Hilltop on the Hill 2013

Eight students are in Washington, D.C., in October 2013 as part of SMU’s Hilltop on the Hill program. The students will visit media and government sites, and meet with political communicators, journalists and SMU alumni. The trip is led by Rita Kirk, professor of communication studies in Meadows School of the Arts and director of the Maguire Center for Ethics & Public Responsibility; Sandra Duhé, chair of communication studies, associate professor and director of the Meadows School’s public relations program; and Candy Crespo, assistant director of the Maguire Center for Ethics & Public Responsibility. Endowed by the Bauer Foundation, the Hilltop on the Hill program also takes students studying political communication to political party conventions, the presidential Inauguration and the G8 Economic Summit.

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Lessons from a global local PR company

brianaAn update from Briana, a sophomore Hunt Scholar majoring in political science in Dedman College and communication studies in Meadows School of the Arts: 

“Only a life lived for others is a life worth living.” Albert Einstein’s words elicit the type of company Edelman is with its concern for its clients’ cultivation of ethics and integrity as well as for maintaining its own principle values.

Edelman PR is the definition of a global local company. Edelman has 67 offices around the world — demonstrating the breadth of the company — and yet it also has a sense of genuine authenticity — illustrating its depth. While at Edelman, we, the Hilltop students, spoke with four people, two of whom are SMU alumni — Jaime Deesing Zarraby and Erika Briceno. Through their discussions, they all revealed the variety and uniqueness “of the largest PR firm in the world” (Zarraby). The breadth is revealed in the number of domestic and international companies under Edelman, while the depth is revealed by its grassroots campaigns and continued ethical strivings.

One of our speakers shared with us the idea that “if content is king, community is queen,” meaning that you must find out what kind of community you’re dealing with. Honestly, this idea can reach into all facets of one’s life. We can apply this to the way we communicate to individuals on a daily basis all the way to news reports; community application is just as important as the content that is being said.

Edelman radiates a company culture concerned with maintaining the integrity of itself and concern for its constituents. The company’s Goodpurpose campaign is a big part of Edelman’s image. Goodpurpose “is a way to create a culture that examines the overall global values the company strives to achieve.” Part of the goal of this Goodpurpose campaign is to answer the overarching questions: “Who do you want to be talking about you?” and “How do you get them to talk about you?”

As Hilltop on the Hill students, we interacted not only with the largest PR firm in the world, but also learned from senior vice presidents of particular divisions of the company the importance of having concern for its community, message, and integrity of practice. The irreplaceable experience is exactly the nature of the Hilltop trip — Edelman simply served as a preface to the level of exposure all of us are so lucky to have. This is where we continue to see how once one finds their voice, they will change our world.

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