Jaclyn Ermoyan, a 2017 graduate of the GVSU Advertising and Public Relations Program, has earned the PRSSA National Gold Key Award. The award goes to students who excel in their academic study of public relations, have pursued ambitious professional development opportunities and are leaders in their PRSSA Chapter. It is the highest individual honor given by the national organization.
In May, Ermoyan was honored by the West Michigan Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (WMPRSA) as its Student of the Year for 2017.
While at Grand Valley, Ermoyan served as the CEO of the award-winning, student-run public relations firm GrandPR, which is a part of the GVSU chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA). In this role, she managed a team of more than 25 students and various projects for community clients. As the CEO of GrandPR, Ermoyan participated in the 2016 Public Relations Student Society of America’s National Conference as a panelist and expert in student-run firm processes, organizational structure, retention and success.
Ermoyan also went beyond the APR major to be involved in the GVSU community. She was a co-creator of Humans of Grand Valley in 2013, which shares Laker experiences and aims to encourage a strong sense of community on campus. Ermoyan was also an integral part of planning the TEDxGVSU event in February. She was the 2017 recipient of the Thomas M. Seykora Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Campus Community.
During her time at Grand Valley, Ermoyan gained professional experience working in University Communications, the Career Center and University Development, and participated in the Cook Leadership Academy. She is currently doing a post-graduate internship at Quicken Loans.
The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS)-Michigan announced the winners of the 39th Annual Emmy® Awards over the weekend. Angela Peavey, an Advertising and Public Relations adjunct instructor who teaches sections of CAP 105: Technology in Advertising and Public Relations, took home the Emmy for “Best Commercial.”
Peavey is also a 2013 graduate of the MS in Communicationsprogram in the GVSU School of Communications.
“Winning an Emmy® has been something I’ve dreamed about since I was a child,” said Peavey. “Now it came to fruition with a promo video I made for the Saugatuck Center for the Arts (SCA).”
The commercial was created to promote the theatrical programming the Art Center does year-round; including Equity theatre, sizzling concert series, educational programming, and more.
Five nominations created stiff competition for the “Best Commercial” slot and were the most nominations in a single category all night.
“I’m incredibly humbled to win against such amazing talent,” said Peavey. “Of course I ‘stalked’ the other nominations online before the awards to gain a sense of the competition and I’m still in awe that I won.”
The commercial was the brainchild of Peavey, but she thanks the Saugatuck Center for the Arts staff and Board of Directors for all their support. Other participating stakeholders in creating the award-winning piece are Kristin Armstrong, Kurt Stamm, and Jeff Zita of Z-Drones.
“This is an amazing way to kick start the Saugatuck Center for the Arts 15th Anniversary,” said Kristin Armstrong, SCA’s Executive Director. “What I really love: last year Angela made a promise to our board member Dan Fox that she would create a video that would become Emmy nominated. Well, she can check that one off her list! And so can the SCA.”
During a family trip to New York City when he was in the 3rd grade, Jacob Cochran told his family that one day, he wanted to live there.
After graduating from the GVSU Advertising and Public Relations program in 2015, Cochran started out working at a marketing agency in Grand Rapids. It didn’t take long for him to set his sights on New York.
While looking for opportunities in his dream city, Cochran came across Carrot Creative, a digital advertising agency. It seemed like a perfect fit because it was owned by VICE Media – a company he had been interested in – and it specialized in the digital space.
After a couple rounds of interviews and a presentation, Cochran was hired by Carrot Creative to work on the Chipotle account. The team created all of Chipotle’s digital and social media content. Cochran was a part of campaigns like the national launch of chorizo (a new menu item), which involved creative elements like Snapchat geofilters and lenses, as well as media buying. Cochran said that while working at Carrot was a great experience, he wanted to work on something other than fast casual dining.
“I also wanted to see what a large, more traditional New York City ad agency was like,” he said.
Grey Group is a much larger, global agency based in NYC that has been around since 1917. Grey works with some big names, such as Canon and Volvo.
“They also continuously win the award of ‘Agency of the Year,’ so for me, Grey was a place where I wanted to be,” Cochran said.
Cochran landed an account executive role with Grey on the UPMC account. Cochran said he finds the work for UPMC, a medical center and hospital group, more rewarding than what he was doing for Chipotle.
“My old account director at Carrot used to say, ‘This isn’t a matter of life and death’ when something didn’t go the way we planned, whereas working on UPMC, it kind of is,” he said.
Cochran also enjoys working at Grey because their clients trust them and give a lot of room to play when it comes to developing campaigns.
“Overall, I’m just really excited to be working on an account that really makes a difference in the world,” he said.
Cochran credits the internships he had while a student at GVSU for creating a good foundation for his career.
“I’ve had numerous agencies and coworkers comment on how diverse my background is,” he said. “I had an internship every year I was at GVSU, in politics, fashion, and branding, and I’ve had nothing but positive reactions from professionals within the industry about how interesting and unique my professional background is when it comes to advertising and PR.”
Cochran also appreciated the diversity of the faculty in GVSU’s APR program.
“I think it’s important to have a good mix of professionals who can give you a better understanding of the industry,” he said. “John Stipe was great; his teaching style looked at the industry through a more traditional lens. Professors like Adrienne Wallace have a more current view of the industry. It’s the unique mix of professors at GVSU that really help you gain a better understanding of the advertising and PR world.”
Cochran also had some advice to share with current students.
“Think big,” he advises. “I know classes can be stressful and projects are overwhelming when you have 10 at a time, but while you’re in university, use this as a time to think bigger about what impact you want to make on not only your career, but the industry as a whole. While you’re in school, use that time to get a better understanding of where you want to end up within the years following graduation.”
It worked out for Cochran.
“I wanted to work at a digital ad agency in NYC, and I made it happen,” he said.
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Grand Valley alumna Rachel Sipperley by phone to learn about her time at GVSU and her journey since graduation. Because she dual enrolled in college courses while in high school, Sipperley came to GVSU with junior standing. She graduated early and debt-free in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in Advertising and Public Relations. After graduation, she set her sights on Dallas, with its market fit for up-and-coming professionals. She made the move to Texas without the comfort of knowing anyone there.
Since moving to Texas, Sipperley has made one return trip to the GVSU campus. She revisited her college days while giving her high school senior cousin a tour of GVSU last summer.
“The campus looked completely different than when I went there,” she said.
She was also impressed to hear that last year was the first year Grand Valley had the same number of undergraduates as the University of Michigan.
When reflecting on her years as a student in the Advertising and Public Relations program, Rachel shared one of her favorite memories: her final senior project in Professor Peggy Howard’s class, where she conducted a full PR analysis for Hudsonville Ice Cream. At the end of the project, she toured their factory, sampled some ice cream, and visited the corporate offices.
Sipperley’s first couple of jobs in Texas ranged from working at a local church to being a top sales executive for a few different companies. Although she was very successful in these roles, her position as sales executive was eliminated from each of those companies. Disappointed at her loss of job security, she decided to create her own business using her knowledge and experience.
Dallas is a lively city full of exciting functions each month, and with that comes the need to get new formal attire to wear. So Sipperley came up with the idea for an app, Rent My Wardrobe, which serves as a type of online community closet.
“A lot of companies that have blown up in the last few years are centered around this idea of facilitating a peer-to-peer exchange, but not actually selling a product or service, like Uber and Airbnb,” she explains. “It’s about creating a platform for consumers to interact with each other.”
So that is exactly what her app does. Rent My Wardrobe’s goal is to target cities with a high concentration of professionals in their mid-twenties who regularly attend galas and charity events. These are women who are seeking to “rent” others’ dresses in order to save money and not have to buy a brand-new dress of their own.
Sipperley’s journey in starting her own business began with teaming up with developers to assist with the overall design and aesthetic of the app. She also hired people to handle the coding and to ensure the uploading process of the app runs smoothly.
“Even though my degree is in Advertising and Public Relations, I never had any classes or formal education on developing an app because this wasn’t around back then, Sipperley said. “Marketing and advertising has changed drastically the past eight years, especially through social media.”
The experience of launching her own business has shown her a new side of advertising through social media. She has been connecting with online influencers from all over the nation to spread the word about her app and gain followers.
The app is launching this spring.
You can read more about Rent My Wardrobe on its website, or find the app on social media:
Grand Valley State University’s National Student Advertising Competition (NSAC) team took first place in the American Advertising Federation (AAF) District 6 competition on April 21st. AAF District 6 is a “mega-district” due to the large number of collegiate teams competing from Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois who are all vying for a chance to move forward to the finals at the AAF National Convention—known as ADmerica—taking place in New Orleans in June.
The team, comprised of 19 students, crafted an advertising campaign to meet specific objectives for national client Tai Pei frozen foods. Assistant Professor Robin Spring, of the GVSU Advertising and Public Relations Program, was the team’s advisor. Students worked on the project for two semesters by conducting research, refining strategy, producing tactics, and perfecting their campaign plans book and 20-minute presentation.
The District 6 competition was broken into two tracks, with Grand Valley’s team placing first in the Blue Track, ahead of other schools, including: Michigan State University, University of Michigan, Western Michigan University, Purdue-West Lafayette, Ball State, University of Illinois and others. Grand Valley edged out Western Michigan University and Ball State University in the final round.
“The amount of talent on the team is incredible,” said Addison Wittry, one of the Account Executives of the project. “When that is paired with the hard work and dedication we had, it was no surprise that we were successful.”
“Our team’s diverse skillsets were the real game changer,” said Rachael Vruggink, the team’s second Account Executive. “We weren’t all just creatives or strategists, but a well-rounded group from different majors and backgrounds. This took our critical thinking, strategy, and creative from good to great.”
The team will compete in a semi-final round on May 4th. Of approximately 150 competing across the US, just eight move on to the national finals in June. This is the third time Grand Valley has placed first in the district in the 10 years they’ve competed in the contest. The National Student Advertising Competition was started in 1973 and is the oldest and largest student advertising competition.
Grand Valley State University NSAC 2017 team members include:
Rachael Vruggink Account Executive, Presentation Team
Addison Wittry Account Executive
James Sturtridge Creative Director, Video/Photography
Elizabeth Konen Research Director, Presentation Team
Mari Behovitz Integrated Promotions Director
Abbie Fielding Media Planning Director
Alex Rabideau Account Planning, Integrated Promotions, Presentation Team
Ari Zucker Account Planning, Media, Presentation Team
The GVSU Advertising and Public Relations program celebrated that March is Women’s History Month by hosting an event specifically for young women beginning their career in communications. On March 15, Pop Up Pedagogy addressed the “myths, mystiques, and mandatories” that come with being a woman in communications and the professional world.
CJ DeVries, Owner and Operator of GRNow and Owner of Innovative Social Exchange, and Julie Lankes, Creative Director and CEO at BOXBOOM Creative, collaborated as hosts for the evening out of a desire to help young women just starting their professional lives. The hosts expressed they were once in that position, too, and wished they had received this kind of guidance as a student.
The event addressed some of the challenges women face in the professional realm that men don’t, as well as tips for making a good impression and working effectively.
As with other Pop Up Pedagogy events, this was an interactive workshop. Seven female communications professionals (listed below) were seated among the students in attendance. DeVries and Lankes shared insights and advice from their own experience before presenting a break-out topic for conversation at the individual tables.
Some topics of discussion included:
What makes you memorable?
Practice your handshake!
Learn to accept a compliment
Advice for interview attire
“The goal I had with this event was to bring in a bunch of successful and wonderful women from many different backgrounds and jobs to meet students and share what they’ve experienced, as well as be mentors for students,” said student Kelly Darcy, who assisted Professor Frank Blossom as the project manager for the event.
What made the event so powerful was the spirit of mentorship and camaraderie built by the roundtable discussions throughout the night. It exemplified the aphorism “Empowered women empower women.”
Students who weren’t able to attend can still benefit from wisdom that was shared. A film crew was on hand to capture footage from the evening for a video, and a booklet is being created with the information discussed. Lankes suggested setting up a Facebook group where female professionals and students could continue dialogue based on the themes covered at the event. Students who would like to be part of this group can email firstname.lastname@example.org with their interest.
Check out #APRSpeaker on Twitter for more insights and quotations from this and other APR events. A Facebook Live stream of the Pop Up Pedagogy event is available on the GVSU Advertising and Public Relations Facebook page. (Link to video: Facebook LiveStream video
Thank you to these professionals who contributed to the evening’s discussions and shared their time and experience with GVSU students.
Burned out from corporate culture, Tamaryn Tobian started Spectacle Creative Media in 2011. At that time, she knew that she wanted to use her creative talents and knowledge of public relations, advertising, and marketing to serve an emerging independent film industry in Michigan. Tobian graduated college as Facebook was going to market and before Twitter hatched. After making the decision to leave her big-box corporate advertising and marketing job, she started picking up more freelance and PR clients.
Tobian wanted to work with content creators, and she knew that if she was going to work in PR, then she was going to do it on her terms. It was important to her to create a healthy work/life balance that allows her to take on projects and clients that she was truly passionate about while also creating an in which she and others can grow and thrive.
Today, Spectacle Creative Media has become a known PR and brand strategy firm in Grand Rapids. They help filmmakers, distributors, entertainment & tech companies, authors, publishers, small businesses, and nonprofits discover their spark. The team at Spectacle is made up of storytellers, dreamers, strategy makers, and action takers. They include:
Spectacle Creative Media offers a variety of services including unit publicity for films, film distribution publicity, media training workshops, traditional public relations and advertising solutions. Spectacle has worked with a range of clients including, the upcoming faith-based film, God Bless the Broken Road, Joel Potrykus’ 2014 SXSW world premiere film, BUZZARD, Chicago nonprofit WomenOnCall, CineScout, SetHero, Stage32, Joseph Scott Anthony, Ralph Lister, Sheri Beth Dusek, and more. Tobian is also helping to organize the Grand Rapids Film Society, whose mission it is to create a thriving film culture around independent, documentary and world cinema in Grand Rapids.
We asked Tobian what advice she has for students starting out in the PR field, “I think it’s important for students to be versed in many of content creation. The days of just issuing a press release are over,” she says. “A fresh face in PR should know how to write—extremely well and creatively—add copy writing and creative writing to your class load. And if you have room, photography, video editing or design class (or two). PR is ever-changing, and as visual content continues to grow in importance, it’s important to be well rounded and know how to style online content and have an eye for design. Being multi-skilled, especially in a small firm, is required. But most importantly, be willing to keep learning. As media and business models at outlets continue to shift, even seasoned pros are having to hone up on new skill sets.
We also asked Tobian what she looks for in potential employees and interns. “I look for people who aren’t afraid of jumping in—those who embrace hard work and who are excited with no two days being the same. One week our team may be on a film set, another we may be with a client at a film festival and still another we may be updating boring spreadsheets—you have to be excited about all of it,” says Tobian.