Texas State alum lands job at Edelman NYC

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Christopher Henry – Photo from LinkedIn

By: Jennifer Alvord

Texas State alumnus Christopher Henry has recently landed a job at Edelman, the largest public relations firm in the world, in New York City.

Henry is a part of the public affairs team and works with clients such as Microsoft, McGraw Hill Financial and the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development (MEDEI).

Henry is the former executive director of Bobcat Promotions, a student-run public relations firm on campus, and said that it taught him many valuable skills before graduating.

“Being able to walk into an interview saying, ‘I know how to write a press release’ or ‘I know how to pitch to a business’ was a vital thing for me and definitely helped me get to where I am now,” Henry said.

Before being recruited to Edelman, Henry interned for the U.S. Senator of New York, Kirsten Gillibrand, on her public affairs team and also interned for Brunswick Group, which is a financial crisis firm.

Henry couldn’t stress enough how critical internships are. “If you want to be successful in PR, you have to go above and beyond and get out of classroom experience.”

Henry also thinks that a major key to being a successful PR practitioner is to constantly be networking. “Network everywhere you go,” Henry said. “I still use many of the contacts that I’ve made throughout my career at my job at Edelman.”

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SJMC Announces New Digital Media Innovation Major

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Students in the Coding and Data Skills course work on Web application projects.

At its February 18, 2016 meeting, the Texas State University System Board of Regents approved a new degree in Digital Media Innovation (DMI) in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication.  The new degree, which is scheduled to launch in Fall 2016, is pending final approval by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board in May.

At the heart of the Digital Media Innovation degree is the professional demand for graduates who possess an intersection of technology expertise and strong communication skills – for jobs that include news application developers, data and social media analysts and mobile experience producers. Graduates with excellent communication skills are also in demand at technology companies and in startups, and the new DMI major will prepare students with the conceptual, strategic and practical skills for new and emerging careers.

Associate Professor Cindy Royal is leading digital innovation initiatives in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication.  “I am pleased the Board of Regents values this innovative, new approach to media education,” Dr. Royal said. “I am confident that this program will result in excellent career opportunities for students who receive a degree in Digital Media Innovation.”

Required Coursework – Coming Soon!

 

The School of Journalism and Mass Communication will continue to develop innovative courses that support the degree including current topics and technologies in the areas of drone journalism, data visualization, sensors, virtual reality and more. Students may take electives in one of the traditional majors, to provide an industry focus, if desired.

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Faculty used Design Thinking exercises in developing the requirements for the Digital Media Innovation major.

“Dr. Royal and other faculty began working on the curriculum for the DMI major in 2014 while she was working on the Knight Journalism Fellowship at Stanford University, where innovation is ingrained in the culture”, said School of Journalism and Mass Communication Director Judy Oskam.  “Our faculty used collaborative documents and design-thinking exercises to develop the curriculum plan that resulted in this degree.”

“I’d like to thank the faculty who worked on and provided input to this degree, as well as the professionals who supported our efforts,” Dr. Royal added. Professionals from organizations including the Austin American-Statesman, The Guardian, Knight Foundation and Investigative Reporters and Editors provided letters of support, and the degree received unanimous endorsement from the SJMC Advisory Council.

Additional information about the new Digital Media Innovation degree can be found at http://www.masscomm.txstate.edu/degrees-programs/digital-media-innovation.html.

SJMC student wins regional award for thesis

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Sergio Carvajal-Leoni. Photo from http://www.italchannel.tv

As a SJMC graduate student, Venezuelan-born Sergio Carvajal-Leoni, won a campus-wide award for his thesis, the Graduate College’s Outstanding Master’s Thesis Award in Digital Scholarship.

Now he has won again, at the highest level, the regional level, where he is receiving the Digital Scholarship award from the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools. His award, a plaque and $1000 honorarium, will be presented at the CSGS Awards Luncheon at the Omni Charlotte Hotel in Charlotte, NC on Friday, Feb. 19, 2016 at 11:30 a.m., and he attributes some of his success to his time at Texas State.

“The stuff I did in San Marcos, was the best decision of my life,” he told me. “I’ve decided to finish up with a PhD.”

Carvajal-Leoni called his research project the Intercultural Transmedia Approach to Learning, or ITAL.

“I’ve been working on models of community building media,” he said. “Any group of people who share an interest.”

By founding ITAL, he was able to focus on applying Communication Infrastructure Theory while creating a hyper-local documentary series called the Texan Italian Stories.

The key research concept behind the series, was how creating media could bring together the Italian niche community in Central Texas.

He attributed his success to both the freedom and guidance his thesis supervisor, Dr. Sandy Rao, provided him.

Carvajal-Leoni also thanked two Texas State University researchers on his thesis committee, Dr. Federico Subervi and Dr. Moira DiMauro.

ITAL partner, Romina Olson

Romina Olson. Photo from http://www.italchannel.tv

“Texas State played a crucial role in that journey,” Carvajal-Leoni told me. “This award is like, a validation, that this was the right journey to take.”

Despite being the lead researcher, writer, editor and director, Carvajal-Leoni was very modest about his achievement. He praised his ITAL partner, Romina Olson, as well as two USC researchers Dr. Sandra Ball-Rokeach and Dr. Henry Jenkins that played an instrumental role in the project.

If there’s one thing Carvajal-Leoni made clear, he loves Texas.

“I’ve been living in Austin since ’99,” he said. “I wasn’t born in Texas, but I got here as fast as I could.”

BPR Professional Development Tour in NYC

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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.”

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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.

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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.”

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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

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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.