GVSU PR Students Get Cision Certified

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Jessica Oostindie shows off her Cision certificate. She was the first GVSU student to earn the distinction.

Cision, a major public relations and media relations software company, launched a new certification program for students this fall. Several GVSU public relations students have already taken the opportunity to enhance their resume’s with this distinction from what is a popular industry technology tool.

For several years, students taking the Media Relations Writing class have used Cision for class assignments and to develop a media contact list to accompany media kits they write for real-world clients. Students have access to Cision via their University Program.

“Employers and internship supervisors have told me for years that they like how our students can hit the ground running with Cision because they learned it in class,” said Dr. Tim Penning, who teaches media relations. “Now they can get an official certificate to prove they have this ability when applying for jobs.”

Jessica Oostindie, who just finished her media relations class this semester, was the first student to earn the certificate. Others to do so include Chloe Moulenbrouck and Jessica Crawford.

“I decided to complete the Cision University Program because it was a great opportunity to gain a better understanding of Cision and incorporate the certification into my resume to make myself more marketable,” Oostindie said. “Completing the Cision University Program was not as challenging as I thought it would be. CAP 321 (Media Relations Writing) helped me prepare to earn this certification with the encouragement to use the program throughout the course.”

Penning offered extra credit to students who complete the certificate this semester. In the future he and others who teach the course may incorporate it into the curriculum as an assignment.

Student Devon Yousif Named Among ‘Most Promising Multicultural Students in Advertising’

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Devon Yousif is among 50 students recognized by the American Advertising Federation.

Senior Advertising and Public Relations student Devon Yousif was named among a select group of 50 students across the country to be in the 2020 class of Most Promising Multicultural Students in advertising. The American Advertising Federation (AAF) hosted leading industry professionals in Washington, DC to select the group of students from applicants from AAF’s more than 160 student chapters.

This year’s judging panel included representatives from Adobe, Octagon, Pandora, Spotify, Target, The Richards Group, and VidMob, including two Most Promising alumni. Leading agencies and companies, including 72andSunny, Apple, FCB, Google, IPG, McCann, Omnicom Group, Publicis Groupe, Wieden+Kennedy and more consider Most Promising to be an incredibly valuable resource in recruiting entry level talent.

“This program from the American Advertising Federation (AAF) is designed to intentionally identify promising multicultural students to help “widen the pipeline” of diverse talent for the industry,” said Robin Spring, assistant professor. Spring advises the student Ad Club and coaches the National Student Advertising Competition (NSAC) team of which Yousif is a part and nominated her for the honor.

Approaching its 24th year, the Most Promising Multicultural Student program is part of the AAF’s Mosaic Center initiative to promote diversity and inclusion within the industry. Those selected will participate in a four-day industry immersion program in February that includes professional development workshops, site visits, Building Bridges to our Future awards luncheon and Recruiter’s Expo.

“I feel incredibly honored to be able to accept an award for something I’m so passionate about,” Yousif said. “I have gotten so much support from family, friends and Grand Valley faculty members throughout my college journey and I can’t wait to represent GVSU in New York!”

Yousif is the only student from Michigan to be selected this year.

Students from AAF’s college chapter network were vetted and selected through a rigorous application process that included essays, letters of recommendation, résumé/portfolio submission and specific academic requirements. With an average GPA of 3.6, this year’s class represents 29 schools and 19 states across the country, including California, Georgia, Florida, Illinois, New York, and Texas.

Alumna Kristina Green Focuses PR Career on Community

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Kristina Green speaks on behalf of LMCU.

Kristina Green sees her public relations job in terms of percentages. She rattles off the breakdown of her work for the Lake Michigan Credit Union(LMCU) without hesitation—60% volunteerism, 30% support to the credit union’s southwest and southeast regions for sponsorship and philanthropy, and 10% for various employee and community giving campaigns.

The 2012 graduate said she didn’t know exactly what she wanted to do while she was in college, but she knew Grand Valley had given her good skills. It was through several experiences that she saw the possibilities for her career path.

“In my junior year I realized that social media could be a career,” says Green, who worked for four years at the GVSU Career Center and started their social media in her junior year. She was also the Vice President of Public Relations for the GVSU Public Relations Society of America (PRSSA) chapter and an account executive for GrandPR, the student-run PR firm. “I also did social media as an intern at Quicken, and that led to a job. I found out that writing is varied and fun and energetic.”

Working at LMCU since 2017, now as Senior Community Relations Specialist, Green does

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Green gets active in a ‘Community Crew’ shirt on an LMCU project.

even more types of writing and many other duties. Her main task is to get LMCU staff involved in the communities where they work.

“Volunteering has been embedded in LMCU since 1933 when it was founded as Grand Rapids Teachers Union,” she says. “The founder really wanted to give back and our main cause today is education.”

Green found a software called “YourCause” that she uses to get volunteers to sign up, track hours, send reminders, and offer related articles. She says the tool is a one-stop shop for corporate volunteering and gives her great metrics.

“Volunteering is good for the community of course but also for LMCU,” Green explains, describing the ‘LMCU Community Crew employees wear when working in the community. “Volunteering allows staff to give back and they have a more invested approach to the organization. They come back from a volunteer activity more engaged and refreshed.”

Besides volunteering, Green has also been involved in community philanthropic and sponsorship activities and events. For example, the organization helped raise $17,000 for the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital and collected 3,500 bags of school supplies.

Green advises current students to get involved on campus, network, and use resources, starting with professors. She says she’s grateful to have learned a lot of skills in college, but it’s the people and connections that really pay off.

This job is what I feel like is what I was set to find,” she says. “At the end of the day, community relations is about supporting the community which is a passion of mine.”

Nick Convery Directs Digital for Major Brands

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Nick Convery has managed digital strategy for several major brands since graduating in 2013.

Nick Convery has overseen creative digital strategy for an impressive list of major global brands. Most recently he has led digital strategy and investment for TruGreen, Alfa Romero and Maserati. This month he will transition from his role as Director Digital for Blue449, a full-service media agency that is part of the Publicis Group, to Director Digital for Publicis Collective.

“My responsibilities will remain the same,” Convery said. “This includes leading client conversations about digital best practices including data protection and privacy, negotiating with media partners, and planning digital strategies and tactics that align with what each brand represents.”

Convery’s career since graduating in 2003 began as a broadcast TV and radio buyer, a role he was in for five years.  He next joined Starcom, GM’s media agency of record, in their digital trafficking department.  After a year in that role he moved internally to the Cadillac media planning team.  When Starcom lost the GM business, he joined the media planning team at Universal McCann to work on Temper-Pedic, Nationwide Insurance, and Aldi.  After working there for a couple of years, he joined the newly formed digital team at Carat (GM’s current media agency).  He started off as a supervisor on the Buick/GMC accounts, and was promoted to Associate Director after a year.  He joined Blue449 as a Director in Feb 2019.

Convery still values what he learned in college more than 16 years ago when much of the current digital technology and practices did not exist.

“What I learned in earning my degree is what I carry with me to this day,” he said. “I learned that advertising as a whole is an ever-changing landscape and that I need to be prepared for those changes.  It also taught me the value of working within a team when everyone has different backgrounds and different points of view and how to pull that all together to make one cohesive product.  The professors I had were amazing because they were teaching from a point of real-world experience so they were able to weave in how things really work with the curriculum.”

One of Convery’s best memories is a group project in his campaigns class. His group had the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum as a client. He and the classmates on the team and named their agency “4 Girls & a Boy” and even made up business cards. Their final project was more than 60 pages of overview, strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities as well as strategies and tactics to meet the client objectives.  He proudly showed this work on every interview he had after graduating, and has kept the bound project to this day.

Convery’s best advice to current students about to graduate is to read trade publications such as Adweek and AdAge to stay current with practice in the field of advertising.

“I cannot stress this enough, because this is the question I ask the most when I’m interviewing candidates for junior roles,” he explained.  “The ones who can speak to what they’ve read and what they believe it to mean with a thoughtful point of view are the ones that stand out to me.”