Tag Archives: public relations

All in a Year’s Work: Top 10 SDSU Media Hits of 2011


Well, 2011 was an exciting year for San Diego State!  From a Sweet 16 appearance to a bittersweet send-off for President Stephen L. Weber, 2011 will be a year that all Aztecs will remember.  In the spirit of year-end lists that seem to populate news sites these days, I thought I would share some of SDSU’s biggest national news stories of 2011. And since I had a hand in placing most of them, I suppose this is a little bit of job security as well! We’ll keep at it in 2012 and next December I hope to have a list just as long! -Gina

  1. CNN.com featured San Diego State University student veterans in the story “Veterans transition from war zone to classroom.”
  2. The Los Angeles Times reviewed the Weber era in the story “Departing San Diego State president leaves a long, distinguished legacy.”
  3. A full nine months before we publicly launched our campaign, the New York Times included San Diego State University’s comprehensive fundraising campaign in their story “Amid Cuts, Public Colleges Step Up Appeals to Alumni.”
  4. ABC News featured research by San Diego State public health professor Joni Mayer in the story “Stricter Laws Needed to Keep Kids Away From Tanning Beds.” And in part because of her research, in 2012 California will become the first state in the country to ban indoor tanning for teens under 18.
  5. “Raising Graduation Rates, and Questions” in Inside Higher Ed featured SDSU’s graduation rates that nearly doubled over 1o years.
  6. Associated Press wrote a story on new research from SDSU psychology professor Jean Twenge about today’s college students  being more confident than previous generations in “New data on college students and overconfidence.” I can always count on Jean for at least one solid national hit each year!
  7. SDSU geology professors Tom Rockwell and the always entertaining Pat Abbott appeared on CNN and Headline News to help explain the uncommon earthquake on the East Coast. They were also interviewed by USA Today and others.
  8. ESPN’s story “SDSU studies surf sustainability” featured our new Surf Research Center. Forget the puns, this research is all about doing good in places where surf is a tourist attraction.
  9. SDSU launches only the second LGBT major in the nation and the San Diego Union-Tribune comments section lights up!
  10. The new Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit in New York City is curated by SDSU religious studies professor Risa Levitt Kohn. She talked about it on NPR last month after being featured in dozens of national publications.

And in honor of our “plus one” in this week’s NCAA College Basketball rankings, SDSU’s march to the Sweet 16 in March was probably the biggest SDSU story of the year.  But it wasn’t just our student athletes that made a name for themselves in 2011, “The Show” went national and was tagged among the best student section in all of college basketball by ESPN.

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alternative spring break in Buenos Aires, Argentina


This spring break I, along with 14 other SDSU students, had the opportunity to spend a week studying business in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Fifteen students from different backgrounds, class levels, and majors brought together in a country none of us had ever visited. This is the first study abroad program of its kind at SDSU, and all of us agreed it was a great success.

It’s hard to capture an experience like this in a few simple paragraphs. There was a lot of laughter, a lot of pictures, a lot of inside jokes, and a lot of memories. We had the opportunity to explore another side of the hemisphere while learning about more than just the tourist attractions of the city.

Monday, March 29

Group at Ketchum Argentina

Our group at Ketchum Argentina. (I'm on the far left.)

Today was our first official day of programming in Buenos Aires. First we heard from the CEO of Ketchum Argentina, a sector of one of the world’s most successful public relations firms. Public relations serves the same purpose in every country, making your company look good, but how you go about doing that all depends on the culture and people you are serving.

A representative from the American Chamber reiterated this theme by teaching us about business differences between Argentina and the United States, and we learned about some failing attempts certain U.S. companies had when trying to infiltrate the Latin American market. Our last stop of the day was at Norton Winery (they sell their unique Malbec wine at Costco), where we heard about the changing wine market, exporting globally, and then played games and toured the facility.

At night, a few of us headed to La Bomba, a drum show where many of the locals gather to hang out. It was definitely the best part of the trip so far. The intense energy and vibe of the music pumped us all up as we were immersed in the Argentinean culture. Each of us got an idea of what locals our age would normally do with friends. Here are a couple videos of the La Bomba show:

La Bomba Video #1 – http://twitc.com/Pz2vlJoy

La Bomba Video #2 – http://twitc.com/Pxr5ohPj

Tuesday, March 30

This morning we got the opportunity to tour Ford Argentina. We watched a car being built from start to finish and met some of the factory workers on the line. No doubt, it was probably the only time any of us will get to see the process up close.

We all ate together at the normal 10 p.m. Argentine dinner time. Steak in Argentina is ridiculously good and ridiculously reasonably priced, which is a pleasant escape from our normal college student food choices.

Wednesday, March 31

Group at Bimbo Bakery

Our group at the Bimbo bakery.

Today we visited another factory, Bimbo bakery. Once again we got a tour of the factory and saw the product from start to finish. Our tour guide gave us some insight into advertising for Bimbo.

In Argentina, kids don’t eat cereal or Pop Tarts for breakfast; they have toast, so Bimbo’s cuddly bear icon is the perfect tool to help with their family-oriented marketing. They loaded our tables with muffins, crackers, and other products to try, then sent each of us home with a bag of more food. Free food for college students…definitely a win.

Later we visited one of Argentina’s premiere business schools and heard a lecture from a marketing professor. Many of the foundational business practices were complemented by Argentina’s unique styles and customs.

Thursday, April 1

Group volunteering with kids

Visiting a local home for low-income kids.

Today was by far the best experience of the trip. We visted a local home where over 300 low-income children come to eat every week.

We played games, made snacks, and spent a few hours getting to know the kids. Seeing the joy of these kids who had so little inspired all of us. Having the opportunity to wrap up a week of business-style meetings by getting our hands dirty and hanging out with kids was a priceless experience.

Even though only a few people in our group spoke Spanish, we had no trouble interacting despite the language barrier. The kids were happy to have someone to talk to, whether we knew what they were saying or not.

Group at Tango lessons

Our group at the Tango lesson.

Later on we headed to a local Tango show and received dance lessons. The Tango is Argentina’s claim to fame. The passion and energy of the dance is representative of the whole culture.

We weren’t the most talented group they’d seen, but hey, we gave it a try and learned a little something to bring back to the states. Check out my Tango video to see what it was like:

Tango Video – http://twitc.com/Psc6ikUo

Friday, April 2

Our final excursion was a visit to Tigre, an area just outside of the city on a delta that connects over 500 small islands. Boat taxis and buses help people get around to shopping, school, and home. We kayaked down the river to one of the islands. Let’s just say it was an experience…some of us fell in, some ran into stuff, some ran into more stuff, but in the end we all had a pretty good time.

~Desiree Roughton, Communications Student Assistant, Enrollment Services

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Social Media No Replacement For Good PR


Let’s get something straight, Social Media is not a replacement for media relations.

At least not the way we’re implementing it here at San Diego State. And I doubt, really, anywhere else. I’ve been talking to a lot of groups about how we’re using social media here at SDSU and the one thing that continues to be brought up is a concern that we are somehow leaving behind the “old way” of doing things, or neglecting traditional media.

Public Relations  Skills Still Necessary

Public Relations Skills Still Necessary

The media do follow us on Twitter and, in one instance, led one of their stories by quoting one of our Tweets (Twitter has become the modern version of the police scanner).

But Social Media is a tool. It’s a vehicle for sharing news and information that has already been written or produced, whether it be in house or by a third party journalist. I look at it as a more efficient way to make photo copies of clips and mail them to stakeholders. And it can and should be used as a way to communicate with the media – if that’s the best way to reach them.

But Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. will never be a replacement for good, solid, public relations practices, like being timely and newsworthy, understanding deadlines, being responsive, having a good pitch, establishing relationships and knowing how to write.

SDSU’s media relations team takes dozens of calls each week from reporters looking to speak to an expert faculty member about a story they may be working on. We still send out press releases – sometimes we now use video to enhance the story. We still do TV interviews to discuss issues happening on campus. And we still get excited when we have a good story that comes out in print.

Just as many journalists over the last decade decided that they only liked to deal with PR people via email, there will be some journalists, I suspect, who prefer to do all their PR dealings over social networks. But I believe that will be the exception, not the rule.

Of the many ways we use social media at SDSU, media relations is way down on the list. We use it to share news and information about the university, its faculty, staff, students and alumni with our many audiences who may no longer pick up the morning paper or tune in to the evening news. We also engage those stakeholders who are on the social media networks, responding to questions, congratulating them on graduating, and providing them with news and information about the university that we hope will help them be proud of their school, and to be “ambassadors” for us.

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