Public Relations Major to Speak at URI Commencement Ceremony
Let’s congratulate Colin Rumbel, the 2017 Commencement Speaker. Who is Colin and what makes him tick? As a freshman, Colin Rumbel watched the student speaker of the University of Rhode Island’s 2015 commencement ceremony take the stage and re-energize a very tired crowd. From that day forward, Colin knew he wanted to speak on that stage when he graduated in 2017. Through his four years at URI, Colin made sure to write down every great memory and saved them for his speech at commencement.
As a public relations and communication studies major he aims to remind his peers to believe in themselves and give themselves the credit they deserve because they are URI graduates. Colin spent his four years at URI setting high goals for himself and he encourages his peers to leave URI and do the same. Colin says, “Don’t let realistic expectations get in the way of your aspirations.” And Colin did just that.
Colin has some advice for incoming freshman and he said, “Keep your door open both figuratively and physically, get to know new people and experience new things.” During his time at URI Colin followed his own advice by being an orientation leader, an active member of his fraternity, and was involved in various community service projects.
So, what’s next for Colin? After Commencement, Colin will be considering his career options in the communication and public relations field.
A special congratulations to Colin!
“Let’s Talk” – URI Students Meet World War II Veterans
In collaboration with acclaimed filmmaker Tim Gray, Director of the World War II Foundation, students in the Harrington School participated in a round table discussion: “Let’s Talk: Millennials Meets World War II Veterans” on November 8, 2017. Five World War II veterans shared their own stories of love and loss with the hopes of preserving their memories through the younger generation. The five veterans who visited URI included former URI Professor Dr. George Fitzelle; Joseph Aquilante of North Providence; Leo Heroux of Central Falls; Armando Napoli of Middletown and Richard Fazzio of Woonsocket. In addition, Glenn Dusablon from the World War II Museum in Woonsocket brought an array of WWII memorabilia which only illuminated the complexities of the War.
This event was the culmination of a semester-long project facilitated by students enrolled in PRS 340: PR Strategies. With Tim Gray guiding the students, they facilitated an awareness campaign, the goal of which was to increase awareness among Millennials of the complexities of World War II from the soldiers’ perspective. One tactic of the awareness campaign was the promotion of Tim Gray’s most recent documentary – Journey Home to the USS Arizona – which premiered in Newport on November 4. A total of 60 students from URI attended this moving documentary which eloquently told the story of one soldier.
One of those students who attended the premiere and participated in the round table discussion was junior Public Relations and Communications major, Alex Jarmatz. Alex noted how we do not realize how much these veterans have done for us. According to her the most significant takeaway from the event was, “We have to preserve their memory and not only listen but document as many of their stories as possible because we unfortunately lose more and more veterans every single day.” That’s exactly what the World War II Foundation is working towards since we lose more WWII veterans every day.
This semester-long experience reminded the students to remember the sacrifices made by men and women during WWII and the many that followed afterwards. The emotionally-charged event left all attendees with lessons the veterans hoped they could learn from. The quote by scientist Carl Sagan fits perfectly with what was achieved through this event, “You have to know the past to understand the present.”
So, here is my story….by Caitlyn Mendonca
I entered URI undeclared with no idea what I wanted to major in as I looked ahead to begin my career. Plus, the seemingly endless amount of options was very stressful. I first narrowed down a general idea of where I would like to focus my studies, and I realized a business setting was for me. Obviously. I looked at majors in the business school and the only one that really appealed to me was marketing. However, I soon discovered the courses within the Marketing Major did not appeal to me.
It wasn’t until someone suggested public relations to me as an alternative major that I realized you do not need a business degree to work in the business field. With that said, I wasn’t entirely sure what public relations was, so I googled it. I discovered a public relations practitioner can work for both a company and the public. My online research revealed how varied jobs in PR can be. You can work for very small companies or very large companies with a PR degree.
Classes like PRS 100 and PRS 340 showed me the necessary skills for a successful PR practitioner. Written and oral communication skills were the most important. In both classes, I had an opportunity to gain practical writing experience and enhance my presentation skills. I found the subject matter to be interesting, and that made it enjoyable to write. Both classes allowed for personal creativity; I created my own PR campaign for a product.
I have learned through my classes and numerous guest speakers how truly capable I am of achieving success. URI alumni who have returned to URI share their words of wisdom with students. Specifically, I enjoyed the meeting recent grads who participated in “One Year Later”. Held in the Spring, the guest speakers were alums who graduated just one year earlier. The grads are all employed, and they shared their experiences as new employees in the world of work. What I have learned the most from the guest speakers and my classes is to always keep an open mind. Opportunities exist everywhere in the realm of public relations.
The best decision I have ever made was choosing to go to URI, and the second-best decision I made after that was choosing to major in public relations. Through this major, I have found an exciting path for my future. I could not be more excited. The endless options no longer seem stressful because I know what I have learned here at URI has prepared me for my future career. The PR Program has provided me with the skills and resources needed to be successful in the professional world and for that I am forever grateful.
How I turned my part-time job into an opportunity for PR experience.
I started working part time at PetSmart in June of 2015 as a way to make extra money while I was in school. This part time job in retail like many others has given me some basic work experience with communication, but what my future employers will look for is more than what an average retail job provides me in experience. Knowing this I actively looked out for opportunities to grow within my job as a customer associate and PetSmart.
Through my time working at PetSmart I saw that my manager needed additional help running promotional events in store. I asked my manager if there was anything I could do to use the skills I was learning in school to help our store. She told me that she needed someone to run weekend events and demonstrations. I gladly volunteered because I knew that organizing weekly events, and performing demonstrations to customers would be great experience for me as a PR student.
This opportunity evolved into me becoming the marketing events captain for our store. So I schedule monthly promotional events, create signage to promote it, and then later I am solely in charge of setting up and running the events. My success in doing this has now led to me going into new PetSmart stores in the district and teaching them how to effectively sell our products through these promotional events. So, even though a part time job may just seem like just a means to an end for you I suggest you try to ask your superiors if there is anyway your skills can be of help to them because it may result in great experience for you.
PR professor exposes students through the non-profit world through her own experience and teachings.
Professor Erica Bryson teaches students at the University of Rhode Island how to best utilize social media for business purposes, but that’s not all she does. Erica also works for Rhode Island’s leader in elder care, Saint Elizabeth Community. Erica plans and manages fundraising endeavors for the non-profit. She describes her job as creating relationships with volunteers and donors to move the mission of her organization forward.
Erica has spent most of her career working in fundraising, but she started out working in promotion for the Warwick Musical Theater. Working for a non-profit is different than working for any other organization. According to Erica, “In the non-profit sector, it’s important for the focus to be on the community and connecting them to the organization’s mission.”
The course that Erica teaches at URI is PRS 300. In the course, Erica teaches students how social media is used in the professional world and the impact of social media on the non-profits world. Erica encourages students to keep an open mind about their future because she did not expect to end up working in the non-profit sector, but now she has a career she loves in it.
Public relations student interning at RIDOT this semester.
Public relations student Johnna Iannibelli has landed an amazing internship with the communications department at the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT). Johnna is a part of the public affairs team and works compiling clip bundles, which are collections of news articles mentioning RIDOT and their projects. She also works to update the RIDOT web page with real time traffic updates and lane closures.
Johnna was able to participate in a great learning experience recently at her internship. She was able to sit in on a press conference with the director of RIDOT, Peter Alviti. Johnna told me, “There were several news stations there to cover it, and it was really exciting to see behind the scenes of a real press conference.”
Johnna heard about the opportunity through an email to PR students and is very happy she landed the position because it is allowing her to use the skills she has learned and practiced in her courses at URI. In the future, Johnna knows she would like to work in media relations but she’s not entirely sure what kind of field she wants to go into exactly.
Touching base with PR program graduate
Alexandria Haughey graduated from URI in 2013 and since then has been very successful in the public relations and marketing industry. Shortly after graduation Alexandria began working at Conde Nast as an advertising assistant with Allure Magazine. Since then she has worked her way up and is now an account executive for Conde Naste’s women’s collection which include the magazines Glamour, Allure, Brides, Teen Vogue, and SELF.
As an account executive she works to sell advertising for both print and digital media specifically ads for food, beverage, and spirits. Every work day is different for Alexandria so she has to be ready to adapt to the fast paced changes of her work environment. She spends most of her time outside of the office meeting with clients and working on various advertising and PR campaigns. Alexandria has steadily worked her way up in the company and she says, “Be bold and brave and not afraid to let everyone know you want to move up.”
Alexandria encourages students to take advantage of the resources they can find on campus. Going to see guest speakers are great networking opportunities that can open the door to many more opportunities. Alexandria recommends that students do as many internships as you can because they will also lead to great networking opportunities and experience.
PR student uses classroom skills to help build an online presence.
Rebecca DiLorenzo is a public relations student who has been steadily building an online presence in the fashion world. Rebecca started a beauty and fashion blog in February of 2016 as an assignment for one of her writing classes. Rebecca says, “I had always dreamed of becoming a fashion blogger, and I never really had to courage to get out to try it. I am so happy and grateful that I did, because I love it.”
Rebecca knows that social media is a growing part of the PR industry and she is learning more and more about it through her blogging. Her experience at URI has helped her develop her written communication skills which allows her to connect with her followers. Her blog can be found at allthingsbeauty.me/
Rebecca has also paired her personal experience as a blogger with professional experience from her various internships. She has worked running the social media for a small boutique called Elle G. She has also had an internship with RMO which is a small Rhode Island PR firm. Rebecca currently is working with Seventh House PR in New York city. Regarding her internships Rebecca says, “They teach you so many things you wouldn’t learn in class to prepare you for the real world.”
This summer Mystic, Connecticut is the center of make-believe murder investigation, and one of our own public relations students is a part of it. Eric Cohen is working on the set of TV show written by Victor Franko this summer as a PR intern. He is working collaboratively with a team running the social media pages for the film. Together, the team has created Facebook, Instagram, Reddit and Twitter pages.
Eric is completely in charge of the Twitter page for the film and his work can be seen here, https://twitter.com/MysticTheSeries. Eric works daily to come up with creative content to help populate the page. Eric has always been interested in the arts specifically and this internship solidifies his decision to pursue a career in the film industry. Eric’s main passion is music, but he is discovering the film industry given this internship.
Eric continues to be very excited about this internship. Passionate about the arts, this internship allows Eric to showcase his social media skills and actively contribute to the success of this unique film all about a murder mystery
PR student juggles two internships to get closer to achieving his goals
If we know anything about public relations students at URI, it’s that they are masters at balancing a heavy work load. PR student Owen Sammarone is no exception. This summer, Owen is balancing two internships in the communication field. One with Seton Hall University athletics and the other with Rutgers University athletics.
Owen has always wanted to work in the sports industry and he made sure to get his foot in the door early. His freshman year he took a trip to the Ryan Center looking for a job with the athletics department. Owen has since worked the head student manager for the URI men’s basketball team.
His varied experience with a Big 10 and a Big East school will help him achieve his long term goals. After graduating, Owen hope’s his internship experience will lead him to a job as a graduate student assistant for a college basketball team as he works towards his MBA. He says, “I’ve always been interested in sports, so I want to be around something I enjoy in my future.”
A graduating PR student has landed a job with iHeart Media through networking
The farewell to URI is bittersweet for Holly Crenca, a 2017 graduate from the PR program. She is moving on to an incredible job with iHeart Media as an account executive. As an account executive, she will put her communication skills to the test by developing new business opportunities for the company and maintaining client relationships. iHeart Media is a global media company specializing in radio, digital and on-demand entertainment and information services.
Holly first heard about the open position through a contact she met by networking. He had previously helped her get a position working with the New York Jets and when this opportunity arose he contacted Holly directly for an interview. Holly says, “Having a network is super important and can open many doors for you”. After going through four interviews Holly secured the position with iHeart Media.
Although Holly is parting with URI she has some wise words for new students to remember. Holly says, “Work hard. It’s not easy work hard and get everything you can out of it because you will be rewarded in the end. Work hard, stay positive, and be hopeful.” Holly encourages students to get involved and make connections just like she will continue to do at iHeart Media.
Let’s wish Holly the best of luck at her new job!
PR Student has an unforgettable internship experience with Rockatorium Records
When public relations student Angelina LaCarruba received an email describing the internship at Rockatorium Records she thought it was her lucky day. A public relations internship that combined her love of music and her interest in photography was the perfect fit for Angelina. This past spring Angelina took behind-the-scenes photos of concerts and created weekly posters for upcoming Rockatorium artists.
Angelina had the opportunity to participate in something really special during her internship and that was recording a song with an artist, Andrew “Moon” Bain. This experience helped Angelina find a focused career path for after graduation. She says “This internship really solidified what I want to do in PR and that is work in the music and entertainment industry.”
This internship allowed Angelina the opportunity to explore her interests and improve upon the skills she has gained at URI. She was able to build a close relationship with Ray Gennari, the owner of Rockatorium Records. Building relationships in the professional world is the main reason Angelina chose public relations as her major. She says, “I want my work to be based on people and growing relationships.” And she did just that.
PR Student: Rachel Beusee-Kauffman
As a triple major, URI student Rachel Beusee-Kauffman has a lot on her plate. Balancing the work of her film/media, communication studies and public relations majors is a big task, but Rachel handles it with ease. Not only does Rachel have a rigorous academic schedule, but she also is actively involved on campus. Rachel has been a RAM in the freshman dorms since she was a sophomore and is currently working in the English department’s office for the summer.
Throughout her time at URI Rachel has also had a few internships that has helped her gain experience in the PR field. Last fall, she worked with Rockatorium Records. This past spring, she worked with Narragansett Beer Company. Her internship with Narragansett Beer Company has resulted in a job as a promoter. Rachel has worked hard to be a well-rounded student with a variety of experience and skills. She says, “I chose my majors because I am interested in them and they will help make me marketable in any field I choose.”
Rachel has great relationships with professors within her majors thanks to her involvement on campus. Having a rapport with her professors has helped her become successful. She thinks that other PR students should get involved on campus so they can benefit the way she has. She says, “PR can be whatever you make it, so get involved and try new things to help you figure out what you want to with your degree.”
Public relations student chooses interesting topic for independent study.
A public relations student, Miranda Luce chose an interesting topic for her independent study this past semester. Miranda researched the damaging effects of tourism on the Great Barrier Reef. This an interesting stance to take since PR professionals often work to improve tourism, but Miranda felt it was important to note the problems so we can fix them.
Miranda chose this topic because she has always had an interest in marine sciences. She actually started at URI as a marine biology major. In her Sophomore year, she decided to change her major. After speaking with different advisors she found that PR fit her other interests well. That was that, she declared her major as PR.
After graduation Miranda is looking to go into advertising in the medical field, but she can see herself working in the environmental conservation field. She thinks PR would be a great way for her to join her interests of marine biology and writing. Miranda says, “PR can be a positive way to educate people about their impact on our surroundings.”
When senior public relations major Gary Azera called the Narragansett Beer Company asking if they had any open internship positions, he was thrilled when he was offered an interview. As the marketing intern, Gary is often asked to contribute his ideas and thoughts to his supervisors about their new products.
Gary’s main responsibility is managing the Narragansett Beer email and responding to customer inquiries. He also helps manage their social media accounts.
When Gary was enrolled in PRS340 with Regina Bell, he was assigned a project where he analyzed Narragansett Beer by researching the company’s target audiences, products, marketing tools, and history. That project opened his eyes to this company as a possible future employer. “When I showed the person interviewing me my analysis, it was apparent they appreciated my knowledge about the company,” Azeera says.
Finding an internship can be difficult and frustrating at times, but Gary’s advice is inspiring to anyone in the Harrington School. “Don’t give up. It can be difficult to find an internship sometimes. If you don’t get hired, just keep on trying. Make sure you are applying for positions that you’re interested in and that you really want. Internships are very hands-on, and they can help you find out what you like and do not like to do.”
Senior public relations and writing and rhetoric major Bill Matson landed an internship with TRP Associates LLC. as the Proposal Writer and Marketing/Sales liaison for his firm. Bill is in charge of writing complex sales proposals for every RFP the company has responded to since January. Bill also collaborates with the marketing firm that TRP hired for rebranding the company’s image both locally and nationally.
Bill and his boss play at the same golf course. One day, they struck up a conversation about business when his boss mentioned he was looking for someone to write proposals for contracts. Bill shared he is double majoring in public relations and writing and rhetoric. That conversation resulted in Bill writing a proposal; the first step in the interview process. Bill was hired.
According to Bill, the main thing he has learned from his classes is to always put himself in a position to win. “I’ve always strived to be at the top of my classes grade-wise, and that wouldn’t have been possible if I hadn’t taken control of my own academic success, especially in group work settings. My public relations and writing teachers have held me to high standards, and I always try to exceed them,” says Matson.
The best advice Bill has for Harrington School students is to network as much as possible. “Do anything in your power to make a personal connection, whether it’s with your client or your boss. Push yourself to the limit, and take on challenges. Develop some business sense and experience, because it will be invaluable. Public relations and business are directly related, so go out there and find an industry that you can benefit from with your skill set,” says Matson.
Laura Giarrusso -NBC 10
Laura Giarrusso, a senior public relations and film double major, is currently interning at NBC 10 at the assignments desk. Laura has been lucky enough to be sent out with two different reporters and photographers to complete stories that later aired on the news. Much to her delight, she is able to shadow producers of the 5:00 p.m. show which provides her the opportunity to learn more about producing and the news environment. Another aspect of her internship involves taking calls from Rhode Island residents about possible stories. Laura then refers appropriate stories to her supervisor for final selection. Laura continues to be appreciative of the opportunity to be part of the process in determining what stories will eventually appear on NBC10.
Last semester, Laura was enrolled in PRS 340; one of the assignments was conducting an informational interview with a professional in a career field that related to public relations. She reached out to a producer at NBC 10, Suzanne Nadeau, and conducted an informational interview. Nadeau suggested that Laura apply for an internship at the assignment desk.
According to Laura, she feels that all of her classes have prepared her for the real world in some way. “The most significant classroom experience that has helped me in my internship is the level of professionalism that some of my classes have asked of me. My busy class schedule has also taught me the importance of time management in the professional world and how important it is to be organized,” says Giarrusso.
The best advice Laura has for Harrington School students is to never wait for someone to tell you what to do. “Don’t think that an internship or your dream job is just going to fall into your lap. You need to make it happen. Ask questions, even if you think they’re irrelevant to what you need to do. Be in the moment and think about what’s going to make you happy, not what’s going to make you the most money.”