Alumni Thrive in Travel PR

Travel and tourism public relations is something taught in the Fundamentals of Public Relations course at GVSU, and it comes up in several other courses. It’s just one of many speciality areas of practice within public relations and advertising. The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) even has a Travel and Tourism Special Interest Section.

So it was interesting that two alumni who have made careers in travel and tourism popped up in recent media.

Dave Nitkiewicz (2007), the Specialty Markets Sales Manager at Experience Grand Rapids, was featured in a recent episode of the ‘PR Hangover’ podcast.

Then, Brandy Henderson (2010), was mentioned in a Grand Rapids Business Journal article about Ludington tourism. Henderson started doing PR for Ludington and is now the executive director of the Ludington Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

These are just two examples of how a degree in Advertising and PR can lead to good jobs in the travel and tourism industry.

Alumni Go From Campus to Capitol

Doane and Rozycki
Rachel Doane, Rep. Roger Victory, and Jared Rozycki in the chamber of the Michigan House of Representatives.

Rachel Doane and Jared Rozycki have gone from the GVSU campus in Allendale to the state capitol in Lansing. Both graduates of the Advertising and Public Relations program, Doane (2013) and Rozycki (2017) now work together as communication advisors in the Michigan House of Representatives.

Doane works on the Health Policy Committee and Tourism & Outdoor Recreation Committee. Rozycki covers the Military and Veterans Affairs, Oversight, and Insurance committees.

Doane says her job is to ensure the public is informed of the legislative activity that happens in the committees for which she is responsible at every state of the process–bill introduction, committee testimony, House passage, and ultimately, signage by the governor. In addition to  writing press releases and drafting speeches for legislators, she said joining committee members for visits around the state is a fantastic part of her job.

“I’ve joined the committee at Muskegon Winter Sports Complex, The Henry Ford Museum, Art Prize, and even had the opportunity to try out and electric bicycle when the committee was considering a bill that would allow the use of e-bikes on state trails.” Doane said. “I tag along with the representatives to take photos of the committee proceedings and include them in my press release about the research the committee is doing to further Michigan’s tourism industry. “

Rozycki’s work is similar for his committees and legislators. He also handles media relations, writing and pitching op-eds, working with journalists to set up TV interviews, and organizaing press conferences.

“I write for all 63 representatives of the Republican Caucus,” Rozyci said. “It definitely took a while to get a hold of all 63 of their voices in my writing – especially since some are really conservative while others are moderate.”

Both credit internships as a key to them landing their current jobs. In the summer of 2016, Rozycki was an intern in the Constituent Relations division of the Executive Office of Governor Rick Snyder during the crest of the Flint Water Crisis. In the winter of 2017, he interned at Truscott Rossman – a PR firm that specializes in grassroots issues – at their Grand Rapids branch.

“Through all of the connections I made at both internships, I was able to apply to the job where I am at today,” Rozycki said.

Doane, who had several other jobs before landing in her current position, also remembers the media relations writing class and the newsreporting class as setting her up for what she does at work today.

“Now I know that if you want to write effective press releases, you really have to know how to think like a journalist if you want the media to have any interest in your content,” Doane said.

Rozycki also expressed appreciation for media relations writing and the various types of writing he learned in the class, as well as the ability to pitch story ideas and op-eds to journalists.

“There are some days where I write 3 op-eds or 35 press releases within the work day,” he said. “CAP 321 (media relations writing) helped prepare me to write quickly but effectively. Sometimes in government PR, there isn’t 45 minutes to finish a press release or op-ed, there is only 5 minutes. Politics is very opinionated, so op-eds are more frequent in government than other avenues in PR. CAP 321 helped with how to pitch as well. Because of the pitching techniques I learned, many of the the op-eds I have written have been covered in big-time publications such as the Detroit News, MLive, Detroit FREEP, Crain’s Detroit Business as well as getting press releases in nearly every Michigan publication and some in Wisconsin and Ohio publications.”

In addition to internships and classes, Doane and Rozycki both have advice for current students interested in careers in PR and government. Rozycki stresses paying careful attention to the news. Doane, who minored in political science, credits that and some advanced knowledge of the political process with helping her to get and succeed in her job.