to stop by the Public Relations Student Society of America table during the Activities Fair in the Goshen today or tomorrow. The SIUE PRSSA Chapter officers will be there to answer your questions and share their enthusiasm about what PRSSA membership has done for them.

You do not have to be a public relations major to join PRSSA. Reaping the benefits of membership in 5this professional student organization can apply to anyone. Being a more effective communicator and having opportunities to expand your professional network are beneficial to any career field.

The old adage “it’s not what you know, but who you know” is more important than ever in today’s job market. As a PRSSA member, you have the opportunity to attend local, regional and national events and meet professionals from a wide range of industries: technology, finance, entertainment, sports, food, fashion…the list can go forever. Every successful business uses public relations as part of its strategic communications.

Are you thinking, “Yeah, but these are all PR people; I’m not a public relations person. I’m an accountant.” Well, when you are shaking hands with the head of corporate communications for the “dream” accounting firm you have always wanted to work for, consider the impression you are making upon that person and the fact you now have a professional connection with someone in the firm.

This year, PRSSA members have the opportunity to travel to Atlanta, Georgia for the PRSSA National Conference. Members will have the chance to meet professionals from companies like Coca-Cola, GM, Time Warner Cable Inc., Chicago Cubs, Atlanta Braves, Carnival Cruise Corporation, The Weather Channel and many more.

PRSSA members also get to meet a lot of local professionals from right here in the St. Louis/Metro East area. The Chapter brings in a variety of professionals from around the area as guest speakers for its semimonthly Chapter meetings. This semester programming topics include ethics, health care, event planning and social media to name a few.

Photo Credit: coltera via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: coltera via Compfight cc

You can jump-start your career by attending the SIUE Chapter’s fall social Sept. 9 from 6-7 p.m. This is a free event, and you do not have to be a dues-paying member to attend. There will be food, fun and prizes so be sure to stop by the volleyball court to join in on the fun and learn more about PRSSA membership.

Whether you are a freshman just starting your college career or a senior about to begin your job search, PRSSA membership can enhance your education, broaden your network and launch your career.

What are you doing Monday?


The 10,000 challenge August 23, 2015

Filed under: My Causerie — mycauserie @ 7:00 am

We’ve all heard the health tip of walking 10,000 steps a day. It’s not a magic number by any means, but it equates to the recommended amount of daily exercise by most health professionals. It gives us a goal to work toward.

My dad's awesome smile!

My dad’s awesome smile!

As I was contemplating the upcoming Walk to END Alzheimer’s, which is held on the SIUE campus, that number came to mind once again: 10,000 – 10,000 reasons to end Alzheimer’s. Now, sadly, that’s an easy goal to reach. We all have our reasons for ending Alzheimer’s. One of mine lost his fight against Alzheimer’s on this day in 2013. My dad is definitely one of the biggest reasons I support the Walk to END Alzheimer’s.

With this 10,000 theme in motion, it only made sense that my Walk to END Alzheimer’s team, fundraising goal should be $10,000 – a dollar for every step; a dollar for every reason to end Alzheimer’s. Great idea, right? I mean, it’s a win-win. Team members get the health benefit of walking 10,000 steps each day, and the Alzheimer’s Association gets the benefit of much-needed funds for research and care services for those living with Alzheimer’s. 10,000 reasons

To meet our team goal, we need team members; team members ready to “step up” to the challenge. On the surface many might think the 10,000 Challenge is a bit overwhelming, so to see how easy it would be to meet this challenge, let me break it down for you.

First, if you are thinking there is no way you can get 10,000 steps in every day, take a look at The Walking Site. It gives some simple lifestyle changes that can help you meet the 10,000 step challenge.

Second, we need to hear the 10,000 reasons why people want to end Alzheimer’s. As with many campaigns today, social media can be a great resource for raising awareness and funds. As a team member, use your online platforms to help us meet the 10,000 Challenge and share the many reasons why people want to end Alzheimer’s. With more than 5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s and someone in the U.S. diagnosed with the disease every 67 seconds, we all have a reason to end Alzheimer’s.

Finally, we don’t just want to “talk the talk, but walk the talk.” So, let’s “talk the Walk” so we can “walk the Walk” Sept. 26! Take a look at how easy it can be to meet our $10,000 challenge!

If 20 people join The Purple PRoject, our Walk to END Alzheimer’s team, each team member would need to raise $500 to reach our $10,000 goal. That may still seem overwhelming to some, so to break that down a little further consider this. As a team member, you could reach your $500 goal by asking 25 people to step up to the challenge and donate $20! You could ask family, friends, co-workers or maybe get your own 10,000 daily steps in by walking to some of your favorite restaurants, salons or other places of business and asking for their support. See how easy it would be to meet this 10,000 Challenge?

10,000 steps. 10,000 reasons. $10,000. We can do this because…

The END starts with you




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