Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Welcome Digital Communication Leaders

Tonight our class is privileged to host two leaders in digital technology, social media and strategic marketing: Katherine Bradford and Lee M. Gills.

Bradford, Vice President Development for NOVO1, has been a ten year contributor to SMU's Communication Studies Division, serving on the CCPA Advisory Board and guest speaking for PRSSA. She has more than 20 years of sales and technology experience, including work with Southwestern Bell Telephone Company. She has implemented and managed IT and sales in high tech, engineering, telecommunications, and oil and gas industries both nationally and internationally. She serves as on the Veterans Work Program committee, she is the Program Chair and member of the Operations Committee Board for CEO Netweavers, Initiator and Founder of Career Jump-Start and is a Big Brother Big Sister volunteer.

Gills, is Executive Vice President for EMS (Excel Marketing Systems, Inc.) Over the last 16 years Gills has held executive positions for top-rated BPO companies and has worked with Fortune 500 corporations, including First USA, VZW, Citibank, Chase, Assurant, Ace Insurance. For the last two years Lee has consulted with Fortune 500 companies to incorporate a “response driven” social media offering.

We're pleased to have you both. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Welcome Frank Roby

Frank Roby is a standout among Dallas’ distinguished communication leaders, with extensive background in business and nonprofit management in the U.S., Africa, China, India, and Mexico. As the CEO, founder and Board Chairman for Concero Global, Inc., he employs a strategy of "conscious capitalism," when advising socially responsible start-up companies around the world. As the former CEO of Holmes Murphy Texas, he helped develop the company into one of the regions’ largest business risk and insurance advisory firms. But just last fall he expanded his focus by becoming CEO of Empower African Children, where he also serves as a member of the Board of Directors.

Service is among Mr. Roby’s chief attributes. He serves on the Dallas Regional Chamber board, the North Texas Food Bank, and worked with St. Stephens Hospital in Delhi India. He is also a member of the Dallas Committee on Foreign Relations and the Dallas Assembly. An active SMU alum, Mr. Roby serves as an Executive Board member of the Meadows School of the Arts with a concentration on Communication Studies.   

Previously, he served as Vice Chairman of the Board for the World Affairs Council of Dallas/Ft. Worth and as Board Chair of the North Texas Food Bank.  In Mexico, he was a founding board member and Board Chairman for Juntos Servimos, and he worked in Nigeria with Vision Africa. He has chaired the Talent/Workforce/Education Committee of the Dallas Regional Chamber, served on the Dallas Achieves Commission for DallasISD, was District Representative of the Dallas ISD Bond Committee and the University of Texas at Dallas Development Board.
Roby remains active in the First UMC in downtown Dallas and in the North Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church. So it came as no surprise when I asked SMU colleague and Roby fan, Maria Dixon, what stands out about Mr. Roby, she said, “He’s a great Sunday school teacher.” 

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Welcome Matt Gobush

As ExxonMobil’s manager of corporate communications, Matt Gobush, handles the corporation's executive speech program, is responsible for the energy policy blog, all shareholder publications, internal communications, opinion research, and oversees functional and regional communications. 

Gobush joined ExxonMobil in 2005, after 12 years in Washington, D.C. There he served the federal government during the Clinton Administration, worked in the U.S. Department of Defense and at the White House, where he was director of communications for the National Security Council.  He worked on Capitol Hill, first as director of communications for the Democratic Staff of the Committee on International Relations in the U.S. House of Representatives, and later as director of communications for Senator Joseph Lieberman.  Additionally, Gobush held senior positions in several presidential election campaigns.

As a spokesperson for a giant multinational energy company, Gobush joins our class tonight to help Communication Studies students understand how global politics and media trends affect communications, and thus, businesses, and how an integrated communications approach can help companies take on the toughest energy challenges.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Maureen Locus, head of public relations for Brinker International, brings a range of PR experience to our class this evening. Prior to joining Brinker in 2007, she worked in sports media, hospitality, technology, finance and healthcare. Today, Locus focuses on promoting the Chili’s Grill & Bar brand. When she’s not pitching and landing national publicity for the 1,500-plus unit restaurant, she’s managing PR for the company’s national nonprofit campaign, Create-A-Pepper to Fight Childhood Cancer with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Locus works to secure media placements on a local and national level, to develop key messages for Chili’s social media channels, and to monitor the organization’s media hotline. An integral member of Brinker’s crisis support team, Locus responds to crisis communication situations within the restaurants.

Locus was an assistant account executive at McCrory & Associates, a small, boutique public relations firm with five star hospitality clients. She began her agency experience as an account coordinator at HCK2 (formerly Michael & Partners) representing key accounts including, Hewlett Packard. In sports, she served as the media liaison for Global Games, a men’s under-22 international basketball tournament, worked in the sports marketing department for the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau (DCVB) in conjunction with the Big 12 Conference, planning and carrying out event management during the 2003 NCAA Division I Volleyball Championship and the 2004 Big 12 Conference Men’s & Women’s Basketball Tournaments.

A graduate of the communications program at Texas State University, Locus is a member of PRSA Dallas chapter and International Association of Business Communicators (IABC). She is also involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters of North Texas and serves on several community committees.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Welcome Robert Martin

Known as the strategist at Dallas-based MM2 Public Relations, Rob’s co-workers have dubbed him “the one who can take a totally off-the-wall idea and bring it down to earth.” Rob Martin, the Principal and Managing Director of this creative marketing and communications firm, founded the company with partner Larry Meltzer. As former senior executives with Fleishman-Hillard and previously the founding partners of Omnicom’s Blue Current Public Relations, the Martin and Meltzer team launched MM2 PR only a few years ago. But they’ve been working together more than 10 years.

The combined expertise in national media relations campaigns, buzz marketing programs, financial communications and brand building has helped their boutique firm build a client roster that includes companies in the consumer, health care, technology, energy and manufacturing sectors.

Check out their energetic website at

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Welcome Michael Lake

It hardly seems accurate to introduce Burson-Marsteller’s Mike Lake as a guest speaker in tonight’s Dallas Communication Leaders class. The “communication leader” part is abundantly true, as Lake has 25 years of extensive national political experience, and private/public sector public relations expertise in developing public policy programs, media campaigns, grassroots operations, marketing programs, advocacy advertising campaigns and crisis communications strategies. As head of Burson’s Southwest operations and Chair of the U.S. Public Affairs Practice, Lake is credited with building the Dallas office, and helping make it the third largest agency in this market. He’s a member of the Dallas Press Club, Texas Association of Business, Dallas Friday Group, PRSA and the National Register's "Who's Who" in Executives and Professionals.

No doubt he has earned top ranking among communication professionals. But it’s the “guest speaker” part that doesn’t ring true. Lake is hardly a guest in the halls of SMU’s Communication Studies division. Rather, he has become a highly regarded fixture, having spoken in dozens of communication classes over the years, serving on and/or presiding over the CCPA Advisory Board, opening his office to countless communication interns, and tirelessly mentoring our students.

And who better than Mike Lake to help students discern what type of communications work to pursue in this competitive and vast field? He’s done it all. Lake has directed international, national, state and local communications programs for most business sectors, from airline and telecommunications to education and agriculture. He has handled a raft of complicated crisis communications issues including the crisis in the beef industry surrounding mad cow disease in the U.S.

We are privileged to welcome Mike Lake, more than a guest speaker. 

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Welcome Edelman's Jennifer Little and Ashley Maddocks

It's Edelman night in SMU's Communication Studies division as our class welcomes two communication professionals who represent a range of experience in one of the top PR firms in the world. 

At the seasoned executive level, Jennifer Little, Senior Vice President, Consumer Marketing of Edelman Southwest, handles the company’s consumer marketing practice.

After honing her skills as Ketchum’s Vice President and account director and later as Pizza Hut Inc.’s Director of Public Relations, Little joined Edelman, where she serves as senior counsel, strategy and planning, with expertise in retail, food/restaurants, travel & tourism and consumer technology. As the account director for Dickies work wear, she manages the brand’s national media relations program and special events. Her recent marketing campaign for Dickies landed the brand a feature in the New York Times.  She also created the first national editor event for the brand in the Dickies Showroom in NYC. 

Much newer to the profession is Ashley Maddocks, who, after two years at Edelman, serves as an Account Executive in consumer practice, responsible for trend monitoring, monthly reporting, weekly status updates and media relations for her clients, including Dickies.

We are honored to have you both. 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Welcome Gail Chandler, APR

It’s not that we’re overly partial to SMU alums, but it seems that our alums are just really good. Take SMU alum, Gail Chandler. As head of Public Affairs Communications at Texas Instruments, Chandler supports the company’s broad-reaching citizenship programs (philanthropy, education, volunteerism, community relations), manages government affairs (local, state and federal), and oversees the Texas Instruments Foundation. Since 1964, this non-profit, philanthropic organization provides substantial educational resources to build the number of high-school graduates who are math and science capable. Chandler’s work is also reflected in TI’s annual Corporate Citizenship Report, which highlights the company’s continued social and environmental commitment to citizenship and transparency in operations.

In her off time Chandler serves on a host of boards, including the North Dallas Chamber of Commerce board, Press Club of Dallas, Leadership Dallas Class of 2011, and PRSA, where she has served as professional development officer for the Dallas chapter AND as professional advisor for the SMU PRSSA student chapter. Just last night she worked with communication students in the PRSSA Career Workshop, and tonight, she’s back again to speak to our class on the topic of Public Affairs Communication and CSR. We need to award you an SMU parking pass. 

Thanks, Gail, for all you do for your alma mater. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Welcome Ken Fairchild

The dynamic career of Ken Fairchild
…with insight from his daughter, Elissa

Tonight we're honored to host Ken Fairchild, founder of Fairchild Consulting in Dallas, and a communication innovator who has successfully straddled the world of news media and corporate communication for more than 50 years.  

An originator of spokesperson/media training, Fairchild has coached top executives, corporate spokespersons, government officials and political candidates in public speaking and presentation skills. His clients include four U.S. presidential candidates, eight candidates for governor, members of Congress, and candidates for national, state and city offices. Fairchild built his career helping clients prepare annual reports, address regulatory agencies, create presentations to investors, improve employee communication and form community groups. He has trained countless clients before broadcast interviews with various TV magazine and news programs, as well as print interviews in every major national publication. But he is perhaps best known for coaching dozens of guests before their appearances on "60 Minutes,” which prompted his book: "Sunday Showdowns with 60 Minutes," published in 1998.

Fairchild, a radio and television newsman in New York, Houston and Dallas, also worked as program director at NBC, New York, vice president of programming for WMCA, New York, and news director and general manager of all-news KRLD, Dallas. During his first radio job in Houston, he was known as a “good ad libber,” according to his daughter Elissa, an SMU CCPA graduate. His first news director, Ray Miller, once told him, "Keep your mic open and just keep on talking.”

Miller asked him to cover Hurricane Carla live on the beach in Galveston (still the second worst hurricane to ever hit the Texas coast). He was the first television newsman to ever report from the eye of a hurricane. While Dan Rather covered the hurricane from the city, Fairchild braved the winds and waves. Fairchild recounted the event to Elissa: "One national TV magazine carried a picture of me with my raincoat and hair standing out at a 90 degree angle. The caption read, 'Newsman’s valor stuns viewers.' Unfortunately for my fame, it didn’t mention the newsman’s name. While I was in the eye of the hurricane, Dan Rather was at the weather bureau in Galveston, 90 miles from the eye, watching their new 200 mile radar."

Fairchild moved to KRTH radio in Houston doing daily talk shows, newscasts and sportscasts, becoming PA announcer for the Houston Colt 45's at the old Colt stadium and the Astrodome. Additionally, he covered a range of hard-hitting new stories, like  racial integration at the University of Mississippi where student protests led President Kennedy to send in Federal troops.

In 1966, the chairman of the Republican Party informed Fairchild that George Bush, then a congressman, would resign that seat to run for the U.S. Senate. They asked Fairchild to run for the position, guaranteeing him the nomination and the election in George Bush’s heavily Republican district. But Fairchild had just been offered a job with NBC in New York to be the manager at the network flagship radio station, WNBC. And he took it.

As vice president and program director, with an office at 30 Rock, he produced and directed stories about the Vietnam War, hippies, the Beatles and the assassinations of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King.  At the time, the station was the number two rock-and-roll station in America, but it was making the transition to talk radio. They asked Fairchild to take over the sleepy, early afternoon show. With him at the mic, ratings went up so fast that he was moved to the morning drive. The Morning Drive in New York City was the top spot in the profession for a non-network person. He covered Vietnam, Richard Nixon, Watergate, the Pentagon Papers (He calls this the "WikiLeaks: 1970s version"), the ousting of Vice President Spiro Agnew, “Jimmy Carter coming jacket-less off a Georgia peanut farm to become a different kind of president,” and the political rise of Ronald Reagan.

He did the morning drive show for four years, moving it into the top five of morning shows in NYC.

When the media attacked U.S. oil companies and the government for permitting the U.S. oil embargo in 1973, the major oil companies found themselves on the media hot seat, and needed someone to teach their executives how to deal with the media during news interviews like “Meet the Press." Fairchild helped design this crisis communications curriculum and later started a company specializing in training executives to handle the media. In the midst of this, KRLD radio in Dallas asked Fairchild to revamp the program. He accepted the job and helped to turn KRLD to an all news station, changing radio in Dallas forever.

It is no exaggeration to say that Fairchild has been a pioneer in the communication field. His daughter Elissa summed it up this way: “My dad made history in Houston, New York and Dallas by doing things that nobody else had done before. He was on the beach in Galveston, he covered the areas where the race issues were most tense, he went to NYC to introduce a whole new way of being on the radio, and he created a new hub for news in DFW.” But, she noted, this doesn't even begin to cover the many facets of his career. 

 -- Nina Flournoy

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Welcome Deanna McKinley

Tonight our guest speaker is Deanna McKinley, Public Relations Coordinator for Frito-Lay North America, a PepsiCo business unit. McKinley is responsible for community media relations nationwide. She is not only an accredited member of the Public Relations Society of America, but is one of the youngest APRs in the nation. 

Deanna earned a bachelor’s degree in Journalism / Public Relations as a Presidential Scholar at Florida A&M University. Currently she is in the Master’s program in Communication and Leadership from Gonzaga University. 

She criss-crosses the country highlighting the work of the company's sales teams, touting their "Million Mile over-the-road drivers," and some of their facilities’ top environmental milestones. She helps organize and implement major community outreach events and juggles countless media requests. In a recent blog, Deanna claims she has "the coolest job in the company." Our students are anxious to hear her explain why.

Thank you for coming, Deanna.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

It's been a while, but the blog is back. I started this blog in winter 2005 as a class project for my Advanced Strategic Communication students. Blogs were new (see student comments from '06), and many deemed this concept a waste of time, destined to fizzle. It didn't, and the SMU Communication (CCPA) students kept at it until summer 2008. I got sidetracked by Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. And the Comm Strategies blog sat dormant. Until now. Time to crank it up again. 

The seismic impact of online communications has exceeded all predictions over the last five years. Today's communication students teeter on the fault line of the latest aftershock — the social network explosion. Tracking the broader impact with an eye on what's next is the job description of current communication professionals of all stripes. What does it mean? This semester our class will look at the implications and ways of leveraging online media, with sources ranging from Noam Chomsky and Richard Edelman to John Stewart and Perez Hilton. We'll examine crisis comm, brand marketing, PR, global, corporate, agency, public affairs and cause communication in the age of social media. Plus, we'll consider how the digital age has impacted communications at its most basic level — crisp writing, critical thinking, solid research, relationship building, networking, and everyday skills that drive the message. 

So what's next? What skills will shape the next communication leaders? Where do today's students fit in to the comm field. Where is online communication going? Students will be blogging on these questions and various issues surrounding the field in 2011. But these questions and insights are not limited to students in this class. Outside comments are welcome, especially from former CCPA students, who might be checking back. I'd love to hear from you former students in "real world" communications or where ever you've landed. --Prof. Nina Flournoy