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Robertson School professors showcase media relations training project at national conference

Jul 17, 2019

Posted in: News

By Taylor Burress, Communications Intern

Two Robertson School professors have been accepted into AEJMC’s 2019 Great Ideas For Teachers (GIFT) competition for a unique cross-sequence collaboration. The accepted GIFT is the result of a submission by professors Joshua Smith and Dr. Tim Bajkiewicz, who have worked together over four years on a unique media relations training project for students. Their project will be showcased at the AEJMC Conference in Toronto, Canada in August.

“We submitted to AEJMC for a cross-departmental project that’s four years in the making, and takes considerable coordination by Dr. Bajkiweicz, Gary Gillam, and the PR faculty teaching MASC 333,” said Joshua Smith, assistant professor of public relations and public relations sequence coordinator. The Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) is a national organization for journalism and mass communication professors, students and media professionals. 

The project brings together writing assignments and interviewing skills in MASC 333: Technical Writing and Media Relations, a required course for all PR students. The on-camera portion of the project includes the creation of media kits, pre-interview research, lectures for on-camera preparation and instructions to conduct a two-minute on-camera interview. In its four years, the project has allowed nearly 500 PR students to participate in a simulated live television setting.


“I felt really nervous and scared before doing it, I don’t like being on camera,” said Tara Albermani, a senior public relations major. “After, I was relieved that I did it and proud.”

A major feature of the project is the interview which takes place in the Robertson School’s television studio located on the first floor of the T. Edward Temple Building. As an added collaboration, the project brings PR students to the studio; a space with high-tech television equipment traditionally reserved for Journalism students.

“I see the immediate effect of the assignment, since I'm usually the person who does the on-camera interview with them,” said Dr. Tim Bajkiewicz, associate professor of journalism. “Students can be very nervous before the interview, but after they realize that they can do it--and maybe even have fun!”

For Smith and Bajkiewicz the goal of the project is to continue to bridge the gap between the classroom and industry, allowing students to feel the real stressors of the media relations process, including release writing, pitching, and performing in an on-camera setting. Their project has provided Robertson School faculty members and students from the different sequences an opportunity to collaborate. This has helped create a learning experience for the entire school.

“Journalists and PR professionals work together in industry all the time, so it's important that we have real experiences with those relationships now, in college,” said Bajkiewicz.

“The experience taught me how to act on camera," Albermani said. "You never know what’s going to happen in the future and if I need to be on camera. At least I have a whole lesson plan I can look back on to see what to do and what not to do.”

According to AEJMC, this year’s Great Ideas For Teachers (GIFT) competition hit a record number of entries, with Bajkieweicz and Smith’s accepted as one of the Top 25.  After the posters session on Aug. 7, a Grand Prize Winner from the top 25 submissions will be announced.