The PR Behind Black Friday

By: Marisa Ballard

Thanksgiving is popular, but the event that comes after it is sometimes more anticipated than the actual holiday itself. Black Friday has been considered the busiest shopping day of the year for a while now, and each year businesses prep their stores and send out their advertising to prepare for the masses.

Black Friday can be very lucrative for both businesses and consumers, but a lot more goes into the shopping experience than simply marking down prices and opening their stores at midnight. People don’t realize it, but PR plays an important role in deciding whether a business will have a successful Black Friday or not.

For starters, in order to attract customers to your store the night of Thanksgiving you have to have some kind of outward presence. This is especially important with small businesses. Advertising your store sales will get the attention of some, but to convince people to come to your store at 10 p.m. or later, you need the extra appeal that PR can bring. Establishing a store as a well-respected and well-frequented place will be more than enough to bring shoppers through your doors. This PR should be done the moment the business opens, not just a month before Black Friday.

PR specialists can do this in a number of way, whether it be developing campaigns to show people what their business is like, communicating with the public to develop a positive reputation, or spreading the word so people talk about and get to know the company.

When you think of the biggest names of Black Friday, mega-stores like Best Buy, Wal-Mart and Target come to mind. Other widely known department stores like Sam’s Club don’t get as much attention, and there’s a reason for that. Best Buy and Wal-Mart are excellent at advertising great deals, but they also have a thorough and strict PR plan that they have executed throughout the years to gain this popularity. Advertising and marketing are also to thank for their continued success, but PR ensures that the companies continue to be seen in a positive light. Consumers want to shop at places they respect, and without PR specialists guiding that conversation people might be looking elsewhere to satisfy their shopping needs.

So when Black Friday does roll around and you line up outside your favorite store at 10 p.m. to take advantage of those hard-to-miss deals, realize that PR is a part of everything we engage with and that there’s a reason you’re at that exact store on that night.


Fellow TXPRSSA Members Receive Scholarships to Attend the National PRSSA Conference

For Immediate Release: November 13, 2015
Contact: Taylor Griffin

Fellow TXPRSSA Members Receive Scholarships to Attend the National PRSSA Conference

November 12, 2015—(Austin, TX) — TXPRSSA (Dr. Alan Scott Chapter) has been working tirelessly throughout the semester to have its members achieve their prospective goals. Three of its members (Taylor Griffin, Cindy Lien, and Nancy Lien) have recently been awarded the competitive Career Development Scholarship, also formerly known as the Career Development Grant. Additionally, this not only means that they will get to use the funds to attend the annual PRSSA national conference held in Atlanta, Georgia but it is also an important and exciting mark for the UT based Public Relations chapter. It’s no surprise that their hard work has paid off.

“I felt so grateful to receive the grant. To be one of the only three PR majors chosen, I was honored. National Conference can be fun and you can get a lot out of it, but it can be costly,” said Vice President of Operations Nancy Lien. “PRSSA has helped me become better at networking and more knowledgeable of the industry. I think being able to pinpoint my goals and dreams on my application and connect it to why National Conference is so relevant to me helped me stand out.”

“When I found out that I was one of the recipients for the Career Development Scholarship, I felt both honored and relieved. I knew a lot of people who applied and was every excited to be chosen as a winner. At the same time, the $500 reward was helpful in paying for my trip to the national PRSSA conference. It was a great feeling knowing that a large portion of my trip was paid for,” said Vice President of Professional Development Cindy Lien. “I definitely believe the role I have in Texas PRSSA helped me acquire this scholarship. By showing my interest in attending the national conference as an Exec Board member, I was showing my enthusiasm to represent our university and maximize our chapter’s potential.”

The grant’s judges also take into account a number of components such as academic performance and extracurricular involvement. This award is given to a communications student who shows overall exemplary quality in their application. Taylor Griffin, Nancy Lien, and Cindy Lien each shared well-rounded qualities that allowed them to obtain this prestigious grant.


TXPRSSA- As one of the largest chapters of PRSSA in the nation, the Dr. Alan Scott Chapter specializes in providing a hands-on experience to their students so they can achieve an enhanced knowledge about the public relations field. It focuses on professional development, engagement and philanthropy and is centered on the success of its members. Besides students being involved in the leading organization in public relations and communications, the organization also gives many opportunities and benefits. Throughout the semester, students can participate in exciting activities such as the engaging mentor program that offers a one-on-one personal interaction with public relations professionals in Austin and resume and career building workshops.

Press Release curated by Ivan Savinon.

SXSW Scandal: How Panel Cancelations Led to a PR Mess

By: Alexa Gonzaga

SXSW is known for bringing leaders from the technology and entertainment industries together, but recently the festival organizers came under fire for canceling two panels related to gaming.

Prior to its cancelation, one of the panels, entitled “Level Up: Overcoming Harassment in Games,” drew the ire of several individuals involved with the Gamergate movement. Gamergate supporters flooded the “Level Up” panel’s page on SXSW’s website with negative comments and even formed their own panel entitled “Save Point: A Discussion on the Gaming Community.”

For those who are unfamiliar, the Gamergate movement concerns sexism and progressivism in video game culture and is notorious for the harassment of several women in the gaming and tech industries. Those who have spoken up against the movement or have expressed opposing ideas have been subjected to vicious online attacks that have extended into real-life threats of violence.

Despite concerns raised by “Level Up” panelists about security and the possibility of a hostile environment created by Gamergate supporters, SXSW organizers approved the Gamergate-backed panel in the interest of representing all viewpoints.

However, SXSW organizers would later back up and cancel both panels, citing “threats of on-site violence.”

This immediately caused widespread backlash. Buzzfeed and Vox Media, both major participants in SXSW, threatened to pull out of all panels they were involved in if the canceled panels weren’t reinstated. Many criticized SXSW organizers for bowing to threats and essentially giving the violent opposition what they wanted. Others found it ironic that a panel about online harassment was canceled due to online harassment.

After days of dealing with the repercussions, SXSW organizers eventually decided to reinstate both canceled panels and add a daylong summit on online harassment. “By cancelling two sessions, we sent an unintended message that SXSW not only tolerates online harassment but condones it, and for that we are truly sorry,” the organizers wrote in a blog post.

Although the organizers of SXSW eventually reversed their original decision, this controversy serves as a lesson on how not to react to online harassment. As future PR professionals, it’s important to be mindful of the messages our actions send to those directly affected and to the community as a whole.


AACC Culture Shock!

AACC Culture Shock from Azizza Williams on Vimeo.

By: Azizza Williams

Hello Texas PRSSA readers!

A week ago I was pleased to attend African American Culture Committee’s (AACC) annual Culture Shock event. Culture Shock is AACC’s yearly showcase of black art and talent presented by UT students. The event took a strenuous six weeks to prepare and I was able to bask into the captivating experience along with the rest of the immense and energetic audience. The show was hosted by none other than famous Viner Jay Cole, hailing all the way from Washington D.C. There were a variety of talent-infused acts ranging from dancing to singing and more. Along with these special acts, were prize giveaways to the audience members through raffle tickets that were presented at the beginning of the show.These prizes included AACC clothing items as well as tickets to a UT football game! This was an event that you did not want to miss. Though I was unable to get the entire show, here are some clips that will hopefully make you want to add the event to your calendars for next year!


Dildos Before Guns: The University of Texas Students Protest the New Gun Law


By: Ivan Savinon

Because of a new gun law that permits the use of concealed weapons on campus, many students have planned to join together against this controversial law. This new statute also known as the “campus carry” law has just recently been passed by the Texas Legislature and was signed by Governor Greg Abbott. If you aren’t aware, this law allows anyone within the University of Texas system to carry a concealed gun to campus as long as that person is 21 years old and presents a license to do so. Despite the law recently getting passed, it has already received negative feedback due to the concerns for safety in which there have been extreme cases of such as Northern Arizona University where one student was killed and three were injured.

After the law was passed, Daniel Hamermesh, an economics professor at UT, submitted a letter of resignation because of the increase concern for safety that could occur during typical class days. Meanwhile, thousands of students joined together to protest the law by publically carrying dildos on campus, which can be seen violating university rules due to  “obscene expression.”  Many students are trying to actively spread the message about why it is wrong to pass a law that could potentially put many at risk. In fact, some students have done so through social media outlets such as twitter and Instagram by creating the #cocksnotglocks. As PR students, I think it is very imperative to understand how social media can help spread messages about current issues occurring both on campus and around the world. I also firmly believe that it is important for students to be active with social media campaigns because they ultimately influence the laws that are being passed and can have an impact on us as individuals.


Spark Magazine: More Than Just Fashion

Spark Spring

By: Komal Charania

Fashion is a topic that has truly evolved over the years. I believe it’s more than just a bunch of “snobby rich fashion socialites” meeting twice a year to influence each season’s style trends. The creativity and social message that goes into fashion designing, and the industry itself, has not been understood due to the misconceptions around the subject. Spark Magazine creates an outlet to banish these misconceptions as it sheds light on the role of fashion in everyday life.

I had a chance to interview Tiffany Chan, the Editor-in-Chief of Spark Magazine, on how Spark focuses its efforts to engage the community on the influence of fashion in society. Chan says, “Fashion is deeper than surface-level inquiries; we tackle topics such as women’s sexuality in fashion, technology’s role in the fashion industry, and race in high-fashion modeling.” With about 150 members aiming for the same goal Spark hopes to create a 200 page spread, while maintain an active blog, on just that.

Spark Magazine initially started in 2010 and was run by Ian and Autumn Ashley until they graduated from UT. After, the magazine was inactive for a year until Fall 2014 where Tiffany Chan took over and rebuilt it to what it is today: a magazine not just about fashion but about bringing together a diverse community. Chan enjoys that the organization has all “majors come together to collaborate on this creative endeavor as writers, photographers, models, hair and makeup artists, stylists, illustrators, layout designers, and as members in events team, business development, and public relations.”

Spark Magazine includes members that are dedicated and driven no matter what their experience is in the categories previously listed. Chan says that, “Spark is about more than just publishing an issue a semester; we build an on-campus community to support our members in their endeavors both in and out of Spark.” Spark creates a conversation outside the bounds of fashion by engaging with the broader community through service, also known as Spark for Humanity. These projects help the members give back to the community as they express their creativity. Spark for Humanity creates handmade cards for purchase in the effort to engage and help in causes in the local and global community. This year they have partnered up with UT Real Beauty Campaign to redefine the idea of beauty featuring Lizzie Velazquez as a key note speaker.

Some fashion magazine entail unoriginal, anxiety-ridden articles that have titles like: How to Dress for Your Dream Job. Wouldn’t it be great if all the time spent memorizing these types of articles actually landed you your dream job? Unfortunately, it’s quite a waste of time and quite frankly keeping people from seeing the true importance of fashion. Spark Magazine however, hopes to enlighten the public on the importance and influence of fashion in a social context as it engages in conversations between people with diverse passions.

The Fall/Winter Magazine will be released November 19, 2015 for information on how to order the magazine please refer to the link below.

Order form:




Instagram: @sparkmagazinetx


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