PR comes to the UCM MBA – Good biz move

Want an MBA with a PR concentration? You can get it @ UCM

It’s a trendsetting opportunity

It’s an exciting time in the world of education at the University of Central Missouri in its Master of Business Administration program. The official launch of a first-of-its-kind opportunity for biz pros interested in PR and Strat Comm graduate education took place in fall 2021. MBA candidates can now complement the traditional business core with an elective public relations concentration. That’s something to talk about! UCM’s PR and Strategic Communication faculty are enthused about the move; they know it’s a good business move.

PR investment is good biz

Forbes Council Member Michelle Mekky knows about the the need to invest even more in public relations in 2022. She writes, “The past year was a time of unprecedented challenge and even opportunity… telling your story in a creative way — and to the right audiences at the right time — is a crucial part of growing your business…” The UCM Public Relations and Strategic Communication program agrees with her. We know that coupling the opportunity to earn an MBA with a concentration in public relations is good business and good education.

The details are exciting

As a 33-credit program, the MBA program is designed to allow most professionals to attain their degree in 2 to 2 ½ years while working full time. UCM’s MBA program is AACSB-accredited (only the top 5% of business schools internationally achieve this designation) and affordable (among the lowest in tuition compared to other similar institutions). US News & World Reports (2020) ranked UCM’s online MBA 83rd on a list of 334 schools.

PRSA backs the coursework

An anchor course in the UCM MBA PR concentration is its Strategic Communication course. Strategic Communication meets the criteria set by the Public Relations Society of America MBA program as foundational to business education. PRSA MBA approval of the course was received in 2019 and UCM joined a list of elite schools including Dartmouth, William and Mary, and the University of Texas El Paso. Offered three times to date in UCM’s MBA program, students who completed Strategic Communication said: “I thoroughly enjoyed the course and found the content extremely helpful in all professional realms;” “I enjoyed the critical thinking and problem-solving aspects of the course;” and “I now understand how [strategic] communication applies to the whole business.”

PRNews approves of our UG moves

A testament to the kinds of PR curriculum offered at the graduate level is the list of honors earned by the PRSC faculty and their courses. PRNews recently named the UCM Public Relations and Strategic Communication undergraduate program to its prestigious 2022 Education A-list. In addition, as one of 45 programs world-wide recognized by PRSA for offering the “global standard in public relations education excellence” (CEPR), the PRSC program was recertified in 2020. The PRSC program’s 2026 recertification goal is to also see UCM’s MBA PR program receive graduate-level CEPR status.

We’re easy to contact

If you like what you are reading you can contact UCM MBA Director Dan Jensen for more information. He can be reached at, 1-660-543-8039, or

If you want the details about the PR concentration curriculum, contact Dr. Tricia Hansen-Horn. She can be reached at or Dr. Hansen-Horn serves as a co-chair of the national PRSA MBA initiative.

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PR Program clean sweep of big campus awards!

We’re very excited about the results of the prestigious Learning to a Greater Degree awards for 2019. In a clean sweep for the PR Program, DaVonte Hair won the student award and our program coordinator Dr. Tricia Hansen-Horn was awarded the faculty/staff award. Here is the news release, be sure to tell them both congrats!ltagd-award-winners-2019

WARRENSBURG, MO – Tricia Hansen-Horn, an educator who has dedicated much of her life to serving students in the University of Central Missouri’s public relations program, and DaVontae Hair, a junior public relations student from Kansas City who is highly engaged in many facets of campus life, are the spring 2019 recipients of UCM’s Learning to a Greater Degree (LTAGD) Award.

LTAGD Awards were presented April 26 during a meeting of the university’s Board of Governors.
Kelly Waldram Cramer, director of Integrated Marketing and Communications, announced the award recipients, noting that Hansen-Horn is the faculty-staff recipient, and Hair is the student award winner.  The awards are presented annually during the fall and spring semesters. Individuals are selected on the basis of nominations by UCM faculty, staff and students.

Learning to a Greater Degree conveys the essence of UCM as an institution which promises students the opportunity to experience engaged learning, future-focused academics, a worldly perspective and a culture of service. Members of the UCM community who are nominated for LTAGD awards support these reasons to believe and give life to these promises, Waldram-Cramer said.  Individuals recognized are honored publicly by the governing board and have their names added to a plaque displayed in the lobby of the Administration Building.

Waldram Cramer said Hansen-Horn, a professor of public relations, was nominated by a student and a fellow faculty member. She demonstrates qualities that provide “an excellent example of engaged learning, future-focused academics, worldly perspective and culture of service” and was instrumental in helping the PR program become nationally certified.

“She not only makes sure the program curriculum meets cutting-edge industry trends and best practices, but she works directly with employers to provide internships for the PR students. She also assists and mentors Innovative Public Relations (IPR), the award-winning student-run public relations firm at UCM,” Waldram-Cramer said.

Hansen-Horn has enabled her students to develop a global perspective and experience a culture of service through opportunities such as leading a study abroad trip to Australia that included 33 UCM students and three faculty members. She spent hundreds of hours developing curriculum, setting up meetings with seven different Australian organizations and more than 25 industry professionals to make the trip a quality learning and cultural experience.

A student who nominated Hansen-Horn for the award noted that her guidance and support over the past five years made it possible to attend and succeed in graduate school. “No one else at UCM has had the impact on my professional career that she has,” the student added.

DaVontae Hair exhibits qualities that exemplify Learning to a Greater Degree including “a consistent focus on service to others,” Waldram-Cramer said, citing excerpts from a nominations on Hair’s behalf.

He has been in multiple leadership roles, including serving as Residence Hall Council President, United Student Housing Association President and Floor Leader for the Student Government Association. While serving on the Hall Council, he planned initiatives to benefit residents at the local veteran’s home. He also assisted in planning Green Dot training for nine residence hall councils during Project SAFE, and during his time with UCM’s Army ROTC program, he has had a significant role in planning the Patriot 5K Run which benefits veterans and active duty military personnel.

Waldram-Cramer said Hair’s nominator stated that he “commits himself to not only his academics but to being involved on campus. He doesn’t stop at involvement, he ingrains himself in the opportunities and creative, active ways to be a part of our commitment to service at UCM.” Hair was one of the PR students accompanying Hansen-Horn on the study tour to Australia. He also demonstrated a commitment to gaining a worldly perspective through his UCM education.

In nominations, Hair was described as an “inspiring student leader” who “steps up and sees the bigger picture and carries what he has learned with him. He is one of UCM’s most shining examples of a commitment to service as well as what it means to be involved as a student here at UCM.”


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Opportunity in Action at Phillips Group

Editor’s note: Today we continue our learning adventure in Australia. Here Madison Hesseltine and Sterling Payne write about our visit to one of Australia’s leading PR agencies. 

The students of UCM were fortunate to be invited to the Phillips Group office to learn and engage with the public relations professionals of Phillips Group. Phillips Group is “an award winning, strategic communications, creative and digital company.” They do everything from media relations and branding to auditing and reviewing. The managing director of the group, Stephanie Paul, gave us an overview of the firm and insight about what we should expect during our visit. We split up into five groups and rotated around the office to listen to five different case studies presentations.  The case studies covered a wide variety of strategy-based public relations work from social media to media relations and community engagement. IMG_6542

One of the projects we learned about was The Queensland Anzac Centenary grants program. The project was from 2014-2018. The grants program helped communities deliver projects that honor the legacy of Australian servicemen and women. It also commemorated the 100 years since Australia’s involvement in WWI. 

Another project we learned about was the Michael Hill Jewellers project. In 2017, they planned to open a global flagship luxury store on George Street in Sydney. Their intent was to extend the brand into the premium luxury jewelry market. The results of the program were highly successful as a grand opening featured celebrities, influencers and social elite, politicians and many other official guests.

After the presentation sessions, we were treated to genuine Australian food. we sampled meat pies, sausage rolls and Australian sparkling drinks. We learned some interesting facts about Australia and learned some Aussie colloquialisms. For example, McDonald’s is often called Maccas, barbeque can be known as barbie, and Christmas can be known as Chrissie.IMG_6541

It was very interesting to learn about workplace culture and environment which is slightly different than back home,  but overall the similarities around how PR in Australia is practiced is very much comparable. Nicole Mense said, “It was very insightful to see how PR and marketing work together and how successful it is. After listening to the case studies from the Phillips Group professionals, we learned that the way Australians do PR, marketing and advertising is not much different than we do it in  The United States.IMG_6543

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#OpportunityInAction at QUT

This post was written by Shelby Bueneman, Madison Hesseltine and Fatemeh Ghazaei Najafabadi.

One of the many things that the University of Central Missouri prides itself on is the opportunities that they provides for their students.

On Thursday, December 13 we went to the QUT campus where we met a panel of professionals. The panel included Lisa Tam who moderated, alongside Nicolas Grech, Kaitlyn Gilles, Stephanie Mckell, and Eunice Tsai. Each professional at one point or another was linked to QUT now or in the past. Also, they practice with public relations, marketing and advertising.

During this visit we learned about how public relations and marketing in Australia differ from the United States. In Australia, a growing proportion of marketing budgets have been allocated to PR. Also public relations tends to be more resilient than advertising, especially during economic downturns. A great piece of advice they provided us with was to “justify what you do and why it is valuable.”

They also provided us with fun facts about different Australian customs and staples. From the Australian favorite spread, vegemite, to their nickname for swimwear of budgie smugglers. Along with fairy bread, Tim Tams, keep cups and genuine Australian souvenirs. What shocked us the most was learning about the overpopulation of kangaroos, and how they are considered pests to some Australians. They are allowed to hunt them and use their fur as well as other parts for souvenirs.

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“I thought that the panel was very informative and gave us an insight into Brisbane culture.” said Nicole Mense, one of the students on the trip. The presentation really helped the students develop a sense of how the country operates. It was a great opportunity for faculty and students alike to learn from the QUT panel about the country and its culture.

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The Adventure Continues

The next group of students to post from our Australian adventure is Shelby Bueneman, Taryn Burks and Jessica Santangelo.

Arriving to Brisbane was a bit of a process. First, we flew in from Sydney and from there we bussed our way to our hostel. Our hostel is a smaller building located by the river, called Brisbane City YHA. The rooms, however, are small, but there are options varying from the basic shared rooms from four beds to six beds, as well as private rooms. The hostel offers a gorgeous view from the roof including a roof-top pool, seating area, hammocks, as well as a bar/cafe near the reception area. It is located on the top of a hill that we all became familiar with as a group when we had to trudge our luggage from the bottom on up in the Brisbane heat. The average temperature during our two- week trip in the gorgeous city of Brisbane, is around 75-80 degrees.


After checking into our hostel, we familiarized ourselves with the rooms quickly to then head on a short tour with our guide Cole, who showed us around the Brisbane City area. During the walking tour, we saw the Brisbane Treasury, beautiful restaurants, gorgeous architecture, and Queensland University of Technology (QUT) campus. What we immediately noticed, is that the city is similar to the United States in ways, but the greenery was way more prominent. One thing Cole told us about Brisbane, is that they pride themselves in keeping their city clean and enforce this constantly, which explains the beauty of the QUT campus.


Also we immediately had to adjust to the opposite directions of the streets and the sidewalks to where we had to walk on the left side instead of the right, and look to the left when crossing the streets as well.

The QUT campus is located next to the botanical gardens where students can visit and enjoy the scenery in between classes. IMG_0670

The QUT campus has super-advanced technology, check out this whole wall taken up by a projected display of images.


The furniture was very modern and the architecture was advanced as well. The rooms were very spacious with tall ceilings and many of the classrooms have glass walls.

To wrap up our tour of Brisbane City and the QUT Campus, Cole guided us to a popular area in the city, Queen Street Mall. From there, he let us all go our separate ways to explore the shops and different dining options around the outdoor mall.

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Australian vs. American: the Difference is Clear

Editor’s note: This post comes to us from Sarah Arnett, Sydney Halas and Nicole Mense

People speaking with Australian accents, driving on the left side of the road and enjoying 80 degree weather in December.  This is what the average person believes to be true about experiencing Australia–and they would be right.

UCM students, however, are finding out the differences between American and Australian culture go much deeper than surface level.  The study abroad group has had the opportunity to appreciate the giving Australian culture, the interesting food and adapting to a new country’s slang.

As many students on this adventure are public relations majors, they have been utilizing their networking skills every chance they are given.  Locals have explained how much they value their country, their customs, and most importantly their people.  Australians seem to have a much greater sense of community as told by Lisa Tam.

“Australians choose to respect each other at a higher level than many other countries because we know how successful we can be when we are working together,” said Tam.




Another area where Australians have major respect is the environment.  It is rare to see trash sitting on the ground or rolling in the streets, unlike the United States. Students have noticed similarities between Australian and United States cuisine, but there are also many differences–particularly involving the actual dining experience.  In Australia, customers view the menu outside of the restaurant, order at the bar and seat themselves.  Customers can enjoy Australian specialties such as kangaroo, lamb and meat pies.  For Missourian tourists, the tropical fruit that is currently available in Australia is a sweet treat for smoothies, acai bowls or fresh fruit juice.  After enjoying a meal, tipping is not expected as servers are paid a liveable a wage and contribute less to the dining experience.

A huge part of the Australian experience is learning to understand their slang and common phrases.  Confusion has arisen on multiple occasions for students when they are asked if they want a “takeaway.”  In Australia, conservation of the environment is important, so a “takeaway” or plastic bag must be purchased when shopping.  Thanks to these environmental efforts, not many plastic bags are thrown away in the “rubbish.”  The new name for an American trash can is slightly different than what is seen in the states, but it did not take long to adjust to.



UCM students touched down in Brisbane only 48 hours ago, but they have gained a wealth of knowledge about Australian culture in that time. Throughout the next seven days, that knowledge will continue to grow as students further immerse themselves in Australian culture.


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Ready to explore

Editor’s note: today we hear from Kylie Dillon, Alex Nuelle and Yousef Alagha.

G’day mate! Arriving to Sydney Australia at 8 am was a bit of a struggle. A 16-hour plane ride over the Pacific Ocean is not one that you’d take on a normal trip in the United States, however it was one I’ll never forget. The anticipation was finally over. As soon as we could see the country of Australia you could see the relief on everyone’s faces. Everyone looking out the widow, people waking up people next to them to look at the beautiful country, the excitement was increasing. We were finally here. Right off the bat you could hear the accents in people voices, but not just Australian accents, ones from all over the world. Since arriving, I’ve learned that not many Americans come to Australia. Why you might ask? Well, the plane ride says it all.


After the short plane ride to Brisbane, we were rested and ready to go! At first, it didn’t even feel like we were in another country at all, until we realized that walking on the right side on the sidewalk was NOT the way to do it. People could definitely tell we just arrived! When we made it to the YHA, we had a short time to settle in. Our guide, Cole, took us around the city. We got to see many restaurants, shops and even some amazing wildlife at the botanical garden. The botanical garden even has WiFi so we can work on our assignments while enjoying the weather and the beautiful views. The QUT campus was absolutely beautiful and we are so excited to be able to visit it multiple times during our stay.


IMG_2126 We noticed from the moment we landed that everyone is so polite and patient here. The slang and sarcasm is something we’ll definitely have to get used to. One thing that particularly stood out was that you do not have to tip your servers. The minimum wage here is about $18 an hour and most people will not accept a tip. Walking around and learning about the culture here is something we want to continue to do. So far, the group and we have had an amazing time and we’re not sure that we’ll be ready to leave when the time comes.




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Switching Snow for Sunshine

Editors note: Our students are developing blog posts and social media content as part of the learning process for our study abroad trip in Australia. We’ll be posting them here along the journey. We have two posts to share that students prepared before our trip. The first is from Sarah Arnett, Sydney Halas and Taylor Thompson. Then we hear from Taylor Long, Yousef Alagha and Alex Nuelle.

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While many Missourians may be trudging through layers of ice and snow in early December, the UCM Public Relations Program will be soaking up the sun in the land down under.

In the first study abroad trip in UCM PR’s history, students of all majors and public relations professors will embark on a journey that includes learning through every step of the way.  Students will expand their knowledge of public relations and international travel, enjoy unique opportunities, and immerse themselves in Australian culture.

Students will engage in learning on their first tour in Brisbane while visiting the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) campus.  Over the course of two days, students will attend workshops put on by professionals.  This visit will enable students to get involved as they create and present a blog or social media post with UCM’s new tagline in mind, “Opportunity in Action.”  After the second afternoon at the QUT campus, students will speak with the Phillips Group.  Here, students will discuss case studies, listen to presentations, and receive materials that will assist them as future professionals.

Of course, this study abroad trip is not all work.  The itinerary includes one day dedicated to enjoying the Gold Coast.  The group will arrive at Surfers Paradise shortly after 11 a.m. and have the day to themselves.  Some students plan to do more than just lounge on the beach.

“I have always been interested in marine life, but I have never gotten the opportunity to experience it first hand,” said Nicole Mense, a junior marketing major.  “On the day we go to beach, I am renting a snorkel and goggles to explore the ocean.”

To wrap up the trip, the group will visit Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary.  This stop on the journey will integrate entertainment and learning.  Students will have free time to explore the sanctuary after visiting with employees to discuss how the sanctuary operates.

All the organized visits will provide learning opportunities for students, but one aspect of the trip that may provide more experience than any other is staying in the Brisbane City Youth Hostel.  The trip was strategically planned to take place during the holiday season.  This allows UCM students to interact with others from universities all around the world also on vacation.  As many students on the trip are public relations majors, it is important they learn to implement their networking skills in every possible situation.

Students and staff alike will have a busy schedule this winter break learning about international travel and public relations, partaking in excursions, and soaking up Australian culture.

Alumni, family and anyone interested in UCM PR’s first study abroad trip should follow this blog. It will be updated by students on the trip with posts including videos and pictures highlighting their group and individual adventures.  Even if the reader is at home layering up to brave the Missouri winter, they will, at least, have the opportunity to experience the land down under in spirit with UCM students and staff.

The Land Down Under

Taylor Long, Yousef Alagha and Alex Nuelle

The time has finally come. After what seems like an eternity of waiting and preparation we are finally heading to Australia, also known as “The Land Down Under”. Follow us on our journey to the great country of Australia and the beautiful city of Brisbane to see and hear about more!

Over 30 of us including students from several different majors as well as a few faculty and staff will be making the long journey to Australia from Kansas City . We have learned the slang, seen the places, and even learn some of their culture but now it’s time to finally get there and see how different this place is!

Before leaving we met several times with Dr. Hansen-Horn and talked about all the exciting things we would do while in Australia, how the time change would affect us and all the unique opportunities we would have to explore the city and surrounding areas. From workshops at QUT (Queensland University of Technology), and exploring the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary to walking around Brisbane on a warm sunny day and trying all sorts of new foods, we’ll be sure to see and do it all and post about it in our blogs.

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The city of Brisbane has so many things for us to see and do while we are there. Activities range anywhere from staying in the city touring a botanical garden to venturing outward and going on a rainforest tour in the Toohey Forest. There will surely be no shortage of activities for us to do in our free time while we are there.

As we pack our bags, with only a few short days before we embark on our trip, our anxiety is at an all-time high and our minds are full of ideas as to what life will be like while we are there.  Along with a whole new culture, a new unique group of people awaits us along with all sorts of new foods to try, sights to see and slang to learn.

We can’t wait to update our friends and families back home on such an amazing trip. Come on this journey with us and follow our blog and social media accounts!

Twitter: @UCM_PR_Program

Facebook: @ucmpr

Instagram: @ucm_pr.






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Greetings from Australia!

mo in brisbaneG’Day everyone, Prof. Heapes with just a quick note to let you know we are all safe and sound and have made it to beautiful Australia!

While it was about 33 hours from the time we all got to the Kansas City airport until we arrived in Brisbane, we are all super energized to be part of this great opportunity. Over the next several days we’ll be sharing the students’ observations and adventures from the Queensland University of Technology to the beach and the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary.


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It’s almost time for Australia

It’s almost time for all 36 of us UCM PR program students, friends and faculty to head for the Land Down Under. Australia here we come. The Mules are Brisbane-bound.

We joined forces before leaving and spent time in and out of the classroom learning about passport applications and renewal, visa criteria, international purchases, different time zones, and planning for 230 voltage malfunctions, among other things. Additionally, technology has let us make plans with Queensland University of Technology – Brisbane faculty for a two-day workshop. We’ll meet all kinds of new people and exchange diverse ideas; we’ll plan and devise a host of interesting study abroad social media posts and blogs. We’ll even be evening guests of the Phillips Group.AUS class meeting

As we stand on the cusp of our departure, our excitement about experiencing and learning new things is contagious. Most of those traveling with us have never been outside the US borders. And, while we know we will depart Kansas City December 9 in hoodies and winter coats, we know we’ll arrive in Australia needing our shorts and flip flops.

Sunny skies and warm days, here we come. We’ll even lose an entire day on the way over and find it on our way back. What an experience.

We’ve got graduate and undergraduate, and UCM family and faculty traveling together. It’s already an energizing and diverse experience. How invigorating to meet and interact professionally with others from your same university who have different interests and degree programs. How exciting to meet more than 30 Australian professionals and form new relationships with them. New friendships are taking place, as well as professional network building sure to last a lifetime.

With a lot of people and at lot of plans, the public relations worldview in us guarantees a host of storytelling during this trip. From using Adobe Connect meeting technology to bring our travel agents to us during on-campus class meetings (they came to us simultaneously from Colorado and Tennessee), to “teleporting” a student in from Cape Girardeau, Missouri we’ve already had some robust and real-time exchanges of ideas. We’ll tell you all about it from the students’ perspectives.AUS t-shirt back

You can travel with us, at least through the blogs we’ll share and social media posts we’ll make. Our story can be your story.

All of the traveling students will be involved in the storytelling process, helping you experience what they experience “along the way” and as part of “opportunity in action.” Sign up right now for blog notifications by entering your email address in the upper right hand box found at (the host of this particular blog). And, be sure to follow us (before we leave) on Twitter at @UCM_PR_Program, like our Facebook page (and follow it if you want notifications of posts) at @ucmpr and, finally, team up with us on Instagram @ucm_pr.cropped-ucm_studyabroad_australia_1757x738.png

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