Archive for the ‘Strategic Communication/Public Relations/Integrated Marketing Communication’ Category

Consider for a moment what you plan to do career-wise when you graduate. With that in mind, discuss what you are learning now that best prepares you for the career of which you dream. What else do you think would help to prepare you?


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Robert Holland’s comment to my post, In Praise of Bookstores, made me think of how much I owe my career success to having spent a great deal of time in print shops.

I believe that to be a true communication/PR professional, you must have a thorough knowledge of and experience with the printing process. You have to get some printers’ ink into your bloodstream.

I began my career journey in a humble manner. In college, I cleaned the presses for each run of our student newspaper.

In my first job after graduation, I was editor of a U.S. Army publication in Germany while stationed there with the 32d Army Air Defense Command in Kaiserslautern. My newspaper was printed at a German print shop in the small town of Otterbach. I loved spending time there while the newspaper was prepared and printed. It was my first professional opportunity to work with a printer, and I learned so much from the staff there. I even learned all my type fonts and sizes in German to be able to communicate with the staff.

My second job after being discharged from the army was as managing editor of an award-winning weekly newspaper. The newspaper was printed in a print shop 60 miles north of the city it served. I loved going there each week to supervise the press run. I became good friends with the owner of the print shop, and he gave me the run of the place. His name was W. C. (“Dub”) Shoemaker, and he became a dear friend and mentor to me.

There is something magical and fulfilling about watching your hard work come off the press. I was allowed to work with Shoemaker’s staff in every department as my page proofs worked their way through the printing process. Then, standing at the end of the huge offset press, grabbing a finished publication as it came out of the folder, I could, as Robert described it, hold my work in my hands, and in so doing, feel a great sense of pride and accomplishment.

I left the weekly newspaper editor’s job to join my first corporate communication department. Among other duties, I was managing editor of a large monthly publication, that was, fortunately enough for me, printed at Shoemaker’s shop. I usually spent a couple of days there getting that  publication out each month. I did that for years, and I never got tired of it. I leaned so much about the printing process and how to make the most of it. I think every communicator/PR professional should have such knowledge. It adds a wider dimension to your professional skills.

Plus, the printing process is quite interesting if you are a serious communication/PR professional. Every top communicator I ever looked up to had printers’ ink in the bloood. It completes your work and brings a satisfying conclusion to your projects. It is much more satisfying to be part of the printing process, too, in addition to all the development, writing, and design of any given project.

I left that organization, and sadly, Shoemaker’s beloved print shop, and moved on to other corporate communication management positions in different cities. I still dealt with printers on a regular basis, as is necessary to be successful in this business. I was thankful  to have had such a good grounding in the printing process. It helped me tremendously.

Today’s communication/PR students may never need to enter a print shop. For a very long time now, it has been easy to send complete layouts to the print shop online and never set foot in the shop itself. That is remarkable progress and very efficient, but it also lacks soul. Like Robert said, the smell and feel of printers’ ink gets in your nose and on your hands, but it also gets into your heart/blood stream. I miss that experience.

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Position: Tenure-track assistant professor in public relations and communication management.

Responsibilities:  Teach courses in the undergraduate program in Strategic Public Relations and integrated Communication and in the Master of Science program in Communication Management. Undergraduate teaching opportunities include two or more courses among: Principles of PR, PR writing, PR campaigns, and Organizational Communication. Graduate teaching opportunities include one or more core courses and others in the Candidate’s area of scholarship and expertise.  Expected to supervise students working on thesis and directed research projects. Scholarly research productivity and service to the department, college and university is expected.

Appointment: Ten-month appointment with the possibility of additional summer compensation for teaching. Start date: August 2011. This position is contingent on funds being available at the time of hire.

Qualifications: Earned Ph.D. in the field of public relations/mass communication or ABD (completion of all doctoral work required by February 1, 2012) demonstrated success or potential as a classroom teacher; two or more years of professional experience in public relations; and potential research productivity. Expertise in teaching interactive public relations in the online environment is a plus. Interdisciplinary experience or interest is a plus. Evidence or interest in securing external funding is preferred.

The Department: The Department offers a major in Communication Studies and a major in Mass Communication with tracks in Journalism and New Media, Advertising, and Strategic Public Relations and Integrated Communication. A master’s degree is offered in Communications Management. The department annually enrolls approximately 1,300 majors served by 28 full-time and 50 part-time faculty. For a more complete description of the department and graduate program, go to http://www.towson.edu/mccs.

Founded in 1866, today Towson University is recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top public universities in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. Towson is nationally recognized for its programs in the liberal arts and sciences, business, education, communications, health sciences, and the fine and performing arts. The University places a strong emphasis on service learning and civic engagement through such activities as internships, practica, clinical placements, course assignments and student events. As the Baltimore area’s largest university and Maryland’s Metropolitan University, Towson articulates its research and scholarship mission through partnerships that link the University to the economic, educational and cultural life of the state of Maryland and the mid-Atlantic region. Towson enrolls more than 21,000 undergraduate and graduate students in 63 undergraduate majors, 38 master’s programs and four doctoral programs. Located on a rolling 328 acres, the striking campus is eight miles north of downtown Baltimore and 45 miles from Washington, D.C. The campus and its surrounding cities provide an excellent environment for teaching and supporting the academic pursuits of the 780 full-time faculty who work here.

Application: The review of completed applications will begin on October 15, 2010 and continue until the position is filled. Submit a letter of application, curriculum vita, evidence of potential for teaching effectiveness, three letters of recommendation (sent under separate covers), and an official graduate transcript to:

Dr. Cynthia Cooper
Department of Mass Communication & Communication Studies
Towson University
8000 York Road
Towson, MD 21252-0001

All or part of the application may be submitted via email to dwarrington@towson.edu. Please indicate “COFAC-N-2414” in the subject line.

Towson University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer and has a strong institutional commitment to diversity. Women, minorities, persons with disabilities, and veterans are encouraged to apply.

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Comments to my previous post like Donna Popacosta’s about showing her daughters her old electric typewriter remind me of what tools were like when I started my career.

Here’s a roll down that memory lane:

  • When I began my career, I had only manual typewriters. If you made a mistake, you started over with a clean sheet of paper, or you used messy and ugly correction fluid. My first computer was the original, the first Apple computer. As primitive as that computer was, I thought I was in Heaven. I could write and edit copy on the screen, then print it only after everything was perfect. But the ease of use was costly. That first Apple computer was many thousands of dollars. Today, a few hundred dollars will buy you technology that could not have been imagined back then.
  • Telephones were all land lines, fixed permanently in one place. To make a call while you were out and about, you used a public telephone, if you could find one, after depositing the proper coin. Now, we are free to call anyone from anywhere at any time via the cellular telephone. My first cell phone was the size and weight of a brick, and it was about as costly as a gold brick. And according to the Law of Unintended Consequences, the cell phone created that ubiquitous phenomenon that we see so regularly today — walking and talking/texting. How un-evolved we were way back then; we actually stayed still in one place while we talked on the phone. So primitive!
  • You did your math with a pencil and paper. The hand-held calculator was not yet readily available or affordable. When I bought my first hand-held calculator, which was very expensive, I instantly became a mobile math whiz. But when I learned to use a financial spreadsheet on my first Apple computer, I was Einstein!
  • If you did your own work-related photography like I did back then, you probably used a lot of Tri-X 400 black and white film for photo layouts in publications.  You shot the film, and unless you had a darkroom, it was sent out for development, then transferred to a contact sheet from which you reviewed your work. The contact sheet was sent back to show the processor which shots you wanted printed and what size to print them. The entire cycle took many days. Now, I can shoot a photo with my Canon 40D, connect it to my Sony laptop computer, edit the photo on-screen, then print it anywhere on my portable Canon printer. The entire process takes only minutes and can be accomplished on location.
  • In my early career, I shot a lot of Kodachrome for color slides. Slides could be used as, well, slides for presentations, but you could also pull color prints from them, making Kodachrome more versatile and cost-effective than shooting only color print film. Producing audio/visual presentations was much more involved back then, necessitating the handling of every individual slide and the use of bulky equipment to show slide presentations. Then along came tools like PowerPoint and Animoto. Again, viewed from the perspective of my early career, the capability of digital photography and laptop computing is simply astounding. Due to the dominance of digital photography, Kodak stopped manufacturing Kodachrome in 2009.
  • To prepare a publication, you wrote your copy and sent it to a typesetter, marked up with type style and size. When you got the typeset copy back, you did your page layouts by hand on a layout table. You ran your copy through a waxer, then you cut and pasted up page mechanicals. You scaled photos by hand and marked the size and page placement on the back. The page mechanicals went to the printer, who made negatives from which plates were made that went on the press. You got a blue line page proof for one final check before printing.  With the advent of desktop publishing and programs like PageMaker and Quark Express, the time savings and additional capability of producing publications was simply amazing. For a complicated and important print project, like an annual report, you could lay out the entire publication right there on your large computer screen, complete with colors, artwork, design details, copy, photos, and captions. Then, the entire publication file could be sent electronically to the printer. While this is so commonplace now, viewed from the technological perspective of my early career, it is almost unbelievable. Additionally, just consider for a moment that I am blogging about this. The mind boggles.
  • If you wanted to write someone in my early career, you used pen and paper, or typed a letter, affixed the proper postage stamp, then trusted it to the U.S. Postal system. Days or weeks later, your message was conveyed. Excuse me, but I received and answered a text message on my cell phone while you read that.
  • And finally, after a hard day’s work (and I worked many long hours back then without the benefit of the time-saving technology we take so for granted today), I could go home and relax in front of my stereo. The stereo component system I had back then covered a wall. The Kenwood speakers alone were the size of two Smart cars. In additional to vinyl records, I was also futuristic enough to have a reel-to-reel tape, with tape reels the size of pizza pans. Now, my small Bose Wave Radio has bigger and higher quality sound than that entire system. You are probably listening to music via your iPod as you read this. Enough said.

Looking back is entertaining, if somewhat unbelievable. With today’s technology, being a communication/public relations professional is in many ways easier and allows a much higher degree of personal capability, creativity, and productivity. The fundamentals are the same, but we can do so much more with less today than in past decades.

More with less — I like the sound of that.

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In reading Merriam (1998) Qualitative Research and Case Study Applications in Education, I ran across an old friend — content analysis.

In a chapter on mining data from documents for qualitative research, Merriam discusses content analysis for qualitative case studies. As a communication/PR/IMC professional, content analysis is a familiar frequently used tool for determining what is being reported in the media. Commercial clipping services are frequently hired to provide the practitioner with packets of press clippings and broadcast monitor reports. These can be studied to see what messages are getting out to audiences. They do not, however, provide any solid information on readership or if there is any impact of the messages on attitudes, beliefs, or behavior.

Merriam reminds us that historians and literary critics have long used content analysis to analyze historical documents and literature.  She acknowledges that content analysis is currently used most frequently for media such as newspapers, periodicals, television, and film. Merriam says these applications have a strong quantitative focus and are concerned with measuring the frequency and variety of messages and confirming hypotheses.

Cutlip, Center, & Broom (2006), writing in Effective Public Relations, say content analysis has a role in determining trends, providing valuable insights into what might be on the public relations agenda in the future. Public relations firms increasingly help clients anticipate issues by using the services of issues-tracking firms and by conducting their own content analysis.

Merriam says most research designs using content analysis are sequential, moving from category construction to sampling, data collection, data analysis, and then interpretation.

The deeper I dig into my doctoral studies, such as my current focus on qualitative research methods for education, the more similarities I find with aspects of my career in communication/PR/IMC. I find that most comforting.

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Looking back at my own resume, three of my previous employers do not exist independently anymore. They were involved in either a merger or acquisition. Frequently, these two different business terms are used together and abbreviated to M & A.  But legally, they are different transactions.

Whatever they are called, when deals like these are struck or even anticipated, the organizational communicator’s skills are much needed. But all too often, communicators are not included in the management process. That’s wrong, because in my experience, strategic communication is crucial to the success of the venture.

What are your thoughts on the proper role and activities of organizational communication in M&A?

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