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AN AGGIE LINE: USU cheerleaders perform during the Aggies' final exhibition game. It's time to cheer for basketball. / Photo by Brianna Mortensen

Today's word on journalism

Friday, November 10, 2006

Q&A with Ed Bradley:

Q: What single issue should be covered more at CBS News?
A: Foreign news.

Q: Have you ever been assigned a story you objected to? How did you deal with it?
A: When I first started in New York at WCBS radio, the assignment editor automatically assigned any story that had a minority in it to me. I objected to being typecast and told him if I didn't get a variety of stories -- as other reporters did -- then I would take it up with the news director.

Q: If you were not in news, what would you be doing?
A: If I had the talent, I'd play bass guitar and sing in a kicking band.

--Ed Bradley, reporter, "60 Minutes," died yesterday of leukemia at age 65 (2006)

USU PR students get hands-on experience with 'Extreme Makeover'

By Brooke Barker

October 23, 2006 |Six students lost their social lives, personal lives and all sense of time, while working around the clock on the biggest service project to hit Cache Valley.

"I found it addictive to be here," said Jon Perry, a senior in public relations. "It would come time to leave after a full day of being here, and I'd just want to stay so I wouldn't turn my head and miss anything."

For the past month, Perry and his five classmates have been organizing Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, along with Politis Communications, a Salt Lake City PR firm.
Members of the six-person team, along with other teams from their class, got some professional experience writing press releases, coordinating media on-site, helping out on the set, organizing fund-raisers in the community, activities on campus and putting together the benefit concert and pre-show activities.

The six students are part of Troy Oldham's and Les Roka's Journalism 5320 class: PR Agency. The class is designed to give senior public relations students some hands-on experience with real clients. This semester there are 20 students enrolled in the class, who are divided into teams involving three different clients.

"The overwhelming comment I hear from my PR students is, 'What am I going to do with my PR degree?' and now they know and are excited about it," said Oldham. "One thing you don't normally get as a student is to work with different business leaders. These guys became part of the core team, and no one looked twice at them as students."

"They pulled their own weight and gained what every student needs: confidence."
Each student on the team had a different role in making the event come together. Allison Furniss was the team's leader; Jon Perry became the media relations person for the week; Cam Cope was the event coordinator for activities like the benefit concert and pre-show activities; Lindsay Thomson had a job for the week with ABC as a production assistant from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.; Trish Taggart was the team's creative director, designing banners, t-shirts and as a talent scout instrumental in bringing Isaac Hayden, Ryan Shupe and sports stars from Salt Lake; Lindy Phippen worked with web developers, writing different backgrounds for the website and the daily blog.

Oldham said they were also responsible for working with the media, looking for stories to pitch and coordinating interviews. The other two teams from the class also got involved, planning activities on campus such as the clothing drive and service projects.

Oldham believes that every student involved with the project will get his first PR job based on this experience, by explaining his role in making the event come together.

"The students were responsible for raising money, which wasn't ever part of our goal," said Oldham.

The students sold nearly $20,000 in t-shirts, raised about $14,000 at the benefit concert and had donation jars set up on campus.

"It was really stressful, and a lot of things changed throughout the week," said Oldham. "The students had to be mature enough to hand off their ideas, and let the production staff run with them they wanted."

He said most of the students were surprised to look back on the weeklong event and see some of their ideas, such as the Polynesian dance teams and community events, incorporated into the show. Curtis Gasser, a senior account executive for Politis, worked with the students throughout the week, helping with hands-on experience and real-world education.

"All of the students were eager and willing to do anything asked of them."

"They've been really excited about the event," said Gasser. "There were moments for example, when they didn't know what a media alert was, but they did their best. We were here to help facilitate learning, and I think we accomplished our purpose."

At the end of the week, the students had a few more contacts in their network, a better understanding of their major, and a lot of memories from being on-site. Oldham believes they learned a lot and will be better prepared for their first job.

"I learned that everyone is so similar in the professional world and at school," said Perry. "Everyone did their part, the creative processes went full-circle, and I felt very much a part of the process."

More information about the class or public relations major at USU can be found online at http://www.usu.edu/communic/, or by calling the journalism department at (435)797-3292.

RB
RB

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