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.
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.
Scholarships are very helpful for students as they make their way through their higher education. Of course, everyone wants to avoid graduating with loads of debt! Students are grateful to receive assistance in any way. However, when scholarships are available for all different students, the competition can be tough. This being said, GVSU’s Public Relations students have a wonderful opportunity to apply for a scholarship that is specific to them.
The scholarship is for full time undergraduate juniors and seniors in the School of Communications with a declared major in Advertising and Public Relations. Applicants must have a Public Relations emphasis and also have an interest in community service. They must be accepted or currently enrolled at GVSU and have a GPA of at least 3.2. In the application, students are asked to describe their career goals in Public Relations as well as describe their commitment to community service. The award varies, is not renewable, and financial aid may be considered but is not required.
Students can log in and apply for the scholarship here. The deadline to apply is March 1st, 2018, so start your application as soon as possible!
Before his ten years of teaching at GVSU, Chapman was involved in numerous different activities. He spent 36 years in corporate advertising and public relations. He was heavily involved in community service, in which he served numerous positions for various organizations. After his passing in 2013, his family members, colleagues, and alumni generously contributed to this scholarship fund in his honor. Without their help, this scholarship would not be possible for our students.
We’d love to keep this scholarship available for our students in the future! If you’d like to donate to the fund, please go to the APR website. You can donate under the Give Today box. Any size donation is appreciated.
Frederick Chapman’s contribution to GVSU’s Advertising and Public Relations Department is greatly appreciated. In addition to the scholarship, the lounge area that’s outside of the APR faculty offices in Lake Superior Hall has been named “Chapman Corner” in his honor where you can find a street sign with his name.
For more information about Chapman’s life, please click here.
A recent Grand Valley alumna has helped spread the “Laker Effect” all the way to Michigan’s east side with the opening of her very own bridal boutique. Lori Conerly is a 22-year-old who graduated in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree from Grand Valley State University having majored in both Communications Srudies and Advertising and Public Relations.. She is originally from Detroit and decided to make her home city the home to her new business, LeeAnn’s Luxury Bridal Boutique.
Conerly got her experience in the bridal industry from working as an assistant manager at a bridal shop in Grand Rapids during college. She combined her experience within the industry and her knowledge of Ad and PR in order to support her vision for LeeAnn’s Luxury Bridal Boutique.
Growing up in Detroit, Conerly noticed that there were no bridal shops actually in the city, forcing brides to have to travel far distances in order to find their perfect dress. This makes the wedding process for Detroit brides inconvenient and hectic, when it should be a fun and happy time for them.
Conerly also wanted to help contribute to the rebuilding of a better Detroit, since she
knows so many people have a negative perception of the city and don’t see it for all the culture and innovation it provides. While she was growing up, Conerly got to experience all the great things the city has to offer and is now helping increase those things with the opening of her boutique.
All of these things helped spark Conerly’s idea to create a bridal shop in the heart of Michigan’s east side, so that Detroit brides can have the convenience of finding their dream dress in their hometown.
Conerly said she uses just about everything she learned from her classes to help run her business. She explained that the campaigns she created in her classes as an undergrad were especially helpful in every step of creating her business plan.
Conerly also said that she saved a lot of money because she didn’t have to hire a PR or advertising firm to help promote her business. She was able to create her own press releases, media kits and promotional material due to the skills she learned from her classes.
“I think a lot of times people undermine having an APR (Advertising and Public Relations) degree because they don’t know exactly what it is or what all it entails,” Conerly explained. “But having this degree has absolutely, without a doubt prepared me and laid the framework for me to be able to start this business. APR is all about planning, preparing, timeliness, and consciousness… everything that you really need to start and operate a business.”
Conerly said that one thing she wished she would have done if she could go back would be to start planning and preparing her business while she was still in college. She would have started saving money, stocking her inventory and started creating her business plan even before she graduated, to give herself a head start.
Conerly has helped bring the “Laker Effect” back home to Detroit with her after graduation. Her personal mission and vision, combined with the knowledge she gained from Grand Valley, helped drive her to establish her very own business and start impacting lives, one bride at a time.
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.
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: