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Posts Tagged ‘integrated marketing communications’

Ethiopia Airlines employee shares unique story about becoming part of University of Mississippi IMC master’s program

Posted on: March 30th, 2021 by ldrucker

The School of Journalism and Media at the University of Mississippi has long had a global reach, but the story behind one integrated marketing communications graduate (IMC) student’s journey to the school is unique.

Zebiba Miftah Nassir is an advertising and sales promotion manager with Ethiopian Airlines, the largest airline in Africa. As the second child and only daughter of six, Nassir said she was raised in a humble Muslim family of community leaders and mentors.

“I grew up in a community with a lot of love and encouragement that nothing could hinder me from achieving my dreams and ambition,” she said.

She earned a Bachelor of Arts with Great Distinction in Language and Literature and a minor in history from Addis Ababa University before joining Ethiopian Airlines in 1996.

“The main reason why I joined the airline is because of the love I have for the brand and my aspiration to join a leading enterprise,” she said. “As a flagship airline, Ethiopian Airlines has the love and admiration of most of Ethiopians. So, I fell in love with the brand during my childhood.

Zebiba Nassir picture

Zebiba Nassir

“Whenever I saw how highly the public regarded the company, employees of all status, their service buses routing in the city, ads, as well as the aircrafts with the ‘three color feather,’ I would say to myself, ‘I have to join this company.’ Even after 24 years of service, my love and passion hasn’t changed.”

Nassir said Ethiopian Airlines continuously adapts to be competitive. In 2018, leaders of the airline began talking with UM School of Journalism and New Media administrators about creating an opportunity to train the airline’s marketing force with a vision to instill enhanced and cutting-edge IMC skills in key personnel. The following year, the airline established an IMC division to create synergy within the marketing departments and created a pathway for employees to earn a Master of Science in Integrated Marketing Communications at UM.

“I explored the opportunity that was announced in the company and decided to be among the first students to join the IMC program,” she said. “I met the selection criteria and succeeded with the best performance on the entrance exam.”

Associate Professor Robert Magee said Nassir has consistently been an engaged student and a sharp critical thinker.

Zebiba Miftah Nassir

Zebiba Miftah Nassir

“I can understand why the airline values her in her executive role,” he said. “I believe her strong experience in advertising and sales enables her to make the most of the graduate program in IMC.”

Nassir said the UM School of Journalism and New Media’s master’s program equips students with comprehensive knowledge of the elements of integrated marketing communications and guides them to understand what it takes to be a self-sufficient account planner. The master’s program has several courses focused on consumer research and insights, effective graphic design, storytelling, and communication strategies, among other areas of focus.

“One of the important aspects of marketing I grasped from this class that has stuck with me is that marketing experts should first study what the consumer is looking for or the problem to produce the solution (product/service),” she said. “Then, they should communicate the brand’s message to the target audience with a unified/consistent message across all touchpoints (‘outside-in approach’).”

The school’s interim dean, Professor Deb Wenger, said the partnership with Ethiopian Airlines has been extraordinarily beneficial to the IMC master’s program.

“We have been delighted with the caliber of students enrolled through this relationship,” Wenger said. “Mrs. Nassir is one good example of the airline’s standard of excellence for its personnel. The fact that we can share the expertise of our faculty with the employees of such an outstanding and innovative global enterprise expands our reach and influence, and helps us further our mission to lead and excel in the education of a diverse body of students.”

Nassir said she has tried to apply what she has learned in the IMC master’s program on the job. One example of an extensive IMC campaign is the airline’s “Go Digital Campaign” to promote a mobile app for an end-to-end digital travel option. She said her team executed a successful campaign and received a rewarding result with one million users of the mobile app.

“In general, the program has helped me a lot in gaining insight in relation to managing different campaigns,” she said. “I am already applying most of the lessons to our ongoing IMC campaigns. I will keep on implementing these new IMC concepts and techniques so that my company can continue to have result-oriented integrated marketing campaigns that have real time and tangible outcomes.”

Assistant Dean for Graduate Programs Marquita Smith commended Mrs. Nassir for managing her full-time work schedule with the demands of family and distance learning.

“Zebiba is one of our top online students, and she’s an example of how new knowledge can translate into every day success stories,” Smith said. “It is my hope that Zebiba will inspire other working professionals, especially African women, to continue their educations.”

Nassir is a student in the school’s online IMC master’s degree program. The program is currently enrolling students for the 2021-2022 academic year and will be accepting applications through July 31. Visit https://gradschool.olemiss.edu/apply-now/ for more information about the admissions process.

University of Mississippi IMC student ‘bridges the gap’ between nonprofits, need

Posted on: March 24th, 2021 by ldrucker

Senior Natalie Pruitt develops website for students to complete assignments listed by nonprofit groups

A University of Mississippi student has created a website to help “bridge the gap” between Mississippi nonprofit organizations and Ole Miss students interested in expanding their resume through community involvement.

Natalie Pruitt, a senior integrated marketing communications major and member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, developed the project as part of her IMC capstone class and Honors College thesis project after noticing the level of need among many nonprofit organizations in the community.

“After researching and interviewing multiple local nonprofit organizations and learning about their need for assistance with projects relating specially to digital marketing and graphic design, I realized there was such untapped potential for UM students to work alongside these organizations,” said Pruitt, from Knoxville, Tennessee.

With that information in mind, Pruitt set out to develop a website exclusively for students interested in digital marketing, graphic design internships and freelance assignments. With this mindset and multiple university connections, UM Creative Connect was born.

“My hope is that a mutually beneficial relationship will form between local North Mississippi nonprofit organizations and UM students,” Pruitt said. “It was a need that I saw a fix to, so I had to try to close that gap in any way I could.”

Natalie Pruitt, a Knoxville, Tennessee native, developed the project as part of her IMC capstone class and Honors College thesis project after noticing the level of need among many nonprofit organizations in the community. Photo by Michael Taplin/University Marketing and Communications

Creative Connect helps connect Ole Miss students to Mississippi nonprofit organizations looking for assistance in a variety of areas such as digital marketing, graphic design and other freelance work. Photo by Michael Taplin/University Marketing and Communications

After two weeks of the website’s launch, seven nonprofit organizations have posted eight job listings with projects ranging from digital marketing, graphic design, social media management, photography and content creation.

Carson Harris, a sophomore integrated marketing communications major from Ocean Springs, was one of the students who applied for a website/graphic design-related job listing. Harris said Creative Connect is a great resource for students to get involved in the community while at Ole Miss.

“Having a resource like this one is crucial for students to succeed,” Harris said. “I applied for both the freelance and internship positions offered by 2nd Chance Mississippi because I find it important for students to succeed outside of the classroom.”

Harris’s perspective on the nonprofit organization is the same as Pruitt’s reasoning to build a website: students need opportunities to demonstrate their skills outside the classroom.

Natalie Pruitt, a Knoxville, Tennessee native, developed the project as part of her IMC capstone class and Honors College thesis project after noticing the level of need among many nonprofit organizations in the community. Photo by Michael Taplin/University Marketing and Communications

Natalie Pruitt, a Knoxville, Tennessee native, developed the project as part of her IMC capstone class and Honors College thesis project after noticing the level of need among many nonprofit organizations in the community. Photo by Michael Taplin/University Marketing and Communications

“This gives me the opportunity to be creative and focus on building upon my skills I have learned in the classroom,” Harris added. “I hope my creativity will help 2nd Chance Mississippi give back to our community.”

Pruitt said the project would not be possible without the nonprofit organizations that expressed interest in the project from the beginning.

“I want to thank the amazing nonprofits and community partners that took time out of their incredibly busy schedules to sit down and talk with me to provide insight into the creation of the website,” Pruitt said.

“Getting to develop relationships with these kind people and see how their lives could be made easier from it made the entire project worthwhile. I really appreciate all of the support the Oxford, Lafayette nonprofit community has given me.”

Participating nonprofit organizations include Mississippi Printers Network, 2nd Chance Mississippi, Boys and Girls Clubs of North Mississippi and Yoknapatawpha Arts Council/Lafayette Oxford-University Chamber of Commerce.

To learn more about UM Creative Connect, visit https://umcreativeconnect.com/ or email creativeconnect@olemiss.edu.

This story was written by Michael Taplin for UM Communications. Click the link to view the original story.

What is IMC or Integrated Marketing Communications? Learn more about our bachelor’s and master’s programs

Posted on: March 20th, 2021 by ldrucker

What is Integrated Marketing Communications?

If you are trying to decide on an educational career path, why not choose a versatile major that is important in every field of business?

Experience the dynamic field of IMC at the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media. It’s where marketing meets creativity in a future-focused, real-world curriculum.

IMC is about crafting communication across all forms of media to shape brands and influence behaviors.

You can earn a bachelor’s degree and/or a master’s degree in IMC at UM.

Click here to learn more about the IMC bachelor’s degree program, and to apply.

Click here to learn more about the IMC master’s degree program, and to apply.

Rather than focus on one thing, why not choose a major that allows you to do everything?

 

A picture of different forms of media

A picture of different forms of media

 

Westbrook creates new scholarship program for IMC students at UM School of Journalism and New Media

Posted on: February 26th, 2021 by ldrucker

A champion for IMC

One never truly graduates from Ole Miss, as the alumni saying goes. Leslie Westbrook, class of 1968, has proven the truth of that statement, coming back to the university after several years of success as a consumer market specialist to work with students getting the B.S. in Integrated Marketing Communications. Now, Westbrook has donated $435,000 to the School of Journalism and New Media to create a scholarship program for eligible IMC students.

Leslie Westbrook
Henrik Syse

“I love IMC,” Westbrook said. “I believe in it. I think it’s an amazing curriculum and degree for students to be able to achieve.”

The scholarship is being offered to the program’s sophomores and juniors who have committed to the IMC program and plan on graduating with the degree. The application is also open to graduating seniors who have been accepted into the IMC master’s program within the School of Journalism and New Media. The first awards will be made for the 2021-2022 academic year.

“Leslie Westbrook is a champion of our program and loves helping our students,” said Assistant Dean and Associate Professor Scott Fiene. “She’s a frequent guest speaker in some of our classes, makes time to meet one-on-one with students to talk about careers and has helped them land jobs.”

Westbrook earned an education degree at the University of Mississippi with plans to teach high school and marry her college sweetheart, but she felt she was being pulled elsewhere. She left behind her education degree and moved to Cincinnati to pursue a career with industry giant Procter & Gamble.

Westbrook said this first job offered her a “Ph.D. in life,” taking her all across the country to perform consumer research with a field team. She had to learn how to be independent and explore the country, while also learning about her career and what it meant to be in the business world.

She eventually started her own business, Leslie M. Westbrook & Associates, where she counted a number of Fortune 500 companies among her clients.

“I was so blown away that students can learn what I learned in 50 years of a career. They can get a four-year degree and even a graduate degree.”
Leslie Westbrook
Leslie Westbrook
IMC PROFESSIONAL

In 2012, at the invitation of Fiene, Westbrook returned to the university to sit on a careers-focused panel for graduating IMC students. It was this panel that opened Westbrook’s eyes to the IMC degree and inspired her to work with students.

“I was so blown away that students can learn what I learned in 50 years of a career,” she said. “They can get a four-year degree and even a graduate degree.”

Throughout her career, Westbrook had several mentors instrumental in her growth within the industry. They inspired her to “pass it forward” and support IMC students.

One of these mentors is Jim Burke, CEO of Johnson & Johnson, who Westbrook says became her “hero” during the 1982 Tylenol crisis. You can read a Q & A with Westbrook about it here.

It is because of people like Burke that Westbrook is so passionate about students and their success, as well as connecting them with people within the IMC world who may help them in their endeavors.

Westbrook, who had two scholarships, one loan and worked three jobs to put herself through college, personally understands the benefits a scholarship can offer students working hard in school and in a supplemental job.

She wants to focus on underserved students who show interest and potential in a career within the IMC field.

“This scholarship is so important to our school,” Interim Dean and professor Deb Wenger said. “We have some extraordinary IMC applicants who just cannot afford our program. Leslie has now helped put the advantage of a college education in the hands of some of those students. We are so grateful for her generosity.”

“This scholarship is one more way that she will make a difference, and it reiterates her commitment to our students and her belief in the IMC profession,” said Fiene.

Westbrook hopes to use the scholarship to connect with the recipients and assist them in further endeavors.

“I want them to express why IMC is important and what they believe it will mean to their lives and their future, not just work and not just your career,” she said.

To learn more about the School of Journalism & New Media’s Bachelor of Science degree in IMC or the Leslie M. Westbrook Integrated Marketing Communications Scholarship, please visit  jnm.olemiss.edu or email jour-imc@olemiss.edu.

UM School of Journalism and New Media extends GRE waiver for graduate programs through the 2021-2022 academic year

Posted on: November 11th, 2020 by ldrucker

If you’re looking for a reason to start working on an advanced degree or change career paths, the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media has extended its GRE waiver for graduate programs through the 2021-2022 academic year to make the application process a little simpler during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Marquita Smith is the assistant dean for graduate programs. If you are interested in the M.S. in Integrated Marketing Communication program, you can learn more about the program here: https://masterimc.olemiss.edu.

Smith said the Graduate School granted the school permission in September to suspend the GRE requirement for Fall 2021 admission. It originally was set to expire July 31, 2020, but it has been extended for applicants applying for admission for the 2021-2022 academic year.

The GRE will not be used at all in any admission decision for the coming academic year. Under the change, no one will be admitted or denied admission based on a GRE score.

The School of Journalism and New Media offers the M.A. in Journalism, the residential M.S. in Integrated Marketing Communication, and the online M.S. in Integrated Marketing Communication. Smith said the temporary suspension applies to all three programs.

“We want to make sure that everyone who wishes to apply can do so and that the application process is as fair as possible,” said Professor Robert Magee, a member of the graduate admissions committee. “But setting aside the GRE means that an applicant’s transcript and letters of reference carry even greater weight as outside materials. These materials, along with the personal statement and resume, paint a picture for the admission committee of how well an applicant might handle graduate-level work.”

Interim Dean Debora Wenger said waiving the GRE requirement during this time helps simplify the application process.

“We know there are working professionals who will struggle to find the time to prepare and take the GRE,” she said, “so this gives us an opportunity to invite those people who want to jumpstart their careers to test out our graduate programs.”

This Grad School link lists several programs:

https://gradschool.olemiss.edu/admissions-during-covid19/

This M.S. in IMC website admissions tab lists application materials:

https://masterimc.olemiss.edu/admissions/

University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media IMC student Asya Branch crowned Miss USA

Posted on: November 9th, 2020 by ldrucker

A University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media student has been crowned the new Miss USA.

Booneville native Asya Danielle Branch, who has studied Integrated Marketing Communication at UM, was crowned the winner of the 2020 pageant Monday night at Elvis Presley’s Graceland during the live competition.

You can watch a video of that moment below.

The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reports that Branch is the first Mississippian to win the Miss USA title, and she was the first African American woman to win the Miss Mississippi USA title.

Branch has studied IMC with an emphasis in public relations and minor in general business at the University of Mississippi, according to her pageant bio. She said she hopes to work for a public relations firm or major corporation.

Debbie Hall, an instructional assistant professor of IMC, said she didn’t teach Branch, but Branch was gracious to be part of her Events class one semester.

“She impressed me as a kind and humble young lady…who is, of course, beautiful,” she said. “She uses her background to support young people who have parents who are incarcerated. Asya represents our school, our university and our state in a beautiful way.”

In her Miss Mississippi USA bio video, Branch talks about an issue that has become part of her pageant platform throughout the years – empowering children of incarcerated parents.

Branch is one of those children. Her father has been in prison since she was 10.

“Being a child with an incarcerated parent takes a negative toll, with the stigmas that surround it,” she said in an earlier UM story. “There’s emotional distress, financial instability and so many questions about why a parent isn’t there.”

She wants to influence people’s lives by speaking at schools, churches, civic organizations and jails.

“It’s an underdiscussed topic, and I hope to bring light to it by sharing my story so others can see that I’m doing something positive,” she said in an earlier UM interview. “It’s perfectly fine to share and embrace the circumstances, because it’s part of who we are and it’s going to shape you. By talking about it, we can take down the gate of judgment.”

You can read her Miss USA bio and watch her bio video here and below.

Having never left the state of Mississippi alone, at age 17, Branch attended Harvard University for summer school, according to her Miss Mississippi USA bio. She said the experience transformed her life and she grew.

Since then, she has accepted every challenge and opportunity. She describes herself as adventurous, compassionate, and a go-getter. “Having a strong mentality has allowed her to be a life coach and trendsetter without second guessing herself,” the bio reads.

Screenshot from the Miss USA website

Branch is not currently enrolled in the UM School of Journalism and New Media as she fulfills her duties as Miss Mississippi USA and Miss USA, but many professors remember her.

Alysia Steele, associate professor of journalism, said Branch was her photojournalism student.

“She was a thoughtful student, who asked good questions, cared about the quality of her work, participated in class discussions and was a team player,” she said. “Her winning Miss USA doesn’t surprise me one bit. She is a determined woman, who knows who she is, and she knows what she wants out of life, and I respect that. I am proud of her for many reasons. This incredible achievement is just one of them. Well earned, well deserved.”

Interim Dean Debora Wenger taught Branch broadcast reporting.

“As you might imagine, she lit up the screen when she was on camera,” Wenger said. “She was a pleasure to have
in class, and I know she will leave her mark on the world. She’s driven and dedicated to being a positive force for change.”

Here are a few more facts from her bio.

  • She is the sixth of eight siblings. “I strive every day to set an exemplary example to my brothers and sisters, whether they are younger or older,” she said. “Anyone can be a role model; age does not determine one’s ability to have positive impacts in the lives of others.”

  • She has her own cosmetics line called Branch Beauty. “What started as a makeup obsession has turned into a lucrative business that I am very proud of,” she said.

  • And . . . “I once watched an Ole Miss football game with Morgan Freeman. Hotty Toddy!”

Branch has also been involved with the UM Student Activities Association and the Student Media Center. She was a Rebel Radio DJ and co-hosted a 2018 radio show with fellow student Asia Herrod called “A Squared” that featured music, talk and motivational quotes. The two introduced themselves as “Asya with a Y” and “Asia with an I.”

Asya was named Ole Miss’s Most Beautiful in 2018, an accomplishment that she is very proud of because she had the opportunity to represent the university that she loves,” the Miss USA website reports. “Making history as the first African American Miss Mississippi USA, Asya has been advocating for at risk children and criminal justice reform for the past several years. She has worked with government officials and the President on positively changing our justice system. Asya will continue to encourage our youth and be a voice for the unheard.”

Branch enjoys staying healthy, weight training, traveling, reading and promoting her cosmetics line.

“As Miss Mississippi USA, Asya wants to teach others that they do not have to be defined by their circumstances,” the Miss USA website reports. “Her favorite quote by Randy Pausch, ‘We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand,’ motivates Asya to share her life with others while inspiring them to overcome all of life’s adversities.”

Here are a few more recent headlines and links:

People – Mississippi’s Asya Branch Wins Miss USA 2020

E! News – Miss Mississippi Asya Branch Crowned Miss USA 2020

The Daily Mississippian – Asya Branch wins Miss USA, becomes first from MS to win title

The Miss USA website

Alumni Stories: UM School of Journalism and New Media grad works in PR and Influence with Ogilvy Chicago

Posted on: November 2nd, 2020 by ldrucker

Biloxi native Victoria Berry, a University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media graduate, is proof that big things can happen if you remain open to possibilities in the world of public relations and strategic communication.

Berry, 27, now works as an account executive in PR and Influence at Ogilvy Chicago. Her responsibilities include daily account management, media relations, and influencer strategy.

Ogilvy has 132 offices in 83 countries and is described as a “doorway to a creative network, re-founded to make brands matter in a complex, noisy, hyper-connected world,” according to the company website.

Read Berry’s story and the stories of other School of Journalism and New Media alumni on our Alumni Stories page.

Victoria Berry

Victoria Berry

 

 

Column: I was anxious to leave Delaware, but Mississippi felt like the place I belonged

Posted on: June 18th, 2019 by ldrucker

As I look back on my time as a student at the University of Mississippi, I have nothing but fond memories.

From my first day freshmen year, moving to a new state, not knowing a single soul, I met a random roommate from Minnesota who was so homesick she tried to move home the entire first month of school.

I went to the dining hall at the wrong time every day and couldn’t figure out why only half the food stations weren’t open. I even missed my first college exam because it was given on Blackboard on a Friday night, and I forgot to take it.

Now these may not sound like amazing memories to you, but they are how my college experience began. As a second semester senior, I look back on all of those memories and wish I could go back to my very first day and relive everything again. I would love to have my undergraduate experience repeat over and over again.

Alli George

Farley Hall

Fast forward to senior year. I still live with my random Minnesota roommate who turned out to be one of my best friends.

I finally found something I was really passionate about, and I switched majors from public policy leadership to integrated marketing communications.

The School of Journalism and New Media has provided me with some amazing opportunities over the past few years. My public relations class assisted me in obtaining an internship. Through experiences with my classes, I have obtained two other internships during my college career. One was last summer as a marketing intern in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The other was a marketing internship with the Oxford Community Market during my sophomore year.

Besides the academic opportunities that Ole Miss has given me, it also created an environment for me to grow as a person and grow socially. When I first moved to college, I was anxious and nervous. I had never lived anywhere besides Delaware. However, I knew I needed to move somewhere new or I might never leave my hometown.

My senior year of high school, I applied to many schools in the South. I figured at no other point in my life would I live in the South, and I wanted to experience the culture. My parents took me to visit all of the schools I was accepted into. I honestly really liked most of them, but I always felt a stronger connection to Ole Miss.

Lyceum. Photo by Alli George.

From the day I took my tour, I felt at home on the Ole Miss campus. As anxious as I was to leave home, it felt like the place I belonged. I wanted to move to a place that made me feel uncomfortable, as crazy as that might sound.

I knew Mississippi, as a state, had different political viewpoints than I did and stronger religious beliefs. I wanted to put myself in a place where I didn’t necessarily agree with everything that was going on. Mississippi proved to be a very good place to do that.

I came here with a certain perception of Mississippi, and I didn’t think that would change over my four years as a student. However, now as I’m about to leave Mississippi forever, I have such a fond view of this state. Even though there may be some aspects of the state’s past and present political views that I may not agree with, Mississippi has changed my life forever.

I will always be grateful for the state of Mississippi for building a university that provided me with much more than an education. I became a writer, joined a large Greek organization, became a leader on campus and came out of my shell socially. I have made friends that will hopefully last a lifetime.

I have had many of my “lasts” in Oxford. My last senior dinner with my sorority sisters. Finishing my last classes to get my degree in integrated marketing communications.

I’m nervous and anxious all over again, except this time, it’s about going home. I found a home in Oxford these past four years, and now I have to re-establish that home back in Delaware. I don’t have a plan for what’s next. I have applied to just about every marketing job in the state of Delaware. I have also applied to graduate school to pursue my master’s degree in business administration.

Whatever the future might hold, I am so thankful and grateful for Ole Miss. This university has helped me grow in so many ways. I’m sure if I had attended another school, I could have had a similar experience. However, I would have never had my first Saturday in the Grove, all my memories on the Square with my incredible friends, and all the sunsets I watched set over Sardis Lake.

Most importantly, I would have never been a Rebel. For the rest of my life, I will be proud and honored to say I am an Ole Miss alumnus. Hotty Toddy!

This column was written by Alli George before graduation. To learn more about our journalism and IMC programs, email jour-imc@olemiss.edu.

 

Faculty Profile: Burson teaches students to find their passion

Posted on: May 25th, 2019 by ldrucker

Mark Burson began teaching at the University of Mississippi Jan. 27, 2016, but not before spending 43 years in California.

“My only regret is that it took me so long to discover Oxford, Mississippi,” he said. “I wish I had done it 30 years ago.”

Growing up, Burson had no desire to teach. He wanted to play baseball.

“I went to a private school,” he said, “and I was the first freshman to start all four years. I made all-league those four years as well. So by the time I was a senior, I thought I was really good.”

With no collegiate offers to play ball, Burson decided to walk on at the University of Southern California. At the time, USC had a freshman team and a junior varsity team that held open tryouts for walk-on athletes. He made the team.

“I spent two weeks on that team,” he said, “and I was amazed at how good everybody else was. I soon realized that I had never seen a real curveball before. I had never seen athletes who were so fast and could jump so high.”

Reality began to set in, so he talked with the coach, asking when was the last time that someone from the freshman team made it to JV or varsity? “The coach said, ‘Oh that’s easy. Fred Lynn.’”

Fred Lynn is a former center-fielder who had an impressive career in the Major Leagues. Burson said he then realized he had to do something else with his life.

While studying art history, only because he registered late for classes, Burson discovered he really enjoyed it. “It was through art history that I developed this appreciation of just looking at the world, and then being able to tell stories about what I saw,” he said. “And while I didn’t know it at the time, that was the business that I would end up in.”

Burson graduated from USC in 1977, but decided to stick around for graduate school. He earned his master’s degree in public relations in 1979.

If you’re in the public relations business, you’ve probably heard of Harold Burson, his father, who co-founded Burson-Marsteller in 1952.

“I had no intention of ever working for my father’s company, and that happened just through serendipity,” he said.

Burson joined the Santa Monica-based firm in 1985, but left in 1997 to run the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library for seven years before returning to Burson-Marsteller.

“Through accident of birth, I was born into a PR family,” Burson said. “I didn’t have a choice; it just happened. Because of that, I’ve had a unique ringside seat to the growth of this business.”

Burson said the business that has only been around for about 100 years has changed a lot. If you’re an integrated marketing communications major at the University of Mississippi’s School of Journalism and New Media, you may have an idea of this change.

“This business used to be about relationships between the agency and the client,” Burson said, “and when I first started, that’s what really appealed to me, because you could develop, not only business relationships with the client, but also real friendships.”

Burson feels the industry has moved past these relationships and is now in a more “What can you do for me today?” state of mind. He said the things he loved most about the business has been slowly vanishing and transitioning into what he calls PR or publicity stunts – doing a random act to attract the public’s attention.

“That’s not what I signed up for,” Burson said.

With the nature of the business changing, Burson said he knew he wasn’t going to be able to do the things he really liked doing, so he developed an interest in endurance competitive cycling. After competing in several signature events, Burson thought about starting a company that would help promote those events, but nothing took off.

It wasn’t until a friend invited him to guest lecture a course at USC Annenberg School of Communications, Burson thought: “Wow. This is a pretty cool gig.”

With two of his children out of the house and the third about to graduate high school, Burson began to consider teaching. When his daughter graduated high school, she decided to attend the University of Mississippi because she heard about it through Burson’s father, Harold Burson, who earned his degree from UM.

Burson moved his daughter to Oxford and said, “I just fell in love with Oxford and the university and inquired about how to get a teaching job here in the school of journalism, and what would I teach,” he said. “The subject that I knew most about was how to put together a campaign from start to finish, and then build an environment within that team that would optimize success. So that’s what I teach here and why I’m here.”

Burson doesn’t just teach a class; he makes connections with each student, and he builds relationships that last. Anessa Guess, who took a class under Burson, said he is a wonderful teacher whose aim is to positively impact student lives.

“In just a short time, he inspired a classroom full of hopefuls to go beyond the normal realm of dreaming and tear down the veil to seek limitless dreaming with a sturdy foundation to start with,” she said. “He is a teacher capable of so many things, and the most important is instilling hope, grounding, diligence, and character in the youth of tomorrow with tools learned from the past.”

Audrey Ryan, who was also enrolled in a class Burson taught, said he is her favorite instructor. “His enthusiasm for not only IMC, but teaching is inspiring,” she said. “He is interested in each individual’s path and wants to learn about every student he teaches.

“You can tell his passion is teaching just by the way he interacts with his students, and the way he can build a bond with each student, and always have a way to relate to them. He is phenomenal at what he does, and as a person.”

Burson has found his passion, and he teaches students to never give up searching for what you’re passionate about. Take chances. Live life. Do what makes you happy, no matter where it might take you.

This story was written by Brandon Hancock for OxfordStories.net. To learn more about our program, email jour-imc@olemiss.edu.

UM students sweep awards from Public Relations Association of Mississippi

Posted on: April 17th, 2019 by ldrucker

One student named Outstanding PR Student in the state

University of Mississippi public relations students swept the awards in the Public Relations Association of Mississippi student competition recently, including one student being named Outstanding PR Student in the state.

Students and recent graduates from the School of Journalism and New Media won 16 of the 19 student awards presented for public relations projects at the PRAM state conference in Vicksburg on April 12.

In addition, IMC major Davis Roberts from Grenada was named Outstanding PR Student in Mississippi. He was selected from 13 nominees from statewide colleges for the award that came with a $500 scholarship. Journalism major Hailey McKee and IMC major Hayden Benge were also recognized as nominees for the award.

For the competition for PR projects, the students entered public relations campaigns they produced in Senior Lecturer Robin Street’s advanced PR class during 2018.  Each student created a campaign to increase awareness or change opinion on a topic of their choice. Topics included prescription drug abuse, the detrimental effects of loneliness, the importance of registering to vote, equal pay for women, eating disorders in men, sex trafficking, suicide prevention, the physical and emotional health benefits of having a pet, the dangers of e-cigarette use, autism, and the dangers of bullying among teenagers.

School of Journalism and New Media Students and their instructor at the Public Relations Association of Mississippi Student Prism Awards Luncheon April 11 awaiting the results. Pictured are: counter-clockwise from far left are Kendall Patterson, Davis Roberts, Hayden Benge, Ally Langston, Anna Bess Pavlakovich, Barrett Climer, Senior Lecturer Robin Street, Melanie Wierzbicki, Hailey McKee, Holly Lasker, Madison Stewart and Chloe Parrish.

Each campaign required multiple aspects including writing news articles, shooting video and photos, planning creative events, conducting research and creating online and social media posts.

“Today’s communication specialists require skills in research and planning, as well as in all forms of communication including writing, designing, photography, video, social media and website creation,” Street said. “These students demonstrated that they excel in this diverse skill set. Their awards are a tribute to the preparation they received from all the faculty members at the School of Journalism and New Media.”

University of Mississippi public relations students and recent graduates swept the Public Relations Association of Mississippi student competition recently, winning 16 of the total 19 awards presented for PR projects. In addition, IMC major Davis Roberts was named Mississippi Outstanding PR Student. Pictured, left to right, are some of those winners: Front row: Hayden Benge, Chloe Parrish, Maggie Crouch, Senior Lecturer Robin Street, Anna Bess Pavlakovich and Aleka Battista. Second row: Samantha Metz, Calyn Hoerner, Kendall Patterson, Hailey McKee, Holly Lasker and Ally Langston. Third row: Davis Roberts and Melanie Wierzbicki. Not pictured are Barrett Climer, Caroline Hewitt and Madison Stewart. Photo credit: Stan O’Dell

Comments from the judges, who remain anonymous, on the students’ entries included “solid research and planning,” “very thorough and impressive,” “exceptional,” “very creative,” “comprehensive and well done,” “thoughtful campaign to bring awareness and assistance to a difficult topic” and “creative and thought provoking.”

Davis Roberts, an IMC major from Grenada, was selected as Outstanding PR Student by the Public Relations Association of Mississippi from nominees representing colleges around the state. Here, he is congratulated by his nominating professor, School of Journalism and New Media Senior Lecturer Robin Street.  Davis was previously named a winner of the Marcus Elvis Taylor Memorial Medal, the university’s highest academic honor. Photo credit: Stan O’Dell

Matt Martin, PRAM vice president for awards, commended the students’ entries.

“The award-winning work submitted by the students of the University of Mississippi is notable for its creativity and solid understanding and use of the public relations process,” Martin said. “While their awards will add stars to their resume, it’s their mastery of these fundamentals that will lead to successful careers as PR practitioners.”

Multiple students can win in the same category if they earn the required number of points as scored by the judges. No awards were given in the highest category called the Prism. The Excellence Award is the next highest award, followed by the Merit Award.

Winning Excellence Awards were Benge from Tulsa, Oklahoma; Calyn Hoerner, an IMC graduate from Houston; Holly Lasker, an IMC major from Seattle; and McKee, from Dyersburg, Tennessee. Street also won an Award of Excellence in the professional media writing category.

Winning Merit awards were Aleka Battista, an IMC graduate from Tupelo; Barrett Climer, an IMC graduate from Jackson; Maggie Crouch, a journalism major from Westmont, Illinois; Caroline Hewitt, a journalism graduate from Covington, Louisiana; Ally Langston, a journalism major from Dallas; Samantha Taylor Metz, a marketing and corporate relations major from Hernando; Chloe Parrish, an IMC graduate student from Germantown, Tennessee; Kendall Patterson, a journalism major from Corinth; Anna Bess Pavlakovich, a journalism major from Denver; Roberts; Madison Stewart, an IMC graduate from Dallas; and Melanie Wierzbicki, a double major in Spanish and marketing and corporate relations from Waxhaw, North Carolina.

For more information, contact Robin Street at rbstreet@olemiss.edu.