JMC Living-Learning Community Meets with Professionals

Twice during the spring semester, the Journalism and Mass Communication Living-Learning Community traveled to media-related companies for tours and real-world advice from media professionals. The field trips catered to each realm of mass communication: public relations, advertising, electronic media, digital media innovation, and journalism.

First, students toured the Edelman PR firm in downtown Austin where employees discussed different accounts and showed examples of their work for clients like Kentucky Fried Chicken and REI. At Edelman, the Learning Community students had the opportunity to ask interns, newly-hired and experienced PR professionals questions concerning the field and the requirements for working at the firm.

Next, they were immersed into the world of advertising at McGarrah Jessee. The advertising company provided extensive interviews with members of each department to emphasize unique responsibilities and opportunities within the company and industry.

Students learned more about the broadcasting and journalism aspects of the media industry when they traveled to San Antonio to tour KABB Fox 29 and San Antonio Express-News. While at the television station, the aspiring storytellers went behind the scenes to watch a live broadcast of Daytime at Nine from the set. They received a tour of the building from the Lifestyle Associate Producer, Carlos Hernandez. Hernandez, a Texas State alumnus, offered advice on beneficial classes and landing internships in the field.

The last stop at San Antonio Express-News proved the changing industry has much to offer prospective journalists and photographers. After a tour of the newsroom, pressroom, and photography department, the students had a broad understanding of the daily routines at a newspaper. Those interested in sports had the opportunity to meet with the sports editor and receive specific advice.

Each career field trip offered relevant and tangible opportunities of insight and networking that will prepare students for the media professions. We are thankful to have proud alumni and professionals who are willing to spend time with our students!

Story by Lily Reeves, pre-electronic media major

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Outstanding Student Blogs

Every semester, students in Fundamentals of Digital and Online Media (FDOM), are required to create a blog and to post regularly. WordPress, Twitter and YouTube are three of the technologies students use. The choice of topic is left up to the student and each semester, we see a variety of topics, such as travel, food, diet, fashion, pets, sports, music and movies.

This semester, lecturer Salwa Khan had three students in her online FDOM course that chose topics that were somewhat unusual, and these students did an outstanding job of developing their blogs. They researched their topics thoroughly, wrote well and in an interesting way, found or created compelling images, credited outside sources, and in general, developed their blogs in a professional manner. Khan would like to commend these students for their impressive work, and share their blogs with you.

Maggie Bera: Actor Aesthetic – Designed to inspire and prepare young actors for the reality of the industry

John Hernandez: Extend the Sphere – Looking at the intersection of media, technology and politics

Courtney Whitehouse: Courtney Creative – Design blog

PR Campaigns students present ideas to Salvation Army executive development team

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Tuesday afternoon, the top two teams from Jennifer Scharlach’s Public Relations Campaigns class presented their ideas to the executive development team at the Salvation Army Austin Command. The Salvation Army challenged students to create campaigns to engage a younger demographic of donors to get involved with the Salvation Army and their “Rock the Red Kettle” annual event.

SJMC alumna Lauryn Ott helped establishing this partnership with a great international non-profit organization.

The Salvation Army’s USA National brand promise is ‘Doing the Most Good’. They are best known for the red kettles and Angel Tree programs at Christmas, Family Stores and The Salvation Army trucks and work during times of disaster.

Featured Student Work: Inside the Ring on the Outskirts of San Marcos

SJMC student Victoria Morin created this fantastic piece on Boxing Kings Gym in San Marcos, TX for her final project in Anna Mazurek’s Photojournalism course. Check out the slideshow and her story below!


Jose Perez opened Boxing Kings Gym in 2012 and trains boxers of all ages. It’s about a 10-minute drive off of U.S. Route 281, and is located on the outskirts of San Marcos, Texas.

Perez had been taking his son to train at another boxing gym, Bully Unit, for a few years before he decided to leave and open his own place. Bully Unit was also located in San Marcos and had an efficient facility, with enough space and equipment for training the dozens of members in attendance. The head coach began to sway his priorities away from the children, and staying there was no longer fulfilling for Perez and his son.

One day, Bully Unit was supposed to meet with some of the other boxing gyms from the San Marcos area so the boxers could spar, but the head coach didn’t show up.

“Everyone was ready, but the head coach wasn’t there,” said Perez. “My son was in the ring with no one in his corner. We had to continue without him, and when he finally showed up, everyone was already done. He wasn’t there for the kids, and we weren’t going to stay loyal to someone who didn’t care about his own team.”

That same night, Perez spoke with one of the other parents, Carlos Heredia, and agreed that they needed a new place to train their sons. They originally intended to coach the two kids on the weekends outside one of their homes, but after the other boxers, including Michael Coronado who was fighting professionally, heard about their idea, they wanted to follow. Bully Unit closed five months after that.

It started with four boxers, which was manageable for the pair of newly-proclaimed coaches. They started using a friend’s garage that already had boxing bags set up. Then, as people left Bully Unit and wanted to join Perez and Heredia, it grew from four members, to eight, then to 10 within weeks. They realized the small garage was no longer sufficient. They needed their own gym.

“I opened this gym mostly because I wanted my son to have a stable place to train for the Junior Olympics that were coming up,” said Perez. “After that, he went on to win a couple more fights. Then, all of a sudden he decided he didn’t want to do it anymore. He just quit. We could’ve closed then, but at the same time we want these kids to have a place to train.”

Boxing Kings Gym makes no profit. More money is put into running the gym than the owners accumulate from collecting the monthly membership fee of $40 from each boxer. When someone comes to their gym and isn’t able to afford the fee, they waive it. All the equipment, including the helmets, gloves and bags, was provided by Perez and his wife and is made available to anyone that walks into the gym. He and Heredia built the ring themselves out of wood, ropes and padding.

Perez and his wife, Sara, pride themselves in being able to provide the gym for the community. Most of the current members have been attending the gym since it opened, although not consistently. Most boxers will attend for two or three months, then they stop coming, mainly because of the lack of discipline.

Boxing requires commitment, intense exercise and self-control. Coronado, who is 25 years old, was one of the first four boxers to start training with Perez. He began boxing when he was 16 years old and entered his first fight on his 18th birthday: he won. After that victory, Coronado took a year off.

“Winning my first fight was a big accomplishment for me,” said Coronado. “I felt fulfilled because I had always wanted to box, so I took time off. After a year, I realized how much I missed it, so I came back. Then, I won a couple more fights, took another year off, and it’s been kind of a cycle since. I wasn’t focused, and that’s what killed me. I know if I had more discipline I’d be so much farther by now.”

This pattern is seen frequently by Perez and Jorge Rincon, the assistant coach who joined the team a year after it opened. They will spend time and effort into training each boxer, and then they stop showing up. It’s usually for a variety of reasons, mostly time constraints since most of its members are students. For others, the physical toll on their bodies is too much to bear.

Sebastian Alvarez is another member who has been attending Boxing Kings Gym on and off for four years. He was finally ready to enter his first fight and won, but soon after, he took a blow that was enough to make him quit for a few months. He returned about a year ago and is focused on preparing to fight again.

“He lost passion for boxing all because of that hit,” said Perez. “We train a lot of kids and get to the point where they’re ready to fight, and they disappear. For Sebastian, it took one body shot to make him quit. For others, they don’t even make it to their first fight and they run. They’ll get scared after their first time sparring. They get intimidated. We have the gym, but no fighters.”

Regardless of who leaves or why they left. Perez and his wife still welcome them back. They understand that every one of their boxers has their own obligations that might set them back and keep them from fully committing. It’s more than a team of boxers: it’s a family, and that’s why their members are loyal. When they are ready to return, it’s as if they never left.

If someone comes with the sole intention of getting fit, they are welcomed no less that someone who wants to compete. Each boxer, to the Perez family, contributes something to the gym that increases its value. No one is turned away.

“We’ve been here for those who need us,” said Perez. “How long? I don’t know. As long as the people in San Marcos need a gym, my doors will stay open.”

PR students gain real-world experience in Campaigns class

On Tuesday, a team of public relations students gained some real-world experience by presenting their final projects to SWBC, a diversified financial services company, in San Antonio.

The students had been working hard in their Public Relations Campaigns class to build a strategy and plan for retaining and engaging millennial employees. The top two teams from the class met with over 20 individuals from SWBC to present their campaigns to the company.

One of the owners of SWBC, Charlie Amato currently serves as a University Regent for the Texas State University System.

The School of Journalism and Mass Communication is grateful for the opportunity to work with a nationwide leader in the banking and insurance industry.

 

PRSSA members visit Dallas Cowboys, Texas Rangers and Dallas Mavericks’ communication teams

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PRSSA members and faculty on the Texas Rangers field.

On Friday, March 24, Texas State Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) members traveled to Dallas to gain sports public relations (PR) knowledge through speaking with the Dallas Cowboys, the Texas Rangers and the Dallas Mavericks’ communication teams.

PRSSA Faculty Adviser Paul Villagran coordinated the trip to give members the opportunity to network and learn from PR professionals, with hopes to begin traveling to different places every spring semester.

“I really want to grow PRSSA and begin taking the members on trips every year,” Villagran said. “As a test-run, I could not think of a better place to go than Dallas. But I hope in the future we can maybe even do San Francisco or somewhere further.”

The group of 15 members and two faculty advisers, Villagran and Prisca Ngondo, arrived in Arlington, Texas, Thursday evening, where they stayed in a near hotel and woke up at 7 a.m.  for our first visit to the AT&T Stadium, also referred to as Jerry’s World or Cowboys Stadium.

Joe Trahan, Dallas Cowboys’ media relations and corporate communications coordinator, gave an exclusive tour of the 100,000-plus seat and 300 suite stadium. Trahan pointed out works of art that Jerry Jones’ wife, Eugenia Jones, put throughout the stadium, along with bringing the group to ground level to the VIP access area where the players run to the field. While Trahan showed off the million dollar suites and the 300-seat capacity press box, he explained how the industry is very demanding and rewarding.

“I haven’t been home for Thanksgiving or Christmas since I started 10 years ago,” Trahan said. “But, I mean I love what I do. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”

Trahan also said that his job is to bridge the gap between his players and the media and that the most important thing to do is to build his player’s trust. Ways that he can build their trust is reaching out to fellow sports PR professionals, such as Sarah Melton, director of communications for the Dallas Mavericks, and getting her to provide tickets to Dak Prescott, quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys, when he asks for five courtside Mavericks tickets the day of. Trahan also goes to mention that the network of professionals is very small and one of the many perks is free games when he travels to the Cowboys’ away games.

Next, the group traveled down the street to Global Life Park, which is home to the Texas Rangers. There they were toured the press conference room and the dugout, then spoke with the directors of marketing and advertising, PR and social media. It was a great opportunity for the members to get a well-rounded view of all sides of communications, especially since the Texas Rangers are one of the few MLB teams that do all their marketing and PR in-house.

The group agreed that it was interesting to see how the Rangers communication team handled different issues and delegated tasks. For example, director of social media Kaylan Estepp mentioned that the Rangers are on 10 social media platforms, however they give access to MLB staff to live-tweet on game days.

The last part of the trip, the group visited the Dallas Mavericks’ PR team at their office – the American Airlines Center. they met with Sarah Melton, director of communications, and two others: the communications manager Scott Tomlin and the communications coordinator Alan Rakowski. All three professionals had a few things in common:

  • They gained their most valuable experience in their universities’ sports information office
  • They were willing to move wherever the job took them
  • They worked hard to be known in the industry.
  • Their connections are what landed them a job

The PR professionals mentioned that sports PR world is a niche market, which makes networking important to get into the field.

“I was obsessed with Indiana basketball,” Melton said. “But once my former boss came to Texas and offered me this job, I could not pass it up.”

Melton also went on to say that being in sports PR, the fan in you must die.

“You’re there for work and you have to be professional,” Melton said. “Much of our job is media relations, so when one of the players have a bad game and they’re too upset to talk with the media, it is up to us to be the example and not let an emotional loss or a bad call get in the way of holding a press conference.”

The demand of 82 basketball games keep life for the communication team very busy, to the point where most days of the season they’re working from 7 a.m. until midnight; then up at work again the next morning. However, much like what Trahan said, all three of them said that it’s all worth it when you love your job.

Katie Stone, sophomore PRSSA member, has been to a few PRSSA events and said that this was by far her favorite and looks forward what other opportunities PRSSA will bring her in the future.

Story by Kristen Lavone Torrez

Big Apple offers Bobcat Promotions a reality check

By Mark A. Alvarez II

NEW YORK — Seeking to make a mark in the world capital of media, Bobcat Promotions, Texas State University’s student-run public relations firm, took its fourth annual trip to New York City this past January.

Twelve young practitioners were given the opportunity to broaden their PR perspectives by engaging in numerous professionals at top PR firms, museums and the United Nations.

BPR Executive Director Kristen Torrez, a senior, explained that visiting the Big Apple was both a personal milestone and a professional development opportunity.

The Jan. 10-14 trip was Torrez’s first New York visit. She was surprised that it was not as overwhelming as she anticipated. “I thought visiting firms in New York would be intimidating, but actually it gave me more confidence once I got there,” Torrez said. “There was a lot going on, of course, but it was exhilarating. It made me want to jump in and tackle challenges alongside leading PR professionals.”

For Vanessa Mora, public relations senior and a BPR account executive, this trip to New York, not her first, would provide an opportunity for professional growth.

“I have been to New York before,” Mora said. “Quite a few times in fact, but this was the first time I could experience New York with the capacity as a young PR professional. I have always had a firm grasp on the types of firms I would want to work for, but this was a world I never could have imagined. This trip completely raised my expectations and redefined the professional goals I had for myself.”

In its fourth year, the New York trip, created and organized by adviser Chuck Kaufman, continued the tradition of attending a mixer of Texas State mass communication alumni at the host Park Central Hotel, where they welcomed 10 alumni, including Christopher Henry of Edelman and Maira Garcia of The New York Times.

The students got to dig into a variety of subjects from their professional development to simply surviving the hustle and high cost of living in New York City.

The leap from the cozy college life of San Marcos to the bright lights of New York is quite a transition.

Mondy Hobbs, former BPR Account Executive, is now working for Weber Shandwick in New York. “She’s been living in New York City for six months now,” said Danielle Martinez, PR senior and Bobcat Promotions Website Manager. “So, seeing her there made me feel like making the big move is possible.”

Edelman’s Henry advised fellow Bobcats on ways that he believes helped him land a job in the big city. He cleverly sought out a temporary phone with a New York area code so that employers would think he was from New York, he told Torrez.

Actually, Henry is from New York but moved to Houston with his family at an early age. “He thought if he had a New York area code he would be more likely to get hired, and he did. He thinks that was a big part of it,” she said. Of course, Henry was a huge talent for BPR and as an Honors College graduate as well at Texas State.

Apart from getting to network with Texas State alumni, the Bobcat Promotions team got the opportunity to speak with the communications director of the 911 Memorial and Museum, attend a media briefing at the United Nations and visit some of the world’s largest and most prestigious public relations firms.

“I still can’t believe that we had the privilege to sit it on a media briefing led by Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for the secretary general at the UN headquarters,” Martinez said. “We got to listen in on real life situations during a live teleconference with a UN official in Mosul. I wouldn’t have been able to read or know about such events until it was carried by international media the very next day. I mean, how crazy is that?”

“Along with the briefing, we had the privilege of touring the magnificent and historic headquarters, from the general assembly hall to the security council. The institution is so full of history, diversity and human rights. It was truly a remarkable experience.”

These Bobcats experienced an unforgettable experience that not only provided insight into the professional world beyond college, but also an experience that would inspire them to follow their own vision within an ever-changing world of mass communication.

Taylor Carfield, a senior and PRSSA social media coordinator, said, “Visiting the 911 Memorial and Museum was by far one of the most somber experiences of my life. We spoke with the communications director and my biggest take away was that in representing the museum and memorial, people’s lives and families were very hurt and torn apart by these events, and the director explained that as a communicator we need to practice doing our job with the utmost sensitivity when dealing with such a tragedy.”

These kinds of insights gave the students a redefined sense of understanding of media and media relations and their place in it.

“After the trip, I felt more motivated to reach for the stars in all aspects of my life, including Bobcat Promotions,” Carfield said. “This trip really taught me to be confident and that if I want something, I can work hard enough to get it.”

After meetings, the students explored the full menu of the exciting opportunities and hustle of the city — the museums, restaurants, theater, Times Square, Central Park, the Brooklyn Bridge, the subway system and shopping.  By all accounts, there were no shortages of lifetime memories.

“The trip never fails to achieve its mission of developing students professionally,” Kaufman, BPR adviser, said. “Students return to Texas fully charged to take on the world. They are more than simply motivated; they’re inspired. And that’s very gratifying not only for them but for me as a faculty member.”

No more classrooms, no more books for outdoorsy SJMC students

February was an unconventional month for SJMC students who wanted to get out of the classroom and into the “wild”.

On the first Saturday of February, senior lecturer Jon Zmikly took his Digital Tools: 360 Video & Virtual Reality course to the Meadow’s Center for Water and the Environment on the campus of Texas State University-San Marcos. This one-credit “Digital Dash” hybrid course revolved around immersive storytelling and giving students hands-on experience with virtual and augmented reality. Armed with 360 video cameras, smartphones and GoPros, students learned how to plan, shoot and edit video content for these new platforms.

“My favorite aspect of this course was the hands-on experience at Spring Lake. I am a very visual learner, so physically working with the technology allowed for me to fully grasp what I was learning in the modules,” said student Savannah Stockton. “I enjoyed the change of devices and the ability to work different parts of the story using the different technology, and I feel as if it not only expanded my professional qualities, but also my level of coolness.”

Zmikly said all 18 students enjoyed getting outside and had fun with the unconventional “classroom.”

“I was amazed at how many students were excited to get up early on a Saturday morning for class,” Zmikly said. “They also picked up quickly the nuances of filming for a 360 environment. It’s a different world than flat video, so there was a lot more to think about than just shooting one subject. I was really impressed.”

The team worked with the Meadow’s Center for Water and the Environment in celebration of the Center’s 15-year anniversary. Multimedia intern and SJMC student Dy Rios also joined the team to help provide content and act as a liaison between the class and the Center.

“I can’t tell you how much I loved working with the students at the Meadow’s Center,” said Rios.

Some of the students’ content will be published on the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment’s website at meadowscenter.txstate.edu.

Last weekend’s out-of-the-classroom experience was led by senior lecturer Dale Blasingame, with help from Kym Fox and Jon Zmikly. After spending five weeks learning how to turn stories solely using their phones, students were responsible for creating social content that chronicle the rebirth of Bastrop State Park, which suffered a devastating wildfire in 2011 and a flood last year. Signs of life are emerging at the park – including flowers and new trees, nearly 2,000,000 of which have been planted in the past five years.

Students and faculty at Bastrop State Park

“Weekends like this mean so much to me. Hearing the students talk about experiencing a park, some for the very first time, never gets old. I’m beyond excited to see the work they come up with,” said Blasingame.

The group used everything from Go Pros to smartphones to get footage and create social media-specific posts on topics from “10 Things to Do at Bastrop State Park” to “Signs of Life”. They even partnered with Texas Parks and Wildlife and “took over” the organization’s Snapchat account. During the final night of the weekend, Texas Parks and Wildlife captured a Facebook Live of the campfire and has now garnered over 23,000 views (and counting)!

 

“Obviously we’re always busy on social media, but we never actually focus on the storytelling part of it,” said student Marco Martinez.

Both of these courses are digital electives for students throughout the SJMC program, and Blasingame and Zmikly said they are proud to be bringing an out-of-doors angle to the Digital Media Innovation major, of which they are faculty.

“Dale and Jon have been particularly creative in developing these experiences for students,” said Dr. Cindy Royal, director of the school’s Media Innovation Lab. “Their work has been instrumental to the direction of our Digital Media program in encouraging students to get outside and engage people with digital tools, as opposed to using technology to avoid doing that. I appreciate the time and effort they have taken to learn new skills, develop curriculum, manage the logistics and build relationships associated with these successful experience projects.”

Blasingame’s three-credit Mobile Storytelling class began as a one-credit “Digital Dash” hybrid, and Zmikly said he hopes his 360 class can make the same evolution.

“I’m very excited students can gain hands-on experience on new tools for storytelling. It will serve them well wherever they go in the future,” said Zmikly.

Going with the Current: A Google News Lab Workshop

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Nick Whitaker, Media Outreach Manager at Google, spoke about strategies, trends and directions in data and information and tools that Google News Lab uses to help journalists and entrepreneurs change the future of media by organizing the world’s information and making it universally accessible and useful during 2016 Mass Comm Week.

“This is a unique moment in the history of news,” Whitaker said as he opened the Wednesday afternoon session of Mass Comm Week on October 27, 2016. “There are a lot of labs popping up and people are trying new things. Industries are realizing that we should not place in one place forever. It should be adapting and changing.”

Whitaker spoke about Google News Lab’s effort to empower innovation at the intersection of media and technology by sharing his experiences of collaborating with journalists and entrepreneurs to build the future of media with Google. While there are millions of ways of storytelling and understanding the information,Whitaker said “we do this in three ways: training and development, trends, and programs.”

Whitaker also spoke about the importance of VR Journalism that virtual reality is a totally new medium of telling stories. “Interfaces are changing the way we see things. We need to come out from a comfort zone,” said Whitaker. “We need to change the mindset about anxiety into excitement about experimenting with technologies.”

Whitaker emphasized that visual striking storytelling is flourishing like never before and encouraged journalism students with new opportunities for innovation in journalism.

You can follow Nick Whitaker on Twitter at @googlenewslab. For more information about Google News Lab, visit the website g.co/newslab. 

Save the Date for Mass Comm Week 2016!

photo-oct-22-1-00-23-pmMass Communication Week (#mcweek) is a few days away, and the SJMC is very excited for this year’s event! The week long conference brings in a wide variety of speakers and panelists, such as Google, Dieste, Univision, and GSD&M, all of which should be of interest to our mass communication students.

In addition to guest speakers and panelists coming to our great school, a variety of workshops and hands-on sessions will be offered to the students. There will be an average of seven sessions scheduled each day. On October 26, there will be a networking etiquette workshop put on by Career Services. The goal is to prepare students for the speed networking event on Oct. 27, immediately followed by the “Network and Chill” informal reception at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday Oct. 27 for students, alumni, faculty, speakers, advisory council and special guests.

Committee Chair Emmeline Olson, said she is looking forward to the various networking and career development sessions. “What seem like basic or innate skills actually need to be learned and practiced,” said Olson. She added, “Some of the other sessions are more knowledge- or learning-based. The soft skills gained from the networking and career development events create that next step toward getting a job.”

Mass Comm Week committee member A.J Arreguin will oversee the Public Relations, Photography and Hachar teams made up of undergraduate students who are putting the entire event together. Arreguin said he is excited to see how his team members will implement their ideas for the entire event.

The full schedule is posted on the website (txstatemcweek.com). Check the schedule and arrive early because space may be limited. You can follow them on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat for the latest updates.