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.”

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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.

TXST places 1st in AAF District 10 Competition

By Lisa Callahan & Matt Shoewalter

The halls of the Overton Hotel and Conference Center in Lubbock roared with the cheers and cries of Team 104 as Texas State University won First Place at the district level of the National Student Advertising Competition.

“Right when I heard them say ‘First Place: Texas State University,’ I knew that everything we worked so hard for was 1000% worth it,” Art Director Taylor Kaufman said. “It was a surreal moment, and I’ll never forget it.”

Lauren Friesenhahn (facing) embraces Kelsey Vaeth after the announcement

Lauren Friesenhahn (facing) embraces Kelsey Vaeth after the announcement
Photo courtesy Rachel Sipe

 

Each year, The National Student Advertising Competition, sponsored by the American Advertising Federation (AAF), challenges over 200 college chapters across the country to develop an integrated marketing campaign for a corporate client. This year, each competing team was tasked with developing a campaign for Snapple. Sixteen teams from Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana competed for District 10 in Lubbock from April 14-16.

Lecturer and Advertising Sequence Coordinator Jenny Buschhorn and Assistant Marketing Professor Dr. Rick Wilson held interviews in October and selected 17 students to join the team. The group of copywriters, producers, art directors, account executives, media planners and account planners began working on the campaign during their winter break, continued through their spring break and submitted their final plans book to AAF on March 25.

“The simple yet great feeling of having something you worked really hard on payoff is something that I wish everyone could experience,” said Producer Hector Sifuentes, who also received the District 10 Best Presenter Award. “It really taught us a lesson not only on the importance of working hard, but also on the philosophy of life. This is real education.”

Account Planner Rachel Sipe captured the winning moment on camera. The graduating senior said she was at a loss for words when First Place was announced.

Hector Sifuentes holding his Special Judges Award for Best Presenter

Hector Sifuentes holding his Special Judges Award for Best Presenter
Photo courtesy Rachel Sipe

“I couldn’t be more proud of our team,” Sipe said.

While taking home the prize was a major accomplishment, the team agreed that the relationships they formed with each other are even more rewarding.

“My favorite part of NSAC, even more so than winning, is how this ragtag group of students from different majors and walks of life became a family,” Art Director Angela Rhys said.

Media planner and presenter Roy Zorola agrees.

“There is such joy in the process,” Zorola said. “When the moment arrived, we realized that win or lose, the journey itself meant everything, because we did it together.”

Copywriter Lauren Friesenhahn credits the team’s supervisors for much of their success.

“Of course, we couldn’t have done it without Mom (Buschhorn) and Dad (Wilson),” Friesenhahn said. “If they didn’t push us as hard as they did, we wouldn’t be where we are right now.”

The Texas State University NSAC team last won a district competition in 2010 with their campaign for State Farm. The team went on to win second place at the national level.

Now, the District 10 champs begin preparation for semi-finals in May. This will determine whether the team advances to the national competition in Anaheim, California in June, when a total of eight teams go for the gold.

“While this District 10 win marks a major achievement for both us and Texas State, we still have more to go,” Account Executive and presenter Alexandria Reid said. “The work isn’t over, but we’ve never been afraid to work hard.”

The team celebrates their win on the conference room dance floor.

The team celebrates their win on the conference room dance floor. Photo courtesy Lauren Friesenhahn

From TXST to TV, catching up with Isamar Terrazas

Just two years after graduating from the SJMC at Texas State University, Isamar Terrazas has already paved a solid foundation for her career in broadcast journalism.

Terrazas is now working for KTLM Telemundo 40, as both the Assignments New Editor and as a Field Producer.

Isamar Terrazas holding an award

Isamar Terrazas

“I am so proud of how much this station has grown,” said Terrazas. “In the two years I have been here, we went from being the #4 station to being the #1 station.”

During her time at KTLM Telemundo 40, the station was nominated for 8 Lone Star Emmys.

“I was nominated as a producer for our hurricane special, Tras La Tormenta,” said Terrazas. “We won Overall Station Excellence, being the first station in the Rio Grande Valley to do this.”

KTLM Telemundo 40’s focus is very similar to English language markets, focusing on breaking news, weather and digital media. In particular, Terrazas worked on an investigate special, Clash at the Border, which focused on the abuses of Border Patrol agents.

Terrazas credits at least some of her success to her education from Texas State University, praising the both the faculty and the electronic media sequence.

“I feel like I learned so much from Ray Niekamp and Tim England,” said Terrazas. “Their program targets what it is like to work in a newsroom in real life.”

KTSW Sports interviews Bill Schoening and Bill Land

 

Six Texas State students from senior lecturer Larry Carlson’s Sports as News course and the KTSW Sports Dept. staff took a field trip to the home of the five-time NBA champion San Antonio Spurs, the AT&T Center, on Wednesday, March 30, just prior to San Antonio’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans.

Mike Kickirillo, Director of Broadcasting for the Spurs and a 1988 graduate, hosted the group with a tour of the newly refurbished arena’s camera set-up and the broadcast crew’s truck. Kickirillo showed the students how the pre-game show would be set up and explained the use of cameras, replays, statistic boxes and the integration of highlights, incoming scores from across the NBA, etc.

Inside the truck, the Texas State students met numerous Bobcat alums and even current students who are part of the Spurs’ broadcast team. In addition to Kickirillo, the other Texas Staters on the Spurs payroll include Daniel Ashcraft, Carter Snowden, Robert Fisher, Aerin Carreno, Taylor Hair, Avery Schneider and Tessa Andrade. Chuy Perez, one of the students on the trip, and a class member and KTSW staffer, said the overwhelming presence of Bobcats on the Spurs staff was inspiring.

“I’ve been a Spurs fan for so long, and the whole trip was incredible…just walking out on the court and getting to sit on the Spurs bench was amazing,” Perez said. “But getting to see and meet all of those Bobcats working for the Spurs was maybe the highlight.”

The students also got a thrill from a 30-minute visit and Q&A session with Bill Land and Bill Schoening, the TV and radio “voices of the Spurs,” respectively. The veteran broadcasters swapped stories, answered questions and advised the students.

Land praised Texas State’s approach of providing SJMC students with “real world” experience and Schoening mentioned the positive impact a Texas State education had on his son, Karl, a recent graduate and former KTSW sports director. Several of the students stayed for the game and saw San Antonio keep its perfect home record intact for the season, with a 100-92 victory over the Pelicans.

“It’s just a lot of fun to be able to do this for our students each year,” Carlson said. “Kick (Kickirillo) was one of my first students up in Old Main and we’ve been the best of friends for about three decades. He has built a championship broadcast team around a lot of our graduates because he was sold on them as interns while they were still students.”

NPPA Advanced Storytelling Workshop

cover_ASW_0The NPPA Advanced Storytelling Workshop is a week-long event, April 3-8, held at Texas State University that brings together top professionals in the television and newspaper industry from throughout the world.

Dr. David Nolan said that he is excited for the event because it will be a full house.

“We have more than 50 professional television and newspaper photographers and reporters coming from all over the world, 10 high school students and their teachers from the Vidal M. Trevino School of Fine Arts and Communication in Laredo, Texas, my Visual Storytelling class students, and of course our award winning workshop faculty,” Nolan said.

Students will have the chance to work side by side with some of America’s best journalists, which is a unique opportunity that few institutions can offer their students.

Students who attend the workshop will develop story ideas, research, report, shoot, edit and produce two stories throughout the week.

“Every year our students come away from the workshop changed, with a better understanding of how great stories are told,” Nolan said. “Many students from previous years cite the NPPA Advanced Storytelling Workshop as the highpoint of their college experience.”

If you are interested in the workshop, visit the NPPA’s website.

Society of Professional Journalists to honor University Star staff

University Star Logo

Photo Credit: star.txstate.edu

The Society of Professional Journalists will recognize five student-journalists from the University Star at the historic Hilton Hotel in Fort Worth on March 18 and 19 for its Region 8 Mark of Excellence convention.

Region 8 is Texas and Oklahoma. If any students take first place, they automatically move on to the national competition, where they are judged against all the regions. Students receiving awards are Quixem Ramirez, Madison Teague, Brandon Sams, Monique Guerrero and Jon Wilcox.

“If you would see the way these students work, it’s just amazing to me the bond that’s here,” said Bob Bajackson, SJMC Senior Lecturer and Director of Student Publications. “I think the awards that they are able to accomplish, it’s just incredible.”

The SPJ committee will also recognize the University Star for its student-redesigned website.

“The website content has just exploded,” said Bajackson. “Last month we had over 30,000 page views.”

The University Star was formed in 1911 and is the oldest publication on campus.

Becky Larson | photo credit: sxtxstate.com/about/

Becky Larson | photo credit: sxtxstate.com/about/

The SPJ will also honor graduate student Becky Larson, who has a project as a finalist. Larson’s project tells the important story of the clash of Austin gentrification and the live music scene through loud music noise complaints.

“She did a fantastic job assimilating a range of new skills, identifying a data set and creating interactive elements that were relevant to our theme of telling stories about music with data,” said Dr. Cindy Royal, SJMC Associate Professor and Digital Media Sequence Coordinator.

Larson’s project was supported by a grant from the Knight Foundation and Online News Association.

“I am so pleased that the SPJ judges recognized this type of storytelling,” said Dr. Royal.

KTSW to say goodbye to long time station manager

Tara Pohlmeyer Headshot

Tara Pohlmeyer | photo credit: fb.me/tara.pohlmeyer

KTSW-FM 89.9, the official radio station of Texas State University, will soon say goodbye to its long time Station Manager, Tara Pohlmeyer.

As Station Manager, Pohlmeyer oversees the day to day operations of the entire student-run radio station, with 15 different departments reporting directly to her.

“It’s definitely bittersweet,” Pohlmeyer said. “I’ve been part of KTSW for three and a half years.”

Pohlmeyer, a SJMC student, will graduate in May with her degree in Electronic Media and Mass Communication.

“I’m writing a thesis for my minor in honors studies,” Pohlmeyer said. “It’s on the importance of radio during emergency situations — a look at the 2015 Central Texas floods.”

During the the 2015 Central Texas floods, KTSW provided significant radio and online coverage of the disaster.

Dan Schumacher headshot

Dan Schumacher, Senior Lecturer & KTSW General Manager | photo credit: ktsw.net

She attributes much of her success to the guidance and direction instilled by Dan Schumacher, SJMC Senior Lecturer and KTSW General Manager.

“Dan is my thesis supervisor,” Tara told me. “Dan has helped me a lot. He’s helped me grow as a person. I wouldn’t be the manager, or the person I am, without him.”

If there’s one thing Pohlmeyer emphasized, it’s that she loved her time at Texas State University and KTSW.

“When I think of my time at Texas State, I will think of KTSW,” Pohlmeyer said. “It really is like leaving home again.”

SJMC student wins regional award for thesis

Sergio Carvajal-Leoni in a suit

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

FullSizeRender-2

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.”

IMG_4840

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.

IMG_4828

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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