Story by Ashley Traylor, Staff writer
The Journalism and Mass Communications (JMC) Department hosted the first PR360 at Murray State to connect high school students and college students to public relations professionals.
“I think it’s really important to go ahead and get the students a little more aware of what to expect when they enter the industry,” said Heather Mix, junior from Mayfield, Kentucky, and coordinator of the event. “It was really important for students to get their toes in the water and get to network with people in the industry.”
PR360 was open to all majors, but the department pushed for mass communications and nonprofit leadership studies majors to attend. Heather Mix, Brennan Handley, Austin Gordon, Tim Vance and Marcie Hinton coordinated PR360.
The event also helped recruit local high school students who are thinking of pursuing a degree in the JMC department.
Each guest speaker addressed a different area of the public relations field to show how research, planning, communication and evaluation come together. They shared their advice and experience with students.
The day of the event was divided into a morning session for high school students, college students and local professionals and an afternoon session, strictly for college students.
During the morning sessions held in the Curris Center, guest speakers addressed different areas of public relations and shared advice and experience. The afternoon session took place at Pogue Library. The students were divided into groups that addressed social media, the importance of a LinkedIn profile and resumé building.
The PR professionals that led breakout sessions were from Omnicom, FleishmanHillard and Ketchum.
Alissa Sommerfeldt, junior from Owensboro, Kentucky, said PR360 was not a boring workshop where you take notes all day; instead, it was an engaging event. She said she had one-on-one conversations with leading professionals and gained insight from these professionals.
The goal of PR360 was to prepare students for a future in the public relations and give students the skills they need to succeed, Mix said.
“They need to know what to wear, how to act, the right questions to ask. We wanted to prepare students for that,” Mix said.
Sommerfeldt said she learned more about software programs that she did not know existed prior to PR360, and it was fascinating to learn how professionals track consumer data.
Mix said she gained a lot from the resumé-building class. Professionals want to see your “return on investment.” They want to see what you can offer, the numbers and the specifics.
“PR is about extending honest relationships with integrity,” said President Bob Davies during the event.
The department pushes students to advocate for what they believe in and not take the second seat for anything, Mix said.
The event had 176 registrants, 31 of whom were high school students. The department hopes to hold PR360 every two years in the spring semesters.
“Going to events like PR360 has definitely validated my choice in going to Murray State,” Sommerfeldt said. “I am so amazed by how awesome my department is every day.”