Making Communicators: A Conversation with Kim Dixon

What makes a great communicator? Is it the number of Communication classes you’ve taken? Or the amount of press releases you’ve written? Or the number of LinkedIn connections you have? Kimberly Dixon thinks otherwise – anyone can be transformed into a great communicator with eight (not-so-magic-after-all) qualities.

Kimberly Dixon, a UD alumna now working as Vice President of Global Corporate Communications at Weber Shandwick, one of the leading global communications agencies, certainty has the experience to prove her credibility. Since graduating from the University in 2007, she has held numerous positions in Public Relations which have helped advance her career. But in her words, the experience that was most influential in shaping her interest in Public Relations was actually right here at UD, writing for The Review. “It was there that my love of storytelling was born, and where I learned the value of writing with precision and clarity,” Dixon says. Working her way up to become a Managing Editor at The Review, she then had the opportunity to travel outside of Newark to research stories and interview key individuals, allowing her to see how writing and journalism can create an image, one of the fundamental parts of Public Relations. After graduating, she acquired a broad range of experience that has opened her eyes to the differences of working in-house for companies such as J.P. Morgan, versus for a larger agency such as Horn Group, PureWow, and finally, Weber Shandwick. Along the way, she has gained valuable knowledge that she was kind enough to share with us. Below are her Eight Characteristics of Great Communicators:


  • A Thirst for Knowledge – Be a lifelong learner, don’t let yourself become stagnant. Ask questions whenever you can and “always be intellectually curious!”
  • Seek Different Perspectives – There will be times in life when you will not always be an expert, nor will you be right. In these cases, it’s ok to ask for advice from other people and have an open mind because “diversity of thought is one of the most valuable skills to possess.”
  • Listen, as much, if not more, than Talk – Yes, you have to be able to articulate and communicate your thoughts and ideas, but there is a lot to be learned from listening to others. As Dixon emphasized, it always looks good to care more about the people around you than yourself, and as her father said to her, “You have two ears and one mouth for a reason!”
  • Be Allergic to the Status Quo – It is easy when you become successful to get such in a rut and revert to the same tried-and-true tactics. But it’s important to ask yourself, “How can I improve? How can I be different? How can I challenge the ‘status quo’ to set myself apart and succeed?”
  • Prepare! – The secret to having authority and confidence in any situation, while making it appear effortless, is preparation. Do your research, do your homework, and rehearse!
  • Hustle! – What you get out of your career is what you put into it, so make sure to use your energy wisely! Don’t rest on your laurels because the road to success never ends.
  • Tell the Truth; Be Transparent – In any industry, but especially in Public Relations, there is a responsibility to be honest and authentic. Doing so will not only make you a better person, but it will also show your integrity and strength of character.
  • Make an Impact – As Dixon says, “Communication is the currency of change.” We, as communicators, are in a unique position to make a difference in our world by using our skills and talents for the benefit of the common good.


The best thing about these characteristics, aside from the fact that they can be learned and developed, is that they never stop. We as humans, not just communicators, are a constant work in progress, and we can always find room to improve. Thank you, Kimberly, for sharing your words of wisdom with us and helping us become the best communicators we can be.

Rosalie Baseman is a junior Honors French and Interpersonal Communications double major with a minor in Fashion History and Culture. She will be taking on the role of PRSSA-UD’s Co-Program Director for the 2018-19 school year. She is also President of Yoga Club and Associate Editor of UDress Magazine.


#Hashtags to Live By


Cedric Bess wears two hats. He brought them – literally two hats – to last week’s PRSSA meeting, one bearing a New York Yankees’ logo and the other Mercedes-Benz. Cedric is both the Supervisor of Guest Relations with the Yankees and a Product Specialist and Supervisor at Mercedes-Benz. Is his words, he justifies balancing both professions because “sports is my habit, so I have to pay for my habit”. Sports, in fact, have always played a large role in Cedric’s life. His very first job was with the Junior Orange Bowl, as PR Director. His background also links him to PRSSA: he served as the National President of the nation-wide organization from 2000-2001. He has since been greatly involved with PRSA and even began his talk with some news and updates from the National Board. He then recalled the many opportunities PRSSA had provided him with as well as one of the main takeaways he learned, which is “be prepared to give back”. Cedric was kind enough to travel from New York City to Newark and meet with our chapter’s members.
Throughout his lengthy career, Cedric has learned a great deal from his college professors, mentors and peers. His goal was to share some of it with our members so that we could start applying it earlier in our careers, as he wished he had done. He compiled his advice into a list of “hashtags to live by”, which include the following:

#ThinkOfAMasterPlan – Start with short-term and long-term goals and compartmentalize them into “bite-sized morsels” to ensure that you can achieve them. Write these goals down because doing so is “speaking them into existence”.

#HitTheBooks – Research the companies you want to work for. If and when you get an interview, tell the company something about themselves. For example, congratulate them on something they were in the news for. People love to talk about themselves.

#SpringCleaning – Clean up your online presence (yes, companies do Google search you) and update your profiles with your most relevant experience.

#SuitAndTie – Dress for the job you want to have, not necessarily the one you have.

#WorkIt – Attend professional networking events. No matter what stage you’re at, employers are looking at you as experts in your field. Sometimes you have to go out and find them in order to share your expertise. Get involved on campus, like writing for the school newspaper in order to showcase your skills.

#GetOutThere – There are hundreds of organizations out there. Explore different areas because it can provide you with another perspective on your own area.

#WaxOnWaxOff – Find your Mr. Miyagi; Find a mentor that can teach you the ways. Keep a core of people that you can lean on and trust. They can talk you through questions you may have later in your career.

#InchDeepMileWide – Be a service to yourself by learning a few things about a ton of topics because you never know what situations you’ll find yourself in later in life. Better yet, find something you know nothing about and learn about. Search daily headline, listen to podcasts…

#Can’tStopWon’tStop – (Yes, this is a P-Diddy reference) You can’t let anyone tell you that you cannot do something. Life happens, but you’ll have to figure out how to still accomplish things.

Cedric ended his talk with two quotes, the authors of which may come as no surprise: 

1. “There may be more people who are talented than you, but there’s no reason someone should work harder than you” – Derek Jeter.

2. “The best, or nothing” – Mercedes Benz.

 Thank you so much for coming all the way to UD to share your awesome advice! Keep #Hustlin.

A Test with RideShare Delaware: PRSSA’s Marketing Practice


One of the most essential skills for any PR person is learning how to market. Whether it’s understanding your audience, brainstorming social media posts, or utilizing effective campaign strategies, marketing is the core of a PR career. On Monday at our weekly PRSSA meeting, we did just that.

RideShare Delaware, a program sponsored by DART First State, seeks to reduce vehicle emission and reduce traffic by encouraging Delawareans to give rides to each other. With the RideShare app, you can match up with work colleagues, students, or friends to carpool to the same destination. The “Me” tab on the app allows you to see how much money you saved, how many gallons of gas you saved, how many calories you burned, and how many points were earned. Points earned from the carpools can then be redeemed as “Rewards,” such as restaurant discounts or store coupons.
PRSSA was challenged to devise a marketing plan for RideShare. Gia Nassir, the program’s current PR intern, needed the best marketing strategy possible to grow the business. We split into three different groups to determine what kind of audience they would target to, as well as what the best social media presence would be. My group created hashtags like #deridefree and #udridefree, and we tried to figure out what the best rewards would be. It seems that college students would benefit quite a bit from this app – commuter students could carpool and off-campus students could make it class more easily, while also helping the environment! IMG_9109We brainstormed a few restaurants on Main Street that RideShare could use as reward incentives, and we tried to figure out the best way to spread the word about the app. Making RideShare’s presence known on social media through ambassadors (like fraternity/sorority leadership or sport team captains) would be an excellent way to increase the app’s popularity, and coordinating with HR departments for various Delaware businesses would help reach the more professional demographic.
It was interesting to see how much went into creating marketing strategies. To those who’ve never done it, it may seem simple at first – determine your audience, reach out to them, and engage with them in digital media. But it’s much more complicated than that. Creating the most effective marketing campaign requires energy, expert knowledge of audience engagement, and passion for social media. It was great meeting Gia and helping her determine the best marketing plan, and speaking of marketing, follow RideShare on social media! Their Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram is @rideshareDE!

Danielle Fahey is currently a senior at the University of Delaware majoring in English with minors in global studies and interactive media. Upon graduation, she hopes to work in communications, marketing, and/or content writing. She’s also involved in Gamma Sigma Sigma and National Residence Hall Honorary.

Media List Creation 101


Having just started my first Public Relations internship at AB&C, I quickly came to understand the importance of media lists in day to day activities at a typical PR firm. They are the means by which all communication with media outlets survive. They come in all shapes, they come in all sizes, and they come with all different goals in mind. They need to be updated consistently and organized with meticulous care.

Because I had entered into my journey at AB&C having made only small, mock media lists, I wanted to share some helpful insights with our members that I wish I had known just a few months ago when I was tasked with making my very first, real-life media list.

In short, here’s what I shared:

  • A media list is is a document of the key media contacts who would be interested  in your story.
  • The creation of your media lists needs to start by pinpointing who your target audience to determine which mediums (TV, web, print, radio, etc) and specific publications you will be targeting.
  • You need to conduct research into the reporters that cover stories in your beat.
  • A media list is typically organized using an Excel sheet with columns outlining the first and last name of the reporter/editor, the publication they work for, their contact information (phone, email, etc.), their social media handles, and the beats they typically cover.

Being the Vice President of Professional Development for PRSSA-UD, I feel that it is important to create Skill Slams that not only focus on getting a job or internship, but also on the real life tasks you will be completing  once you land that dream position. Having our members physically create their own media list at the first Skill Slam of this semester is something I know that our members will carry with them into the PR careers. Exercising the technical skills of the industry will truly familiarize our members with the realities of PR, which will not only make them confident in their knowledge of how to do their jobs, but will make them stand out in a crowd – or stack of resumes.  

Anastasia is a Junior Interpersonal Communications Major who serves as PRSSA-UD’sVice President of Professional Development. In addition to PRSSA, she is also a Sister of Chi Omega. She says, “PRSSA has been an amazing resource to turn to when I have needed any kind of professional advice.”

The Winter Olympics as a PR Enthusiast


This past week, the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea officially came to a bittersweet end. There will be no more staying up way too late around the television with friends and family seeing if the United States can come away with the gold. No more anxiously checking social media to see if so-and-so did as well as predicted. And no more pretending to be experts in sports we only watch every four years during the Winter Olympics.

However, now that the closing ceremonies are over and the athletes have gone home, many brands are reaping the benefits of Olympic advertising and analyzing how social media played a role in the 2018 Winter Games. Corinne Cuthsbertson, brand advertising and digital marketing executive for SunTrust said, “…there’s an [average] 83-percent increase in brand memorability after the Olympics ends.”

Brands going into the two weeks of the Olympics focused on brand story-telling of the themes of unity, sportsmanship and equality as seen by Toyota’s new global brand positioning, “Start Your Impossible.” This campaign is working to promote Toyota as an “mobility” company, not just another generic car company. They do this through focusing on some Paralympic athletes and highlighting some of their new mobility technologies they have been working to develop.

From a social media perspective, Snapchat and Twitter have provided unique ways of connecting with people during the Olympics. Snapchat, through their partnership with NBC has connected more features, including a live Snapchat feed that lasted close to six minutes at least once a day as well as other news coverage. This allows NBC to connect with many millennials who may not have a television in their dorm room or apartment.

Twitter has provided a unique aspect of branding for the Olympics through famous people and influencers tweeting live about the games. This again relates to the idea of unity that the Olympics fosters, as people from many different backgrounds can interact through such a flexible platform.

As technology continues to change and evolve, platforms and brands will alter the ways they present their content during the Olympics. For that, we must wait until Summer 2020 in Tokyo. This being said, I believe that the themes of unity, sportsmanship, and equality will continue to be forefront, truly encapsulating what the Olympic games are about.


What We Can Learn from Super Bowl LII Ads


Chants of “Philly Philly” and the classic tune of hope and victory, “Fly Eagles Fly” pervaded the University of Delaware campus as Blue Hens tuned in to root for the Philadelphia Eagles during Super Bowl LII. For passionate public relations students, however, it became an occasion not only filled with friends, food, and fun but also an opportunity to analyze the best commercials of the “biggest night of the advertising year.”

According to Sports Illustrated, brands spent, on average, more than $5 million for a mere 30-second spot. In response to the recent presidential election and subsequent divisiveness seen across the country, many ads took on a partisan stance through their messaging during Super Bowl LI (for example, see 84 Lumber’s The Entire Journey commercial). By contrast, Adweek noted three major trends throughout this year’s content: multiple spots, humor, and in some cases, an emphasis on altruism to take action against issues plaguing the nation and world.

In a world characterized by shorter attention spans and increased digital multitasking, brands need to spark higher recall through the repetition of their messages. Tide laundry products had Stranger Things actor David Harbour perform in a variety of commercials parodying past Super Bowl advertisements that aired throughout the night. After consumers had seen multiple Tide ads, Harbour shattered the fourth wall by planting a question in the viewers’ heads: Was every ad they viewed from Tide? By now “owning” all of the subsequent ads through this earned media strategy, Tide proved the winner for the night and kept their product in the minds of consumers from the game to the next time they shopped for laundry products.

Humor is essential in helping consumers equate a brand to positive experiences. Mountain Dew and Doritos, products purchased together frequently, complemented one another through their strategic #SpitFire and #IceCold lip sync battle segments starring Morgan Freeman and Game of Thrones actor Peter Dinklage, respectively. Fans of these prominent influencers could then pick the winner of the comedic battle through social media accounts, especially through the use of a geofilter on Snapchat. In this way, both companies reaped the benefits not only of their highly-coveted spot on traditional media but also received free publicity from mentions of these hashtags. 

When consumers learn of the charitable efforts and humanity of a brand, they feel more confident buying products from them and supporting the cause. Dodge Ram decided to incorporate a risky brand message equating the quality and service of its American-made cars with Martin Luther King Jr.’s own virtues of service through a voice-over of his famous “The Drum Major Instinct” sermon. Personally, I agree with the backlash it received, as the company exploited King’s words to sell cars, entirely irrelevant from everything he stood for. The ad was even initially condemned by the King Center in Atlanta and King’s daughter, Bernice, for the use of his words and imagery in advertising. When considering a cause to support, brands should take into account, first and foremost, how they can help and how the cause fits into their vision to maintain authenticity.

By analyzing and learning from the best of the best (as well as some risky moves), we aspiring public relations professionals can learn what to incorporate into our own media messaging. 

Kicking off the Semester on the Right Foot


On Monday February 12, PRSSA-UD welcomed our first speaker of the 2018 spring Semester UD-graduate director of Communications for America’s division of the Campbell Soup Company, Michelle Reardon. She joined us to discuss her experience in the political and

product sides of the Public Relations industry. Attendees gained insight on her impressive experiences, such as working for past Vice President, Joe Biden, and the chemical company, DuPont. She started out as an English major with hopes of a career in the publishing industry but then went on to study International Relations.

As an intern for Biden, Delaware senator at the time, she wrote letters about supporting local projects. After working for Biden, she was employed by the state of Delaware to work with Tom Carper, another politician who supported education, children and families first, and economic development through bringing Astrazeneca, a large biopharmaceutical company, to Delaware. Michelle emphasizes how it is so important to believe in what you are talking and telling stories about.

Later on in her professional experience, she worked for Dupont where she promoted products by writing stories on biofuels and strengthening America’s energy security. She even took photographs that were made famous worldwide. Now at Campbell Soup Company she notes the importance of “figuring out the motivation to actually sway people.”

As someone who loves interviews, Reardon notes it’s crucial to always ask questions and never expect to simply answer them. She gave us the advice that your resume is always your first way to point your foot in the right direction.

Not only does she work for Campbell’s but she also is a mother of twins, helps promote her husband’s New York Times best selling books, and even builds media kits for her brother’s rock band in Long Island. Those in the audience for this enlightening speaker were engaged with her many years of experience, gifts of food and drinks, and sense of humor.

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Marissa DiGiacomo is currently a sophomore at the University of Delaware majoring in communications with minors in advertising and journalism. She has hopes to work in the public relations or journalism field once she graduates college. She’s also involved in yoga club, UDAB, and HerCampus.