Chicago PR Students Discover ‘The New York Way’

DePaul PR students Danny Collins, Jessica Conradson and me during Wall Street Journal newsroom tour.
DePaul PR students Danny Collins, Jessica Conradson and me during Wall Street Journal newsroom tour.

Besides confirming that Chicago pizza is better than its counterpart in New York, 45 DePaul University students returned from four days of agency, media and association visits in the Big Apple with a better understanding of The New York Way. Perhaps the biggest revelation from the special intersession course was the self confidence gained from meeting many professionals who have similar backgrounds and education.

Students from three tracks within the College of Communication — PR, advertising and Latino Communication & Media — were selected from more than 125 applicants to make the “field trip” to New York. As a group, they visited The Wall Street Journal before breaking out to visit agencies within their specific areas of interest. The 20 students on the PR track and I visited the offices of Ketchum, Edelman and Porter Novelli before hearing from the heads of the top three PR organizations–Bill Murray, President and COO of PRSA; Roger Bolton, President of the Arthur W. Page Society and Kathy Cripps, President of the Council of Public Relations Firms. They also got job search tips from Jamie Wernet of New York-based recruiting firm Heyman Associates.

Before heading to New York, students spent two days learning about the history of PR and advertising firms from David Wojdyla, followed by visits to the Chicago offices of Fleishman Hillard and Ketchum. This provided a basis for comparison between the Chicago and New York approaches to agency life.

Upon their return to Chicago, eight teams of students made presentations about their experiences to fellow students, faculty and a panel of recruiters from nine agencies. Two of the student teams prepared music videos that summed up their experiences. The Latino Media & Communications video was the curtain raiser for the feedback session, PR students summarized their observations in this video, and the video produced by advertising graduate students was the finale.  The morning was capped off with an announcement by Bruno Teboul, Interim Dean, that the college’s PRAD program was named a finalist for PR Week’s PR Education Program of the Year. In addition, he announced that next year I will lead a group of PR students to China for a 2-week immersion in media and agency life. Needless to say, it has been a highly fulfilling academic year.


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