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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A firm in a class of its own

AlexAn update from Alexandra, a junior majoring in psychology and English with a minor in women’s and gender studies in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences:

After a long, busy, and just plain exhausting day of traipsing through Washington, D.C., meeting SMU alums and other communications professionals, we reached our final meeting. Glover Park Group, a strategic communications firm, is housed in the 8th floor of a high rise. The interior of the corporation is sleek and stylish, with modern art adorning the walls, minimalist white furniture lining the rooms, and a wonderful view of the city out the large windows that surround the building.

By the time we reached our final appointment, my peers and I were quickly approaching collapse due to exhaustion. However, meeting with one of the managing directors for Glover Park Group woke us up quicker than a skinny vanilla latte with an extra shot. A former colleague of one of our own program supervisors, Candy Crespo, he began by telling us the story of Glover Park Group’s formation. The strategic communications firm was formed in response to the changing administration in 2001, and its original founders were mostly Clinton Administration officials.

It was obvious that he was part of a pretty selective group: he is someone who seems to legitimately enjoy the work that he does. He described corporate and strategic communications as “telling a good story” about what a corporation does and why it deserves our business. Strategic communications firms cover a variety of projects, from designing and implementing advocacy campaigns to working on litigation that will benefit clients. Glover Park Group isn’t just another public affairs firm, though. It stands apart because of its passion for advocacy. Its story isn’t about profit or power; it is about change for the better.

When asked to describe the challenges he faces in his work, he mentioned the difficulty of drawing people in when the firm was still small and hadn’t had a chance to develop its brand. As the firm grew, the challenge became getting clients to stay. Another challenge is the volatile nature of the social climate, especially in a city like Washington, D.C. Although one can’t always predict how people will respond to messaging, Glover Park Group has continued to grow and gain the trust of major corporations by successfully monitoring and reacting to the social climate in which it operates.

In the end, this managing director certainly won me over. When we asked him what we could expect should we get a job in corporate and strategic communications, he said, “The only thing I can promise you is that it won’t be boring.” I look forward to seeing for myself if that is true.

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