PR and Strategic Communication program officially launches

Bridget Janis, Staff Intern

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To unveil its new Public Relations and Strategic Communication program, the Department of Communication and Journalism hosted “PR and Strategic Communications in the Digital Age: An Afternoon of Exploration” on Wednesday, Sept. 12.  Students, faculty and staff were invited to the afternoon of speakers and panels to create exposure for the new major.

The new Public Relations (PR) program is joining the College of Arts and Sciences, within the Department of Communication and Journalism. The fall 2018 semester is the first semester PR major classes are offered.

The event began with remarks from President Ora Hirsch Pescovitz, Dean Kevin Corcoran from the College of Arts and Sciences, Chair of the Department of Communication and Journalism Jeff Youngquist, and Director of the Journalism program and Interim Director of the PR and Strategic Communication program Garry Gilbert.

“I came to hear what Oakland University has to offer, what to expect in the program,and what I can achieve through the program,” sophomore and PR major Kristin Penrose said.

Rick French, an alumnus of OU, took the stage as the event’s keynote speaker, with a presentation educating the audience about the world of PR. French serves as a chairman of French/West/Vaughan (FWV), a public relations company that, according to their website, is one of the top 20 largest independently owned PR companies in the United States.

Along with sharing his own story and the journey of his company, French shared information about the realities of PR and how to be successful in PR.

“It’s really important to hear experiences of those who are actually in the field compared to me, who is just is exploring a major,” Penrose said. “I think he clarified a lot about what it means to be a PR major.”

After the keynote speaker, a panel-discussion featuring individuals in the PR career field was available for the audience. The panel featured OU alumni Kaniqua Welch, Kelly Kozlowski and Jennifer Wilt along with Chad Cyrowski and Colette Stimmell, who answered questions ranging from internships to networking.

The panel’s main advice was to meet as many people as possible in the field and that PR is about exposure. They also gave tips on how to work your way up in the world of PR and to apply for as many internships as possible.

“They can see successes, and I think all of those panelists clearly enjoy their careers and here’s what it looks like,” said Senior Journalism Adviser Holly Shreve Gilbert. “I think when you’re a student and you wonder what kind of job you can get, here you can see.”

OU will be joining 18 other colleges in Michigan that offer a public relations major. Only 30 students were accepted into OU’s PR program to launch it the first year.

“I hope they got some questions answered about their future, specifically internships, and some jobs out there and some encouragement from people on the panel,” Gilbert said. 

“This is a competitive program, you have to apply and get accepted. That’s a really nice thing to recognize those students.”