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University of Mississippi integrated marketing communications program turns 10

Posted on: December 5th, 2021 by ldrucker

Young program, one of university’s largest, thanks to passionate faculty and alumni

Scott Fiene remembers watching the first handful of integrated marketing communications students walk across the commencement stage in 2013, completely unaware that in less than a decade, he would be watching hundreds of IMC graduates cross the stage each year.

The University of Mississippi‘s IMC program began with 51 students in the School of Journalism and New Media in 2011, and has since boomed to just under 1,200 enrolled.

The unprecedented growth is thanks in large part to the passion of the faculty members and IMC professionals who take students out of the classroom and into the ever-changing world of marketing and communications.

Archive Photo: Sports marketing professional Scott Pederson talks to students in an IMC Sports Marketing intersession class in Farley Hall. Part of what has made the Ole Miss IMC program so successful in its first decade is the ability to bring passionate practitioners into the classroom. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

Archive Photo: Sports marketing professional Scott Pederson talks to students in an IMC Sports Marketing intersession class in Farley Hall. Part of what has made the Ole Miss IMC program so successful in its first decade is the ability to bring passionate practitioners into the classroom. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services.Passion for the Work

Debora Wenger, interim dean of the journalism school, was the administrator tasked with being the “paper pusher,” as she describes it, shepherding the program through the creation and approval process, but she credits Fiene with being IMC’s greatest advocate and promoter on campus. Fiene was assistant dean of curriculum and assessment for the program during its unprecedented growth.

“Scott really nurtured it,” she said. “The program grew because of Scott’s passion and dedication. He has incredible enthusiasm for the program and his passion is infectious. Students would take his class and then switch majors because he made it so engaging for them.”

Fiene passes that credit on to the faculty the program has been able to assemble over the past decade.

“Our faculty really care and put students first,” Fiene said. “I don’t recall sitting down and saying, ‘This is how we’re going to grow, and this is the experience we’re going to deliver to these kids.’

“A lot of it is simply the attitudes of the people we hired who have had very successful careers and now want to teach because they have an absolute passion for this.”

Archive Photo: Students take notes during a lecture in Robin Street’s IMC 491 class. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

Archive Photo: Students take notes during a lecture in Robin Street’s IMC 491 class. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services.

The passion for students is evident. Even on sabbatical, Fiene finds himself following his graduates as they enter the job market and move into leadership positions around the country.

Jackson Sepko, a senior IMC major from Collierville, Tennessee, first encountered the IMC faculty’s enthusiasm the spring before his freshman year. After his tweet about Ole Miss baseball went viral within the Ole Miss sports online community, he received a direct message from IMC professor Debbie Hall asking if he was an IMC major.

Sepko had already signed up to be an IMC major, but it was a series of continued positive, affirming and proactive interactions like the one he had on Twitter that gave him the confidence to pursue more and more competitive opportunities. During his freshman year, Hall encouraged Sepko to pursue a PGA internship reserved for juniors and seniors.

“Every single professional opportunity I’ve had has been because of an IMC professor,” Sepko said. “Once a professor understands a student’s passions, they plug them into the classes and experiences and introduce those students to the people who are doing it in the real world.”

This semester, Sepko is applying his IMC experience as a digital media marketing assistant for the Ole Miss Department of Intercollegiate Athletics.

Clare Combs, a 2021 IMC graduate from Austin, Texas, is a community manager at Likeable Media in New York. Combs recalled the way Hall, her professor and academic adviser, made her feel welcome on the first day of class. Running late, Combs rushed to class through the rain and then slipped and fell the moment she arrived in class.

“I was so embarrassed,” Combs said. “But Mrs. Hall immediately directed the class’s attention to herself so I could quietly make it to my seat. After class I thanked her, and she told me, ‘I never want my students to feel anything other than great in my class.’”

After that, Combs took one of Hall’s classes every semester and relied on Hall as a mentor and sounding board while looking for her first job after graduation.

Dennis Irwin teaches students. n 2011, the Integrated Marketing Communications program at #OleMiss began with 51 students. Today, the program is one of the largest at the university, with just under 1,200 students enrolled.

Dennis Irwin, associate director of marketing and brand strategy for the University of Mississippi, teaches students. In 2011, the Integrated Marketing Communications program at #OleMiss began with 51 students. Today, the program is one of the largest at the university, with just under 1,200 students enrolled.

Real-World Application

In its early days, the IMC program took a few plays out of the journalism school’s playbook. The faculty frequently invites successful practitioners to campus to expose students to real-world work while providing networking opportunities with the industry’s best.

Similarly, the faculty places an emphasis on turning classroom theory into practical application.

“We send students out to work with clients in the community,” Fiene said. “We’ve taught campaign classes and we partner with organizations in the community so our kids can put together a full IMC campaign and pitch to clients.”

IMC faculty members also encourage students to engage in the many media opportunities on campus, including the Student Media Center and the program-run, where many students get daily multimedia publishing experience.

“These students are very well-rounded – they learn writing, design, market research, campaign building,” Fiene said. “But it’s those real-life experiences students get that matter, so that when they get a degree it’s not just academic. It has real-world relevance.”

Bright Future

Jason Cain, who succeeds Fiene as the program’s leader, is excited about IMC because the future of business, media and communications is all intertwined.

Whether preparing for careers in advertising, journalism or PR, graduates are finding themselves more and more in integrated roles, Cain said.

“This is where the action is in a lot of ways,” he said. “While more traditional departments are grappling with how to address the future within their silos, IMC is ready-made for straddling all these different channels.

Cain, who joined the faculty in 2016 as an assistant professor of IMC, said he hopes to continue to emphasize the practical side of the program by bringing graduates back to campus so that students can see how they are using their degrees in a professional environment.

The program continues to expand its intersectional role, offering specializations in fashion, health communications, magazine publishing, media sales, public relations, social media, sports communications and promotions, and visual design.

“I think we have a good core group of faculty with a cool skill set,” Cain said. “I know that we can take a healthy program and start diving in a little deeper. We can take a decade of wisdom and filter that back into the course work.”

School of Journalism and New Media leaders establish University of Mississippi PRSSA Chapter

Posted on: November 22nd, 2021 by ldrucker

Undergraduate communications students gain access to extensive career resources, networking and scholarship opportunities

The Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), an organization for students interested in the public relations and communications fields, has added the University of Mississippi to its network of chapters worldwide.

Under the guidance of experienced faculty advisers, and in coordination with the local Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) chapter in Memphis, students will have opportunities to further their education, gain valuable career advice and experience, and access a variety of scholarships.

PRSSA has added a total of five new chapters in 2021.

“We’re thrilled to be able to expand our PRSSA footprint in New York and Mississippi,” said Linda Thomas Brooks, chief executive officer, PRSA, in a news release. The organization also added a chapter at Nazareth College in Rochester, New York. “The communications profession continues to grow in importance, and skilled practitioners are in high demand at organizations and agencies worldwide. Preparing the next generation of leaders is a hallmark of PRSSA, and we look forward to working with these students to ensure they are ready to succeed in their future endeavors.”

Amanda Sams BradshawDr. Amanda Bradshaw, assistant professor of integrated marketing communications, will serve as faculty adviser to the University of Mississippi PRSSA chapter. She earned a doctorate in mass communication from the University of Florida, a master’s degree in integrated marketing communications from West Virginia University, and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Alabama.

Professionally, she worked as the public relations manager of Preferred Medical Group, a multi-disciplinary, multi-location medical practice. Additionally, she served as director of sales and brand growth for Chick-fil-A in Lawton, Oklahoma. Simultaneously, she owned and operated a social media consulting firm before beginning her doctoral studies.

“We are excited to launch a PRSSA chapter at the state flagship institution, becoming part of an esteemed international organization,” Bradshaw said. “We are also thrilled to collaborate with the wonderful, talented public relations professionals at PRSA Memphis and look forward to learning from and working with them in the coming years. With more than 1,000 IMC majors, our student body is large, and we already have 25 enthusiastic student leaders signed up to serve on our executive board and lead our committees. We are ready to hit the ground running to build the University of Mississippi PRSSA to be the best that it can be.”

Bradshaw said UM has wanted to add a PRSSA chapter for a long time. Professors Debbie Hall and Robin Street have worked to launch a chapter, but the IMC curriculum had to evolve.

“We had to first develop a robust curriculum sequence of at least five public relations courses and additional supplemental courses in the field, which we have now done,” she said. “As we now have that curriculum in place, we qualify to have a chapter. So, we mailed off the 250+ page application to the headquarters in New York (an old-fashioned paper application in a FedEx box), and as they say, the rest is history.”

The University of Mississippi PRSSA chapter members.

The University of Mississippi PRSSA chapter members.

Bradshaw said PRSSA is connecting the school with an international network of chapters that forms the most recognized leading professional organization, serving the communications community.

“Students at the undergraduate and graduate levels have the opportunity to join our campus chapter,” Bradshaw said. “Students can get involved with and gain hands-on experience with social media, recruitment, onboarding, service/philanthropy, fundraising, awards, publicity, public relations content creation, high school outreach, event planning, and more.

“All of these line items look great on a resume for those wanting to enter communication fields. Additionally, students will be eligible to compete for both individual-level and chapter awards in exclusive PRSSA competitions.”

Bradshaw said PRSSA is based on three main pillars: 1) Enhance your education 2) Broaden your network 3) Launch your career.

“Our chapter plans to host monthly activities, bringing in top-notch guest speakers in various sectors of public relations and offering soft skills workshops, such as resume’ reviews and cover letter writing,” she said. “With a strong partnership in place with our sponsor chapter, PRSA Memphis, which is just an hour away, we feel confident that we have the resources and talent to mentor our students to help them map out their career paths and get to the next level in their careers.”

Bradshaw said they are planning a “field trip” to visit an agency in Memphis in the upcoming year and will work with both PRSA Memphis and the University of Memphis PRSSA chapter.

“In addition to strong mentorship locally and nationally, our student members will have the opportunity to travel to conferences, such as ICON– the international PRSA annual conference– to meet professionals in the industry from all over the world,” she said.

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Students who want to get involved can send an email to:

The cost to join is $85 per year — $55 for national dues + $30 for local dues. They can pay both at this link: and/or email the general email address for more questions.

Students can also use this QR code to fill out a brief survey of their interests to get involved with one of our committees and to potentially serve in a leadership role.

Interested students and faculty may also join the school’s LinkedIn group here: The first main chapter meeting, an informational session, will be held on Jan. 25, 2022 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. More information will be provided later.

Bradshaw said PRSSA is not just for IMC students in the public relations specialization. It’s for anyone looking to develop their communication skills. If you’re majoring in any of the following, you may want to get involved: advertising, business administration and management, film and video, graphic design, journalism, marketing, political science, public and nonprofit administration, and more.

Ole Miss launches $1.5 billion campaign to strengthen university for generations

Posted on: November 15th, 2021 by ldrucker

The University of Mississippi has launched the largest comprehensive campaign in Mississippi history to raise $1.5 billion in private support and increase the flagship university’s endowment to $1 billion to strengthen it for generations to come.

Already, $1 billion has been secured toward this $1.5 billion goal during the silent phase of Now & Ever: The Campaign, and at the close of the fiscal year, June 30, the combined university endowment reached $859 million. The campaign ends June 30, 2025.

“A campaign of this magnitude is ambitious, but then we are Ole Miss and do not shy away from lofty goals,” Chancellor Glenn Boyce said. “Gifts to this campaign will help us keep doing what we do best – offering education, experiences and opportunities so that our students can pursue their passions and reach their fullest potential in order to build legacies of fulfilling lives and successful careers.”

Click the image below or this link to watch the video.

University officials are working to raise $1.5 billion through Now & Ever: The Campaign for Ole Miss to provide scholarships, faculty support and new facilities. The goal is to help the state educate its future leaders and spur innovation and economic growth. Photo by Logan Kirkland/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

University officials are working to raise $1.5 billion through Now & Ever: The Campaign for Ole Miss to provide scholarships, faculty support and new facilities. The goal is to help the state educate its future leaders and spur innovation and economic growth. Photo by Logan Kirkland/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

Now & Ever is securing philanthropic support to advance and grow a number of areas and efforts across the university from student scholarships and faculty research to campus facilities and athletics. Campaign goals are focused on how the university builds leaders, empowers academic excellence, fuels research and innovation and creates economic opportunity.

For example, the university will apply its proven freshman-to-sophomore retention initiative to all undergraduate years, moving students from all backgrounds to timely graduations. More scholarships will be established to increase access to higher education and to recruit high-performing students.

Learning experiences for its almost 22,000 students will be expanded, such as increasing existing capacities for undergraduates to pursue research and developing more multidisciplinary academic and research centers.

“Our Student Success Center will pull together all the programs and expertise we have built and apply it across all classes,” Boyce said. “Our remarkable 88.2% freshman-to-sophomore retention rate will carry through students’ time here.”

Through the Now & Ever campaign, the university will also secure more endowed faculty chairs and professorships to recruit and retain world-class professors. As a leader in engineering and the applied sciences, Ole Miss will address crucial national, state and local needs to grow a science, technology, engineering and mathematics-educated workforce and citizenry.

In order to fuel research and innovation, the campaign will enhance how the university applies scholarly work to develop practical solutions and improve lives. This will be accomplished through existing expertise resident in the Center for Diagnostics, Design, Devices and Biomechanics; Center for Insurance Transformation; Center for Air and Space Law; and the National Center for Natural Products Research – to name a few examples among many.

Additionally, Now & Ever will spur economic opportunity by bringing students across disciplines together to solve real-life problems, create products and seed new businesses. Ultra-modern technology designed to meet tomorrow’s needs will accelerate the transfer of research and innovation to commercialization, growing prosperity through investment, job creation, partnerships and economic opportunities.

“When this campaign is completed, the University of Mississippi will look different, and I don’t just mean different because of the new incredible buildings and learning spaces, such as the Jim and Thomas Duff Center for Science and Technology Innovation, a new home for the nationally recognized Patterson School of Accountancy and the expanded Olivia and Archie Manning Athletics Performance Center and other athletics facilities,” Boyce said.

The chancellor said that after the campaign, there will be “increased research with valuable application to our health and well-being. And, you will see graduates able to stay in Mississippi with exciting jobs and a more vibrant economy.”

Charlotte Parks, vice chancellor for development, called Now & Ever: The Campaign at Ole Miss a “monumental undertaking that is achievable because of generous alumni and friends, who recognize their investments will define the university’s future.”

“Ole Miss’ first responsibility is to Mississippi as its flagship institution, but its influence spans far beyond the borders of this magnificent state,” Parks said. “We are committed to securing crucial resources to elevate the lives of our students, families, other citizens and the world.”

Leading the campaign in the first year are co-chairs retired Major Gen. Leon Collins and Debra Collins, of Madison, and Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy, of Memphis, Tennessee. The four are supported by a 44-member Campaign Steering Committee of alumni and friends.

“We urge everyone to come forward now and invest in the future of our beloved university – one bursting with tremendous potential,” Sean Tuohy said.

“Funding is crucial for embracing opportunities, and the vision of this campaign is one that everyone in the Ole Miss family can support. It gives us a clear path to serve Ole Miss and provide the best for future students, as well as a way of expressing gratitude for all the university has given us.

Fundraising priorities have been set by the Oxford campus academic units as well as the University of Mississippi Medical Center and the Ole Miss Department of Intercollegiate Athletics.

The university’s endowment offers both financial stability and increased opportunities to students, faculty, researchers, health care professionals and staff, Parks said.

The last two comprehensive campaigns saw the Commitment to Excellence campaign wrap up in 2000 after raising $529.9 million, and the MomentUM campaign ran from 2007 to 2009 and secured $241 million in private gifts.

“On another level beyond classrooms and campus, we are excited for how this campaign will serve as a unifying force for all Rebels to come together and strengthen our beloved university,” Boyce said. “It will cultivate new generations of diverse givers and inspire increased numbers of alumni and friends to become engaged in how we offer vibrant opportunities that create lifelong connections and transformational opportunities.”

More information and online giving can be found at

This story was written by Tina Hahn.

Scholarship established to honor alumnus Oscar Pope, NBA on TNT marketing manager

Posted on: November 11th, 2021 by ldrucker

Oscar R. Pope, creator, mentor, friend and a revelatory alum of the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media, passed away unexpectedly in June at the age of 32.

To honor his life and legacy, his friends and loved ones have established the Oscar Pope Memorial Scholarship to benefit future School of Journalism and New Media students majoring in Integrated Marketing Communications.

You can learn more by clicking this link.

Pope’s latest role was as the marketing manager for the Turner Sports show NBA on TNT, and NBA TV.

The Terry, Mississippi native began his four-year journey at the University of Mississippi as an art major with an emphasis in graphic design. He also double-majored in broadcast journalism. He became a production manager for Rebel Radio, a news anchor for NewsWatch in the student media center, and the visual editor of The Daily Mississippian.

According to an alumni profile, Pope accepted a position as an advertising coordinator at a sports publishing firm in Atlanta after graduation. He later joined the Atlanta-based startup Scoutmob as an advertising executive for four years before landing at Creative Loafing Atlanta as a multimedia marketing specialist.

His career path eventually led to Turner Broadcasting as content marketing coordinator of the NBA on TNT and NBA TV at Turner Sports. He handled consumer-facing creative messaging and branding for both networks in addition to

MacKenzie Ross, who served as the editor and creative director for the latest edition of the UM School of Journalism and New Media’s student-produced edition of The Review magazine, worked with students who interviewed Pope about his career for the publication. The following is a Q & A with Pope that student Wade Griffin compiled.

The Turner Sports family mourns the loss of our very own, Oscar Pope.

Our thoughts are with his family and friends.
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) June 4, 2021


Oscar Pope

Oscar Pope

Q & A With Oscar Pope

By Wade Griffin


Q. How has your education from Ole Miss helped you get to where you are today?

A. I double-majored in graphic design and broadcast journalism, so my days at Ole Miss look a lot like they do now and are just as multidisciplinary. What used to be running from a three-hour design studio class to shoot a news package for my JOUR 480: Advanced Broadcast Reporting class is now running from creative briefings to production and program meetings. The education and wide range of experience I received at Ole Miss prepared to me to wear many hats, without hesitation, simultaneously and effectively.

Q. Can you give me a brief description of your job duties?

A. I manage all consumer-facing creative, messaging and branding for NBA on TNT, NBA TV and Turner Sports podcasts. My team is responsible for driving viewership of live games, original programming and key NBA tentpoles, including NBA Tip-Off, NBA All-Star and the NBA Playoffs across both networks. My team is also responsible for building and executing go-to-market content and creative strategies.

Q. What is a favorite memory from your time in your current job?

A. There are so many favorites, and many include our “Inside the NBA” crew, but the memories that mean the most are the ones where we’ve been able to tell purposeful stories at the intersections of sport, community and culture. My favorite would have to be writing ‘Dear Chicago’ for NBA-All Star 2020.

The NBA was making its first All-Star return to Chicago since 1988, so I found it imperative that we redefine how the world viewed Chicago. ‘Dear Chicago’ was written and produced in partnership with Bleacher Report as a three-part vignette series – highlighting the convergence of basketball and community and telling the stories of the people, the places and culture that define Chicago.

Through this series, we were able to give basketball fans an opportunity to experience what makes Chicago a beacon of culture and not defined by negative headlines, but rather a rich quilt of neighborhoods, each with its own identity and native heroes – athletes that have transcended sport and artists that create with a homegrown purpose. The entire series is available at

Q. Is there a professor who made an impact on them as a student? What is their name and why/how?

A. There were many professors who had a profound impact on me as a student and beyond. You’d be hard-pressed to find better design professors than Ginny Chavis and Paula Temple. Marvin Williams and Garreth Blackwell were critical in my growth at the J-school.

The two professors that made the biggest impacts on me were Nancy Dupont and Laura Antonow. Dr. Dupont taught with such a passion for broadcasting, and it was absolutely infectious. After my first course with her, I knew I had to be in or around the broadcast industry in some capacity.

I believe I took at least four courses with Professor Antonow, and I would’ve taken more if possible. She had an energy that was palpable and her courses were open forums of dialogue and engagement which greatly contributed to my academic and personal evolution.

Brandon journalism student is latest beneficiary of Muller scholarship endowment

Posted on: November 11th, 2021 by ldrucker

Ted Muller’s recent gift to the University of Mississippi supplements an endowment that honors his father while providing financial assistance to Ole Miss students.

The Savannah, Georgia, resident made a $60,000 gift to the Brick Muller Memorial Scholarship Endowment Fund, which was established in 1987 by family and friends of the late Louis Frederick “Brick” Muller, of Memphis. The gift brought the endowment’s value to $100,000.

Alyssa Moncrief, of Brandon, is the scholarship’s 2021 recipient.

“The Brick Muller Scholarship has been a constant reminder of my abilities and potential for success as it has financed my education and allowed me to focus on my academics and extracurriculars rather than worrying about how I would pay for tuition,” said Moncrief, a senior double-major in public policy leadership and journalism who plans to enroll in law school after graduation.

“In attending Ole Miss, I have been afforded any opportunity I could dream of pursuing, from creating my own track towards my degrees, taking on leadership roles and creating change within my own community.”

UM senior Alyssa Moncrief (right), the 2021 Brick Muller scholar, and Meggy Muller, great-granddaughter of the gift’s namesake, get to know each other on the Ole Miss campus. Photo by Bill Dabney/UM Foundation

UM senior Alyssa Moncrief (left), the 2021 Brick Muller scholar, and Meggy Muller, great-granddaughter of the gift’s namesake, get to know each other on the Ole Miss campus. Photo by Bill Dabney/UM Foundation

Ted Muller, a University of Pennsylvania graduate, is a retired investment manager. His father, a 1927 UM business graduate, used his education to open Brick Muller and Associates, which grew to be a successful Memphis-based advertising agency with national accounts.

“I feel very fortunate to be able to make this gift in Dad’s honor,” Muller said, adding that Brick Muller’s grandson, Ralph Muller, and his wife, Christy, graduated from Ole Miss; their daughter, Margaret, is a student in the UM School of Business Administration.

“Because of those ties, as well as his own affinity for the university, I believe my father would be proud to know that this scholarship is helping young people like Alyssa afford to go to Ole Miss for their college education.”

Recipients of the Brick Muller Memorial Scholarship must be full-time students who meet certain criteria with respect to scholastic aptitude, leadership ability and financial need.

“Private gifts like Mr. Muller’s are so important to the university because they enable us to recruit deserving students who may otherwise be unable to attend college or who may choose to go to another university that offers more financial aid,” said Charlotte Parks, vice chancellor for development. “We are extremely grateful for his generosity.”

The Brick Muller Memorial Scholarship Endowment Fund is open to support from businesses and individuals. Gifts can be made by sending a check, with the fund’s name noted on the memo line, to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655, or by giving online at

To honor a friend or family member with a named endowment, contact Charlotte Parks at or 662-915-3120.

This story was written by Bill Dabney.

Talbert Fellows are an elite cohort at the UM School of Journalism and New Media

Posted on: November 3rd, 2021 by ldrucker

The University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media Talbert Fellows are journalism and integrated marketing communications (IMC) students from Mississippi and beyond who are part of an elite program launched last year.

Members include Carleigh Holt, Davan Reece, Emma Harrington, Grace Massengill, Lily Sweet King, Brittany Kohne, Virginia White, Travis Coopwood, Justice Rose, Chloe Calo, Kelby Zendejas, Rabria Moore, Erin Foley, Shayna Saragosa, Summer Keith, Brady Wood, Sahara Portlance, Zoe Keyes, Paleif Raspberry, David Ramsey, Julieanna Jackson, Ava Johnson and Layton Lawhead. We will be sharing their photos and stories on social media.

From left, Grace Massengill, Paleif Raspberry and Chloe Calo attend the latest Talbert Fellows meeting. They listened to a guest speaker who talked about a New York internship program.

From left, Grace Massengill, Paleif Raspberry and Chloe Calo attend the latest Talbert Fellows meeting. They listened to a guest speaker who talked about a New York internship program.

“We are really happy you have joined our school, because in order to be a member of the Talbert Fellows, you have to have shown something exceptional,” Dr. Debora Wenger, interim dean, said during the Talbert Fellows first meeting of the semester.

Dr. R. J. Morgan, instructional associate professor of journalism and director of the Mississippi Scholastic Press Association, said investing in the Talbert Fellows will be a good investment for the school.

“The other vision is that it would also give you the opportunity to invest in each other,” he said.

Talbert Fellows are selected based on a portfolio of their best work in journalism, integrated marketing communication, video, photography, and other media skills, rather than their GPA or ACT scores. Applicants submit work in the fall and follow the UM scholarship application process.

The Talbert Fellows program offers a scholarship, access to special events, personalized attention and coaching from faculty, among other perks.

“Students have a lot of choices when it comes to finding the right university, and we think the Talbert Fellows program might be just the little extra incentive some need to choose the School of Journalism and New Media,” Wenger said in an earlier interview. “From scholarship money to unique experiential learning opportunities to networking options, the students accepted to become Talbert Fellows will find themselves positioned to become future leaders in the fields of journalism and integrated marketing communications.”

There are many high school students across the country who are proving they are skilled thinkers and innovators at a young age, Morgan said.

“Students like that need to be honored, but more than that, they need to be challenged to reach their full potential,” he said. “This program will help us better identify those students from the outset so that once they arrive on campus, we can focus our best resources on pushing them to an elite level of success.”

The Talbert Fellows program is named after Samuel S. Talbert, Ph.D. The versatile administrator and author wrote three academic books on journalism, several plays and a column published in more than 100 newspapers. He chaired the UM Department of Journalism from 1951 until his death in 1972.

Talbert Fellows selections will follow the university’s annual calendar with new students notified in April and admitted each fall semester. New, transfer and current students are also eligible to apply. Awards are renewable for up to four years.

Applicants must submit a link to their online portfolios and the information required through the University of Mississippi scholarship application portal.

To learn more, contact Morgan at

BBDO New York leaders speak at University of Mississippi about the changing world of advertising

Posted on: October 26th, 2021 by ldrucker

Fans of the hit AMC television series “Mad Men,” a show that chronicled the lives and culture of advertising executives working on New York City’s Madison Avenue in the 1960s, may be interested to learn this piece of trivia. Show creator Matthew Weiner has said the BBDO advertising agency inspired the show’s fictional company, Sterling Cooper & Partners.

Kirsten Flanik, president and CEO of BBDO New York, shared the “Mad Men” connection this week during a presentation at the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media. BBDO (short for Batten, Barton, Durstine and Osborn, a merger between two companies) is mentioned several times in “Mad Men” as an agency competitor.

Flanik and Oliva Dames, vice president and director of agency marketing for BBDO New York, spoke to an audience inside the Overby Center auditorium last week about the global presence of BBDO Worldwide. It’s one of the largest advertising agency networks in the world with more than 15,000 people in 289 agencies across 81 countries.

From left, Olivia Dames, vice president and director of agency marketing for BBDO New York, and Kirsten Flanik, president and CEO of BBDO New York, speak to an audience inside the Overby Center auditorium. Dames graduated from the University of Mississippi with a degree in business/commerce and minors in marketing and French.

From left, Olivia Dames, vice president and director of agency marketing for BBDO New York, and Kirsten Flanik, president and CEO of BBDO New York, speak to a packed crowd inside the Overby Center auditorium.

Flanik said her role is to shape the direction of the agency with a focus on people, “The Work” and innovation that drives client growth. She has 30 years of advertising experience and has spent 15 with BBDO.

During that time, she was named by Ad Age as a “Woman to Watch” and one of the “100 Most Influential Women in Advertising.” The New York Business Journal called her a “Woman of Influence” and Adweek deemed her one of the top “female disruptors” in advertising. The 1989 graduate of the University of Florida was also selected as an Alumni of Distinction. A native of Arcadia, Florida, she currently resides in Brooklyn with her husband and their two children.

Flanik worked at an ad agency in Florida before moving to Chicago to cut her teeth on some of the biggest brands in the industry, including United Airlines. Then she landed a job at BBDO New York and has remained with the company. She said she entered the business as advertising was coming out of the “Mad Men” era. For a while, there was a standard business model.

“We advertised for a very specific medium,” she said, speaking of television commercials. “That was what we did 24-7. We were scriptwriters. We were storytellers. We were out to captivate people’s attention in a very simple way. It was a time when media budgets were very large. You would run a certain spot over and over again to put into people’s heads that this is the only brand that you should be thinking about.”

Today things are different.

“I’m sure none of you even probably have a TV,” she said. “You might have one to watch big sports games or big screens to do what we call ‘appointment TV’ to watch things like the Oscars, or to watch the Golden Globes, or certain sporting events.”

But Flanik said most content today is viewed on two devices, an iPad or smartphone, which means viewers can be anywhere at any time digesting content.

“Now we can find you through data, and we know what you like, and we know what platforms you’re going to be on,” she said, “but we don’t know what time you’re going to get on it. So the way that we have to develop our communication has changed so dramatically over the past five to 10 years, that we’ve had to completely disrupt our model and turn it upside down.

“So for somebody like me that entered this business off of a very specific playbook, I’ve had to completely rethink how I lead, how I hire, how we go to market, how I communicate with my clients, how I understand their business needs.”

From left, Oliva Dames, vice president and director of agency marketing for BBDO New York, and Kristen Flanik, president and CEO of BBDO New York, speak to an audience inside the Overby Center auditorium. Dames graduated from the University of Mississippi with a degree in business/commerce and minors in marketing and French.

From left, Oliva Dames, vice president and director of agency marketing for BBDO New York, and Kristen Flanik, president and CEO of BBDO New York, speak to an audience inside the Overby Center auditorium. Dames graduated from the University of Mississippi with a degree in business/commerce and minors in marketing and French.

Flanik said she’s also had to bring in new voices, like Dames, to keep up with changing times. The 2017 UM graduate, who earned a degree in business/commerce with minors in marketing and French, has helped score wins for BBDO from some of the world’s largest brands, including Ford Motor Company, The Home Depot and Facebook.

Dames said she was hired out of college to work for BBDO, starting in accounts management as an assistant account executive working on the M&Ms account before transitioning to business development. Her latest role is a hybrid between business development and agency communications.

“It’s getting in front of the potential clients,” she said, “and it’s really talking about what we do, what we stand for, who our people are, our culture, all of those things.”

Flanik said data is the most important driver for their work.

“We can see the way you shop, behave online, the way you scroll, what you click on, and it’s creepy,” she said. “And sometimes you think your phone is listening to you. That’s because it pretty much is. That’s why you’re served the content that you’re served. And that’s our job now is to drive that type of business change for our clients. So ‘The Work, The Work, The Work’ – this is kind of our mantra.”

One of the company’s biggest challenges is understanding and adapting to social media. People are no longer looking at one screen. Companies are trying to create different ways for customers to experience a brand. BBDO leaders are now teaching people who have been writing scripts for 30 years how to understand things like TikTok and use it in brand advertising.

“We’ve been so focused on craft and so focused on superior content that we’re having to actually unlearn that behavior,” she said, “because what we’re learning is the things that actually get traction on the platforms that you’re all on – sometimes the higher the quality, the lower the interest.”

Flanik said working in advertising is about “reading the nuances and figuring out how to really build consensus across the whole team with a lot of people who aren’t always on the same page.”

Dames said she’s learned to “never let the cement harden.”

“We’re constantly evolving, constantly changing,” she said. “There’s never just one way of doing something. You have to keep the cement wet is what we say.”

An example was a pitch for The Home Depot. Company leaders didn’t want to change their advertising strategy, so BBDO kept things the same at the company’s request, but they felt that something was missing. As a team, the agency decided to do things differently, even though they were told not to, and company leaders loved it.

“The CEO said, ‘Thank you so much for your bravery and for doing what I asked you not to do,” Dames said. “…We ended up winning, which was amazing. It’s a huge piece of business for us. They put out more work than almost anyone … and we won because we didn’t let the cement harden. We didn’t stay in that box that they put us in.”

Flanik said it’s about listening to clients and understanding their needs.

“Sometimes they don’t know what they need, and you have to show them,” she said. “Most of the time, clients are scared to take risks. They have their own KPIs (key performance indicators). They have things that they need to deliver. And if they put themselves out on the limb, and it doesn’t work, it can be detrimental for their business.

“So a lot of times, we have to be the risk-takers for them. Now, we have to do it in a way that we know we’re not going to damage the business. And we have to come with ideas that we know are going to move them forward.”

Charli D'Amelio and her Dunkin' drink from the Dunkin' website.

Charli D’Amelio and her Dunkin’ drink from the Dunkin’ website.

A recent example is Dunkin’: America’s Favorite, Coffee, Expresso and Donuts collaboration with TikTok star Charli D’Amelio, a company BBDO has worked with for many years that has typically drawn older customers. When it comes to coffee, Flanik said younger consumers have opted for Starbucks or independent coffee houses. BBDO wanted to attract a younger audience, so they partnered with D’Amelio.

“She’s one of the most popular people on TikTok,” Flanik said. “She has an enormous following. One of the things that our creatives spotted is that she loves coffee. She has a special coffee, and she actually got that coffee at Dunkin’. So she was talking on TikTok about Dunkin’. This is exactly the group that we wanted to reach.

“So we reached out to Charli. We decided to propose to Dunkin’ that we wanted to use her. And we were going to name her coffee, The Charli. So we put The Charli on the menu. You have to understand — for companies to actually make a menu change .. that changes the board. That’s got to go up in every single store across the country. It’s a big deal. They decided this is something that we needed to do. They agreed. And this has been a game-changer for Dunkin’ and getting in a younger crowd.”

Flanik said The Charli drink, a Dunkin’ Cold Brew with three pumps of caramel and Sweet Cold Foam and cinnamon sugar on top, resulted in a 6 percent increase in app downloads, hundreds of thousands of poll results, and 250 plus million users on TikTok. D’Amelio also took over Dunkin’s social media channels.

Flanik said she’s also learned a few things that guide her as a leader. One is you can view a problem with negativity, or you can approach it with a positive outlook.

“The only way that you will get to the best work is if you look at what’s going on, and you all together say, ‘How are we going to solve this? How are we going to make this better?’ And you get your energy around solving that problem …  That’s what advertising is. Advertising starts with solving a business problem.”

It’s also important to show up each day with positive intent, Flanik said.

“This is probably (needed) more so than ever because we live in a world where everybody wants to find what’s wrong,” she said. “Everybody can immediately take you down in our world right now.”

Flanik also talked about current events that have impacted the world and business, such as the death of George Floyd, who was murdered by police in Minneapolis, and how the company approached the issue with positive intent by hiring a chief diversity officer and donating money to causes and organizations, such as Black Lives Matter.

Acting with positive intent has also been personally beneficial to Flanik, a Stage 3 breast cancer survivor. Her visits to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center for chemotherapy treatments were also life lessons.

“They were so incredibly positive,” she said. “And every single day, when I would walk in all the way to the security guard down on the bottom floor, to the people who would greet me to go get chemo — I actually liked to go in there because they made me feel so good about myself. So I’ve learned the power of (positive intent) throughout my career, but I’ve also learned it on a personal basis, going through a health crisis, of how powerful it can be. We live in a tough world. I think positive intent is really important.”

Flanik, who is BBDO’s first woman CEO, said her last piece of advice is don’t be afraid to use your voice.

“I always pushed myself through the door,” she said. “I always made sure I had a seat at the table. But I realized that it wasn’t fair to a lot of women during my time who didn’t necessarily have my personality traits. I look back now, and I see that I think a lot of women got left behind … Embrace who you are. Be your authentic self.”

This story was written by LaReeca Rucker.

UM’s 2021 Homecoming King and Queen have studied journalism and IMC

Posted on: October 14th, 2021 by ldrucker

Congratulations to the 2021 University of Mississippi Homecoming King and Queen, who have both taken classes in journalism and integrated marketing communications (IMC) at the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media.

Students Kenzee Blount and Bradford Stewart were voted as Ole Miss royalty.

Bradford Stewart is a Birmingham native studying IMC.

She started a fashion blog with her sisters called Poema, Spanish for poem, that was inspired by a Bible verse, and she dreams of turning the blog into a clothing store with her sisters, according to a story in The Daily Mississippian.

Homecoming King and Queen, from left, Bradford Stewart and Kenzee Blount. Photo from the Ole Miss social media account.

Homecoming King and Queen, from left, Bradford Stewart and Kenzee Blount. Photo from the Ole Miss social media account.

Stewart is involved in the Rebelettes and The Grove Retreat, a Christian-based student organization that welcomes incoming freshmen to Oxford. Her older sister founded the group. Stewart is also involved in Tri Delta sorority, serving as membership experience chair. You can read the full story at this link. 

Blount is a senior in the School of Business Administration who is earning a bachelor’s of business administration in general business. He has taken journalism classes and written for Oxford Stories.

Blount was co-director for special events for the Active Minds organization, and he served as a learning and engagement ambassador, MPower peer leader, director of Rebel Run, and as an orientation leader, according to a DM story. You can read more about the Independence, Mississippi native below.

Texas Monthly editor in chief inducted into Alumni Hall of Fame

Posted on: October 11th, 2021 by ldrucker

A University of Mississippi journalism graduate was recently inducted into the Alumni Hall of Fame. Dan Goodgame, who graduated from UM in 1975, is editor in chief of Texas Monthly, an award-winning magazine that has covered the Lone Star State for 48 years.

The Ole Miss Alumni Association recognized seven distinguished University of Mississippi alumni, including Goodgame and a former professor and campus administrator, with its highest annual awards as part of Homecoming 2021.

Alumni Hall of Fame inductees for 2021 are: Coolidge Ball (BRL 75), of Oxford; Dan Goodgame (BA 75), of San Antonio, Texas; Richard C. O’Ferrall Jr. (BBA 57), of Lookout Mountain, Tennessee; Michael H. Stewart (BA 75, MCJ 78), of Oxford; and Judy Trott (BSHPE 1961, MEd 64, EdD 72), of Oxford.

Ole Miss Alumni Association Names Distinguished Alumni for 2021

Since Goodgame took the helm of Texas Monthly in 2019, “the magazine has sharply increased its online audience and revenue; expanded its storytelling through podcasts, videos, books and live events; and optioned a dozen of its articles to Hollywood for development into movies and video series,” according to a UM news release.

Before joining Texas Monthly, Goodgame served as a vice president for Rackspace, a cloud computing company in San Antonio.

Dan Goodgame. Congratulations Dan Goodgame. University of Mississippi Distinguished Alumnus.

Dan Goodgame. Congratulations Dan Goodgame. University of Mississippi Distinguished Alumnus.

A Pulitzer Prize finalist and bestselling author, Goodgame has interviewed and profiled leaders in many fields, including six U.S. presidents, Saddam Hussein, Steve Jobs, Rupert Murdoch and Tiger Woods, the UM news release reports. Goodgame served as editor in chief of Fortune Small Business, whose subscribers were 1 million owners of entrepreneurial companies.

He earlier worked for Time magazine as White House correspondent, Washington bureau chief and assistant managing editor. He is co-author of the book “Marching in Place,” about President George H.W. Bush.

Goodgame worked for the Miami Herald as Middle East correspondent in the early 1980s, covering the Israel-Lebanon and Iran-Iraq wars. He started his career as a crime reporter at the Tampa Tribune.

“Goodgame is a native of Pascagoula, where his parents worked at Ingalls Shipbuilding,” UM reports. “After graduating from Ole Miss, he earned an M.Phil. in international relations as a Rhodes scholar at Oxford University. He played on the university golf team and rowed for his college.

“During the past 12 years, Goodgame has served on the boards of Texas Public Radio, the World Affairs Council, Medical Foundation and Sports Foundation. His wife, Marcia, a retired journalist and educator, works part-time for the San Antonio Book Festival. They have two sons, Clayton and Sam.”

Created in 1974, the Hall of Fame honors select alumni who have made an outstanding contribution to their country, state or the university through good deeds, services or contributions that have perpetuated the good name of Ole Miss.

Read more about Goodgame and the other Hall of Fame inductees at this link.

University of Mississippi Internship Experience leads Ayers to New York City

Posted on: October 6th, 2021 by ldrucker

Memphis native Molly Ayers, 21, is a senior integrated marketing communications (IMC) major with a minor in general business. She recently gave a presentation during the University of Mississippi Internship Experience. We asked her a few questions about the event and her goals.

Q. What is the UM Internship Experience for those who don’t know? What story did you share about yourself during this event?

A: The Internship Experience is a preparatory class that provides a support system and resources to help with the internship search. For the first semester, we spent the majority of our time on resume work and LinkedIn. We researched the cities we aimed to work in and began compiling a list of possible companies to work for.

When applications opened up, the IE staff helped us with cover letters, interview prep and sent opportunities our way. It was actually Dr. Kristina Phillips who sent me the application for the internship I ended up getting. Additionally, the IE program already had housing picked out in each city, so it took a ton of pressure off me while I was working on my applications. I was the only student who chose NYC as a location, so I was a bit nervous about living up there for a couple of months on my own.

Dr. Laura Antonow, Gabby Coggin, and Dr. Phillips kept in constant contact with me as I was making decisions and planning my trip. Dr. Antonow stayed up in the city for several days to help me get adjusted, which was such a lifesaver.

Molly Ayers leans agains a brick wall.

Molly Ayers

Q. What have been some of your favorite journalism and IMC classes?

A. My favorite IMC class I’ve taken is 104 with Scott Fiene and 306 with Brad Conaway. As a freshman in IMC 104,  Scott Fiene introduced the concept of IMC to me in a way that made me absolutely sure this is the major I wanted to pursue.

IMC 306 with professor Conaway was about internet marketing. We used a social media marketing simulator all semester, and I consider it to be one of the most valuable projects in my college career so far. Jour 273 Creative Visual Thinking was by far my favorite in that department. Professor Joe Abide’s class gave me a completely new set of skills including design and Photoshop. His class is definitely the reason I still pay for an Adobe subscription two years later.

Q. What are your plans or goals for the future? Dream job?

A: When I graduate, I’d love to continue my work for GAPPA (Global Alliance of Partners for Pain Advocacy). I think they have such a strong, important mission and so much room to grow as an organization. Something I learned about myself this summer is that I love talking to people with unique stories and being able to share them. That being said, I think I’d consider promotional marketing for nonprofits my dream job. My goals for the future mostly involve traveling the world (which is where a remote job would be convenient) but eventually, I know I want to move to NYC.