Freshman PR Major Elected President of College Democrats

Hana BarkowitzSchool of Journalism and Mass Communication freshman Hana Barkowitz worked on her first political campaign when she was 16 years old. As a high school student in Pittsburgh, she decided she wanted to help President Obama get reelected in 2012.

Barkowitz was the second-youngest member of the Obama For America team in Pennsylvania, and she served as an organizing fellow. She went through special training and organized phone banks, canvassing events and voter registrations.

“I loved the lifestyle, I loved the people and working for a good cause,” Barkowitz said. “I was 16; I couldn’t vote. This was the only thing I could do to get this guy elected.”

Then, the summer before her senior year of high school, Barkowitz moved to Brooklyn to work on Bill de Blasio’s New York City mayoral campaign. Barkowitz said she’d like to move to New York one day, and as a “true progressive reformer,” de Blasio was supporting many causes she felt passionate about.

Barkowitz enjoyed campaigning directly with de Blasio throughout her time in New York while doing the same kind of phone bank and canvass work she did during the Obama campaign.

“I was all ready very interested in politics, and that experience just verified that’s what I wanted to do. It’s hard, it’s long days. It’s a young person’s game, that’s what they call it.”

Because of this experience, she was able to meet Bill Clinton and Cynthia Nixon, among other “VIPs.”

“Bill’s just as charismatic as you’d expect him to be,” Barkowitz said. “I was just so star struck. He remembered my name from the first time I saw him to the last time I saw him. He remembered I was from Pittsburgh, too, so it was pretty cool.”

Now, three years later as a freshman public relations major, Barkowitz has been elected the 2015-2016 president of the Kent State College Democrats after only being involved in the organization for one semester.

Barkowitz was on the radar of the College Dems before she stepped foot on campus as a student. Previous president Schad Dalton reached out to Barkowitz on Facebook to encourage her to get involved, even in an executive board position, right away.

It was the State of the Union address meeting in January that really drew her into the organization, though.

“It was incredible watching this guy I worked to get elected go on TV and see him talk,” Barkowitz said. “Being around people who supported him too was a really cool feeling. I was like, ‘Wow, this is awesome.’”

Within one month of getting involved in College Dems, Barkowitz was promoted to a membership director position, and later on in the semester, she was promoted again to acting president.

“It’s kind of surreal right now,” Barkowitz said. “It’s crazy, and after everything that’s happened this year, I feel ready to meet next year head-on. Being a PR major has definitely helped me through this.”

Barkowitz said her training in public relations classes, as well as the support of JMC faculty members like former CIA Senior Intelligence Service Executive and current PR Assistant Professor Stephanie Smith, has prepared her to take College Democrats to the next level at Kent State next year, especially going into a campaign year.

“Good PR is really going to help us let people know about our image and know who we are,” Barkowitz said. “I think everyone should be interested in politics at our age. It’s so important, and people don’t realize that. This is our future just as much as anyone else’s, so it shouldn’t just be the older generations caring about politics.”

Lessons Learned at the 2015 YouToo Social Media Conference

by Breyanna Tripp

Let me just start off and say that Gini Dietrich, keynote speaker, was amazing. She opened up her presentation talking about Hannah Mark W. Smith at YouTooMontana – I mean, Miley Cyrus – and I was instantly drawn in. Dietrich offered advice on how to get your clients to understand the process of public relations and that it takes time. Her presentation was centered on the idea of how “spin sucks,” which is based off her blog and book. The points she made about creating a campaign excited me because my PR classes have hammered the idea of strategic thinking in my head.

I also enjoyed Mark W. Smith’s presentation. Even though his presentation was about how The Washington Post uses its social media, I was still able to apply some of his ideas to my personal social media accounts. I loved his point about how you should deliver on promises instead of trying to trick people. People want to be able to see something of themselves in whatever you are delivering. I also attended his student-only session, and he was so humble. He thoroughly answered all of our questions, and it was great to be able to pick his brain.

I cannot wait to apply their advice to my future career as a PR professional. YouToo was so uplifting and inspiring.

CCI Students Elected to Student Government

Undergraduate Student Government elected two students from the College of Communication and Information to serve on the 2015-2016 board. Keri Richmond and Reginald Jones will serve as a director and a senator for USG.

Richmond, a sophomore public relations major, was elected as Director of Student Advancement. Her goal is to create an alumni-student mentoring program. She hopes this program will make it possible for students to interact with professionals before entering the professional world.

Richmond said the most prominent issue facing students at Kent State is retention. She believes the answer to the problem is student involvement. She said part of her focus is helping freshmen find something they are passionate about, whether it’s an organization or a cause, to help find connections within the university community.

She told Kent Stater reporters that her definition of leadership is not about titles or power.

“It’s about people – not what you have to say,” Richmond said. “That’s my leadership style.

Reginald Jones, a junior communication studies major, is the newly appointed senator for CCI.

His goal is to increase awareness within each of the schools in CCI about the opportunities and experiences their fellow CCI schools offer. He also wants to raise awareness about the new student ambassador program inside CCI.

His previous leadership experience taught him that it is important to meet with regular students as well as student leaders to gain input before making big decisions.

Jones told the Kent Stater that he thinks the most prominent issue facing students is that they don’t feel like a part of Kent State. He thinks students need to be encouraged to become more involved.

“That’s why as a member of USG, I will push certain programs and organizations to encourage students to get more involved on campus,” Jones said.

Kent State to Host Award-Winning YouToo Social Media Conference for Area Professionals, Students

Communications professionals will discuss the role of social media in public relations and marketing at the eighth annual YouToo Social Media Conference Friday, April 10, at Kent State University’s Franklin Hall.

The conference will take place from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. with a networking reception to follow at the Kent State Hotel and Conference Center. Professionals in public relations, communication and marketing, along with students studying these disciplines, are encouraged to register, but anyone can attend. Conference registration ends April 6 or sooner if seats are sold out. The event is a fundraiser for the YouToo Social Media Scholarship.

The opening speaker is Mark W. Smith, the editor for mobile web at the Washington Post. Smith is an expert in social and digital media in journalism. He worked at USA TODAY as the senior manager for social media marketing and at the Detroit Free Press as the assistant editor for digital media. While in Detroit, Smith built the newspaper’s social platforms and wrote technology columns that appeared in most U.S. newspapers.

Smith says that “by studying user behavior — and what motivates people to share, comment and like — we can learn how to craft a social message that is designed to be shared.” He will talk about what the rise in mobile web use means for those who create social experiences and how communicators can create a social experience that is built to be shared.

Gini Dietrich, the founder and CEO of integrated marketing communications firm Arment Dietrich, will be the keynote speaker at the conference. Dietrich is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, lead blogger at Spin Sucks and founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

She will address topics like how to communicate honestly, responsibly, openly and authentically with all client stakeholders; working with customers who control your brand; and understanding how the digital world affects public relations.

“We live in a world where content farms, Internet spiders and fake accounts have the potential to ruin one’s experience online,” Dietrich says. “But, just like the Justice League, we prefer to fight evil with good. And that’s exactly what my book, Spin Sucks, teaches you.”

Professional conference attendees will receive a complimentary copy of Dietrich’s book, Spin Sucks: Communication and Reputation Management in the Digital Age with paid admission. Dietrich will sign books immediately following her discussion.

Students will also have the opportunity to connect with public relations professionals during the student breakout sessions and at the post-conference happy hour event at the Kent State University Hotel and Conference Center. Students need to register by Wednesday, April 1, and arrive before 8:30 a.m. on the day of the conference to connect with their mentor.

The conference is hosted by the Akron Area Chapter of Public Relations Society of America and the Kent State University Chapter of Public Relations Student Society of America.

Sponsors of the conference include Kent State University’s College of Communication and Information, Robert J. Events and Catering, Star Printing, Kent State University’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication, AKHIA, True Digital Communications, Evolve, Northeast Ohio Medical University, Triad/Next Level, FedEx Custom Critical, Regional Marketing Alliance, ADM Board, McKay Bricker Framing/Black Squirrel Gallery and Gifts, Akron Children’s Hospital, The Buzz Maker! LLC, InfoCision, Marcus Thomas LLC and Kent State University’s School of Communication Studies.

Conference proceeds support the YouToo Scholarship Fund, the Kent State University PRSSA Chapter and the Akron Area PRSA Chapter.

For more information about registration, conference pricing and updates, visit Find YouToo on Facebook,Twitter or via email at  

2015 McGruder Lecture and Awards Luncheon Takes Place April 1

Notable casting director tapped for Media Distinguished Leadership Award

Kate O'BrianKate O’Brian, president of Al Jazeera America, has been named the 2015 winner of the Robert G. McGruder Distinguished Guest Lecture and Award for Diversity by Kent State University’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication. The award recognizes the accomplishments of media professionals who encourage diversity in the field of journalism.

Kent State’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication will honor O’Brian at an awards luncheon and lecture on Wednesday, April 1. The lecture, which is free and open to the public, will take place at 2:15 p.m. at the Kent Student Center Kiva. O’Brian will be the keynote speaker at the lecture. Following her lecture, she will be presented with the Robert G. McGruder Award for Diversity

Lillian Pyles, one of the most familiar and respected names in the Cleveland casting industry with film credits such as Spider Man III, Antwone Fisher and The Soloist, will be recognized at the annual McGruder luncheon as the 2015 Diversity in Media Distinguished Leadership Award winner. The luncheon is by invitation only, and will include comments by Pyles. Special awards will be given to student media representatives who have reported on diversity issues in the past year.

The luncheon and lecture are co-sponsored by Kent State’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication and the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

Todd Diacon, Ph.D., Kent State’s senior vice president for academic affairs and provost; Alfreda

Lillian Pyles, a familiar and respected name in the Cleveland casting industry, will be recognized as the 2015 Diversity in Media Distinguished Leadership Award winner.
Lillian Pyles, a familiar and respected
name in the Cleveland casting industry,
will be recognized as the 2015 Diversity
in Media Distinguished Leadership Award

Brown, Ed.D., vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion; AnnMarie LeBlanc, interim dean of the College of Communication and Information; and Thor Wasbotten, director of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, will speak at the luncheon. Special guest Annette McGruder will be recognized for her continued support of diversity initiatives and the School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

About Robert McGruder

The late Robert G. McGruder was a 1963 graduate of Kent State and a foundational local figure for diversity in journalism.

He went on from Kent State to become the first black editor of the Daily Kent Stater and first black reporter at The Plain Dealer. McGruder marked several other firsts in his career, becoming the first black president of the Associated Press Managing Editors group and the first black editor of the Detroit Free Press, in 1995 and 1996.

McGruder was a strong proponent for diversity in and out of the newsroom: “Please know that I stand for diversity,” he said once. “I represent the African-Americans, Latinos, Arab-Americans, Asians, Native Americans, gays and lesbians, women and all others we must see represented in our business offices, newsrooms and newspapers.”

For more information about the Robert G. McGruder Award or event, contact Eugene Shelton, associate professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, at

To RSVP for the luncheon by March 24 contact Darlene Contrucci at 330-672-2623.

For more information about Kent State’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication, visit

Media at the Movies: “A Fragile Trust: Plagiarism, Power and Jayson Blair at The New York Times”

Join Kent State University’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication for a screening of the 2014 documentary “A Fragile Trust: Power, Plagiarism and Jayson Blair at The New York Times” on March 10 at 6:30 p.m. in the Franklin Hall First Energy Auditorium (Room 340).

“A Fragile Trust” tells the story of Jayson Blair, the serial plagiarist of our time, and how he unleashed the massive scandal that rocked The New York Times and the entire world of journalism. The story of “The Blair Affair” is both a compelling, character-driven narrative about an important chapter in the history of journalism, and a complex story about power, ethics, race and accountability in the media. Featuring exclusive interviews, including Blair himself, “A Fragile Trust” is the first film to tell the whole sordid story of the scandal while exploring these deeper themes.

The screening will be followed by a panel discussion of ethics issues. Panelists include Jim Crutchfield, former publisher of the Akron Beacon Journal and current member of the board of the Knight Foundation; Brian Welsh, M.D., board-certified psychiatrist and chief medical officer at Coleman Professional Services; Deborah Barnhaum, Ph.D., chair of Kent State’s Department of Philosophy and ethics expert; and Thor Wasbotten, director of Kent State’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

  • Doors open at 6 p.m. Admission is free and refreshments will be served.
  • Movie begins at 6:30 p.m.
  • Panel discussion and Q&A at 7:45 p.m.

The movie screening is sponsored by the Media Law Center for Ethics and Access (MLC) and funded by the Akron Community Foundation.

IdeaBase Students Earn Real-World Experience

IdeaBase Design ImageIn a new video, students and staff at IdeaBase speak about their experiences working on real-world client projects. Directed, edited and filmed exclusively by students at IdeaBase, the video shows how students from various backgrounds put into action what they’ve learned in their Kent State University classes. IdeaBase is a student-run advertising agency in downtown Kent and is a service of the College of Communication and Information.

View the video:

You can learn more about IdeaBase by visiting

Answering student questions for the College of Communication and Information at Kent State


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