GUEST SPEAKERS

Tanya Houseman– The San Francisco Travel Association


Having Tanya Houseman from the San Francisco Travel Association was pretty exciting, for I was deeply interested in her job at the association, what she does and what she has done in the past with her career. Making up questions beforehand was very helpful, for it really allowed me to find deep curiosity in her career in the PR/ journalism field. As soon as she began to speak I felt comfortable with her sense of humor and laughter she brought to the class. She was able to make fun of herself and laugh and anything. This helped the class, as well as me, grow fonder and involved in her speaking. I also liked how she wanted to stand up in front of all of us and speak, instead of sitting because she was “too short”. Right away she brought a sense of welcoming and a friendly attitude into the classroom, for I knew she didn’t want to lecture us and bore us with all she could have talked about, and how knowledgeable she is with her past, but she wanted the main bulk of her time in our classroom to be us asking her questions. This allowed me to think more about what was being said, and want to ask a question.

I was interested in her saying that she is going to be a part of putting on a huge travel show in May about San Francisco. Being a Bay Area, born and raised girl, I was deeply interested and excited about anything and everything I don’t know about the city by the bay already! I know I live in Oakland/ Moraga, but I hardly get the chance to go to San Francisco all that much, but I really do enjoy it when I can. So in a way, I kind of feel like a tourist myself because I want to tour the city every time I am over there, and I always find myself wanting more, needing more time to wonder and see what else there is to offer in the beautiful, vibrant, and loving city that San Francisco is. I kind of am interested in the journalism side of what Tanya offers to her clients, because I want to know all of that, I want to find out more!!

I found myself taking notes on everything she was explaining to us, and giving us tips on- for we should think like a journalist when attracting journalists by accessing them to something new, unusual and exciting that they have not seen before. This will open their eyes and give them that urge and excitement to write about whatever you are offering. The SF Travel Association looks for 6 things when attracting journalists around the world: 1) green travel, 2) cultural events, 3) gay travel/ events, 4) neighborhoods, 5) iconic stuff, traditional events, 6) arts and crafts. All of these types of events will attract anyone and everyone, for it caters to all types of people and gives them that sense of welcome and that they are wanted. Even though it was in the back of my mind, I was definitely surprised to hear that tourism is the #1 industry in San Francisco!! And that 33% of the money comes from the convention center event, that is why the city is trying to revamp their convention center. The city has to compete with both Chicago and Las Vegas with their convention centers, and they are starting to lose money when competing with those cities because our center is “not up to par”.

Tanya said she uses a lot of social media to contact her journalists because “it’s the new thing”, and it connects to the public. Sites such as facebook and twitter update everyone with events and places to go (ex: Cherry Blossom Festival). I learned from Tanya that if I go into this industry, not to blast people with new releases, but make them short, and to the point. This will attract more people and allow them to become more interested in what you have to offer. When someone asks you to do something and you want to can confidence, ask questions and come up with a solution! Be confident, ask questions, and always remind yourself that your reputation is GOLD!! People can google you and look up your past, so always know what you are getting yourself into, and how it can present you as a professional.

Erin Hallissy – Shell Oil

From reading the shell oil website that I was able to pull up online last week before Erin Hallissy came into our classroom to speak, I had a general idea of who she might be or what she did, but it still led me to be a little confused. However when Erin came in to speak to us I was glad to see how easy she was to listen to, and how interested I was in her work. As soon as she told us that that she has worked here at St. Mary’s for many years I felt a new type of connection to her because of the St. Mary’s Community we both belong to. She first worked in the newspaper industry, having a career for them for 25 years, which definitely surprised me with excitement! This fascinated me towards her discussion of her career opportunities she’s had over her lifetime thus far. Knowing that she had worked for the SMC magazine was something that drew me closer into her speaking because it resonated with me and my own career interests. I want to go into the advertising and PR side of the communications field, so this led me to have hope for what is to come. My parents receive the SMC magazine each publication, for my mom calls me and tells me everything new and exciting that has been taking place around campus. Being a graduating senior, I don’t always have time to read each article in each magazine or newspaper I get, so she does kind of open my eyes to what is happening right around me. I was deeply fascinated with her past workings with the magazine, as I connected my recent viewing of it and how it really does change my perspective and widens my point of view of my very own campus.

However, the most interesting career choice that I thought Erin had made over her years of working in Communications was the most recent change in working for Shell Oil Refinery in Martinez, Ca. This was quite a jump from her past choices, but I believe she did make the right one. Although it is a drastic transformation, it is always good to have something new in your career choice because you do not want to get too bored with whatever you are working on- otherwise you will not love what you do any longer. Through her job at Shell she works in the public affairs department- community and public relations (which is one of the recent changes we read about in our past chapters of THINK Publications, our PR text book). A few other companies such as Hershey’s has made this change, for it makes more sense for them in all that they do and all who they work with- both internal and external affairs. I was interested to hear that she will be traveling to Seattle as well as Holland in the future, in order for Shell to train its employees (especially PR representatives) how to respond and handle the possibility of a crisis.

What I really enjoyed learning about through Shell, that I had never learned about before, was that in Martinez they are extremely sensitive about the community they work in and the neighborhood they are a party of. They are making improvements with working with the community in Martinez. Erin reported seeing changes, as they are trying to state, at any time, as honestly as they can. They believe being a good neighbor is what is most important, for they need to give back to the community because all they give up for the refinery being in their backyard. Also each employee is given 2 days of work with a volunteer program within the city of Martinez, such as: Costal clean up, or reading with 1st graders. These are amazing opportunities that I see the company giving back to the community and things that I have never heard of before. If it weren’t for Erin explaining this, I would never have thought of Shell the same. The only memories I have from Shell are my brother working at one of the gas stations near our home in high school as an after school job. But I never knew the “behind the scenes” of what the refineries employees actually do- beyond working for the company, so this made me have a new appreciation for the company.


Molly Blaisdell – Hook, Line & Thinker

Molly Blaisdell

 

When first researching Molly Blaisdell, I was intrigued by her blog she has made for her business. The immediate look of the blog is catchy, easy to read and makes one feel pleased about the city of San Francisco- the city by the Bay. Molly’s blog allowed me to read up and see what kind of work she does and how it is portrayed through public relations. The questions that I originally came up with as to wondering about her job and all that it entails, were: 1) How has Hook, Line & Thinker helped overall the majority of your clients in their organizations? 2) What is your top thing to do in San Francisco from your list of the Fisherman’s Wharf? 3) What did your job entail when working with Extreme Makeover: Home Edition? Did you love the environment? 4) Being a “tourism expert” what would you say is your favorite place to visit, and where would you still want to go before you die?

Soon after Molly walked in the door the classroom was changed into a different environment. The students as well as our own professor felt a cool, vibrant energy with the bubbly personality that Molly brought with her. What was different about her as a guest speaker of ours for the class was that she asked us to sit along side us students, instead of standing over us, lecturing like any other professor.  By doing this she allowed us all to feel less attacked in a way of intimidation, and made it much easier for us to relax. In this type of atmosphere, not only was I able to listen better, but also I was more interested and wanted to hear the stories she was explaining.

The accomplishment of Molly’s that I was most interested in was the building of her own company. Hook, Line & Thinker allows all types of publics to search the web and explore the complete variety of what the city of San Francisco has to offer. What made me so interested in this type of PR is through being a student here in Moraga- I feel like there is nothing to do here in terms of entertainment within the city. This is the association that drew me to her blog and the specific type of public relations she interacts with. By viewing her blog, it made me want to tell all of my family and friends about her work- in the hopes of us all being able to explore this wonderful city. Especially the students here at St. Mary’s, I feel that they all need to be given a preview of all that the bay area has to offer- exactly what her blog does.

Molly also allowed me to open my eyes within the Public Relations world, as I was able to just listen to her as a mentor- just as she did with Don Blum, her own mentor within the industry. Hearing that she works in hospitality and tourism, being able to travel around the world is what intrigued me and sparked the flame within me. Through her words, I was able to understand that I do not have to be unhappy in my job, but to choose something that I truly enjoy and something that I will be happy in doing. I also learned that within the industry, it all revolves around good relationships with everyone– journalists, other publicists, companies, organizations, photographers, etc. Through the gain in technology taking over our lives in computer mediated communication (CMC), there as been a loss of connection in those important relationships. It is therefore our job as PR practitioners to communicate in a unique way that will unite people and be drawn to our own work. Overall, I was intrigued by her work, her accomplishment, and I enjoyed her speaking. I look forward to the work that I can possibly do and enjoy it to its fullest extent.

Dennis Erokan – Placemaking Group

When I first heard that we were going to have Dennis Erokan as our guest speaker I did not know what to expect. I had not heard his name before, but after finding out that he was the CEO of the Placemaking Group, I became interested in seeing as to what this company did. Reading up and researching on who he is was definitely informing, for I grew to know what his interests were as well as his accomplishments in life. CEO of The Placemaking Group. Leadership, success and managing competition and conflict, is his main focus as of now which resides in Oakland, Ca. Also, coming up with questions beforehand was extremely helpful, for I knew somewhat about his background when he walked into the classroom to speak to our class. Within the first few minutes of his talk, I could tell that he was a very cheerful person, full of character, and charismatic. I had no idea that in fact is the professor of the other public relations class here at St. Mary’s College. Dennis has many things going on in his life, but one of the “good deeds” out of all, consists of teaching young college students all about his work within the public relations world, and what it consists of to be an employee in the public relations field.

I liked the way he first started his speech by turning it towards us, the students, and asking us examples of crisis PR and situations in the real world where it was not handled properly. By doing this, it made us think about the world around us and the national, as well as the world news we hear/ watch everyday. It was very helpful to have him describe what the companies, such as BP, did wrong when assessing their crisis management situation. We all knew what happened with the BP oil spill, so he allowed us to look back on it and evaluate the situation. This exercise helped me to fully understand the circumstances, for I knew the company acted in the wrong and tried to blame everyone else; however, Dennis explained what the company could have done better in order to have enhance their crisis communication.

I enjoyed listening to his own personal stories of crisis through his past jobs and how he handled it. For example, communicating through the Oakland Airport for the island of Guam when there was a plane crash right by the islands airport. This situation could have gone completely wrong with absolutely no communication sources available at the time, however Dennis and his team cleared the air and spread the word that it was just an accident and the airport was safe and OK. The handout Dennis passed out and explained to us seems to be extremely important, no matter what job field any of us go into. As we know, any company needs to have a type of crisis and issue management available if anything is to happen. It is never fully preventable, nor do we ever know when it is to come, but through these rules, one can avoid miscommunication spread to the public. I will definitely be taking this packet into use wherever I get a job, for I hope to stand strong in my communication roots and be the one to help assess any possible crisis at hand. Issue management in particular will be the strong supporter in a crisis, for the first action to take place is to define the situation at hand, assess any threats, establish a plan with the team in my office, prepare statements to send to the press/ media/ public, and track the coverage with a follow-up when needed. I am glad Dennis shared his knowledge within the broad, crazy world of public relations, but he did interest me more within the PR field.

Dennis Erokan

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