Paws and Public Relations

Most communication students say they learned career skills from professors and professionals, but few can boast wisdom learned from a canine source, as I have from my basset/beagle mix, Rosie.

This summer, Rosie and I fulfilled our dream of becoming a certified therapy team with Paws for People, a nonprofit organization that provides pet-assisted visitation services. We visit nursing homes and community events to provide furry, four-legged therapy (from Rosie, not me). Volunteering in this capacity has given me insight into effective communication and management of tricky situations, skills that transfer well into the public relations field. maddiebrooks

  • A good introduction makes a world of difference: At Paws for People, we learned how to properly introduce ourselves on each visit: identify ourselves and our dog, state our affiliation with Paws for People, and ask to approach. This set of guidelines helps establish credibility and trust with those we visit. We should seek to establish these same standards in our public relations careers. How can people understand the organization you represent, let alone trust it, without clearly understanding its identity and purpose? Never assume that your audience has the same background information you do – take the time to make a good introduction.
  • Situation management 101: I always joke on my Paws for People visits that Rosie is the real star of the show, while I merely function as her entourage. In reality, I am responsible for running my visits in a timely and professional manner while navigating busy nursing homes and controlling a curious dog. These visits give me experience in managing multiple tasks while keeping my cool, a crucial skill in public relations.
  • Are you listening to me? Listening is one of the easiest, but most often overlooked, ways to help someone. Most people I visit care more about having a listening ear rather than a dog to pet (though that never hurts). Listening closely allows me to determine people’s needs and build empathy. In doing what we consider good or valuable work, we can easily think of ourselves more often than the audience we serve. In public relations, we should listen closely and often to our audience. There is no better way to determine needs and attitudes, and address them accordingly.

The beauty of the public relations field is that the world is our classroom. When we pursue our personal interests, as I did with Paws for People, we can often learn professional skills in surprising – and deeply meaningful – ways. Observe your extracurricular activities through a public relations lens and see you what you may learn.

Now, if I could only bring my dog to work, I’d be set.

By: Maddie Brooks

Maddie Brooks is a senior Mass Communication major with a minor in Public Health. She is a UD Social Media Ambassador and a member of PRSSA, Lori’s Hands, and Paws for People. Follow her on Twitter, @BlueHenMaddie and @Mbrooksinde.

Interning at KEDS: Communications Summer Internship Experience and 3 Tips


This past summer, I interned at Keds Shoes headquarters. My responsibilities included organizing and preparing sample shoes for meetings, photo shoots and reviews, giving my own input on the Spring and Summer 2015 lines and pulling materials for the 2015 Holiday line.

I was also sent to do fieldwork at stores in Boston for the marketing team. Along with my fellow intern, I put together a presentation of store displays and products to raise Keds employees’  awareness of the current market. We communicated to them through a competitor’s approach to product sales.

We were invited to meetings in the Keds showroom to observe the CEO and the Keds marketing and design team review the Summer 2015 line and decided which prototypes would be cut. During the meeting, the CEO asked my fellow intern and me for our opinions on a shoe. I had to be able to communicate to a room full of KEDS employees my opinion and reasoning regarding the shoe style. Communication is all about getting the word out. Whether it be your opinion at a meeting, communicating with the buyer through an ad with the company’s spokesperson, like Taylor Swift, or building relationships with other companies like Kate Spade and Hollister to create capsule collections.

Tips on how to make the most out of your internship: amelia

1. Ask Questions

I went into my internship with no experience. I knew that I loved Keds and fashion and this was the type of job I was interested in learning more about. In order to know if your internship is the job you want, ask your supervisor about their day-to-day responsibilities and see if you could picture yourself doing that. Also if you’re confused on a task, ask someone for help or to clarify exactly what he or she wants. They would much rather you ask them what they want before you do it wrong and waste valuable time.

2. Know What You’re Talking About, and If You Don’t Do Research

People will ask for your opinion, so have a clear one with reasoning to back it up. At Keds I was expected to know fashion terms and current trends, otherwise my input seemed invalid.

3. Approach Every Task with a Positive Attitude

If the task is stocking shoes all day on a rack, do it well. Approach the task determined to learn something from it. After spending all day stocking sample shoes, when designers would come over looking for a certain pair, I knew exactly where they were so I could grab it for them right away and answer questions about designs because I became familiar with the product.

By: Amelia Ludwick, Freshman Marketing and Fashion Merchandising double major. Follow Amelia’s college fashion and lifestyle blog on Instagram @universityedge and

Photo credit:

The First Of Many Successful Meetings

PRSSA-UD shattered records of attendance at its very first general meeting on Monday, September 8 with a whopping 101 students packed into a Gore Hall classroom. Intrigued, the crowd sat and stood in any spot they could grab to hear the inspiring Laura Woodin share some of her wisdom on how to succeed in the PR world.

Working in Engineering Communications for DuPont, and being a former Blue Hen herself, Laura discussed everything and anything that could potentially help PR-hungry students. Topics such as how to possibly land jobs and internships through successful interviews, ways to help your business and peers flourish, and how to have the ability to foresee both barriers and opportunities for your company were all touched on. Because Woodin got her first internship due to PRSSA, it was quite refreshing and motivating to hear how she came full circle and succeeded in what she dreamt about. Laura explained, “When you have passion for the topic you’re interested in, that shines through.” This statement proved true, as throughout the presentation, all PRSSA members were enthralled in the information being given to them because of the content, but also in the enthusiastic and motivating way Woodin spoke about it.

Members got a chance to hear about a typical day for our hard-working guest speaker, although as pointed out in the presentation, no day in the public relations world is “typical.” The first meeting came to a close with Laura taking any questions from the crowd to better the group’s understanding. Overall, the first general meeting was a major success! And with how many interested and intelligent students showed up to learn, the PR world should brace itself for greatness.


PRSSA meeting


Photo credit to: Natalie Hines, PRSSA-UD President

By: Brittany O’Connell is a freshman communications interest with a hopeful minor in advertising. She is currently a new member of PRSSA-UD and hopes to broaden her horizons, step out of her comfort zone and help many throughout her first semester at UD.

From Captive to Pariah: Public Relations Lessons from the Coverage of Bowe Bergdahl

It had all the makings of great media story – an American soldier rescued from five years of terrorist captivity and returned home to his family and loved ones in a small Midwestern town. But as most Americans now know in the case of Bowe Bergdahl, the reality is not that simple. The feel-good story of the returning soldier morphed into a public relations nightmare.
The United States brokered a deal to exchange five Taliban prisoners for Bergdahl’s safe return on May 31. The seemingly simple exchange became tainted by details of Bergdahl’s prior military service. A Pentagon investigation concluded that Bergdahl walked away from his post shortly before his capture, and further reports allege that as many as six soldiers were killed in the search for Bergdahl. Finally, many view the trade as a departure from America’s policy to not negotiate with terrorists.
In creating messages for high-stakes issues, communicators need to address both established principles and uncomfortable allegations. Despite the controversy of Bergdahl’s actions, he was an American soldier and prisoner of war, and as such, the military was honor-bound to bring him home. The military will still try him for any crimes he committed as a soldier, but can only do so if he survived his captivity. Despite the disrepute brought by his actions, Bergdahl deserves a fair trial separate from the conditions of his release from the Taliban. These factors are time-honored codes of the U.S. government and military. Communicators cannot speak to negative details in the absence of established principles, and vice versa.

The media maelstrom over Bergdahl’s release also highlights the fickleness of media and political pundits. Several politicians tweeted out initial congratulatory messages about Bergdahl’s release, only to delete them within days – or hours – after a growing tide of criticism. Stakeholders and audiences can change sides quickly and without warning. Their decisions can depend heavily on factors external to the issue itself, such as the political environment. Two lessons can be learned here: review all the facts before establishing a hardline position, and don’t expect public attitude to remain static. Public relations professionals must constantly gauge public opinion and adjust strategies accordingly.

While politically complex stories such as that of Bowe Bergdahl offer no simple responses, PR professionals can maintain inclusive, consistent messages and monitor public attitudes. These communication methods have the potential to shape public discourse as much as the story itself.

Maddie Brooks is a rising senior Mass Communication major with a minor in Public Health. She is a UD Social Media Ambassador and a member of PRSSA, Lori’s Hands, and InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. Follow her on Twitter, @BlueHenMaddie and @Mbrooksinde.