October 6th Meeting Recap

By: Jennifer Pacheco


At tonight’s meeting, we were visited by representatives from aerospace company Lockheed Martin who talked to us about the company’s Communications Leadership Development Program. It is a two-year program that offers graduating students a chance to gain work experience in employee communications and in media relations and marketing. The deadline to apply for the program is October 15th and the application can be found at lockheedmartinjobs.com/cldp. Things to remember when submitting your application include: your cover letter is the first writing sample your potential employers see, have 2-4 people proofread your cover letter and resume, and create a writing portfolio with various voices (e.g., news article voice, Twitter voice, Facebook voice, etc.)

Our featured speaker Chris Sadeghi of KXAN was able to provide us with insight about how to best pitch stories to news reporters. He recommended pitching stories that directly affect Austin-area locals and making sure the stories have “news pegs.” Take the BBH Labs project that turned Austin’s homeless into mobile hotspots during South by Southwest for example. In 2012, attendees of the festival could locate homeless people wearing t-shirts that read, “I’m (name here), a 4G hotspot,” and get access to the Verizon MiFi 4G hotspot that the homeless individual wore on a lanyard around his neck. Using this service incurred a fee, of which 100% was given to the homeless person whose hotspot you were using. The “news pegs” in this story include the homeless, the digital divide, and SXSW. The story put a face on the homeless people of Austin and allowed us to hear their stories while also addressing a bigger problem at hand, described by Sadeghi as using actual people as “just another way to get access.”

When sending pitches through email, he advised placing the most important elements of your pitch in the subject line and at the top of your email, and making sure you send the information to the right place. KXAN has a morning segment that focuses on light news, evening segments that cover hard news, and a segment that focuses on lifestyle, providing information like tips for barbecuing. To decide which audience would be the most relevant to be exposed to your story, Sadeghi recommended asking to sit in on meetings to develop a sense of what type of news different outlets focus on covering. He also recommended providing all the information possible, such as people related to the story he can talk to and where/when/how he can talk to them. Lastly, Sadeghi reminded us to try to become/remain social media-savvy because that is the “current frontier,” and admitted that one of the best ways to reach KXAN was through the news station’s Twitter account.


What the Volkswagen scandal has taught us NOT to do

A Greenpeace activist protests in front of Volkswagen in Wolfsburg, Germany on September 25, 2015 (Fabian Bimmer / Reuters)

A Greenpeace activist protests in front of Volkswagen in Wolfsburg, Germany on September 25, 2015 (Fabian Bimmer / Reuters)

By: Marisa Ballard

With headlines buzzing over the resignation of Volkswagen chief executive Martin Winterkorn, now is the perfect time to talk about this disastrous scandal and why it’s important to us as PR students.

For those that haven’t heard, Volkswagen was recently caught in what bbc.news is calling a “diesel dupe”. The company admitted that some of their cars had devices that were programmed to emit lower levels of harmful emissions during performance tests. Outside of the tests, the cars emitted emissions up to 40 times above what is legal in the United Sates.

This is very bad for many reasons. The biggest and most damaging one being that Volkswagen lied. The company lied on their tests, it lied to their dealerships, but most importantly, it lied to their customers. When talking about huge companies such as this one, brand loyalty and reputation are the two most important contributors of success. So when you take away the consumer’s trust, your whole brand essentially falls apart.

Executives for the company have already began the grueling process of admitting their wrongdoings. Michael Horn, chief executive of the Volkswagen Group of America, offered an apology, saying that they have “totally screwed up” and would work hard to make things right with everyone. Even Winterkorn himself said, “I personally am deeply sorry that we have broken the trust of our customer.” Not surprisingly, he resigned the next day.

But even with these statements taken into consideration, the scandal will have lasting impact on the company’s image. For so long, Volkswagen has been a trusted luxury brand. However, because of these revelations, it will have to work excruciatingly hard to earn back the trust of its customers. Already, Volkswagen shares have plummeted 18 percent on Monday and 20 percent the following day. There’s no telling how far the stocks will plunge because of this, but I’ll make an educated guess that it’s going to be bad and it’s going to be quick.

So, as PR students, we have to ask ourselves, what could they do? I’m sure we can come up with a few ideas, but regardless of how good their recovery strategy is, it will take a long time for consumers to get past this. It will take even longer to earn their trust back.

Is this the end for Volkswagen? Only time will tell. What we can say for sure is that in order for Volkswagen to make a comeback, their PR team will need to do some major crisis management. But as we have seen from other high-profile scandals such as the Enron disaster —that eventually led to its bankruptcy— coming back from something as damaging as this can be hard.

Let this be a lesson to all companies and PR professionals out there, to never lie to your consumers because in the end, the truth will come out and when it does you’re most likely going to be out of a job. It is our responsibility, as future public relations practitioners, to build lasting relationships with our clients, not to deceive them.

But hey, if Volkswagen could get past the fact that Adolf Hitler created it then maybe there is hope for it after all.


9/22/15 Meeting Recap


If you are interested in becoming a full member of our organization, remember to pay your dues by October 6th (the next meeting). The total amount is $75 dollars and you can pay online via PayPal, or with cash or check at the next meeting. Checks should be made out to Texas PRSSA. For more information regarding dues, please consult http://texasprssa.com/prospective-members/.
Membership Form

Please take the time to fill out the membership forum before or after you pay dues. You can find the link to the form here: http://bit.ly/1iL6AZ9

Dates to Remember

Mentor Program Application Due: Oct. 6
Red Mango Profit Share: Oct. 7, 5-7 pm. Join us~
Modo Austin pop up event: Sept. 30, 7pm, partnering with UT students, likely on the Belo Lawn.
FleishmanHillard tour: date and time TBA,

Volunteer Opportunities

We are partnering with Connect4Literacy!

You can volunteer at any of the three Austin locations:
Day: Mondays
Time: 3:15pm – 4:00pm
Location: Virginia L. Brown Rec Center (7500 Blessing Ave. Austin, TX 78752)
Day: Wednesdays
Time: 4:00pm – 4:45pm
Location: Gus Garcia Rec Center (1201 E Rundberg Ln, Austin, TX 78753)
Day: Thursdays
Time: 4:00pm – 4:45pm
Location: Metz Rec Center (2407 Canterbury St, Austin, TX 78702)
TO REGISTER: Visit Connect4Literacy.org to create your account

Join us on Tuesday October 6th in BMC 4.204. Chris Sadeghi from KXAN will discuss PR professionals pitching stories to reporters.

Until next time!

This semester, Communication Career Services received fifty-one applications for the Career Development Grant Scholarship. Of those applications, nine students were awarded grants– three in our very own PRSSA chapter! Cindy, Nancy and Taylor will be using their funds to travel to National Conference in November. Congrats to all students awarded grants this fall!

Yi-Chin Chang, BS, Advertising, May 2016.
A $500 scholarship will support expenses related to attending the 2015 ADCOLOR Industry Awards and Conference in NYC.

Robyn Croft, BS, Communication Sciences and Disorders, May 2016.
A $500 scholarship will support expenses related to applying to graduate school.

Stephanie Garza, BS, Radio-Television-Film, December 2015.
A $500 scholarship will support expenses related to participating in the UTLA program and purchasing an IMDBPro account.

Taylor Griffin, BS, Public Relations, May 2016.
A $500 scholarship will support expenses related to attending the 2015 PRSSA National Conference in Atlanta, Georgia.

Brian K. Lee, BJ, Journalism, December 2016.
A $500 scholarship will support expenses related to purchasing a subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud and purchasing recording equipment.

Cindy Lien, BS, Public Relations, May 2017.
A $500 scholarship will support expenses related to attending the 2015 PRSSA National Conference in Atlanta, Georgia.

Nancy Lien, BS, Public Relations, May 2017.
A $500 scholarship will support expenses related to attending the 2015 PRSSA National Conference in Atlanta, Georgia.

Samuel Mannetti, BS, Radio-Television-Film, May 2016.
A $500 scholarship will support expenses related to forming a film production company.

Lauren Velez, BS, Communication Studies, December 2015.
A $500 scholarship will support expenses related to a networking and job-search trip to NYC.

9/8/15 Meeting Recap

Next Meeting
Our next meeting will be held on Tuesday September 22nd in BMC 4.204 from 6:30 to 7:30, so the same room and the same time as the first meeting. The guest speaker for the evening will be Debbie Kubena from Career Services. She will be giving advice on putting together a resume and making the most out of the two job fairs held each year for Communication students. As always, free food will be provided.

In order to gain the full benefits of being in our organization, you will need to pay dues. They are $75 for the entire year, so you will not need to pay again in the Spring. The deadline for payment is October 6th. We will have a PayPal option available for you soon, but for right now we are accepting cash or checks at the meetings. Checks should be made out to “Texas PRSSA Chapter”.

For $10, you can own your own piece of Texas PRSSA Merch. T-Shirts will be on sale during the next meeting, so bring a check or cash with you if you are interested. Checks should be made out to “Texas PRSSA Chapter”.

Mentor Program
One of the best opportunities you will get as a member of our organization is to have your very own mentor. It is pretty rare that someone will be willing to help you out once you leave the University, so applying to this program is a great chance to network and work on resumes and cover letters. Applications are due on October 6th and space is extremely limited, so it will be first come first serve. To apply, follow this link: http://goo.gl/forms/uM18ApI0Kc

We spoke briefly about the three committees you have the option to join through our organization. If you are interested in our Philanthropy committee, which specializes in social service, or our event planning committee, which helps organize the meetings, be sure to attend the next meeting for more information about signing up.

The Social Media committee is already up and running. If you are interested in writing for the PRSSA website, running social media platforms, and building a portfolio, contact Cody at church.cody@utexas.edu. There will be a small information meeting in the coming days, but we need to make sure everyone has the opportunity to sign up if they are interested.

National Conference
If you are interested in attending the PRSSA National Conference this November in Atlanta, contact Taylor at tayg23@yahoo.com. This conference is a great opportunity to network and learn more about PR careers. The deadline to register and get a hotel reservation is October 2nd. You can register here: http://prssa.prsa.org/events/Conference/Register/#.VfDLF2CFbww

Agency Tour
On September 16th at 1:00 pm, we will be touring Edelman PR. This is a great opportunity not only to see where you may be working after college, but also to network with the staff and learn more about how a PR firm operates. If you are interested in attending, just reply to this e-mail. The offices are located at 506 Congress Ave. Suite 300 Austin, Texas 78701. If you do not have transportation, let us know and we can find a way to get you there.

Text Based Reminders
If e-mailing isn’t your style, then fear not. You have the option to sign up for text based reminders for meetings, agency tours, and other important announcements and deadlines. All you have to do is text @TexasPR to 81010.
This e-mail will be posted on the website tomorrow evening. If you have friends who may be interested in PRSSA but did not attend the first meeting, feel free to forward this along.

Until next time…

2015 Senior Tribute

Name: Emma DeCaroIMG_552222

Major: Public Relations

Hometown: Austin, Texas – Lake Travis

Fun fact: My entire family is left handed!

Plans after graduation: Intern with The Richards Group in Dallas

Advice to PRSSA underclassmen: My dad always encouraged me to “invite myself to the party.” This means go ahead and arrange informational interviews. Send emails to companies of interest asking if you can volunteer intern for them. Be willing to do things you might not be interested in at first, and even for free, because those experiences will open up even better opportunities in the future. Who knows, you just might be surprised at what you enjoy!


Name: Hayley FickHayley Fick

Major: Public Relations

Hometown: Montgomery, Texas

Fun Fact: I’ve never been to a UT football game. Oops.

Plans after graduation: Working as a public affairs specialist at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Advice to underclassmen: Get an internship ASAP. It’s the only way you will find out what you like and don’t like about the industry, which will help you make decisions about what to focus your career on.


Name: Michelle Hill (former VP of public relations)IMG_7426

Major: Public Relations

Hometown: Weslaco, Texas

Fun fact: I have perfect attendance from kindergarten to 12th grade.

Plans after graduation: I will be working full-time at Cloud[8]Sixteen, Inc. in Austin and I will be traveling a lot this summer.

Advice to PRSSA underclassmen: Get involved, ask for help when you need it, and have fun! Doing your best in school is important, but you’re probably not going to remember your grades. What you will remember though is the wonderful times you had with the people you love. Hook ‘Em forever and ever!


Name: Paola McKeeimage1 (1)

Major: Public Relations

Hometown: The Woodlands, Texas/ Mexico

Fun fact: I had a pet pig in college.

Plans after graduation: working at The Honest Company (Austin office)

Advice to PRSSA underclassmen: People are very willing to help undergraduates whether it’s with internships or advice, so take advantage of that and use your resources as a student. Also, work hard and keep in touch with the people you meet along your professional career.


Name: Vi Tran (former president)vt19

Major: Public Relations

Hometown: Dallas, Texas

Fun fact: My family and I immigrated to the United States when I was 4. Three short days after graduation, I’m heading back to Vietnam to visit family and learn more about my roots – it’s been 19 years!

Plans after graduation: I’m moving to San Francisco, CA in July to start a full-time job with Accenture as a management consulting analyst.

Advice to PRSSA underclassmen: You’re not going to remember your test scores on a difficult exam several years down the line. You are, however, going to remember the relationships you built with the people you met. Whether social, academic, romantic, or professional – relationships are the most important aspect about a college experience.

Congratulations seniors! From all of us in Texas PRSSA, good luck and Hook ‘Em, Horns!



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