Today’s guest blogger is James Lambert, a junior in public relations.

With Spring Break over as quickly as it started, it’s easy to just start blowing off the rest of the semester. I can remember right before the break, I just started skipping class and worrying what I was going to do that night with my friends instead of what I needed to get done for class.

I’m here to tell you one thing: keep going! Get it out of your head now that life gets easier after you get a cap and gown, because graduation is just the beginning. Most of my friends in the School of Mass Communication have already graduated. While I am going to miss everyone I have met, I’m definitely looking for the light at the end of the tunnel myself. As I’m getting closer to graduating, I’m starting to reflect on how I’ve grown personally and mentally since my freshman year. I originally was as a psychology major, but that ended pretty quickly when my grades started to take a nosedive in my second semester. People aren’t that complicated anyways, either you’re crazy like the rest of us or you need a doctor because the voices in your head told you so.

That was also a time when I thought about dropping out, and a million other things were going on in my life where I just wanted to quit. Everything got too hard and I wanted to make excuses. Then I decided to give it one more shot. When I switched to mass communication, I felt like I had come home. Public relations seemed to be a natural fit for me and my grades started to quickly improve.
While I have certainly hit some lows in my life while in college, I’m reminded of one thing. No matter how bad my grades got, or how many friends may come or go, I still had Loyola. I still had the support from teachers and friends to get me where I am today. I am the first person in my family to go to college. For me to make it this far is an accomplishment in itself.

So remember, if this is your first year or last, make every minute count. Don’t give up. Trust me, I’ve tried.

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Each semester in CMMN A317 Writing for Public Relations, I assign a blog project. We work on creating interesting blog posts related to some aspect of the course. This semester, Susana Aramburu had something really thought provoking to share.

This is not my first blog post ever, but it is my first blog post in English. I created a blog about a year ago, bought the domain, chose a theme, chose a font, basically made it look pretty. I was really excited at the beginning. Ideas kept popping into my head. I knew exactly what to write about and what kind of things would make the blog better.

But the inspiration did not last long enough. Actually, the inspiration ended right after I published my first two posts. I don’t know what happened. People were reading my blog; they liked it; they were even asking for more.

Kelly Williams Brown visited my Writing for Public Relations class recently and shared some of her thoughts and knowledge about blogging. Selling your ideas is all about selling yourself and you can’t lie to people about who you are. She said she started her blog as a place where she could write about random topics that everyone could relate to, like “how to use bleach.”

Her professionalism and enthusiasm got me excited. I realized that my inspiration didn’t just disappear; I pushed it away because I was so scared of not giving people what they were expecting. I am a graduating senior and just the thought of not doing what I love terrifies me.

Kelly’s advice inspired me to just START doing things. It is easy to think that people are not going to read what you write or that they are not going to find it interesting, but how would you know if you haven’t tried?

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The first question Professors Andrews and Cal asked in Intro to Mass Communication was, “What is your sequence?” As I looked around the room, most people shrugged their shoulders unsure of an answer, but I was certain about the sequence I wanted to study. Professor Andrews and Dr. Cal called out, “Public Relations,” a couple hands went into the air; “Advertising,” a couple more, then the said, “Journalism.” My hand shot up, and a smile shined on my face. I wanted to be the next Diane Sawyer, reporting the news to millions of viewers. If that didn’t work out, I would gladly settle working as E!’s new red carpet correspondent! Little did I know my entire plan would change within a year.

As my first semester continued, I learned so much in my Intro class. In Intro to Mass Communication we learned about each sequence, and the basics we needed to know in order to better choose what sequence we wanted to study for the rest of our college career. Throughout the course, I started to realize I had another love…advertising.

I was stuck! What should I choose? Can I study both? What if I choose one and senior year I realize I hate it?! I had so many questions running through my head. (One thing you should know about me is I’m very overdramatic. I was STRESSING for weeks. I might have even shed a few tears…)

After many nights contemplating, I chose Advertising as my sequence. I’m very happy with my decision, and I’m positive I won’t hate it by the time I’m a senior! My decision was based off of the opportunities the Advertising sequence offers, and this is what really drew me in.

The School of Mass Communication has many opportunities for involvement, so I joined Loyola’s Ad Club my second semester to get my foot in the door. Ad Club provides many opportunities to volunteer for the Ad Club of New Orleans, as well as applying for ACNO’s scholarships. During the semester, several speakers from Peter Mayer Advertising Agency gave several presentations about advertising in the professional world. Students also attended AAF’s Houston Student Conference. Everyone can join Ad Club; it provides great opportunities and contacts for advertising!

Ad Club is a great experience and organization to be apart of, but Loyola’s Ad Team, Rebirth Advertising, was the deciding factor. Rebirth Advertising competes annually in American Advertising Federation’s student competition. A well-known corporation sponsors this national competition, and each ad team must create an advertising campaign for the company.

I was invited to watch a dress rehearsal of Rebirth’s campaign presentation for Nissan Americas, the 2012 competition sponsor. I was blown away, and I knew I wanted to be apart of this team someday. The presentation was so professional, I felt like Nissan’s advertising professionals that have been working in advertising for years gave the presentation! Rebirth Advertising placed fourth in their region, and has recently won Best In Show and Gold Awards at the New Orleans ADDY Awards. I have shoes to fill and accomplishments to uphold.

In the end, you receive a degree in Mass Communication. Your sequence is important, but the world will not end if you choose the wrong one.

 

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Haley Humiston, today’s guest blogger, is a PR major and a member of Loyola’s 2013 Bateman team.  

When I applied for the Bateman team, I thought I knew what I was getting myself into: sleepless nights, no spring break and a complete rescheduling of priorities. As some of my most admired classmates had been on the team in the past, I knew how much work it would be. What I did not know was what I would get out of the experience.

I’m not writing this to explain the skills I have developed as part of this powerhouse team. I want to share the most important thing I have learned working on this campaign.

Given the restrictions of the campaign competition, we had only our own creativity and $300 to work with. As a team, we knew we needed to hold anti-bullying workshops, but the thought of having a professional–whether counselor, doctor or speaker–accompany us every day was out of the question. Instead, we used professionals as resources. We spoke with teachers, administrators, social workers and psychologists in the New Orleans area and they advised us what practices would be most efficient. Our research readied us for the hands-on aspect of our campaign, but it could have never prepared us enough.

We visited six schools to hold the workshop 21 times. Beyond just having a new respect for teachers after having woken up at 6 a.m. every day this month, I am more glad than ever that I switched my major from music education to mass communication. Being a teacher is hard work.

Not only is being a teacher hard work, but having conversations about bullying and its consequences did not seem like something I had signed up for. After the first two days, I had just about had it with 14-year-old boys defending violence and retaliation. They were not expressing the stubbornness of an average high-schooler; it was clear that their mindset was internalized. I felt I would rather talk to a brick wall than hear the arguments that were thrown back to me.

I knew that I shouldn’t be surprised by this, since a study in New Orleans last year reported more than 29 percent of students have seen assaults committed with weapons and nearly 14 percent have witnessed murder. (Read more here.) Nonetheless, I felt like I would never be able to get our message across.

In the second week, we were cleaning up after a workshop when one of the students approached us. A boy, who I remembered from the workshop as soft-spoken and sweet, told us that he had been bullied.

“They call me names and I don’t understand what they mean. I don’t know why they do it.”

My first instinct, to cry and wrap my arms around him, was quickly trumped by a sudden understanding that I had a purpose beyond creating an effective and measurable public relations campaign. From that point on, my definition of a “great public relations campaign” widened deeply.

What I have learned from the Bateman team is that as a public relations professional, you are not only a public relations professional. You may have to be a teacher, a sous chef, a counselor, a mascot or an actor. You’re going to wonder why you are these things, why you couldn’t have hired someone else or why you’re acting a role you think yourself unfit for. What you need to realize is that being this person will make you closer to your cause. It will be exhausting at first, but you will catch on. And you will see nothing but growth in your passion and determination, which will translate directly to your campaign.

You don’t need to trust me with this one, because you will learn it eventually. Just remember that when you’re frustrated, sleepless and feeling incapable of filling someone else’s shoes, you only need to break them in a little before they fit just right.

Toward the end of our campaign, I wasn’t afraid to have difficult conversations with students or challenge them. I felt obliged to. These conversations only made me recognize the success of our campaign in its fight against the bullying epidemic.

Today, a student called me over to look at his paper–the post-quiz we use to measure our effectiveness in teaching–with a grin from ear to ear.

“Look,” he exclaimed, smiling up at me.

Under “What can be done to prevent bullying?” the 10-year-old boy had written every one of our K.I.N.D.ness steps verbatim: Keep Others Included, Inform an Adult if You See Bullying, Never Bully Others and Decide to be More Than A Bystander.

We had gotten our message across after all.

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Today’s guest blogger is Vannia Zelaya, a member of the 2013 Loyola Bateman team. Bateman is sponsored by PRSSA and advised by Dr. Cathy Rogers.

We’ve all been there: either we’ve been victims of bullying, have bullied others or have simply stood by the sidelines to watch — or maybe we’ve even been all of the above. Many consider bullying a fact of life, as though it’s an inevitable stage we must all go through and therefore, not a big deal. The reality, however, couldn’t be farther from that. In the United States today a child is bullied every seven minutes and the behavior outlives high school. To help the New Orleans community fight this, Loyola’s very own Bateman team has created the “Step Up, Reach Out!” campaign, an anti-bullying effort that is teaching New Orleanians how to “Geaux K.I.N.D.”

The Bateman team, made up of public relations students Dwayne Fontenette (account executive), Haley Humiston, Charlie LaRock, Leah Whitlock and myself, has created this campaign for the national Bateman Case Study competition of the Public Relations Student Society of America. Yet, it’s more than just a competition for all of us. We know that every person we encourage to be more than a bystander and teach to “Geaux K.I.N.D.” has the potential to save a life and change it for the better. Now that’s our true encouragement.

Every person we teach to step up to “Keep others included, Inform an adult if you see bullying, Never bully others and to Decide to be more than a bystander” will prevent someone from being miserable on a daily basis and maybe even from committing suicide. Being more than a bystander can even help the bully from becoming a criminal, given that bullies are more likely to be convicted of a crime by age 24 if their bullying behavior isn’t addressed. So, by getting New Orleanians to “Step Up, Reach Out,” and “Geaux K.I.N.D.” we’re not only stopping bullying but also helping the city attack crime at its roots.

However, the five of us can’t do this alone: everyone has equal responsibility and power to stop bullying and there’s certainly power in numbers. If you haven’t yet, make sure you stop by the One Loyola Room in the Danna Student Center to sign a pledge against bullying. You can also support the cause by liking our Facebook page, following our Twitter and Instagram and sharing our messages with your friends so they can “Geaux K.I.N.D.,” too. Stand in solidarity and wear purple Friday February 22 to show you’re willing to be more than a bystander. Know that every act of K.I.N.D.ness you perform, no matter how small, helps make New Orleans a kinder city for us all.

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Nobody would argue the value of a good internship, especially if you’re headed into today’s extremely challenging job market. In the SMC, we think internships are so important that we mandate them. Each student in our new curriculum is required to have at least one for-credit internship before they graduate. And the truth is, most of them have several. And that’s a good thing.

Finding those internships can also be a bit challenging. So we put together an annual internship fair, bringing together students from Loyola and other area schools and professionals from local media, agencies, nonprofits and other communication-related businesses. I’m not sure where the name Networking Night at Loyola came from, and I was at all the meetings. But we’ve used it five times, so we’re going to keep it!

This year’s Networking Night at Loyola, which was also a hands-on learning experience for students in the CMMN A335 Strategic Event Planning and Promotions course, allowed students from Loyola, Dillard, Xavier and SUNO to mix and mingle with a plethora of professionals representing a wide spectrum of career options.

We want to send a big thanks to the 2012 sponsors, Dominic Massa, one of our very own mass comm alums, and WWL-TV.

And we couldn’t have a Networking Night without the busy professionals who attended and who provide great internship opportunities for students in the SMC and elsewhere:

Accent on Arrangements and FestiGals
ASI Federal Credit Union
Community Legal Defense & Services of New Orleans
The Ehrhardt Group
FSC Interactive
Gambel Communications
Girls on the Run New Orleans
Green Light New Orleans
Team Happy Foundation
il Stratega
Office of James Carville
King, Krebs & Jurgens
Pelican Publishing Company
Tales of the Cocktail
Touro Infirmary
Vivid Image Consulting
World Trade Center New Orleans
WWL-TV
Zehnder Communications

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Today, I got an email from Katya’s Nonprofit Marketing Blog noting that it’s Giving Tuesday. Thinking back, I don’t remember celebrating that before. After the rush of Black Friday (now Black Thursday as well) and the latest consumer assault, Cyber Monday, we might all just want to sit back and be “something-day free” for a while.

But while I shop online all year ’round (sorry, Cyber Monday) and never darken a store on Thanksgiving weekend, I can truly get behind a day that reminds us to give to others. It’s a concept we’re very familiar with here at Loyola. Our social justice mission reminds us that it’s important to do so, not just one day a year but every day.

As I sat in a gathering of other faculty and staff this week, talking about civic engagement, I thought about the ways we give to our community through service learning projects and placements. In the SMC, we work with nonprofit organizations in a variety of ways, including developing public relations and advertising materials and campaigns. Each semester so many worthy groups apply to join us for a semester-long project that yields thousands of hours of professional experience for the students and a strategic, useable communication tool for the nonprofit. We’ve just completed the selection of our spring 2013 campaigns partner, Girls on the Run of New Orleans. Any student that’s been part of a campaigns project in the SMC understands the value of that service to the community partner, but they’ll also tell you how much it enriches them, personally and professionally.

That might be the very point of Giving Tuesday, to show how good it feels to give. And we shouldn’t just give today. In fact, within the next few days, there are great opportunities to give more. On Monday, Dec. 3, you can give hope to children with life-threatening diseases by donating blood to the “I Love Lucy” blood drive in the St. Charles Room. Not only will you be providing support to Lucy Boudreaux, the three-year-old daughter of music industry adjunct professor Jude Boudreaux, but you’ll be bringing holiday cheer to others at Children’s Hospital.

And in conjunction with the Donnelley Center and other campus organizations, the SMC is collecting new, unwrapped toys through Dec. 11 as part of Pierre Thomas’s I Can Foundation Toy Drive for Children’s Hospital.

‘Tis the season for final exams, with late-night studying and last-minute project completions. It’s easy to forget about others’ needs when you’re desperately trying to bring up that writing grade or read the last 100 pages of your law text. But remember to take a break and be thankful for what you have and can share with others, not just today on Giving Tuesday but every day.

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It’s been less than two months since school started (thanks, Isaac), and it’s already past midterms! I’m still not caught up from our lost week, and I know my students are exhausted from the breakneck speed with which we’ve had to tackle the learning process. It’s always a challenge to get all the basic information into a course; the time we spend in a class over a semester equals only one work week in the real world. So we play “beat the clock” all the time, even without the burden of one less week of class.

While some might say, “It’s ONLY a week,” that’s the week we all get to know each other, learning how each course works, how each instructor expects things to be done. That’s the week I try to get to know my students better, to find out what they want from a class and where the information they learn in it will take them down the road to their careers.

It’s taken me this long to find out that Andy is an Eagle Scout and Janie is a Disney princess (really), that Allie has an internship I’d kill for and that Malia went to one of my high school’s football rivals. I’m just now learning that Melissa and Joshua spent time in the military and that Rob likes to listen to sports radio while working on writing assignments. Or that Dwayne is a political activist and Maureen and I were at LSU at almost the same time. And the list goes on. (If I didn’t mention you, you’re still my favorite.)

That missing week has hampered my efforts to let my students get to know me better as well. Some are just figuring out that I wield a pretty mean red pen (literally and figuratively), that I REFUSE to accept anything in sans serif type or that’s single spaced or that chocolate is the way to my heart…or at least a better mood!

We’ll all catch up eventually, at least by Dec. 18, when grades are due. And we won’t have to worry about a hurricane* delaying the start of the semester in January. So we can start the spring on the right foot and I can get better acquainted with the students who’ll be taking me for PR Campaigns and Advertising Campaigns (both capstones), Writing for Public Relations, Advanced Nonprofit Communications Lab (a new service learning class) and Senior Seminar.

• Speaking of hurricanes, our thoughts, prayers and wishes for a speedy recovery go out to all those affected by Hurricane Sandy.

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A recent article on Time.com – originally published on Inc.com – entitled, “Be Happier in Business and Life: 10 Things To Stop Doing Right Now,” includes what its title implies, a list of 10 ways to be happier. One THING in particular caught my attention and not just because it was the first one.

It’s BLAMING. The article says you need to stop blaming.

It struck me that, in the many years I’ve been teaching, I’ve heard a thousand things blamed for a student’s lack of success, mostly from students themselves. In fact, some of the reasons for missing class, turning in poor work or no work or some variation on failure to handle responsibilities were so bizarre I’ll never forget them (and these are all true):

“I got arrested because my roommates were growing pot at our house.”
“I was trying to decide if I should marry my fiancee…and it took a lot of time.”
“My girlfriend cut up all my clothes and threw them away. I didn’t have anything to wear to class.”

Yes, these are really ridiculous examples, but I hear some version of “the dog ate my homework” or “I overslept” nearly every week. Mind you, I’m not asking for more creative excuses. And I don’t encourage students to look for someone or something to blame for not doing what they were supposed to.

I try to incorporate into my lectures, discussions and activities ways that students can become more responsible, meet those deadlines, show up on time and prepared for class, do the work to the best of their ability and not have to look for excuses at all. I want students to work at becoming better time managers and more attentive readers so they’ll get the papers submitted by the deadline and make good grades on their exams. (Contrary to popular belief, I don’t like giving bad grades; I want all my students to succeed.)

So students, stop playing the blame game and start taking more responsibility. As the article states:
“Taking responsibility when things go wrong instead of blaming others isn’t masochistic, it’s empowering–because then you focus on doing things better or smarter next time.”

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I am obsessed with the Saints’ slogan – DO YOUR JOB.
It’s simple, direct and commanding.

I’ve posted a few things on my Facebook page about it, not just as a call to arms for the Who Dat Nation on Sundays (and the occasional Monday) but for us all, all the time.

In conversations with students, I sometimes hear complaints about professors:
• S/he assigns work, picks it up, and the students never see it again.
• S/he stands in front of the classroom and reads from the textbook while students are “encouraged” to follow along in their own copies.
• S/he never posts or distributes a syllabus, so students have no idea when things are to be read, discussed or due.

I’d say each of these professors needs to be reminded to do their job. Prep, grading, lecturing…all are part of the job. Even if we complain long and loudly about it, as professors, we know this going in.

Students have a job to do as well. Unlike the K-12 system, colleges expect students to be partners in the learning process. It’s not so much “take notes and take tests” at the university level. It’s coming to class prepared to take part in discussions; it’s following assignment specifications to get the most out of each learning opportunity; it’s meeting deadlines and expectations.

I sometimes hear students say, in response to admonishment for poor or lazy work, that they’ll behave differently when they’re being paid to do their jobs. My response is always the same: This IS your job, and you ARE being paid. You’re earning a grade, developing skills, gaining experience, making connections, creating a professional reputation. Your job is to work hard to get the most you can from your education so you can be the best person you can be, both in the workplace and in the community.

I also add that their bad habits will continue into the workplace – and in life – and haunt them until they’re either dismissed or change their ways. It’s not about getting paid; it’s about doing the job and doing it well.

Fortunately, at Loyola, students tend to take their jobs – and our Jesuit mission – very seriously. A case in point:
The members of the PR Campaigns and Writing for Public Relations classes are working with their community partner, the Louisiana SPCA Community Clinic, to provide better lives for our pets, who improve our quality of life. LA/SPCA works to “advocate for the animals of Louisiana by advancing their welfare, promoting their interests, and fostering the human/animal bond through innovative programs, education, and service.” And they do it through the efforts of more than 400 volunteers who contribute 21,000+ hours of service annually.

The LA/SPCA staff and volunteers do their jobs. Our PR students are already at work, doing their jobs, working toward viable, strategic and professional-level communication solutions for their community partner.

Are you doing YOUR job?

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