Student organized symposium brings PR professionals to campus

OU professor Bob Pritchard speaking to students at the Aspire 2016 event.
Photo by Maggie Haliburton

OU professor Bob Pritchard speaking to students at the Aspire 2016 event. Photo by Maggie Haliburton

Aspire 2016, a communication symposium, brought public relations professionals and communication specialists to the Oklahoma Christian University campus to empower and educate future professionals.

Speakers at the symposium included Taylor Ketchum of Jones Public Relations, Bob Pritchard from the University of Oklahoma, Lee Ann DeArman of Enable Midstream, Alex Freedman from the Oklahoma City Dodgers and Susan Harkness of Oklahoma Gas & Electric (OG&E).

Ketchum, senior account executive of consumer brands and director of integrated media at Jones PR, spoke about managing communication during a crisis and the importance of being prepared for every possible situation.

“Anything and everything could go wrong, so be prepared for that,” Ketchum said. “One year out of college I was working and had to learn this the hard way. Luckily, I was able to see everything that I should have had ready. So my advice is to start out being prepared; have a plan.”

Ketchum is also in charge of Jones Public Relations’ interns. Three current Oklahoma Christian students who have interned at Jones PR are juniors Kaitlin Franklin and Aubree Hughes and senior Tanner Hawkins.

DeArman discussed the role of ethics in the media and the workplace for public relations professionals.

Pritchard, a public relations professor at OU, talked about developing student leadership. Pritchard said the first thing to learning how to make a difference in the professional world is learning how to lead in a positive manner.

“Legacy will be built and left through intent,” Pritchard said. “How you are remembered depends on those opportunities. It’s a mindset, but can be learned if you are willing to do the work. The most important thing we need to teach and encourage each others is that we can change the world.”

Freedman, who was involved in the change from the Redhawks to the Dodgers, said that the communication field played a part in the smooth transition for Oklahoma City’s minor league baseball team.

Four other executives, Skye Latimer from SkyeRockit Media, Karen Kurtz from OG&E, Casey Cornett from VI Marketing and Chelsie Flagg from Oklahoma Christian, sat on a social media panel to discuss the most recent updates and techniques in managing social media on a professional level.

In closing, Harness spoke about the process of rebranding OG&E’s image during her time as brand executive.

Senior Jonathan Johnson organized the event with the help of Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences David Lowry, Chair of the Department of Communication Larry Jurney and professor Josh Watson.

“The thing that really drives success is ambition,” Johnson said. “If you can find something you want to do, go out and do it because that’s how Aspire came about. If you have a vision, all you need are people to come together to help and support you and you can make it happen.”

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