Meet the 2014-15 EMU PRSSA E-board

EMU PRSSA is proud to announce the results of the election for the 2014-15 executive board. We had a great group of candidates and are thrilled with the results of our election.

2014-15 EMU PRSSA E-Board

2014-15 EMU PRSSA E-Board


  • President: Ken Bowen
  • Vice President, Professional Development: Gabrielle Burgess-Smith
  • Vice President, Communications: Scott Mullin
  • Chief Financial Officer: Andrea Mellendorf
  • Vice President, Member Relations: Raven Gardiner
  • Vice President, Public Relations: Leah Rodriguez
  • Vice President, Community Relations: Nedkeysha Lewis
  • Vice President, Special Events & Programs: Sophia Williams
  • Editor-in-Chief: Daizchane Baker
  • Faculty Advisor: Gina Lutrell


Three ways to nail your interview

Fact: few things are more uncomfortable than a bad interview.

You have to sell yourself to a potential employer.

While you’re stuck in a room with your interviewer, it’s your chance to show your charisma, your experience, and your ability to adapt to the culture of the company. But, it doesn’t have to be terrifying. Here’s a few quick (but important!) things to remember on your big day to guarantee you’ll walk out with a smile.

1. Practice makes perfect!

Prepare in advance by researching a variety of interview questions. Jot down your responses. Highlight specific areas you want to emphasize, like your strengths, key skills, how you can contribute to the company or how you would handle a situation. Don’t forget credibility. Always provide examples or experience to support your answers.

Practice in front of the mirror (cliché, but helpful!), in front of friends or family, or even ask a professor or classmate to run through some interview questions with you. Record and listen to yourself speaking to help you to focus on articulating more clearly and confidently.

Source: Mint

Source: Mint

2. Know your company!

Do your research on the company you’re applying to. Be prepared to discuss why you want to work for this employer and why you chose them over their competitors. Pick a few reasons why you genuinely want to represent this company (the mission, the business, the leadership, the product, the culture, etc.) and incorporate those reasons into some of your other responses, too.

3. Always ask questions!

When your interviewer finally asks, “Do you have any questions?” that’s your queue to make a lasting impression. Consider this your final opportunity to prove that you’re interested in the company and your own professional development. Being prepared and asking well thought out questions also shows your dedication to the applied position and allows the interviewer to offer some insight on the company’s team culture and expectations.

Remember, the job market today is fast-paced and more demanding than ever. Being part of the competitive millennial generation means you need to go that extra mile to set yourself apart from your competitors. Whether you’re applying for a full-time job right after graduation or for a part-time job to pay your way through college, keep in mind the ways to sell yourself to your potential employers.

Lauren Baker
Guest Blogger
EMU PR Student

How to navigate successful through student loan debt

From the moment we enter high school we are told going to college is the only lucrative path to success in adulthood. What many people don’t talk about is the staggering debt you might have to take on during this journey. Since 1999 student debt has increased a whopping 500%, yet wages have stagnated. In addition to that, tuition has been increasing at four times the rate of inflation.

One can never escape their student loan debt. Student loan debt is one of the few types of debt that can only be evaded by death, in most cases. The government and private lenders will garnish your wages, your tax returns and your future spouses’ wages if they have to. They can take your house and if you have a co-signer, their wages and tax returns, too!

If you default on any type of student loan your credit is ruined. That means jeopardizing future opportunities at better paying jobs, because as we know, employers check credit scores and some base hiring decisions on that number.

In some states you can even lose your professional license to practice the very profession you “paid” to get into in the first place. In 2011, 42 registered nurses in Tennessee lost their nursing licenses because they defaulted on their student loan payments.

 If you are one of the estimated 40 million American students who hold some type of college loan debt then read on for tips to navigate through the student loan riddles.

Source: Aspect Blogs

Source: Aspect Blogs

Government Vs. Private Lenders:

Borrow federal first. Federal loans are cheaper, more available and have better repayment terms than private student loans. The unsubsidized Stafford and PLUS loans are available without regard to financial need, so you don’t have to be in a lower income bracket to qualify.

Private loans should only be borrowed if federal loans do not cover the full cost. If your private loan is not repaid under your name, it may be transferred to your remaining family members.

Here are a few guidelines to follow to ensure you don’t find yourself drowning in student loans:

  1. Don’t have Champagne taste on a Kool-Aid budget! Live like a starving student while you are a student so you don’t have to after you graduate.
  2. Do not borrow more for your degree than you expect to earn for your starting salary. For example, if the entry-level salary for your chosen profession is $32,000 per year, don’t borrow more than that.
  3. Submit the FAFSA every year.
  4. Apply for as many scholarships as you can.
  5. Consolidate your loans if possible.
  6. Always keep in touch with your lender.
  7. If you have passed your six-month grace period and are still finding yourself jobless, that’s ok. Communicate with the lender and explain the situation. They will work with you to set up a payment plan, even if it’s ten dollars a month. Ignoring them is the worst thing you can do for yourself and your future.
Marcie Cicciiarelli
Vice President of Community Relations

Use laser tag to sharpen your PR skills

Public Relations have the ability to intermingle with many different facets of the business world and modern-day society. The effects of skilled practitioners can be linked to numerous occurrences within the daily lives of most Americans.

For example, news stories, Facebook posts, tweets, product placements, slogans, branding campaigns and many others could all be linked back to public relations in many instances. You can relate a lot back to PR…like laster tag, for example.

Let’s  ask ourselves, “How is laser tag and public relations similar?”

Teamwork to Make the Dream Work!

While on the laser tag field of battle, knowing a teammate has your six is a comforting feeling. No warrior likes getting their backside zapped, but it’s a risk for anyone who goes it alone.

The business world can seem a bit cutthroat at times. But, if your team trusts and relies on another and works together, navigating the PR industry won’t seem as daunting.

Plan Strategically

Any professional laser tagger will tell you two things. 1) There’s nothing wrong with living in your parents’ basement. 2) War planning is essential. The battle is won or lost before the first laser is even zapped.

If a PR practitioner comes into a board meeting with guns blazing and no strategic planning, the chances of their ideas getting shot down by top-level execs greatly increases. Come up with alternate ideas, and try to consider what the enemy, your boss, will do to derail your efforts. Counter-planning and thinking ahead will always be essential.

Learn the Battlefield

Learning the enemy’s base location should be a top priority. Locating rendezvous points is imperative while maneuvering your laser tag team through enemy terrain. Intelligence should be gathered, and information should be cross-examined with previous after-battle reports.

Research is also essential for any public relations project. Understanding the current business environment and the past successes and failures of clients is necessary in order to make smart, applicable decisions.

EMU PRSSA members

EMU PRSSA members at Laser Tag!

Never Underestimate the Competition

Just because a kid looks like he’s fresh out of fifth-grade doesn’t mean he won’t zap the crap out of your whole team and take the top scorer position right from under your nose.

PR is similar in this sense. A small firm with great ideas can snatch a client if a well-known player in the business isn’t vigilant. Basically, always put forth your best efforts and don’t rest on laurels.

If Zapped, Recharge and Press Forward!

No matter how proficient the laser tagger, someone will always get a lucky shot every now and then. This does not necessarily mean the entire battle is lost, but takes the time to rethink your strategy and ensure the punk doesn’t get the chance to strike again.

If an executive or upper-level management official shoots down an idea or a concept, don’t become distraught with the setback. Instead, go back to the drawing board and find a new solution from the debris of the last attempt. It’s not always the army with the best plan of attack that wins the war, but usually those that can adapt and conjure effective counter-measures will be victorious.

A closing thought: PR encompasses many different threads of our culture, and finding motivation to become an elite practitioner can be related to most real-life scenarios. In order to become successful, find ways to intertwine other life lessons into your career and there will be a noticeable difference in how situations and dilemmas are approached.

Ken Bowen
Vice President

Speed Mentoring: A night of learning and networking

Last week, EMU PRSSA hosted the 3rd Annual Speed Mentoring. The event was an all-around success that left a lot of students feeling more comfortable with their personal brands and their future careers.

For those who don’t know, Speed Mentoring is a lot like Speed Dating. Instead of making a romantic connection, you make a professional connection.

We had eight mentors from all over the metro Detroit and Ann Arbor area. Our mentors included Michael Savoni from General Motors, Sharon Apollo from EMU, Andrea Kenski from Franco PR Group, Joan Witte from Raven Loon, Susan Aumiller from IHA, Matthew Altruda from Bank of Ann Arbor, Kristen Shinaver from Freight Train Public Relations and Carrie Stefanski from Cengage Learning.

Matthew Altruda gives EMU PRSSA e-board member advice at Speed Mentoring

Matthew Altruda gives EMU PRSSA e-board member advice at Speed Mentoring

Students got to sit one-on-one or in groups of two with mentors for five minutes. Even though it was just a quick five-minute conversation, students got a lot of information from the mentors and were able to learn about applying to internships and jobs, ask about personal branding, get career advice and much more.

Here are some of the takeaways from the event:

Blake Hayes: “The best piece of advice I received from the EMU PRSSA Speed Mentoring event was that although its important to have a degree, experience and hard work are what will take you to the next level. The notion seemed to be the consensus among all of the mentors and it was nice to hear that the public relations industry values such attributes.”

Emily Vontom: “Matthew Altruda told Cherese and I that instead of asking to help someone as an intern, tell them what you can do for them and why you’re so good at it. If there is something you want to do but the organization doesn’t really take interns, they probably just don’t have time to manage them. If you go to them with a plan, they’ll be more willing to help you out.”

Daizchane Baker: “Matthew Altruda told me that it’s important to increase my social media presence and tweet reviews to brands. Sharon Apollo advised me to write as much as I can!”

Sophia Williams: “Susan Aumiller told me that her company doesn’t do any television or radio marketing because they wanted to focus locally on the type of people and company. I thought this was good to keep in mind for the future – always remmeber who your audience is.”

“Kristen Shinaver is a freelancer and I found this to be very inspiring. She didn’t initially want her own firm, but she adapted to the market. She reminded me that I need to make things happen for myself and not rely on others.”

“Matthew Altruda said, ‘make sure you find your passion – and go for it!”

Check out more photos from the EMU PRSSA Speed Mentoring Event on our Flickr page.

Women in PR (Part Two)

In celebration of Women’s Month, here is the second of a two part series where we introduce you to PRofessional women you should know! 

Source: Women in PR

Source: Women in PR

Necole Bitchie
The head of her own urban entertainment blog, its lifestyle offspring, the web channel BitchieTV and a forthcoming apparel line, Necole Bitchie is far beyond a working woman. She began building her brand as a small child by finding out who she was and becoming comfortable with herself. After her parents died, Necole decided to start fresh and move to Detroit where she became an intern with a radio station. Six months later she was hired as the assistant marketing director and promotions coordinator where she was introduced to marketing and brand strategizing and how important it is to build a branding platform.

Necole eventually moved to New York, but her lack of experience kept her from getting a job. She vowed to never send out another resume and she never did, but she found herself broke and moved in with an aunt in 2008. After getting her hands on the book The Secret, she decided to no longer slump around in self-pity, but take action again. She moved to Atlanta and discovered a lack of job in the industry and a lack of coverage in urban entertainment.

 Necole Bitchie was birthed when she began reporting on the world of celebrity entertainment and new music while blogging some of her personal experiences as well. Within a year, Necole Bitchie was one of the leading urban gossip sites on the web.

 Necole’s accolades include the Black Enterprise’s Black Blogger of the Month, Soul Train Music Award for Best Soul Site, the Black Weblog Awards Best Gossip Blog and Blogger of the Year honors, Ebony Magazine’s Power 100, and being the first blogger to appear on BET’s 106 and Park. Shes’ been featured in Sister 2 Sister, The Source, Honey, Essence, J’Adore, Rolling Out, The Huffinton Post, The Tom Joyner Morning Show and much more.

Follow her on her Instagram and Twitter accounts.

Gretchen Rubin

Gretchen is an author, blogger and motivational speaker. She attended Yale University and is the author of the best selling book, The Happiness Project and her follow up book Happier at Home.

Gretchen was the editor-in-chief of the Yale Law Journal and won the Edgar M. Cullen Prize. She clerked on the U.S. Supreme Court for Sandra Day O’Connor and served as a chief advisor to the Federal Communications Commission Chairman Reed Hundt. She has also been a lecturer at Yale Law School and the Yale School of Management. She currently lives in New York City and is the daughter-in-law of former U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin.

Start your happiness project here for free and follow Gretchen on Twitter and Instagram!

Heather Lindsey

Heather is the founder of “Pinky Promise,” an organization that promotes honoring God with your life and body, whether single or married. She is also the creator of her own Pinky Promise Boutique. The organization was founded in 2012 and has grown to more than 10,000 women strong, who make pinky promises to honor God with their life.

 Heather challenges many teens, young adults and women to not succumb to worldly pressures and to stay determined to life for Christ regardless of their circumstances. The ladies receive advice and personal experiences from Heather through her blog, monthly studies and emails sent directly to from her to members.

Heather is the author of two books (Pink Lips & Empty Hearts and A Perfect Recipe). She and her husband, Cornelius Lindsey, are ministers at their Atlanta-based church, The Gathering Oasis.

Follow Heater on Twitter and Instagram

Gabrielle Burgess-Smith
Vice President of Public Relations

Pam Smith to join EMU PRSSA on April 1st

Tuesday, April 1, 2014 at 5:30 p.m. in SC 301, Pam will speak to EMU PRSSA about working in marketing and public relations at nonprofits.

Source: Pam Smith

Source: Pam Smith

Pam Smith is the President and CEO of the United Way of Washtenaw County. She has more than 25 years of combined experience in early childhood education, non-profit leadership, management, marketing, communications, training and workforce development.

Her work at United Way focuses on collective impact work in the community and addressing priority areas including: Early Childhood Education, School-aged youth, Safety Net Health and Nutrition, Aging, and Housing and homelessness. She has worked in close partnership with EMU marketing interns at the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum, Child Care Network and the United Way of Washtenaw County.