BPR Professional Development Tour in NYC


Bobcat Promotions visiting Edelman

By Jennifer Alvord

NEW YORK — A trip to New York City means more than finding 99-cent pizza, $30 drinks, tickets to a Broadway show, walking across the Brooklyn Bridge and tipping a Disney character in Times Square for a selfie.

Those were mere sideshows to the main event of the Second Annual Bobcat Promotions Professional Development trip to the Big Apple.

A dozen members of the student-run public relations firm visited top public relations firms, including Edelman, Fleishman-Hillard and Ogilvy PR, along with the United Nations and the 9/11 Memorial Museum.

Tyler Mahan, a PR senior, said that it was “the best trip ever,” and he is now considering a move to New York City to pursue his career.

“I was inspired more than ever to join the public relations industry,” Mahan said. “Every agency was better than the last, in my opinion, and I’m now driven to gain more experience through internships and Bobcat Promotions than ever.”


A breathtaking view from the top of the Rockefeller Center. Photo by: Jennifer Alvord

At Edelman, the BPR team met with Texas State alum Christopher Henry, a former executive director with the student firm. Henry works with the public affairs team and is working with client Microsoft. He was part of a panel of young Edelman staff members who work in different departments and discussed their career path to the world’s largest PR firm.

Henry also was part of a group of alumni who shared their personal experiences in seeking employment in New York and handling day-to-day living in the city. Among the alumni guests were sisters Kendall and Kelby Schmidt and Natalie Schorn.

The BPR team was joined during a visit to Fleishman-Hillard by graduate students from Syracuse University. The most impressive presentation involved the firm’s handling of content marketing through social media. A Fleishman digital team has a newsroom-like space called The Daily Planet and connect the relevance of news events to their clients, then write posts accordingly.

Ashley DeBolt, executive director of Bobcat Promotions, participated in her second professional development tour. She once again recognized the real value in working in the media capital of the world.

“If you get a job in the city, working one year is virtually like working 10 years anywhere else,” DeBolt said.


The Brooklyn Bridge. Photo by: Jennifer Alvord

After meetings with firms, members of Bobcat Promotions also had many opportunities to explore the city.

The group visited various New York City landmarks, including Central Park, Times Square, The Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center, The Brooklyn Bridge and The Statue of Liberty.

Members quickly learned that the subway waits for no one. While getting on (or trying to get on) the train, two people got left behind at the platform because the doors closed on them.

PR senior Larisa Gawlik said, “I just remember thinking, ‘This can’t be happening’ as I turned around and realized the doors shut on them.”

Gawlik said that everyone was so worried that they weren’t going to be able to find the rest of the group because cell phone service is unpredictable underground. “Once we got ahold of them and got them back to the same train platform it was hysterical,” Gawlik said.

Members also walked from Manhattan across the Brooklyn Bridge into Brooklyn, which was an experience DeBolt said was her favorite.

While at the United Nations, members attended a fast-paced noon briefing directed by Stephane Dujarric, director of communications for Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. Dujarric visited with BPR as he had done during the inaugural trip. The group visited exhibit and rooms that have held Security Council meetings and General Assembly gatherings.

A trip highlight at the UN was visiting with actor Josh Lucas, who was filming for a new television show outside the UN. The actor who played Reese Witherspoon’s love interest in “Sweet Home Alabama” and also starred in “American Psycho” graciously posed for countless selfies.

“Meeting Josh Lucas was a great experience,” Mahan said. “He was really nice to us all and took so many pictures with us. I definitely recommend going to New York. It’s a great experience and there’s always something to do and somewhere to go.”

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Dee Kapila visits FDOM class

By: Jennifer Alvord

deeTexas State alumna Dee Kapila spoke to Fundamentals of Digital and Online Media students on Wednesday about the importance of constantly learning new skills in a digital career.

Kapila graduated from the University of Texas with an undergraduate degree in advertising. After graduating, she began her career at Dell as a product specialist. Kapila always had a passion for communication and technology, so she decided to further her education at Texas State University where she graduated with a master’s degree in new media in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication in 2008.

After obtaining her master’s, she worked for many different companies doing instructional technology. Kapila is now starting her new job as a product manager at Headspring in Austin, TX.

Kapila had great advice for students by telling them to feel comfortable about jumping into new things and learning new skills as soon as possible.

“Always think about yourself as a CEO in training,” Kapila said. “As a CEO, you need to know a little bit about everything.”

She then went on to explain how quickly technology changes and encourages students to be able to adapt. “Some skills in technology come and go, but HTML and CSS aren’t going anywhere,” Kapila said. “Knowing code is very important.”

Kapila also believes that having an online presence is extremely important. “Social media and blogging are no longer frivolous endeavors,” Kapila said. “It’s now the primary way companies communicate and interact.”


Dee Kapila and Dr. Cindy Royal

Thank you for coming and sharing your knowledge with us, Dee! We love hearing from professional alumni.

SJMC weekly TV newscast to make smashing return

Bobcat Update, SJMC, Journalism, Mass, Communication, Comm, Texas, State, University, TXST, txstate

Bobcat Update Newscast

Electronic media students are preparing this week for the return of Bobcat Update, the SJMC’s weekly television newscast.

This year marks the highest number of students enrolled in the program, with over 80 students participating in the making and airing of the show.

For more than 20 years, Bobcat Update has been known for airing over the local cable networks, but now the show is also streamed online over a service known as Ustream.

“We love digital,” said Dr. England, the electronic media sequence coordinator. “We love it when a story blows up online.”

By expanding beyond the limitations of traditional television, Bobcat Update has reached a much wider audience online. Students share every piece of news on Facebook and Twitter.

Bobcat Update’s first airing of the semester is Feb. 24. The show can be viewed live at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays via online streaming, or on Grande Cable Channel 19 and Time Warner Channel 16.

Many of the show’s previous newscasts can be watched on the Bobcat Update YouTube Channel.

SJMC launches first-ever “Mentor Session Series” at Austin high schools

Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 10.17.54 AMThe Texas State University School of Journalism and Mass Communication launched its first-ever Mentor Session Series this week with an opportunity to talk to students from two Austin high schools.

SJMC faculty members Kym Fox, an associate professor of practice in journalism, and Dale Blasingame, a digital media lecturer, spoke to journalism and computer science students from Akins and Bowie high schools Thursday evening. The discussion centered on media jobs of the future. Many of the 30 or so students in attendance are currently enrolled in a newspaper and digital media class taught by Akins teacher David Doerr, a 2005 SJMC graduate.

This is the first in a series of mentor sessions for SJMC faculty.

“Like so many journalists, I found my passion for the profession in high school,” Fox said. “I think universities have an obligation to foster the next generation of journalists, and too many high schools are left without support from either the profession or academia.”

Much of the mentor series presentation focused on data journalism. Students were shown several examples of high-quality data projects and got their hands on a real data set to organize and ask questions of. Fox and Blasingame also explained the skills needed to find a job in the ever-changing media landscape.

“I was so impressed with the students who took part,” Blasingame said. “They already had experience with coding, data and spreadsheets. That’s more than a lot of professional journalists can say. It’s encouraging to see high school programs like this.”

You can view examples of the Akins HS journalism class by visiting its website or following along on Twitter.

PR major Raquel Gonzales earns PRSA Certificate in Principles of Public Relations

gonzalesWe would like to congratulate PR major Raquel Gonzales for earning a PRSA Certificate in Principles of Public Relations, a new entry-level program that awards a certificate to candidates who pass a professional, knowledge-based, qualifying exam. Texas State University is the only public university in Texas to support this designation, which proves a command of the basic principles in the PR field.

Earning the Certificate gives new graduates like Texas State’s Raquel an advantage in a competitive job market. The inaugural class of eight students participated in the 12-hour prep course during the fall of 2015, and students have up to six months after graduating to take the exam. The Universal Accreditation Board (UAB), a group of eight participating organizations that represent public relations professionals, administers this and other programs to promote lifelong learning.

The largest group within the UAB is the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). The Texas State School of Journalism & Mass Communication sponsors a student chapter of this organization called the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA).

Blood drive Tuesday hosted by SJMC students

facebookIn the spirit of giving (and earning an A), some SJMC students are asking students, faculty and staff to literally give from their hearts this season. Students in Grace Capwell’s PR Campaigns class are hosting a student-run blood drive on Tuesday Dec. 1  from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. in the LBJ Student Center (room 3-15.1).

Along with the blood drive, they are also running a Twitter contest — everyone who participates is eligible to win a Jam Wireless Speaker. The following rules apply:

  1. Take a selfie donating blood
  2. Tweet the selfie, tag and follow @centralTXblood
  3. Use #TXSTstudentsgive

Walk-ins are welcome, but appointments can also be made here. The Blood and Tissue Center of Central Texas is located in Austin and keeps all donated blood local. With the upcoming holiday season, the blood center needs more donations to keep up with the demand. According to the center, each pint of blood can help save three lives of local people.

SJMC Digital Short Course Series


This fall, SJMC offered its first Digital Short Course Series. These one-credit-hour courses are meant to provide students with an introduction to cutting-edge, digital topics. Students may take one, two or all three courses in a semester. This semester, the topics were Digital Media Ethics (taught by Jon Zmikly), Drones and Sensors (taught by Cindy Royal and Dale Blasingame) and Coding Workshop (taught by Cindy Royal).

Screen Shot 2015-11-23 at 9.09.02 AM

Jon Zmikly leads the online Digital Media Ethics course.

The Digital Media Ethics course was delivered completely online over three weeks. Students completed modules via TRACS, covering topics including Truth in Storytelling, Transparency and Community.

Sensor Workshop

Cindy Royal assists with a sensor connection.

The Drones and Sensors course was delivered in a hybrid model with two weeks of online work that culminated in a one-day, in-person workshop. Students gained experience working with a drone and using a sensor kit. They manipulated connections on the sensor to control LED lights, monitor brightness, detect motion and log temperatures to a spreadsheet.

Screen Shot 2015-11-23 at 9.44.05 AM

Students in the Coding Workshop learned the skills to create an interactive quiz.

The Coding Workshop was delivered in a similar hybrid manner, with two weeks of online preparation leading to a one-day workshop. In the workshop, students got experience with HTML, CSS and JavaScript, developing an interactive quiz. They learned the basics of Web design and introductory programming syntax.

Students had positive responses in blog posts about the workshops.

As it turns out, I LOVE messing with tiny breadboards and photons. The whole process tapped into the engineer buried somewhere in my brain, and we even got to mess around with coding, another casual interest of mine.

I developed a strong interest in these topics when I realized how significant this technology is in both good and bad ways. Flying drones over volcanoes? The capability to take photographs and videos of endless matters that a human could never possibly do for themselves? Count me in! Spying neighbors or general violations of privacy? No sir.

Drones and sensors class was a blast! What other course lets you play with flying cameras and tinker with electronics?

Getting to see all of those radio buttons and objects respond to your changes makes me happy in the heart for some odd reason.

You can make anything you want whether it is your own website, a quiz, a form, etc. I did not realize how easy it was and how fast it is to create these things with coding.

Taking this class has to be one of the best decisions of my career. The main reason I feel that way is because now if you want to be involved in media, you have to know how to build a website and know a bit of coding.

You can read all the student observations by visiting the course sites linked above.

The gender makeup of these sessions was 83% female, which indicates that women are interested and enthusiastic about technology topics related to communication careers.

The Spring 2016 Digital Short Course series includes three more cutting edge classes: Framing Solutions-Storytelling Through Digital Narrative taught by Holly Wise, Mobile Storytelling in the Park and Digital Media Entrepreneurship, both taught by Dale Blasingame. See CatsWeb for registration information for these Spring courses.

More photos from the workshops:

SJMC Student selected to present at NCA Conference

Graduate student Joshua Morrison, will be representing Texas State and SJMC at this year’s National Communication Association’s 101st Annual Conference. The conference will take place Nov. 19 – 22 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

This is Morrison’s second time to present at the conference and will be presenting two papers — one in the Performance Studies Division and the other in Rhetorical and Communication Theory Division.

The rhetoric division is the biggest at the conference, and Morrison will be presenting as one of the top four papers in that division.

He discusses how celebrity studies is an emerging and growing field in academia, a very broad and interdisciplinary field that includes departments in English,FullSizeRender history, sociology and communications.

“The intersection that I meet at when I study this topic is rhetoric and communication, media studies, performance studies and critical cultural studies,” Morrison said.

Morrison is interested in the role the media plays in celebrity culture and the conversations the media industry has about fame and celebrities, especially women as public figures.

According to Morrison, the conversations regarding men usually revolve more around their craft as a performer, but the focus of women is more about what they are wearing and less about their craft.

Morrison encourages expanding the institution of celebrity studies to increase awareness about the disparity of gender, racial and class lines that exist in the media’s coverage.

“Who better to change these conversations than the people who write the headlines?” Morrison asks.

Best of luck to Joshua at the conference this week!

Texas State Bateman team selected

The Public Relations Department in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Texas State University has selected its 2016 PRSSA Bateman National Case Study Competition team. The will begin planning its campaign for client the Student Veterans of America. SVA is working in partnership with the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations and Edelman.

Team members are seniors Tammy Garman, Jericka Desire Christianna King, Kelsey Heitzmann and Jaelyn Lyles. All are public relations majors.

“I’m proud to say we’ve assembled another outstanding Bateman team,” said Chuck Kaufman, Bateman coordinator, who works with the team in tandem with his Public Relations Campaigns course. “But this team, particularly, brings some very special qualities from diverse experiences that should enhance their creative and strategic thinking. They all are highly motivated individuals in very special ways.”

Garman, who is minoring in Aerospace Studies, is wing commander at the University’s Air Force Reserved Officer Training Corps, Detachment 840th, and a recipient of the Sons of the American Revolution Medal of Honor. Garman also is a Dean’s List student and a New Student Orientation Leader.

King is a minor in international studies and has worked at several retail jobs in San Marcos. She is the reigning Miss Black Texas State University. Previously she was the assistant public affairs officer for the Arnold Air Society’s U.S. Air Force Association.

Heitzmann is a Dean’s List communications studies minor and has studied abroad in Great Britain, German and France. She has served as both an Orientation Leader and Resident Assistant at the University. Kelsey has worked with the South by Southwest Music Festival, Phi Beta Chi sorority and the Victoria Generals baseball club of the Texas Collegiate Baseball League.

Lyles has worked as the PR chair/webmaster for Mu Phi Epsilon; interned with the American Diabetes Association; and worked in the Office of the President at Texas State University.

In addition, Kaufman also named alumna Rebecca Hind Gough, an account executive with Weber Shandwick in Austin and a former Bateman participant, as a professional outside adviser to the team.

Planning begins immediately with implementation taking place between Feb. 15 and March 15. Case studies are due to the PRSSA national office on April 8.

The goals of this year’s Bateman Competition are to increase awareness on college campuses and in communities about veterans who are students around the globe, as well as to increase the support and networks for these deserving individuals, PRSSA announced from its New York headquarters.

“As the number of veterans in college continues to increase, so does the need for university administrators and the public to gain a deeper understanding of their issues,” said Jared Lyon of Student Veterans of America. “Just like traditional students — there is no singular journey for the student veteran. Our goal at Student Veterans of America is to change the public perception surrounding veterans at the crossroads between military-to-civilian transition to a longer view from degree completion to meaningful employment. We believe that veterans bring with them a wealth of knowledge, experiences and diversity, and we are thrilled to partner with PRSSA to ensure that every veteran becomes an informed consumer of their GI Bill benefits and to communicate the value that veterans bring to higher education, employers and to our communities.”

Trisha Espinoza joined us for Mass Comm Week

Trisha Espinoza remembers the time she sold everything and went into debt.

She had one goal in mind—to be a leader in the communication industry. After all, as she put it, Espinoza did not want to put in all this hard work and sit behind a desk.

Espinoza obviously reached her goal relating her journey to communication students Oct. 19 as a during a question and answer session in conjunction with Mass Communication Week.

Upon graduation, Espinoza started her career at News 8 Austin before joining Viacom as an intern with MTV’s development team in 2002. She spent seven years with MTV and MTV2 before becoming Director of Programming.

TrishaEspinoza joined NBC Universal in 2010 where she was the vice president of programming for Oxygen Media. She returned to Viacom in 2014 and is now the current Vice President of Program Scheduling for BET.

Espinoza turned to Texas State University to accomplish her goal. She was 25 years old at the time and was eager to get started.

“I remember sitting in Dr. (Laurie) Fluker’s office and crying to her saying I was so old and wasted so much time,” Espinoza said. “In reality I was right where I needed to be but that was just my sense of urgency, I wanted to do all I could to get ahead.”

Espinoza spent her session discussing all the stepping-stones it takes for people to work their way up in the industry. She talked about the importance of internships and perfecting a resume and networking

“I was shocked when she told us how many resumes she sent out,” said Tayler Chambless, Mass communication student. “She said she sent out 200 resumes and only got six internships from it, I admire her dedication and the drive she had to never give up.”

While attending Texas State, Espinoza worked at KTSW radio. She graduated at the top of her class and has left an impression on former faculty members.

“She searched for awhile,” said Tim England, Mass Communication associate professor. “People can relate to her because everyone struggles, but she found a path and continues to work her way through this profession.”

Throughout Espinoza’s discussion, she spoke of her failures and successes. She told students the media industry is for passionate and dedicated individuals.

“Never stop learning,” Espinoza said. “Always be grateful for where you are in life but strive to go further. I am thankful for where I have been and I am excited to see where I will go because we are never finished growing.”

By Molly Dodge


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