11/29 Meeting Recap: The Scoop on Entertainment PR


By: Benjamin Perez

This week, SXSW representatives Jody Arlington and Brett Cannon spoke to Texas PRSSA about SXSW and entertainment PR. Below are the main questions that were asked during the meeting and the responses to each from Jody and Brett.

About the Speakers:

  • Jody Arlington is the publicist for the SXSW Film Festival. She has been involved with entertainment PR for over 20 years. Before settling into entertainment PR, she worked for Burson-Marsteller and FleishmanHillard. She has previously worked for Sundance Film Festival and AFI Docs. She has also represented films at SXSW, Tribeca Film Festival, and Sundance Film Festival.
  • Brett Cannon is the publicist for the SXSW Conference. He was previously the publicist for the SXSW Music Festival and the SXSW Eco Festival. He has also been involved with the SXSW Film Festival in the past. He started his own entertainment PR firm in college, which he later sold to Edelman before going to work for them. After a couple of years, he left Edelman to go work at SXSW.

What is SXSW?

SXSW is dedicated to helping creative people achieve their goals. SXSW is made up of several tracks, which include brands/marketing, tech, style/fashion, filmmaking, food, journalism, sports, music, comedy, etc.


How do you handle last minute problems/unexpected changes?

Crisis communications is communications, only faster. It’s also preparing for certain situations so when these situations do arise, you already have a sense of how to deal with them. When something unexpected does happen, you have to be honest with your media and with your audiences about what is going on. Usually, when communicating with the media/audiences, it’s best to just say nothing beyond what you’re required to say. At SXSW, they’ve dealt with a lot of different scenarios and a lot of crazy stuff in the past, so they have plenty of prior experiences to learn from.

What do Jody and Brett do when SXSW isn’t going on?

Immediately after the festival, all time is spent on thank you’s and evaluating the festival and what went right and what went wrong. Also, a lot of time is spent gathering and prepping all the photos/videos from the festival and distributing them to whoever needs them. For the film team specifically, the offseason is spent visiting film festivals in order to scout films and meet with press and various film studios.

What do Jody and Brett expect from their interns? How do they expect them to grow during the SXSW process?

The expectation is for interns to come in with a baseline understanding of communications. Interns must possess a great deal of curiosity and a willingness to work hard. They must also try to understand the endgame of everything they’re asked to do. For interns, understanding why you’re doing what you’re doing is important to doing it better. The hope is for interns to be more marketable when it comes to their skill sets/tools and to understand what they’re doing and why at the end of their experience.


SXSW has volunteer opportunities available for students that could provide valuable experience and would look great on a resume. All you’d have to do is be willing to give up your Spring Break for it.  Further information can be found at https://volunteer.sxsw.com


11/15 Meeting Recap: Pitching Perfect



By: McKaylah Austin

This week Matthew Young, an Account Supervisor from Cohn & Wolfe came and spoke to Texas PRSSA about pitching (Media Pitching from Start to Finish).

Distributing your Pitch
After you have your media list and pitch drafted, you should carefully proofread and distribute your pitches by individual email, mail merge and wire services. After sending the pitch out, you should wait and check for bounce backs or OOO replies, and note these in your media list.

How to Work with Media: Initial Outreach
When approaching the media, you should get to your point ASAP and keep your email pitch short and to the point. In the email you should emphasize what is unique about your pitch and say why it’s relevant. Also, don’t forget to leave your contact information!

Phone Outreach
Young advises to call in the early morning and early afternoon. Late afternoons = deadlines and can produce a cranky reporter. Before calling, research your target. Look at what stories they have posted recently, and follow their social channels. When on the phone, know what you would like to say. You should have a “script” in front of you, and it should only take about 2-3 precise sentences. If rejected, and it will happen, don’t take criticism personally. During the tail-end of the call, anticipate questions about the pitch and attempt to build a relationship.

You’ve Secured Interest, Now What?
Capture all relevant details! Ask about deadlines, the format of the interview (phone, email, in person), and the assets needed. Before you share this information with your client, draft a summary of the interview to share with your team for review. Next, you should share the meeting invitation with a client spokesperson and a reporter. Before the meeting, develop a media brief featuring interview logistics, key messaging, anticipated questions and recent coverage. Make sure to remember to check in with the reporter a day before the interview

Staffing Interviews
If you’re doing a phone interview, make sure to dial in 5 minutes early, and introduce the client spokesperson and reporter briefly. While listening, take detailed notes, and jump in if necessary to remind the client of questions and keep the conversation on track. Afterwards, share follow-up items with reporters ASAP, and then share a summary of the interview with the client and your team.

Monitoring for Coverage
Follow up with the reporter for a publishing date, and set Google alerts to make sure you’re alert! When the article/coverage comes out share it ASAP (always make sure to read the article before sending to make sure that the client will be satisfied, and include a summary of the article in email for them). ALWAYS share the coverage on a shared drive!

And then you have your pitch!


Information On Enhancing Your Writing Skills

By: Azizza Williams

Within the public relations industry, strong writing skills are seen as one of the most favorable abilities that a public relations employee can have. Our national committee, Public Relations Students Society of America (PRSSA) will be giving members some exceptional resources on how to improve your writing skills and tips on being a better writer.

Be sure to look out for the “Perfecting Your Prose: Best Practices for Writing PR” twitter chat on November 16th to learn about different ways to adapt and polish your writing skills. They are also providing opportunities to practice your writing skills with online public relations publications such as Progressions and FORUM. For more information contact Publications Editor in Chief Krista Watson kristarwatson@gmail.com.  


11/1 Meeting Recap: Creativity in Real-World Campaigns


By: Tiffany Lin

FleishmanHillard (FH) is a global public relations and integrated marketing agency with over 80 offices in 30 countries. A few of their most notable clients include USAA, AT&T and Chevrolet.  

Now running the Austin FH office, Kristy Wilson started out from Florida State University. Her decision to study in PR was cemented when she toured the Atlanta FH office as part of her PRSSA chapter. Before she began her 19-year career with FH, Kristy interned for two semesters, worked for a smaller agency and Spring as part of their corporate communications.

This week, Kristy shared her insights of creating a campaign from start to finish, using a USAA campaign as an example. When she began writing the five stages to creating a campaign, she googled the five stages of grief. Throughout the 9-month process, there was a lot of grief bringing these ideas and solutions to life.

The Ask

Campaigns are typically initiated when a client has a need.  In the real world, needs don’t always come in a question, they look more like:

  • We have an opportunity… to work with a partner
  • We have a problem… something is wrong or broken
  • We need some ideas… we have to do something new this year

As a PR professional, the first thing you think is:

  • What are our smart objectives?
  • What does success look like?
  • Who are we trying to reach?
  • What do we want the target audience to do?
  • Why does the target audience cares?

What you think about isn’t what many other people think about. They just have a problem and want you to help them solve it. When you ask these questions, that’s how you get the ball rolling on forming an idea. In USAA’s case, they wanted more military persons to go to them for financial services.

The Idea

In the darker days, advertising agencies were at the forefront of idea generation. Nowadays, ideas can come from anyone and anywhere. Good ideas are “channel agnostic” meaning they can come from anyone and anywhere; they are able to translate to each of the channels fluidly.

When first presented with the issue, you have nothing. You have no ideas to present to the client. Each agency, including FH, has a creative process to facilitate the idea production. In the first few steps, it becomes clear that research has a clear role.

Each idea needs to have a root in research. You can’t pull credible solutions out of a hat. Through understanding trends and drawing conclusions from analyzing research, you are able to put together the best possible formula to complete your client’s objectives.

Through research, Kristy and her team were able to find out the best people to reach, young military men who leave after four years of service. Most of these people join the military are 18, fresh out of high school and then leave after four years when they are 22-years old. When they leave, they are out of housing and health benefits. Their meals are not taken care of anymore, and they are left without a source of income. USAA wanted to help these men get situated when they are deciding to leave the military, usually a year before they actually leave.

Best places for Veterans was created to address one of the men’s issue’s: finding a job. They ranked the 352 metropolitan cities throughout the U.S. with a set criterion and provided a checklist of things to prepare prior to leaving the military. USAA inserted themselves through the job market, providing the men with resources and offering financial services along the way. Now that Kristy and her team came up with a plan, they needed funding to put it to action.

The Sell

When selling an idea, you have to make sure that it sticks to the wall for an extended period of time otherwise, you don’t really have something meaningful to sell.

To sell USAA’s idea, Kristy and her team had to go through:

Corporation—> Military Affairs—> Marketing —> Legal —> Partners

They had to explain the idea and how it was going to work to the corporation and military personnel.

In order to get mobile apps and ads going, they had to speak to the marketing department.

To avoid getting sued, Kristy and her team collaborated with the legal team.

The partners gave the campaign credibility. Sometimes other brands who are important to your target market have to tell your target market that you are important too.

Once the idea sticks, the hard work starts.

The Work

The Work depends on each client, but the work done for USAA included:

  • Website development
  • Contracts
  • Media pitching
  • Press Releases
  • Advertising
  • Mobile App

The Results

Once the campaign is done, you have to measure it. Good PR always has measurements. Throughout the campaign, USAA’s website sessions increased, especially on the checklist page.

If you’re successful, then the circle of the campaign life starts all over again.


10/18 Meeting Recap: Learning the Basics of Photoshop


By: Denise Candelo

If you missed our meeting this Tuesday, have no fear! Below is a summary of some of the major skills we learned in our Photoshop workshop as well as some highlights about the Burson-Marsteller internship program.


Photoshop Workshop

Members of our PRSSA chapter gathered in one of the College of Communication’s computer labs to get a hands-on tutorial on Photoshop. The workshop was led by our creative director Mallie Rust, who is a fourth-year Advertising and English student.

She began the workshop by reassuring us all that although many people have reservations about working with the graphics editor, it really isn’t as complicated as it looks!


The main takeaway?

It is important to remember that Photoshop is a pixel-based photo editor.  This means that instead of being made up of smooth lines, everything that we see on the editor is going to be based around pixels, which is a crucial piece of information that is needed to understand the “layers” function on Photoshop.

Layers correspond to every “object” you add to the document, in turn creating its own layer. In order to edit a specific object, you have to be in the specific layer that corresponds to said object in order to modify it. Additionally, layers can be locked which can help prevent any unwanted changes.  Most importantly, you need to always be aware of what layer you’re in!


Skills Learned

The first skill we learned during the workshop was how to use the magnetic lasso tool. The magnetic lasso tool detects pixels of a certain color and distinguishes information and content you based on those pixels. This is particularly useful for when you are trying to cut someone out of a background.

The second skill we familiarized ourselves with was removing objects by using the content aware tool on Photoshop. The content aware tool will pull pixels from the surrounding background of a hole or gap in a graphic, and use the surrounding background to fill in the gap and fix it.

A more comprehensive step-by-step tutorial of both skills can be found through the following links:
Removing Objects with Content Aware Tool
The Magnetic Lasso Tool

How can you improve your skills?

You can learn more tech and photo-editing skills by visiting Lynda.com, an online learning platform that was brought to us by the people at LinkedIn. On the website you can find a multitude of video tutorials on Photoshop, so that you can improve your photo editing skills at your own pace. Best of all, it is completely free for UT students!



Finally, our meeting concluded with a visit from a representative from Burson-Marsteller, the world-renowned PR agency. The company was founded in 1953 and has a presence in over 150 countries around the world, making Burson-Marsteller one of the top PR agencies. They have a strong footprint in a wide variety of areas and work with companies such as Ford Motors, Chipotle, and Bank of America.

They offer an incredible ten-week internship program for current juniors and seniors who are interested in the PR industry. The internship program itself is robust in nature because interns get the opportunity to do entry-level PR work at a large reputable agency. They even hire interns who make a lasting impression!

For more information on the internship be sure to visit: The Harold Burson Summer Internship Program.


Information for 2017 Spring and Summer Internships


By: Jieun Lee

Internships are highly important for students, especially juniors and seniors. These positions offer students real-life work experience before getting real jobs. However, internship application deadlines are approaching quickly! For those who have no idea where to start or feel overwhelmed, we’ve put together a quick rundown of the internship application process for seven different companies:

RPA offers students the opportunity to intern through the Spark Internship Program. Applicants should submit their resumes and a Social Project, which is a 10-second Snapchat video where applicants can tell RPA about themselves in a creative way. Apply for a Spring 2017 internship by October, and for a Summer 2017 internship by February.

PMG is an advertising agency that is located in Fort Worth. To apply for an internship, submit your application on PMG’s website or email PMG recruiter Leah Gilligan (Leah@pmg.com) with your resume. You will then be contacted by  PMG for the next step of the application process, the PMG Online Assessment. There is no specific deadline posted online, but submit your application as soon as possible if you’re looking for a spring internship.

Cohn & Wolfe is one of the largest PR agencies in the nation. Its spring internship application deadline is October 30th. Email Matthew Young (matthew.young@cohnwolfe.com) with the following documents by the deadline:

  • Resume
  • Cover letter
  • One-page news release writing sample announcing your new intern position

Pierpont Communications
Pierpont is a PR agency that has 4 local offices in Texas. If you’re looking for a spring internship, send your resume as soon as possible to a recruiter based in your preferred location:

If you’re looking for a summer 2017 internship at Pierpont PR, send your updated resume to the appropriate recruiter in February.

LIVESTRONG offers unpaid internships to current students. Those interested can apply on the LIVESTRONG website. Here are the upcoming internship application deadlines:

  • Spring 2017: apply by December 12th, 2016
  • Summer 2017: apply by May 8th, 2017
  • Fall 2017: apply by August 14th, 2017

Applications for GSD&M’s 2017 spring internship program will be posted to the career page on its website within the next few weeks. If you are interested, keep checking the website! You can apply directly online for the departmental internship that you are interested in.

The Richards Group
The Richards Group is a well-known advertising agency offering internships in a variety of departments, including brand management, digital strategy, public relations, and more. Heads up: The Richards Group will be conducting informational interviews on campus on October 17th! Make sure you sign up for a spot through UT CCS CareerSource.
For more information about internships, go to each company’s website and research! Start contacting recruiters and preparing your applications. Don’t miss your chance to work with these great companies!