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

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.”

Grand PR Teams Place in Digital Marketing Competition

Two GrandPR teams received top-20 recognitions in the 2019 Digital Marketing Competition (DMC).

The teams were noted on the DMC website under the headings “Team S. Dudinetz” and “Team K. Reinert”.

“Team Dudinetz” included Sarah Dudinetz, Kayla Brown, Shelby Cassel, Spencer Lucas with adjunct faculty advisor Ben Risinger of Image Office Systems
“Team Reinert” included Allyssa Murphy, Kylee Reinert, Teagan Epley, Sofia Anderson and adjunct faculty advisor Jason Brower of  LaFleur Marketing.

Professor Penning Self-Publishes Book on Media Relations Writing

Screen Shot 2019-11-11 at 1.11.19 PMProfessor Tim Penning, who teaches CAP 321: Media Relations Writing among his other courses, has self-published a book for the class.

“Media Relations Writing: A Guide for PR Pros (and those who just want publicity)” was launched last week and is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Apple Books for only $5, $10 or $15 depending on format or platform. Students in his Media Relations class this semester have been using a PDF copy for free.

“The book was written with not only students but professionals who want some guidance in the area of media relations,” Penning said.

Initial response has been good. Several professors from around the country have ordered it for their classes. Penning has also been invited to be on a panel at local workshop about media relations next spring, and the editor of PRSA “Strategies and Tactics,” a monthly trade publication, invited Penning to write an article about the book for their February special issue on writing.

Learn more about the book on Professor Penning’s Penning Ink blog and web site.

Professor Mazid Publishes Article About LGBTQ Organization Social Media

Assistant professor Imran Mazid has published an article titled “Dialogic Public Relations and Social Presence Strategies of LGBTQ+ Nonprofit Organizations. The article was published in the Kentucky Journal of Communication.

In the study, Mazid, who teaches and researches digital public relations and social media,  conducted a content analysis of the Facebook posts of 33 highly rated LGBTQ nonprofit organizations. More than 29,000 Facebook posts from a two-year period were analyzed using data analysis and visualization software.

Results showed what many other studies have shown of organizational social media use. Only about 22% of the posts exhibited strategies to conserve visitors, and 38% deployed methods to generate return visits. However, more than half used a number of identified strategies to achieve what scholars commonly call a “dialogic loop” in organizational social media and interactive communications.

For the LGBTQ organizations in particular, the affective strategies of emotional expression and organizational disclosure were more commonly used than humor or other strategies to engage. Referencing or complimenting others’ posts was a strategy used less than 20% of the time. Addressing publics by name was more commonly used as a cohesive strategy to encourage interactivity and dialog.

Mazid points out that all organizations are different and have different purposes and methods of conducting social media communication. However, it remains that the benefits of dialogic communication for public relations are well document and nevertheless many organizations do not work strategically to be dialogic. He concludes that public relations staff and organizational management alike need to agree on the purpose and intended organizational benefit of social media to achieve success.

“When both PR professionals and management personnel acknowledge dialogue as the essence of their public relations, then organizations can reap the benefits of creating collaborative and mutual spaces on social media,” Mazid writes in the article’s conclusion.


Professors Spring, Yang Publish Journal Article About Ethnic Diversity and Creativity

Assistant professors Robin Spring and Fang Yang have co-authored the article “Pro Tips for Advertising Educators:  How Ethnic Diversity Can Solve Creative Problems” published in the current issue of the Journal of Advertising Education.

“Racially insensitive advertising continues to offend large segments of consumers,” they write in their article. “Ethnic diversity in the advertising industry could be a solution.”

In their research, Spring and Yang conducted depth interviews with 17 advertising professionals representing different ethnicities, genders and professional advertising roles. Three themes regarding the benefits of diversity on advertising teams emerged: 1) innovation and creativity are enhanced, 2) a diverse team has a better understanding of human stories that make up so much advertising content, and 3) a diverse work environment is good for talent retention.

Given this, the questions in the study addressed why there is still a problem of lack of diversity and culturally insensitive ads. Participants were mixed about whether there is a “pipeline” problem in which new advertising professionals come from the same sources. But a lack of mentoring of minority employees and an unconscious bias were commonly sited as problems within the advertising industry.

As a result of the study, Spring and Yang offered suggestions to the industry professionals and to advertising educators. For professionals, the biggest suggestions were more intentionally raising minority interest in the advertising industry and for the top managers at companies and agencies to make diversity a priority.

To educators, based on the comments of respondents, Spring and Yang stress an emphasis on liberal arts education, including the social role and impact of advertising, as well as strong preparation in advertising skills and experience in teamwork and collaboration.

“Learning from mistakes to find a path forward will not only alleviate cultural insults but also celebrate the multicultural world in which we live,” Spring and Yang write in the conclusion of their article. “Advertising is a reflection of society; the reflection must be authentic.”

Professor Mazid Presents on Big Data and Politics

Imran Mazid presents on elections and social media at the GVSU Big Data Mini Symposium.

Imrad Mazid, assistant professor of Advertising and Public Relations, gave a presentation  October 31 about big data and politics at the GVSU Big Data Mini Symposium. The event was held at GVSU’s Johnson Center and was part of Big Data Month at GVSU.

After reviewing what “big data” is, its characteristics and challenges, Mazid spoke about big data in particular with regard to political elections.

“Some studies reported a positive relationships between the Internet use and political knowledge, political participation and civic engagement,” Mazid said. “However, other studies illuminated a negative impact of the Internet on political participation.”

Mazid also mentioned that in some cases, such as politics, social media is “setting the agenda” for the news media, instead of the traditional function of journalists setting the agenda for public discourse for society at large. In addition, political activism and mobilization on line, e-campaigning, and predicting policy positions are new uses of big data in the political realm.

Finally, Mazid, who is currently doing a research project on election forecasting and social media, said this use of big data is in its infancy. He said the current methods of predicting election outcomes with data rely on a computational approach or sentiment analysis of content on social media. He told the group at the symposium that both approaches have their flaws.

“First, these methods are not really predictions but rather post hoc analyses,” he explained. “Second, almost each study has developed its own tool for sentiment analysis or machine learning and its own technique on how to count mentions. The accuracy of the prediction should be evaluated against a clear and coherent indicator of success.”

Mazid hopes to present or publish his current study results in the next year. He also envisions starting a political campaign consultancy managed by students.