Persistence, integrity and class: Women in media discuss

By Amy Nielsen

In 1976, Barbara Walters became the first female co-anchor of a network evening news program. In the 40 years since, women have made many strides in media and communications, but differences between men and women in the field still remain.

On Nov. 30, the University of Nebraska at Omaha School of Communication held the“Women in Media” panel where local experts in various communications professions expressed their opinions on what it means to be, not only a woman in media, but also a woman in the public eye.

Panelists included Dr. Gail Baker, Dean of the College of Communication, Fine Arts and Media at UNO; Malorie Maddox, WOWT NBC affiliate co-anchor; Sarah Baker-Hansen, Omaha World-Herald food critic; and Gina Melton, KAT 103.7 Morning Show co-host. Each woman took very unique paths to reach their current positions, but all agreed it took hard work and persistence.

“If you want to be successful, you can’t take no for an answer,” Baker-Hansen said.

Baker-Hansen, who is married to Omaha World-Herald columnist Matt Hansen, described the differences she sees in the reactions the public takes toward both her and her husband’s articles. She said that when people don’t like what her husband writes about, they attack the column, however when people don’t like what she writes about, they focus on her personally.

“People don’t write letters to the editors anymore,” Baker-Hansen said, “they post comments on Facebook.”

Maddox agreed with the targeted criticisms on social media. She said that often being the only female presence on the five, six and 10 news broadcasts; she often receives criticism on the lack of time people perceive that she spends with her family. Because of the harsh words often exchanged on social media, Maddox often makes it a point to avoid sharing many personal details. Case in point, when Maddox posted a picture of her 5-year- old son on Thanksgiving, someone commented, “Your son deserves to get bullied.”

“That’s the reality of the world,” Maddox said.

Melton admits there is not nearly enough diversity in her field. She said that when she began in radio, it was a “boy’s club.”

“I had to work twice as hard as the men, back then, to get where I am today.” Melton said. “But without that struggle, I would be where I am.”

Baker, who has been in the media field the longest of all the panelists, said she has faced discrimination throughout much of her career. Being African-American adds another layer to that discrimination.

“I don’t know which sexism is and which is racism,” Baker said. “I don’t know, and I don’t care.”

Baker also pointed out that she also learned a lot from her male co-workers. One important skill she said she learned was how easily many of them could dismiss a bad day or a mistake, while she would often dwell on them. She stressed the importance of being able to forgive yourself for making mistakes, and then be able to move on.

Baker-Hansen added that it is important to know whose opinion is worth your time and whose isn’t.

Baker stressed the importance of having integrity, ethics, passion and empathy as a professional. Baker-Hansen stressed the importance of being organized. Melton and Maddox agreed with Baker and Baker-Hansen.

“Have class,” Maddox said, “be respectful, but ask the tough questions.”

“Your integrity is everything,” Melton added.

PRSSA officers spend a day with Mr. Buffett

By Angelina Mangiamelli


Warren Buffett, the Oracle of Omaha, told a group of university students to recognize the importance of doing work that makes them happy.


This was just one piece of advice Buffett gave during a meeting Oct. 14 at the Berkshire Hathaway headquarters in the Blackstone District of Omaha. In addition to business and communication students from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and University of Nebraska-Lincoln, other students came from the University of South Dakota, Harvard University, Stanford University, Rutgers University, Sanford University and Boston College.


The event began with a one-hour tour of Nebraska Furniture Mart, followed by a bus ride to the Kiewit building where students rode an elevator to the top floor known as the “Cloud Room,” where Buffett spent two hours talking to students in a Q&A session.


Many of the student were business majors with knowledge in stocks, bonds, e-commerce trading and investments. For communication students some of the dialogue was difficult to understand.


Buffett discussed such topics as stakeholder v. shareholder capitalism, key variables in exit investments and investing in the United States and Middle East.


Buffett stressed the importance of doing what is right for the public and thinking of the big picture over time.


“Be emotionally prepared to act when other people are terrified, be the person you admire,” Buffett says. “You have to be able to look at numbers and investigate a little bit and do it when the opportunity arises, it is 10 percent brains and 90 percent temperament.”


Buffett wrapped up the discussion with advice on the future to be successful.


“Do what you love with the people you love,” Buffett says. “Pick the ones who are the most effective leaders, list the qualities you like and don’t like.”


I found these simple words of wisdom to be the most important. Look for the qualities in people you admire, and make sure those qualities reflect in yourself as well.


Buffett then treated us to a lunch at Anthony’s Steakhouse where we sat with other UNO students. This was an opportunity for the communication and business students to network, ask questions and talk to each other about our roles and responsibilities as students. The day ended with a group photo of all the UNO students together with Buffett holding our school flag.


The day with Buffett opened my mind up to the importance of understanding money and investments and educating myself to be prepared for my financial future.


However, I suggest, mixing up the questions from both business and communication students to better get Buffett’s viewpoints on current events, global media and other issues outside the world of investments. I’d like more women at the event as well as an opportunity to network with other schools. Being completely separated projected an uncomfortable feeling of superiority that a few schools projected.


Overall, the experience was extremely memorable and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that most students won’t get from any classroom experience.

True leaders in PR need strong ethical values

Angelina Mangiamelli, VP of Public Relations

By: Angelina Mangiamelli

Having ethics in public relations provides a positive platform for professionals and creates a happy, clean and energized work environment.

That’s the message Beverly Kracher, executive director of the Greater Omaha Business Ethics Alliance, shared with attendees at the Nebraska PRSA monthly luncheon, Sept. 13.

“Ethics the Heart of Leadership” is the theme for PRSA’s 2016 Ethics Awareness Month in September.

Ethics is described as the same as personal values and morals. It is the idea of striving to do good, knowing the difference between what is right and what is wrong, imagining something bigger than ourselves and ultimately, striving to live, “The Good Life.”

One major topic covered in the discussion was why we aren’t trained to be ethical leaders in the classroom and workplace. We have to train ourselves to be abstract thinkers, especially in communication and public relations.

We must use, “Big Picture Thinking,” when creating a plan and working with clients. This means putting a situation before your mind, withdraw concrete information a bit at a time (don’t overload yourself!), look for ethical patterns, major themes, abstract principles and trends, and explain their significance to the situation, Kracher says.

As young professionals, just starting to build our portfolios and resumes gaining professional experience. It is extremely important to understand why an ethical leader, is an important leader. An ethical leader is a valuable leader being they are good people. They are accountable, compassionate, influential, motivational and inspirational.


-I want to finish this blog post with the PRSA code of Ethics for all members to remember-

 ADVOCACY | We serve the public interest by acting as responsible advocates for those we represent. We provide a voice in the marketplace of ideas, facts and viewpoints to aid informed public debate.

HONESTY | We adhere to the highest standards of accuracy and truth in advancing the interests of those we represent and in communicating with the public.

EXPERTISE | We acquire and responsibly use specialized knowledge and experience. We advance the profession through continued professional development, research, and education. We build mutual understanding, credibility, and relationships among a wide array of institutions and audiences.

INDEPENDENCE | We provide objective counsel to those we represent. We are accountable for our actions.

LOYALTY | We are faithful to those we represent, while honoring our obligation to serve the public interest.

FAIRNESS | We deal fairly with clients, employers, competitors, peers, vendors, the media, and the general public. We respect all opinions and support the right of free expression.

The Best Defense is a Good Offense in a Crisis

By Amy Nielsen

Gina Pappas stressed the importance of crisis control in an organization during the PRSA Nebraska Professional Development Conference.

Pappas is president of Albers Communication Group, a prominent public relations and digital marketing firm in the Omaha area.

During Pappas’ breakout session “Crisis Control: When Bad Things Happen to Good Organizations,” Pappas explained different ways to define a crisis, prepare for a crisis, handle a crisis, manage the media, evaluate the crisis management process and the best practices in crisis control.

“You shouldn’t wait until a crisis happens to start trying to fix it,” Pappas says. “You should have crisis planning as part of your fundamental communications strategy.”

Pappas says an effective crisis plan should seek to define all types of crises that can affect your organization, research how to reduce the risk of crises occurring, build a crisis management team and understand the target audiences of potential crises.

The goals of a crisis management plan should be to resolve crisis quickly and effectively, manage all incoming information and share what the audience needs to know. Additionally, the crisis management plan should protect employees, clients, communities, brand and reputation, and adhere to all laws, Pappas says.

“The best defense is a good offense,” Pappas says. “The best offense is a good defense.”

MaverickPR Granted PRSSA National Affiliation

In order for UNO PRSSA’s firm to be nationally affiliated with Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), an application must be submitted every three years.

As of March 1, 2016, Maverick PR was approved for national affiliation, a process that is highly commendable on campuses nation-wide.

Visit PRSSA online to learn more about national affiliation.

What is your why?

by Kelsey Johnson

Recruitment is one of the most important roles in an organization. At the same time, recruiting college students to join an organization is never easy.

UNO PRSSA is an incredible, award-winning group of students, however, boasting awards isn’t necessarily going to get people excited.

Moving into the recruitment director position this spring, I knew that I wanted to revamp the recruitment methods we had been using, connect with as many recruits as I could, making recruitment efforts a more personal experience.

For every class I speak to, I focus on telling the students what exactly my “why” means to me. I begin with the regular spiel: awards, other successes and how great the resources are on a local and national level. Then, I take the conversation a step further.

UNO PRSSA helped me meet my best friends in college and has awarded me experiences I would never have access to otherwise. The most important idea I try convey to students is that UNO PRSSA has truly changed my life. I have mentors who believe in the skills I have gained, I have a group of people behind me cheering for every single thing I do, and most importantly, I now know the direction I want to go after I graduate in May. UNO PRSSA did all of these things for me and I have never been more grateful for anything in my life.

My message resonates with students of all ages in any stage of their undergraduate experience. From the rise of our recruitment numbers this spring, I know this is true.

As of March 1, we have 7 new recruits, mostly classified as freshman or sophomore.

My biggest hope is that the next recruitment director will continue to share the “why” and recruit new members who gain similar experiences, each of their own.

Recruitment runs until March 14, so only time will tell how many more people will decide to take the jump and join UNO PRSSA.


PR & the Art of Storytelling

by Jessica Teaford

Andy Williams, director of communications and marketing at Nebraska Health Network, visited UNO PRSSA’s February chapter meeting to share his tips on the art of storytelling in PR.

Williams asked the chapter to consider what makes a good story by thinking of our favorite stories; his was The Hunger Games.

Every great story has four
things in common:UNO PRSSA February Chapter Meeting by Kimberly Bailey-11

A character you care about and can identify with….

Who wants something….

And overcomes conflict….

To get it.

(Source: Donald Miller – A Million Miles in a Thousand Years)

“It doesn’t make a great story if it’s a character you don’t care about,” Williams said.UNO PRSSA February Chapter Meeting by Kimberly Bailey-16 “And maybe they want something, but they don’t have to overcome anything; they just get it.”

Everyone wants something, whether it’s love, peace, a state championship, or just to win. Everyone can identify with wanting something and that is what makes anyone care about the story.

“We identify with the struggle,” Williams said. “Watching them finally get what they want makes a great story.”

The key to media storytelling is using “real” people to tell the story. The public does not want to hear a rehearsed script with statistics from a corporate figure. They want “real” people who are experiencing the situation first-hand; they can relate to them.

“Statistics and talking points are fine, but they get stale after a while,” Williams said. “The spokesperson is so well-prepared with polished answers; it’s not personable.”

Next, start storytelling and inspire with the why. Why do you exist? Why should anyone care? Why do you do what you do?
(Source: Simon Sinek – The Golden Circle TED Talk)large_GC_slides_v1.4

There may be a lot of people who do what you do, but you want to give consumers and clients a reason to pick your company over someone else. If they think you are passionate about what you do, they will be too.

A perfect historical example of “inspiring with why” dates back to Martin Luther King Jr. At a time when there was no social media, Internet or national advertising, Martin Luther King Jr. influenced 250,000 people to march on Washington by inspiring with why. He had a dream to end segregation and discrimination. Many others had the same dream. They believed in him because they identified with his purpose, his why.

PR storytelling helps the public, consumers and the media understand your purpose. If you can get people to understand and care about why you do what you do, they might just say: “Yeah, I want that too.”

Registered Organ Donors Increase Odds By 8 Lives

By Trent Ostrom

Giving another person the gift of life is one of the most remarkable things a single human-being can do.

Tom Neal, Public Relations coordinator of Nebraska Organ Recovery, spoke to UNO PRSSA at February’s Lunch and Learn about the importance of organ donation.

According to Neal, an organ is received that will help save a patient’s life while another person is added to the waitlist every 10 minutes. More than 500 Nebraskans are currently waiting for an organ donation. Meanwhile, only 54 percent of eligible Nebraskans are registered organ donors.

While this percentage has increased by eight percent over the past two years, more awareness needs to be made.

“Of registered organ donors, only one percent will be qualified to give an organ,” Neal explained. “The more people we have registered, the better odds we will have of saving those who need an organ transplant.”

When an individual registers to become an organ donor, that individual has the possibility of being to save up to 8 lives. If one decides to become a tissue donor, more than 100 individuals can be healed.

Former PRSSA Member Alex Jensen and Creative Director Kelly Bast draw the National Organ Donor Awareness Competition (NODAC) sign.
Former PRSSA Member Alex Jensen and Creative Director Kelly Bast draw the National Organ Donor Awareness Competition (NODAC) sign.

In April of 2016, UNO PRSSA will participate in the National Organ Donor Awareness Competition to inform the UNO community about the importance of becoming a registered organ donor. The competition is held annually by Rowan University.

Following is an excerpt from UNO PRSSA’s Lunch & Learn, a program implemented to increase member engagement with diverse opportunities and meeting times. Click here to view upcoming Lunch & Learn meetings. 

Fundraiser Benefits Youth Emergency Services

Every semester, UNO PRSSA fundraises to benefit our community. During the fall, “Say Yes to a Pack” backpack drive assists at-risk and homeless youth served by Youth Emergency Services. In addition to backpacks, our chapter also collected four boxes of hygiene products, socks, warmers and gently used jeans, hoodies and sweatshirts.

This is one of many ways UNO PRSSA likes to give back.