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PR, civility, and keeping our audiences: Greenlee students share their experiences attending a Summit workshop

Author: perkinsk


By Sam McDaris and Hannah Gallo

Iowa State University’s Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication held the second annual Greenlee Summit this September. The summit showcased professionals in public relations, journalism and advertising. Greenlee students were welcomed to attend.

With their class (PR 321: Public Relations Writing), Sam McDaris, senior in public relations, and Hannah Gallo, junior in public relations, attended the session, “How advertisers, PR professionals and organizations can ensure we don’t lose our audiences.” The session was moderated by Scott Raecker of the Robert D. and Billie Ray Center at Drake University.

Students from PR 321 attended an afternoon session of the Greenlee Summit. Photo by Laura Witzling.

Sam McDaris’ Experience

I attended the Greenlee Summit session, “How advertisers, PR professionals and organizations can ensure we don’t lose our audiences,” moderated by Scott Raecker of the Robert D. and Billie Ray Center at Drake University. Full disclosure, my expectations for this event were not high. Whenever anyone mentions a summit or workshop, I picture monotone speakers talking at you for hours on end.

However, this event turned out to be a lot more interesting than I was expecting, and dare I say, fun! The particular session I attended was focused on public relations and civility. At this event, I learned some great information, met a lot of awesome public relations professionals and even had the opportunity to speak in front of the entire room!

So, if any students out there think that attending the Greenlee Summit won’t be worth your time, think again.

Interactive Experience

The first activity the moderator had us do was to stand up and find a partner we didn’t know and discuss a question he put on the screen for about one minute. We did this three times, each with a different question and person. This was a great way to make meeting some of the public relations professionals less scary and awkward. By the end of the exercise, I felt more confident and comfortable being there.

This related back to one of his recommendations: show your audiences some hospitality.

Putting the ‘Work’ in Workshop

For our second activity, the moderator had all of the professionals sit down and all the students remain standing. We were instructed to find a table with mostly professionals so that we were all mixed up. When I first sat down I was a little bit nervous, but it helped I wasn’t the only student at the table and the professionals who were there were very welcoming.

At our tables, we brainstormed ideas about how businesses can keep their audiences engaged through civility. This was a great activity because it allowed us to engage with the professionals and work together. Once we chose our top three ideas, I volunteered to be the speaker for my group and present them in front of the room.

It was kind of scary standing up there, but I’m glad this was included in the event because it gave me a little bit of practice speaking in front of professionals in my field of interest. Presenting our ideas in front of the room helped me feel more confident speaking in front of a crowd, especially because other students presented their ideas as well.

I would recommend attending a future Greenlee Summit to any student interested in media and communications. Overall, it was a great way to network with professionals and learn more about the field.

Students and professionals mingled during an afternoon session at the Greenlee Summit on September 6, 2019. Photo by Melanie Van Horn.

Hannah Gallo’s experience

As a student of Greenlee, I was honored to attend this event. I participated in the 1 p.m. session on Sept. 6, where there was an exclusive spotlight on how to ensure communicators don’t lose their audience due to incivility. I was encouraged to sit with professionals within my field of interest and I felt warmly welcomed.

An unforgettable feeling

During the session I attended, the moderator, Scott Raecker, asked students to sit with professionals instead of just other students. When I initially was told to separate from my classmates to sit with the leaders and professionals whom I looked up to, I’m not going to lie, I was a little nervous! Instant feelings of unfamiliarity hit me, as I wondered if I would be accepted into their group. It turns out, I was amazed to realize how supported I was. Being a student who was looking for mentorship and the opportunity to learn and grow, I automatically felt the sense of encouragement I needed to feel confident.

As Scott Raecker directed, we brainstormed in collaboration about what incivility means for an audience, and how to avoid it. Raecker mentioned how important it is to show hospitality to an audience. Making your audience feel welcomed and supported is crucial.

How fitting that he, and the Summit, did just that for me?

What does incivility even mean?

The huge question my group considered was how to define incivility. After discussion, we concluded that incivility can be identified as being impolite, disrespectful, argumentative and/or ignorant. Incivility can be shown in many different ways, shapes and forms, but the bottom line is that it’s critical to maintain a strong relationship among your peers in order to not lose civility. Listening to your audience and engaging responsibly will make your audience feel noticed and appreciated, as they should be.

Encouragement of accountability

Raecker said during the event, “What can I get better with civility? Because if I get better, we get better in civility.” This spoke volumes to me, as civility really comes down to keeping yourself accountable for your behavior as a citizen of this nation. If you aren’t putting in the effort to make yourself better as an individual, how could you expect it from others? It originates within you.

The emphasis on taking care of yourself, and keeping yourself in-check, has really resonated with me since I attended the summit. I strongly believe in the value of holding yourself accountable, as it promotes self-awareness which then leads to self-improvement.

After attending the Greenlee Summit, I am confident to say that it is worth attending. If you’re a student at Iowa State University, seize this golden opportunity the next time it’s offered!