The (in)famous UCM press conference

Recently students in Dr. Horn’s Strategic Planning class successfully completed their press conference assignment. In the weeks leading up to this assignment we reached out to our alumni who have all gone through the class to get their words of wisdom for the assignment.


The memories came flooding back for our alumni and they responded with their advice.

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Once the assignment was over, students were asked about their experience overall. Four brave souls were willing to share how they felt at the end. Students were asked:

  1. What was your favorite part of the press conference assignment?
  2. What is the number one thing you will take away from this assignment?
  3. What advice would you give to students completing this assignment in the future?
  4. Any additional thoughts?


Andy Weber, Junior, @Andolf2

1. My favorite part of the press conference assignment was the knowledge I gained. I learned how much work had to be put into this assignment and also how important it was to know even the smallest details of the event. The day before we presented I felt like I knew all of the facts and the timeline of this crisis. It felt great to be able to research the events and work together with my group to come up with possible questions we might be asked and how we were all going to handle possible situations.

2. The number one thing I will take away from this assignment is to just breathe. When you are up there giving your opening statement to the rest of your classmates it will seem overwhelming. Once I started answering questions and was telling my self to breathe before each answer, it helped me relax.

3. The advice I would give to future students is to make sure they study every single fact of the crisis and think about how they will put the information into their answers. Once you get up there in front of everyone, answers will come naturally because you studied and know the information. You never know what will be asked, but as long as you know facts and information you can at least use the bridging technique to talk about your key points if you don’t know how to answer.


Shelby Hobbs, Junior

1. My favorite part of the press conference assignment was getting to work with my group. Not only did it make researching the crisis a lot easier because we decided to divide and conquer, but it was also great to collaborate with my peers. None of us had any prior experiences giving press conferences, but we all had ideas to share that strengthened our opening statement and press conference as a whole.

2. The primary thing I took away from this assignment is that you can never do enough research. Even if you feel well-prepared and have done extensive research, someone can ask a question that completely throws you off. It’s important to get feedback from others so you can see the story from different perspectives, and ensure you’re as prepared as possible. If you’re knowledgeable about your company and the situation and understand how to analyze a crisis from the standpoint of the media, you are less likely to be thrown off by a curve ball.

3. Utilize your group. A lot of people cringe at the idea of group work because we all prefer to be independent, but the great thing about this assignment is that your group can’t hurt your grade – only help it. By collaborating with others, you can analyze the crisis from perspectives and angles you hadn’t even considered, and your group makes an excellent resource for practicing beforehand.

4. While this isn’t something I’d personally enjoy doing every day, I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to develop some of the skills required to give a press conference – especially in a closed environment, with helpful feedback provided so I know what to work on. A lot more goes into it than one might think, and it was a valuable experience to have.

me reboot

Tracy Graessle, Junior, @TracyAGraessle

1. My favorite part of the press conference assignment was easily the research aspect. I enjoyed reading and researching my event knowing that any question that would be asked, I would have an answer for. 

2. The biggest thing I will take away from this is to be more aware of my facial expressions. My resting face is intimidating. It is even more blank and intimidating when I am concentrating. I learned to pay more attention to my facial expressions and to not look mad, intimidating or sad.

3. I would tell future students to just stay calm. Anyone can accomplish this assignment if they keep their composure and start researching early. Do not wait until the last minute to put your entire press conference together. 

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Hank Kellerman, Junior

1. My favorite thing about the press conference was all the research and group time that went in to it. I felt like I got paired with a good group of peers and we put a surprisingly huge amount of research into the assignment. We would ask eachother questions and work together to cover any possible branch that one answer could create so we would be able to answer it. I never thought I would know so much about a plane that skid off the end of the runway but now I feel like I know the whole story inside and out (and then some.)

2. The number one thing I would take away from this assignment is the importance of research. You really do have to do so much digging to find relevant information. You spend hours trying to find all the details, but I must say… when it is all said and done you will feel extremely accomplished and much more knowledgeable as a whole.

3. For future students. Do your research. Work together. Don’t Procrastinate. And Practice. Practice. Practice. The other big thing to keep in mind is to be very careful what you say. When handling a crisis it is important to keep in mind what has happened and the mood behind it. You don’t want to offend anyone and you also don’t want to place blame on yourself. Watch your words!!!

4. Honestly. I was terrified of this assignment. I am a fairly decent public speaker and don’t get nervous in front of big groups of people, but this is an entirely different concept. After doing my press conference, I feel a million times better about future ones and know what I need to work on to better prepare myself for them. The first one is always the worst and after it’s done you will hopefully feel much better about any others you may have in store for you.

The semester and projects are winding down and students are starting to remember the taste of summer. What other advice do you have for students as they finish the year?

Andy Weber

Andy Weber

Ellie Whitt

Ellie Whitt

Morgan Mitchell

Morgan Mitchell

Jordan Saffer

Jordan Saffer

About ucm_pr_program

PRSA certified program in undergraduate public relations education, with growth in graduate education
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