Why APR?

Why APR Blog Header

When you hit a crossroad where your passion is also your talent, it is sweet, blissful liberation. I’ve gone my entire life participating in activities that I enjoyed that were merely hobbies, nothing that I could pursue as a career and could only brag about occasionally. I skated by in high school and had yet to turn heads of professors in college. Everyone’s mile long Facebook statuses about their third marathon or their acceptance into law school swam around me. With only one semester to go, it is baffling to hear that professionals don’t think we’re prepared for the brutal real world, with all respect. These particular professionals are the ones that have been looking out for us since day one and have continued to push us; ensured us that we are less moronic than we claim; believed that hand holding in this industry would lead you down into a deep trench where digging yourself out is impossible.

They have told us straight up to lose our sensitive and “take everything personally” minds and have encouraged our new-found skill of being resourceful. I have been able to find role models, mentors, and manage good grades because everything just clicks. I CAN be successful simply because all of this makes sense to me. This is why I chose this industry.

It took me until senior year of high school to come out of my shell only to crawl back in when I joined the ocean that is Grand Valley. Professors found insult in my constant declaration of “I’m just a general com studies major.” I somehow found myself in COM 295 during my first semester of college. Half of the class announced that they were Ad/PR majors. I had no idea what that meant, but these students showed the most intelligence, will, and initiative. I thought that it was something I should be a part of.
I never would have found my knack for leadership and contribution if I didn’t change my major on a whim. The best part is that in my three years of being in this program, although hitting many bumps, my accomplishments have outweighed the negatives. Everything keeps confirming that I have been exactly where I need to be even with my continuous doubts (I just have a personal vendetta out for myself). When something seems to be too good to be true, there’s no way that it could be happening to me, right?

Who ever thought I would be excited to trudge around campus in the cold and snow just to discuss and meet with clients in my capstone class? Who ever thought that the word “capstone” wouldn’t terrify me, but feel nearly therapeutic? I have chosen an industry that has given me skills to pursue a career anywhere I want. At least that’s what it feels like. It has given me confidence to welcome any challenge. Even through the hellfire that is the final semester of senior year, and the terror of graduating and becoming a “real adult”, I find peace in knowing that the steps I have taken through college have prepared me.

I have chosen and stuck with APR for a floor length list of reasons. Without the aid and opportunities of GrandPR, PRSSA, and professors that have encouraged and shown interest, I would honestly still be the little freshman who was moved to tears during orientation with the pressure of choosing a major. Taking risks has never been my thing, but it has created a great story for my journey of passion. The idea of working for the rest of my life used to make my anxiety skyrocket, but loving what I do makes me excited for what’s next.


Lindsay PC
Lindsay is a senior at Grand Valley majoring in advertising and public relations and minoring in psychology. She currently holds the position as an associate at 834 Design & Marketing and serves as the Vice President of Grand Valley Dance Troupe.  She also is the media director of GrandPR, a student-run PR firm. Lindsay enjoys watching reruns of The Office, discovering new ways to actually enjoy a cup of coffee, and everything hockey related.

The Essentials of Business in APR

The Essentials of Business in APR

Working in PR, we aim to form favorable connections between organizations and their publics.  The formation of this relationships often results in expenditure from both parties, which is typically of great importance to organizations.  A basic understanding of the influencing factors and reporting practices of this economic process can allow us to analyze our organizations more deeply and interpret the motivation of those in management positions.  Two basic business concepts that can advance the work of those in communications are economic indicators and financial statements.

Economic indicators are figures off which organizations make financial decisions.  They reflect the health of the economy and can have a significant effect on companies.  Two common economic indicators are Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and Consumer Price Index (CPI).  The Gross Domestic Product is the sum of the value of all the goods and services produced in a country within a specific time period.  It is used to determine and rank the economic performance of a region and used as a point of comparison.  Consumer Price Index takes samples of commonly purchased consumer goods and determines their average price.  It is used to measure the change in price of these goods and also represents the condition of the country’s economy (Ragas and Culp, 2014). Business leaders use these indicators, among many others, to ensure they are making informed decisions, and practicing that habit can enhance our work too.

Financial statements, a product of accounting, record and organize the financial activities of a company or organization.  Two fundamental financial statements are income statements and balance sheets.  Simply put, income statements track the profits and losses of an organization over a period of time.  When this document is compared to past income statements, one can determine if the economic performance of an organization is improving or declining.  Balance sheets show what the company owns that is valuable (assets) and their liabilities, which is the amount they owe to others.  There is also a section for stockholder’s equity, which represents the amount that would be left over for shareholders if the organization sold its assets and paid its liabilities.  If a company is financially healthy, these factors should balance as such: Assets = Liabilities + Stockholder’s Equity (Ragas and Culp, 2014).

Karen Bloom says, “There’s been an evolution in the way communication pros are viewed.  They’re expected to be thought leaders and contribute to the process.”  Taking part in the economically-oriented discussions of an organization is certainly a way to achieve this.  The coverage of business essentials in this blog are extremely brief, but there are many resources one can use to further their knowledge.  I recommend Business Essentials for Strategic Communicators as an comprehendible and informative source.


Ragas, Matthew W., & Culp, Ron (2014).  Business Essentials for Strategic Communicators.  New York, New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Post By: Alex Goodreau

Alex Goodreau is currently a senior at Grand Valley State University double majoring in Dance and Advertising/Public Relations. He works as an account associate at Grand PR and is a member of the Grand Valley chapter of PRSSA. He also manages public relations and social media for the student-run dance organization Momentum. Alex enjoys interacting with clients and assisting them in establishing realistic strategies to enhance their organization’s public perception.



Degree enhancer – Salary booster

Degree enhancer – Salary booster

How would you like a salary of $50,000-$75,000 when you graduate? That’s the average starting salary of Grand Valley grads who complete The ERP Program. If you’re a junior or super soph in the School of Communications, enhance your communications degree and really kick-start your career and salary.

“I was surprised by the number of companies that said some of the most valuable skills for careers in technology are the ability to communicate with people inside and outside of the company, work in teams and solve problems,”  Kajal M., GVSU 2015 Grad.

The ERP Program is a School of Communications and Seidman College of Business fast track curriculum bundling communication skills and business/technology skills into one powerful program.

There will be a Career seminar/Info session on Monday, Feb. 22, in LSH 174 starting at 5PM. Learn the list of businesses looking to hire GVSU grads from this program. Please RSVP to pednekav@gvsu.edu.



Diversity in APR: Celebrating Black History Month

Diversity in APR

As many of us know February is Black History month. There are multiple ways to celebrate now that it is not just Black History; it is everyone’s history. It is a time in our countries past where people within a community came together and became equals. It goes beyond the culture, color and gender; diversity is everything that makes people different from each other.

To understand diversity within the Public Relations field, it can be helpful to experience and work within a varied area. To fully understand others is a powerful knowledge because this helps when working with clients, co-workers and other people within the community; there is a lot of diversity in those arenas alone. Diversity is important because it plays in our everyday lives and is not always an easy topic to talk about.

The JA PR Group firm believes in diversity. It is all around us in the Greater Grand Rapids area and the firm believes that the Legacy Ball showcases the community coming together to celebrate history with everyone.

The Grand Rapids Legacy Ball is recognition of National Black History Month, and all are invited to join for a unique experience that promises to leave you enlightened, enriched, and joyfully connected. The event takes place at the JW Marriott on Friday February 26, 2016. The highlights include community awards celebrating the City of Grand Rapids Diversity and Inclusion Office, along with a fundraiser for student scholarships.

This event is not only a great way to celebrate Black History Month but also to network and give back to the community. Events like this allow people from all walks of life to come together as one and unite as a city to celebrate something important to everyone. The mayor will be in attendance to take part in the festivities and enjoy the great cultural melting pot that is Grand Rapids. The Legacy Ball doesn’t stop with Grand Rapids, it also visits Kalamazoo and for the first year ever, Detroit. The Kalamazoo Ball will take place on February 20th at the Radisson Palaza Hotel and the Detroit Ball will take place on February 12th at the Roostertail. These three truly diverse cities with numerous ethnic groups are cultivating as one through one awesome event.

Please feel free to visit the pages for more information:



Post By: Sophie Klimkiewicz

Sophie Klimkiewicz is going on her second year as an Account Associate at GrandPR. She is currently a senior with an Advertising and Public Relation major and an emphasis on Advertising. Sophie has background knowledge in Public Relations from working on campus at the Career Center and Sports Marketing Department. She enjoys seeking opportunities within her major and conquers the challenges that life throws at her. Sophie values learning and challenging herself to be successful.

More Than Teaching: Dr. Penning on JPRR 2016 Editorial Board!


A lot of students and professionals outside the university might not realize that professors at Grand Valley do more than just teach. It is common for professors to conduct and publish research and take on other tasks as part of their job. Recently, Dr. Penning was nominated to be on the JPRR 2016 Editorial Board. “It was my participation as a reviewer for [The Journal of Public Relations Research] that led the editor to name me as one of the members of the editorial board” said Dr. Tim Penning.

“It really is a nice honor and a distinction of the level of my own scholarship,” stated Dr. Tim Penning. The Journal of Public Relations Research is the premier academic journal in the field of public relations. It is the official journal of the Public Relations Division of the Association for Educators in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC).

If you have either worked with Dr. Penning or had him as a professor, you can attest to and appreciate the real world experience and scholarly research he brings to his teachings. Dr. Penning stated,  “I would hope that students appreciate that some of the faculty teaching them are not only speaking from their individual experience in the field, but also a very broad view of the public relations field based on scholarly research.”

For the APR students most of the articles from the JPRR and other journals may be assigned as readings in some PR classes, such as CAP 320. Dr. Tim Penning accepted the position on JPRR 2016 Editorial Board, but it was about more than just him. Dr. Penning states “I think this is also a nice recognition for GVSU and the Ad and PR Major because my name and school affiliation will be listed in the roster of editorial board members on the journal’s masthead, which will be read by those submitting articles and the readers of the journal from all over the world.”

The next steps for Dr. Penning will be engaging in reviews of articles, on the editorial board there will be discussions about the future direction for the journal in terms of content, potential special issues, and the nature of articles. This adds to his already heavy class load to teach at Grand Valley, consulting for his own PR firm (Penning Ink), conducting his own scholarly research, and acting as an Ad/PR Major counselor. We are lucky to  have him as a part of our Advertising and Public Relations program at GVSU.

Congratulations Dr. Penning!

Here is a link to the Journal of Public Relations Research’s page:


Post by: Sophie Klimkiewicz

Sophie Klimkiewicz is going on her second year as an Account Associate at GrandPR. She is currently a senior with an Advertising and Public Relation major and an emphasis on Advertising. Sophie has background knowledge in Public Relations from working on campus at the Career Center and Sports Marketing Department. She enjoys seeking opportunities within her major and conquers the challenges that life throws at her. Sophie values learning and challenging herself to be successful.

The Importance of Cross-Cultural Communication


As Ad/PR majors, we are all (or are soon to become) well versed in the art of communication. Though, this is only true in the context of our own culture. Working in within a such a collaborative field, we will encounter many different kinds of people that come from very diverse backgrounds.

When it comes down to it, understanding the importance of cross-cultural communication is important for any organization that has a diverse workforce-which we know that any organization worth working for, does.

Cross-cultural communication involves a much deeper understanding of those who are from cultures that are different than ours. We must educate ourselves on how people from different cultures speak, communicate with one another and perceive the world around them.

 How do you go about doing so, you ask?

There are many ways you can work to become an excellent cross-cultural communicator, such as…

  • Taking a World Perspectives course as an elective. Learning a new language is a great way to learn the ins and outs of a new culture, but you don’t have learn a language to learn about culture. There are plenty of courses, taught in English that explore cultures outside of your own.
  • Joining a cultural club. You don’t have to speak (or even know anything) about the language to join a cultural club. This is a great way to expose yourself to a new culture in a very causal environment with other students, who are often in the same boat as you.
  • Studying abroad. GVSU offers a wide variety of study abroad programs, from faculty lead to partnerships. It’s as easy as picking a place, choosing a program and booking your flight. If studying abroad isn’t your thing, or outside of your budget- travel. Go somewhere that you know very little about and immerse yourself in that culture.

All of the aforementioned are also great ways to make new friends, build your resume and expand your horizons. Don’t deny yourself these great opportunities!

Alicia Saragosa is currently a senior at Grand Valley majoring in Advertising and Public Relations, emphasiszing in PR and minoring in Writing. Alicia serves as the Vice President of Public Relations for Grand Valley’s Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) chapter, an account associate at GrandPR, and as the President of Il Geranio (GVSU’s Italian Club). When she isn’t in the kitchen whipping up one of her favorite recipes, she is spending time with her family or writing about the connection between the two.

Power Up: 6 Tips to Illuminate Your Work and Life

Power Up Blog

I’ve been thinking about what propels some people directly into exciting careers, and why others may take longer to find their place.  Of course, there are many factors beyond our control, yet, there are elements we can master to help light the way.  I’d like to share a few ideas with you.

First, let me to introduce myself.  I am an Assistant Professor in Advertising/Public Relations major, teaching college level courses for over 15 years. My professional career spans 20+ years in advertising/public relations.

I am the faculty advisor to the GVSU Advertising Club and the National Student Advertising Competition (NSAC) team.  I also serve on the board of the American Advertising Federation of West Michigan, (Ad Fed) as Director of Student Initiatives.

So what is it about people who fast track their careers?  I have an educated guess based on my observations, experience and research.  I’ll share some thoughts with you:

  1. Motivation and Enthusiasm are Key. A fire in the belly, willingness to take a risk and tenacity are integral to success. I know. It’s hard.  No one likes to fail or be judged.  But if you try, fail, and pick yourself back up again, you will learn valuable lessons.  Don’t give up.  You are creative. Stop holding yourself back.  You will find creative initiative is not only exhilarating, but attractive to others.  They will notice your bold enthusiasm and want you on their team.
  1. Embrace the Unknown and Dive In. Humans don’t like uncertainty. We want to know we have the right answer. But in this field, there is no one right answer.  It’s about creative problem solving.  Be bold.  Dare to be different.  Set yourself apart. People want to see something they’ve never seen before.
  1. Make Connections and Get Inspired. Find people who inspire you.  Get out there and look them in the eye.  Strike up a conversation.  Ask questions and listen well.  Peers, professors, and professionals – everyone has something valuable to share. Join clubs, volunteer, find cool internships, attend speaking engagements, read about what and who inspires you, write about what you learn and discuss your findings with others.  Feed your soul.  Spark a fire.   
  1. Find Your Niche and Trust Your Gut. Take time to reflect.  Absorb what you are learning and think about how you can apply it. There are many aspects to the APR field. Find what excites you and focus on developing a special skill set.  It’s good to be well rounded, but even better to have something extra to offer.  Also, realize that no one has all the answers and no one is always right.  It is up to you to discern what is best for you. It’s your life. Learn to trust your intuition through deep introspection.
  1. Be Grateful.  Don’t compare yourself to others.  There will always be someone better, and many that are worse, at whatever niche you choose.  Accept that.  Then focus on your best self.  Don’t panic. Get perspective.  Look around you and count your blessings. Be thankful for all that you are and who you are becoming.  Take a deep breath, channel good energy and move forward with confidence.
  1. Be Kind.  Play well with others.  Foster a warm and safe space for others to interact with you.  Be approachable.  We are in a creative field.  Creative people need to feel safe to share ideas.  Sharing ideas with others leads to exhilarating possibilities.  This is where the magic happens. Work is no longer work; it becomes a passion.  The fire burns, motivation soars, enthusiasm takes flight. The next thing you know, you are unstoppable.  People take notice.  And you have just positioned yourself for a very exciting future in your chosen field.  Why?  Read tip #1. You’ve got this.

Post by: Robin Spring M.A., Assistant Professor

Robin DSC_1270