Bobcat Promotions team back from New York

MIDTOWN

MIDTOWN — Lighting up the town in midtown Manhattan. Photo by Paige Vaughn

by Chuck Kaufman:

Senior executives and staff members with Bobcat Promotions recently returned from the group’s first professional development tour to New York City. They returned to Texas enriched with industry knowledge from the world’s media capital and fun experiences that took advantage of both their senses and pocketbooks.

Most of the 14 participants called the five-day visit, Jan. 5-10, a “trip of a lifetime,” an experience that will have an impact on them forever in many ways.

“Maybe in a few years I’ll move to New York,” said Erika Hauer, who is looking to start her career.

Senior Emily Kellar, BPR’s financial manager, said, “Before this trip, I definitely had tunnel vision. I think that approach would have limited my opportunities if I didn’t learn from this trip to broaden my horizon.”

Dominique Mercado, another senior and BPR’s web director, said, “I’m already looking to apply for internships in New York after graduation.”

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Texas State logo lights up CitiField, home of the New York Mets. Photo by Morgan Moritz

Visiting Firms
The students and BPR adviser, Chuck Kaufman, met with a wide range of public relations organizations, from large firms Burson-Marsteller and OgilvyPR to niche firm Boneau Bryan-Brown, Inc., New York’s largest firm focused on theater productions. They also learned about sports public relations by visiting CitiField and New York Mets communications and marketing officials. The students gained insight into international media relations at the United Nations; and learned about issues facing a museum that attracts a world audience, the recently opened 9/11 Memorial Museum.

“We participated in history at the UN by attending the noon briefing on the day Islamic terrorists attacked and killed journalists at the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris,” Kaufman said. “In fact, on a day filled with grim news, the conference began with Stephane Dujarric, director of communications for Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, welcoming a group of public relations students from Texas State University. We led the news of the day. You can watch the press conference on the UN website.

“The students who entered CitiField through the Mets dugout witnessed not only a snow-covered field but the scoreboard lit up with a welcome message and the Texas State logo. Very cool – the weather and the scoreboard.”

Learning From the Best
The United Nations experience and major PR firms made the biggest impression on the students. Dujarric joined the students at the end of the noon briefing for a 30-minute discussion.

Kellar was impressed with the way Dujarric skillfully handled a wide range of questions and managed pressing follow-up questions. “I loved when Stephane was discussing how he handles questions that he might not have the right answer at that moment and that he would get back to the reporter with an answer. I think it is very important in public relations, especially as we go on to represent businesses, to remember that, as he said, ‘It’s better to look stupid than to say something stupid.’ I will remember that forever.”

Kellar also learned greatly from presentations from employees at Ogilvy, particularly as they discussed their job searches. “I think it’s the ‘Go-get-‘em’ attitude that will get me furthest in my career, rather than shooting for what I think may feel more safe and practical,” she said. “I also found it really interesting how Mr. Burson, even at 93, is still in the office every day, being part of what goes on. It’s comforting to know that regardless of his status and how big his name might be, that he’s still making sure his company is doing its job.”

The Power of Internships
The Burson-Marsteller presentation involved five new employees, all of whom joined the company after their internships. Mercado said that they were all recently students. “It was nice to hear advice from people who were recent graduates and had vivid memories of the emotions they felt immediately after graduating college and entering the real PR world. It was reassuring.”

These were graduates whose careers began as interns, not as full-time employees. “I always assumed that after college the most important thing was to find a full-time career,” Mercado said. “After hearing that most entry-level employees in New York have had a variety of internships after graduating, I understand that there is still time after college to find what I really enjoy most.”

Working Together
From the large PR firms, particularly Burson, senior Morgan Moritz appreciated how “they emphasized working together as a team and the importance of having fun on the job. Also, I was struck by the perspective that no two days at work are completely the same; that you always have to be at the top of your game, and you always have to be prepared for everything.”

Senior Babie Spain learned the importance of research as it affects the various teams involved in public relations work. “One thing I learned from visiting the different PR firms was the relationship between different teams working on a project, and just how many different teams are needed to successfully follow through with a PR plan,” she said.

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9/11 MEMORIAL — An iced over fountain enhances a chilling experience at Ground Zero outside the 911 Memorial Museum. Photo by Paige Vaughn

Crisis Management
The visit to the 9/11 Museum was emotionally challenging as the overwhelming exhibition with twisted steel pieces from the collapsed World Trade Center and artifacts from the nearly 3,000 innocent workers and first responders opened up feelings that were untouched since elementary school days.

Anthony Guido, director of communications at the museum, described how he works in collaboration with so many different local, federal and international requests and issues. He witnesses a collision of emotions whether it involves family members of victims, world leaders or journalists from every corner of the world.

Kellar said, “Even in a museum setting there are crises. I’ve learned that in communications there is always someone who will be offended or interpret messages in a wrong way. For that reason, there must always be a plan for when miscommunication occurs.”

From Guido, Mercado learned that “tough work comes easy if you love what you do.”

Meeting Alumni
During the first evening in New York, the students met with 15 SJMC alumni from all sequences who are working in New York. Among those attending were Monica Apodaca with Ogilvy & Mather; Natalie Schorn with Talent Management at 247 Seven Inc.; Christopher Henry with the Brunswick Group; Albany Leunsmann at Rpr Marketing Communications; Gabe Carrillo with Viacom; Maira Garcia and Jacqueline Baylon with The New York Times; Adrienne Enderle, a freelance production assistant; and, among others, Amanda Gordon, a digital marketing and social media strategy consultant.

Spain learned from the alumni gathering the importance of networking.

Mercado added that she found the alumni to be extremely positive and encouraging as spring graduation approaches. “They are really rooting for you to succeed,” she said. “If you have the drive to do something, there are people out there who will help you reach your goals.”

Kellar worked with BPR alum and former executive director Chris Henry for a couple of years. “Honestly, it’s been really cool watching Chris grow as a person,” she said. “He has taught me to aim high and not be afraid of absolute change.”

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Central Park. Photo by Paige Vaughn

Takeaways
Senior account executive Lemondia Hobbs said she is planning to move to New York after graduation. She found the alumni “super helpful and an important resource” for her. “I made a lot of great connections.”

Naturally, part of the education in New York involved soaking up the atmosphere, experiencing the vibe of the city.

The students shared a variety of highlights and anecdotes. Here they are . . . anonymously . . . only in New York:

  • “One crazy visual on the subway was watching a man who looked like Hagrid from Harry Potter walking through the cars singing for money.”
  • “After leaving Harlem late one night, I noticed a man waiting for the subway who was shuffling around talking to himself.”
  • “I’ll never forget looking up at John Lennon’s old apartment and thinking of all the lyrics he wrote that influenced my life.”
  • “While walking down the street, minding our own business, a man looked at us and said, ‘Use your powers for good, witches.’ He was totally serious and I was a little scared.”
  • “There was a guy carrying a guitar, a violin, a backpack and another bag. He was 50 years old and talking to himself under his breath. He sat down and pulled out a paperback book that was almost completely folded in half and torn to pieces, pages hanging out with part of the cover missing. I looked a little closer and as he pulled out his pencil to underline something, I noticed it was the Bible. Never have I seen a Bible in such terrible condition or someone more dedicated to scripture. I’m not religious but it was pretty inspiring.”
  • “I was looking from my hotel window at the fifth story of an office building across the street. I saw the figure of a man in his office. He was facing our hotel and, just for fun, I waved. To my surprise, he waved back. My travel companions proceeded to call him ‘my friend’ throughout the trip. A stranger I will always remember, HA.”
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