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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Alumna research spotlight

We’re super proud of all of our alums, so many of you are going on to do great work in our profession.Today we say congratulations to our own Cara Mahon. Cara earned her master’s degree recently from the University of Missouri.

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Cara, who works for AWG,  did some really interest research for her thesis about how independent grocery retailers (like AWG members) can successfully market and communicate their online grocery shopping offerings to their customers to secure sales online and in-stores. She did this through marketing email communications.

Here is a summary of the research Cara posted on AWG’s blog and was nice enough to let us share here.

Students and anyone reading this who might be interested in public relations, this is a great example of the kind of work people are executing in the public relations profession.

Thanks Cara, we’re super proud of you. Let us know what you’ve been up to and we’ll be glad to share it here.


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From first generation UCM student to first time international traveler

You may or may not know that many UCM students are first generation college students. Likewise, most students wanting to travel with us in December to the Land Down Under will be first time international travelers. It’s a terrific opportunity to expand worldly visions and connect with Queensland University of Technology School of Advertising, Marketing and Public Relations colleagues, as well as many other Australian professionals, through engaged learning experiences.


You Can Help!

This is where you come in. Because most UCM students work one, two or three jobs to put themselves through college, and because UCM can no longer help students study abroad as easily as it could in the past through study abroad scholarships, we’re appealing to alumni and friends to help scholarship students’ Australia trip.

Our traveling abroad opportunity will allow students to experience a new culture, train with professionals, and visit organizations that do business in other countries. These are priceless experiences. UCM students who’ve applied for the December 2018 study abroad Australia experience know this too. They just need financial support to get there.

It’s easy to support the students, many who’ve already been saving for the trip for more than a year. Just click and give here: Simply choose “other” in the dropdown menu.

Any contribution amount counts. It all goes to a designated fund overseen by the UCM Alumni and Foundation Office. Funds received for this purpose will be evenly distributed across all Australia-bound UCM students.

We leave Dec. 9 and return Dec. 21. Students from all majors and all points in their college career can travel with us and learn through the two classes associated with the trip. December graduates can go to Australia with us and complete their UCM credits earned through the trip (and accompanying assignments) in time to graduate. The two classes relevant to the trip are PR 4600 PRomotion and Australia, and PR 4600 PRomotion and International Travel. The courses are structured to adapt to students’ areas of expertise.

To learn more about the once-in-a-lifetime trip, click here:

#UCMStudentsHeadToTheLandDownUnder #UCMGoesToAustralia

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It Really Is All About Strategy

By: Tom Heapes

Time for a quick humble brag from the UCM PR Program. I’m very proud of my colleagues Dr. Tricia Hansen-Horn and Dr. Adam Horn. In addition to being all around quality people, they are also really, really smart. They’ve written a new book that will make us all a little smarter too. Public Relations Strategy, Theory, and Cases (Peter Lang Publishers) is just out and if you are studying or already working in PR, you’re going to like the opportunity to explore your profession through this book.

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At the UCM PR Program we’re all about strategy. It is the real key to effective communication with key target audiences. And strategy drives the learning opportunities in the Horns’ new book.

The book is easy to read and use. It breaks down the case study as a powerful tool for learning.

It involves the ability to read and apply theory like never before through clean writing and easy-to-use rubrics.

The featured case studies involving March of Dimes Rebrand; Inside Pediatrics Children’s Mercy Kansas City; Vanity Fair Women Who Do LiftTOUR; TouchNet + Heartland; WeatherTech Public Relations Super Bowl Ad Buy; ZF Race Reporter/Fan Reporter: Europe, Japan and the US; Pinnacle Not So Silent Night; Lee Jeans—Influencer Relations; Fight CRC One Million Strong Collection; Tips for Kids—Seventeen Years Later are developed with “best practices” in mind and were written in cooperation with public relations professionals working behind-the-scenes in each case. The Dairy Queen’s Fan Food Not Fast Food Campaign: Retrospective Cases Analysis from the Outside is an example of the insights one can glean from intense research and retrospective sense-making.

Many outstanding PR pros helped with the case studies.

“It’s vital for the business community to collaborate with professors and practitioners who are inspiring the next generation of talent. The role of public relations is rapidly evolving. This new book is a shining example of how collaboration can be achieved to share real-world work with students. It’s an honor to be part of the curriculum, as the examples in this book involve a variety of unique challenges. The communication strategies go beyond classroom theory to best practice.”

Jeff Madden, Senior Account Supervisor –Trozzolo Communications Group

So if you’re looking for a great boardroom training tool or want to learn more about applying theory to training, check out Public Relations Strategy, Theory, and Cases. And, by the way, it’s affordable.…


Public Relations Strategy, Theory, and Cases

Praxis at Its Best

Tricia Hansen-Horn and Adam E. Horn

Presenting a robust introduction to public relations strategy, this book helps readers explore their perceptions of what strategy is or might be; highlights influencers of strategic decision making such as distinctions among B2B, B2C, and B2G as well as public relations roles and organization types; discusses the education and training value and limitations of the popular case study; and provides a easy-to-understand overview of four theories important for every “student” (academic and non-academic) of public relations to understand. Excellence theory, contingency theory, rhetorical theory, and social capital theory are introduced. In the spirit of praxis (the application of theory to practice), the authors provide theory-specific and other relevant “keys” for use as the reader seeks to apply what is read to actual public relations cases. As might be expected, highly structured case studies that clearly distinguish between objectives, strategies and tactics are included for the purposes of education and training. The featured set of case studies includes: March of Dimes Rebrand; Inside Pediatrics Children’s Mercy Kansas City; Vanity Fair Women Who Do LiftTOUR; TouchNet + Heartland; WeatherTech Public Relations Super Bowl Ad Buy; ZF Race Reporter/Fan Reporter: Europe, Japan and the US; Pinnacle Not So Silent Night; Lee Jeans—Influencer Relations; Fight CRC One Million Strong Collection; Tips for Kids—Seventeen Years Later; and Dairy Queen’s Fan Food Not Fast Food Campaign: Retrospective Cases Analysis from the Outside


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Workforce Skills: How to Prepare While Still in School

Brooklyn LutzToday’s guest post is from PR Program alumna Brooklyn Lutz, who comes to us all the way from Canada. 

Attending university has become a right of passage for many young Americans, as bachelor’s degrees are often viewed as the minimum requirement for getting a job. But are employers going to hire you just because you have a degree?

Whether students realize it or not, many of you are not taking full advantage of the time and money you are spending on education. Too many graduate with the degree but without the necessary skills required to succeed in the job force; skills as simple as problem solving, decision-making and the ability to prioritize and complete tasks on time.

So, whose problem is this to fix? While many may think it’s as simple as a curriculum update, the real answer is that only students have the power to find a solution. Here are a few ways you can help yourself:

  1. INTERNSHIPS: I cannot stress enough the importance of internships. Before securing my first job, I held three internship positions in my field, trying out multiple disciplines in public relations and beginning to learn the ins and outs of the industry. But what I didn’t realize at the time, was that I was beginning to learn things on my own, without the help of my professors. I learned time management and task prioritization, as my managers provided me with several projects to complete, confident that I’d complete them all on time, in the order deemed most important.

2. LEADERSHIP POSITIONS: While your course load can be demanding and time consuming, you’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t take on at least one leadership position during your university career. Once you enter the workforce, even in the most entry-level positions, you’ll find yourself being fully accountable for projects, meaning you’ll be in charge of creating the timeline for completion and providing status updates. If you take a leadership role in organizations like PRSSA and IABC, you’ll be ahead of the game, as you’ll already have time management and decision making

Ready to produce result

  1. GROUP PROJECTS: Throughout your university life, you’ll participate in several group projects, so it’s important to take on a different role in each to help develop your team player skills. Once in the workforce, you’ll encounter opportunities to lead a project, support in a logistical role, develop strategies, provide counsel, and do the executing, so it’s important to have the necessary skills for each. In teams, problem solving, decision making and time management are all extremely important.


  1. ASK QUESTIONS: Regardless of your position within a company, questions are the key currency. Possessing the ability to ask strategic questions will allow you to uncover imperative details related to your projects and illustrate to your leadership/management team that they can trust you to get a task done. Asking the right questions is the first step to problem solving and will get you that much closer to finding a recommended solution.

  Make sure you don’t become a statistic.

Brooklyn Lutz is a senior account executive on the client strategy team at Edelman Canada. Working as the day-to-day lead on her projects, she uses the skills she learned while in university to effectively manage projects and solve various issues brought to her attention. Brooklyn is a UCM PR graduate and a past president of the Robert L. Kendall PRSSA chapter. Here’s a short video of Brooklyn explaining PR for our students. 

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UCM PR Program Alum featured in national article

Here’s an article from Ragan’s PR Daily that features advice from UCM PR Program Alum Robert Fischer about how he uses a tool called CoverageBooks in his work. It is great to see our alums making news. Please make sure you pass along any mentions of your work too!



From Robert:

“If anyone is interested in learning about the resources PR pros use today or adding to their current arsenal, here’s a great article to assist. I’m featured sharing my tool I recommend for press clippings and reports.


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Day After Thanksgiving Giving Thanks for Alumni

The day after our Thanksgiving celebration can bring more holiday excitement, or Autumn wreaththanks giving can simply continue. As I think of the UCM PR program’s alumni and the powerful positive impact they’ve made since leaving us, I find myself deeply thankful. They make my job easier and, in fact, are often the key to student success.

Alumni engagement plays a vital role in higher ed success. Our alumni have a history of making profound impacts on our program and in students’ lives. While hard to find just the right words to tell how important you are to what we do, it’s still worth a try. In a nutshell, we are deeply grateful and admit that we can’t do it without you!

Luckily, the UCM public relations alumni are highly engaged with us and willing to mentor student after student. It’s an amazing culture of giving back. Why, just in the fall 2017 semester more than 50 alumni engaged with us directly in some way, whether that be visiting campus and speaking to students, arranging internships, participating in our annual PR Pro Day, visiting with interested students via Skype or Google Hangouts, serving as class clients, mentoring our Innovative PR student agency, providing professional advisory board insights, teaching for us in an adjunct capacity, providing behind-the-scenes access to businesses, giving generously to the UCM PR program fund, or serving as an IPR client. In fact, three #teamInnovativePR specialists just returned from a fantastic #EngagedLearning and #LearningtoaHigherDegree experience in Los Angeles, all led by alumnus and Fuegorita client Tony Winders. Visiting FOXLA and Ogilvy, conducting observational research at prominent pizza restaurants, and brainstorming for a hot pepper blend client, are all something to talk about. It’s opportunities like these provided to IPR specialists that help us produce ideal graduates.

Let me put on my official hat. Our program’s purpose is to transform students’ lives and produce ideal public relations graduates. Here’s our ideal public relations graduate description:

a strategic researcher, implementer, communicator and evaluator. The graduate is a skilled researcher who asks questions that help solve strategic problems/goals. After finding the answers, the graduate then puts those answers into action items that will contribute to the organizations or clients bottom-line. In order to be successful and to get results, the graduate understands how to communicate with his/her intended audience. Simply put, the graduate knows what to say, how to say it and when to say it. Speaking of results, the graduate also knows how to evaluate his/her action items success. How can the graduate do all of this? Because he/she has skills skills learned and honed in experiential learning environments (i.e., the classroom, internships, professional conferences, etc.). The dedicated student masters several professional skill-sets before graduation. UCM PR assessment documents

We work hard to produce ideal PR graduates, but we necessarily depend on our alumni to do it.

So, UCM PR alumni, hear us clearly — we offer our thanks.


Please stay involved. And, thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

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