Roche Communications Specialist Kelsey Jones Talks Ball State University, Healthcare PR & Internal Communications

Kelsey Jones is a communications specialist for Roche’s Diabetes Care division and a Ball State University alumna. She graduated in 2011 with her bachelor’s in hospitality and food management and once again in 2017 with her master’s in public relations.

Today, she shares advice for new communications professionals.

Q: What are your job responsibilities as a communications specialist in the healthcare and medical device industry?

A: At Roche, I drive integrated strategies based on best practices for employee communications, internal events, and programs. I draft content for various internal communications channels such as email, video, digital signage, newsletters, and social media. What I do ultimately impacts business results, as I help decide what employees need to know and when they need to know it to drive engagement and productivity.

I also facilitate Diabetes Care collaborations with patient advocacy organizations like the American Diabetes Association, College Diabetes Network, and Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation to reduce health and racial disparities in our communities. Through this work, I build meaningful, mutually beneficial nonprofit partnerships.

Additionally, I manage Roche Gives Back, our internal employee giving program, as a portal administrator. The company matches employee donations and volunteer time in the community, and I review all match requests. I also plan and execute engaging volunteer events for more than 4,500 Indianapolis-based employees. Our most notable event is our annual Day of Service with Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, where we identify an Indianapolis neighborhood or park to beautify.

“Storytelling is a large part of my role when communicating what Roche and our employees are doing in the local community, how we give back, and how we contribute to important causes.”

Q: What advice do you have for students wanting to pursue a communications career in the medical industry?

A: Initially, I had no desire to work in the healthcare and medical device industry — I generally perceived healthcare and large corporations as very stuffy and uninviting. Roche completely changed my perception. Roche is very welcoming and inclusive and provides fantastic benefits for employees. Plus, some of my closest friends are my colleagues.

If a student is interested in pursuing a communications career in healthcare or another large corporate environment, I highly recommend job shadowing. Spending a day with a current corporate communications professional will provide insights into their role and help students see if it aligns with their interests.

I also recommend taking a business course or two. Having basic business knowledge is extremely important in the corporate setting.

Q: What valuable lessons about the communication field have you learned throughout the pandemic?

A: I would definitely say to meet employees where they are. The pandemic has created so many additional challenges for our employees: at-home schooling, childcare, illnesses, and even the death of loved ones due to COVID-19. It is crucial with internal communications that you convey empathy and meet employees where they are.

Q: In what ways did Ball State’s master’s in public relations prepare you for the role you currently have?

A: Ball State’s master’s in public relations prepared me to be a critical thinker in a corporate environment. It equipped me with the issues management skills needed to succeed in a large, matrix organization. The program provided strong relationship-building lessons that are critical to any industry’s communications or public relations role. It challenged us to work in new ways while utilizing strategic communications and encouraging collaboration.

Q: Why would you recommend Ball State’s public relations program to new professionals?

A: Ball State provides a personal, hands-on approach to public relations. Graduate students receive regular one-on-one sessions with their graduate advisor and esteemed professors. In addition, on-campus graduate students have the opportunity to work at the student-run strategic communications and public relations agency. Coming from a non-public relations background to graduate school, this experience was invaluable to my learning experience.

The public relations graduate program is continually ranked as one of the best in the nation and one of the only programs accredited by the Public Relations Society of America. The individualized, entrepreneurial learning and award-winning curriculum made Ball State’s program my number one choice.

The program is also available entirely online for working professionals who can’t come to campus. The online courses are asynchronous, meaning you can complete them whenever they fit into your daily schedule. The same faculty who teach on-campus also teach online, so there is no difference in curriculum or course quality.

Q: Any final words of advice about your experience or for new communication/PR professionals?

A: Keep an open mind regarding career opportunities and always take the initial interview. You never know; you may end up being surprised about the company or role like I was with Roche!

Lastly, always keep learning. Your education doesn’t stop when you are handed your diploma. Continue to network with industry professionals and like-minded individuals. Consider attending relevant conferences, taking additional classes, or completing a certificate program once you identify your communications and public relations interests.

If you’re interested in pursuing a master’s in public relations from Ball State, visit our website for more information or contact the program director Dr. YoungAh Lee.

Kelsey Jones is a communications and corporate social responsibility professional who enjoys keeping up with giving trends and connecting employees to causes important to them.

Not only is philanthropy part of her day job, but it’s also a part of who she is. Whether she’s planning events for the Indianapolis Cultural Trail or raising funds for various causes important to me, giving back is in her DNA.

LinkedIn: Kelsey Jones, M.A.

The Ins & Outs of Accreditation in Public Relations (APR)

On Thursday, September 16, the New Professionals Section of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) hosted A Conversation on the Ins & Outs of the Accreditation in Public Relations (APR). Dedicated to helping new professionals understand the value that APR can add to their career, PRSA Fellows Kathryn D. Hubbell, APR, M.S., and David Thompson, APR, shared their experiences and insights into accreditation.

For Hubble, owner of AdScripts, LLC, and with 37 years’ experience in public relations, marketing and advertising, the process wasn’t just about adding APR to the end of her name. “APR really changed what I was doing,” said Hubble. Being self-employed, the APR process for her meant that “I finally understood what it took to line up a PR program using research and strategy. After I got my APR I raised my prices, and no one said a word.”

Despite having a degree in journalism with a minor in Public Relations, Hubble explained that the APR process and what she learned elevated her professional career. “The study process alone is worth it,” said Hubble. While studying for her APR, she was working with a client and decided to plan out her work for the client according to the book. “I took a real-world situation that I was already involved in and brought it down to earth,” said Hubble.

Not only did it make a big difference on the quality of work, but it was, in her opinion, the best way to really learn the materials she was studying.

“It changed everything I was doing in PR. I wasn’t just giving my opinion to my clients anymore; it’s about using research to back up everything you’re saying and doing,” said Hubble.

Thompson added that his pathway into public relations wasn’t as direct, so the APR really helped develop him into a PR professional.

After earning a degree in mathematics and working in computer science, Thompson had a “midlife crisis early,” and decided to change directions. He worked in radio and ended up as a television reporter for 20 years, working news throughout the country, learning as he went. With success in television news, Thompson decided to move into public relations. 

“For me it was all on-the-job training. I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I knew how to be a TV reporter, but they don’t do strategy. I thought PR was media relations; I didn’t know better… I worked hard to learn about what public relations is” said Thompson. “When it came time to think about the APR, it filled in gaps I didn’t know I had.”

He added that the APR preparation process helps you learn what strategic communications planning is. Thompson had signed up for weekly APR coaching classes through his local PRSA chapter. “After each class, I would go back to work with new techniques, knowledge, and inspiration. It made such a huge difference in my career.”

Thompson broke down the APR preparation process into three steps:

  1. Planning for the APR application and time commitment.
  2. Preparing for the readiness review, which includes a presentation on a PR campaign you’ve worked on.
  3. Preparing to take the exam, which tests your knowledge of the materials in the textbooks.

Hubble and Thompson both explained that while PRSA recommends five years of experience before applying for the APR, it’s really about people’s individual experiences working in public relations. For those that might not feel ready to start the APR application now, they recommended getting involved in PR campaigns, whether at work or volunteering for local PR professionals. 

Hubble added, “APR gave us more confidence” so moving forward with strategic communications, “we were following science rather than gut instincts. It was a wonderful process.”

For more information on pursuing your own APR, check out the resources below:

PRSA APR website

APR Candidate Process Chart

APR study guide

The AP Stylebook (Amazon)

Recommended study texts

Sample APR exam questions

Sample APR test

 

How to Know When It’s Time to Change Jobs

Man walking with briefcase

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the old adage is correct: people have about 12 jobs in their lifetime. Even disregarding high school odd-jobs, it is not uncommon for professionals to change jobs. Gone are the days of someone working for one company their entire life. You shouldn’t be afraid to change jobs, and here are some things to consider to know when it’s time.

Safety. The first and foremost reason to leave a job is if your safety is in question. This doesn’t just mean a dilapidated building; although, that’s reason enough to question your employment. If your mental health and safety is suffering, you’re fearful of a co-worker or supervisor, or any other reason that threatens your well-being, it’s OK to leave. No job is worth your health and safety. I had a job where after a few weeks I dreaded waking up and having to go in to the office, and after re-writing my resignation letter for the third time, I decided it was time to leave.

Complacency. “If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room” (Anonymous). If you’re feeling disconnected from your job, or have lost your passion for your field, it’s time for a new challenge. There will always be time when work feels like work, but if you haven’t felt energized or invigorated in a while, it may be time to move on.

Impact. If you feel undervalued, unappreciated, or you’re on autopilot, you should look for a new opportunity. Many people also want to make an impact on the community through their work, so if the organization’s mission doesn’t fit yours, don’t feel obligated to stick around.

Daydreaming. If you’re spending more time thinking about what to do next, and not focused on what you’re doing now then what’s stopping you from moving on? If you dream of working for a large corporation and you’re currently working in a small non-profit, start working on your resume to apply to corporate jobs.

If you think it’s time to leave your current position, do your best not to do so until you have something else lined up. It can be tempting to quit in a dramatic fashion, but you don’t want to burn bridges and you don’t want to be without a paycheck.

If you are starting to look for new work be sure to check out PRSA’s Jobcenter at https://jobs.prsa.org/ and use the Career Resources at https://jobs.prsa.org/career-resources/ to bolster your resume, interview skills, and preparation for career advancement.

Landis Tindell

Author: Landis Tindell is currently the Communications Coordinator for the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education in Oklahoma City, OK. He serves as the Professional Development Day committee chair for PRSA-OKC, the treasurer for the PRSA Southwest District, and as the Chair-Elect for the National New Pros Committee. Landis holds a master’s degree in Strategic Communication from Texas Tech and a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations from Harding University. Landis was named a 2019 PRNEWS 30 Under 30 Rising Star andwas the 2018 Young Professional of the Year by PRSA-OKC.

 

Photo by Marten Bjork on Unsplash

New Professionals Summit Sneak Peek: Jane Dvorak, Past National PRSA Chair

conference ad

Jane DvorakJane Dvorak is a seasoned public relations professional—as she puts it, if we’re talking about seasoned professionals, she’s cayenne pepper.

That industry experience is something Dvorak, a past national PRSA chair, is eager to bring to the New Professionals Summit as a speaker.

“Participating in a program like this where I can bring my experiences [and] my mistakes to the table so that others can learn from those situations—that’s an opportunity to make another practitioner just that much better as they move forward in their career journey,” Dvorak said.

Dvorak’s session will focus on network-building tips, navigating different networking situations, and discovering what kind of networker an individual is.

Dvorak said her session will help many new professionals learn how to successfully network at virtually any type of event.

“It’ll be lively,” Dvorak said. “You’re guaranteed to laugh at least once.”

Dvorak also emphasized that just because this year’s summit will be virtual does not mean it will be any less valuable.

“Virtual does not lessen the opportunity for discussion,” Dvorak said, “it does not lessen the opportunity to be exposed and to engage in discussion or conversation. Virtual affords you an opportunity to be exposed and learn from individuals who may not otherwise have that opportunity.”

Dvorak said that person should not dismiss the power of attending and participating in conferences like the New Professionals Summit as they offer many opportunities to forge relationships with others that may help them build a career.

Dvorak will be joined by other speakers at the 2021 New Professionals Virtual Summit like Sean Greenwood, the public relations director for Ben & Jerry’s; Bianca Mayti, a TikTok personality and founder of More4LessResumes; and Denise Blackburn-Gay, a PRSA Fellow and founder or Marketing Strategies, Inc.

By Matthew Winterholler

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month: How to Help Your Employer Be More Inclusive

As employees demand more inclusive work environments, many businesses are moving into 2021 with a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). And while DEI shouldn’t be anything new, it may be for your workplace.

If that’s the case, you’re probably the one leading the DEI conversation. After all, working in PR means it’s your job to represent and protect your business’s reputation and help your employers bridge the gaps they simply haven’t made yet. That includes working with human resources or the larger marketing team to ensure your company priorities and values align with staff concerns to create a safe, welcoming environment that’ll continue attracting top talent.

If your business is taking a little longer to get the DEI ball rolling, here are three ways to begin the conversation during Asian American and Pacific Island (AAPI) Heritage Month.

1. Share the Bigger Picture

Even as the world gets smaller and smaller with live social media updates and 24/7 access to national news, some people simply won’t know where to look to gain an outside perspective. And if their personal bubble is unaffected by larger conflicts taking place out in the world, they may think it’s not worth addressing — to their shareholders, their staff or their customers.

That’s where you (and other PR pros) come in.

It’s your job to give them perspective. You can share a number of resources to support action, including:

  • Mainstream news relevant to this event that will get their attention (local coverage, opinion pieces, responses by other businesses)
  • Any key performance indicators (KPIs) or metrics that may support a spike in interest by your customers (a related product you sell that’s out of stock, an uptick of pageviews on related articles/press releases on your newsroom site, comments made on recent social media posts)
  • PR-specific responses suggested for businesses (helpful webinars, recorded town hall videos or even crisis communications examples of what not to do)

Using AAPI Heritage Month as an example, you’ll want to make sure leadership is aware of the recent shootings in Atlanta. Lead them into a larger conversation about the rise of anti-Asian violence and hate. Bring up the fact that Asian Americans are the fastest-growing ethnic group in the U.S. If you have any Asian Americans on staff, remind your employer. How could this be affecting them, or the larger staff?

Once you’ve got their attention, it’s time to suggest a plan.

2. Introduce an Action Plan

Strategy is key here, mostly because it’s a language your employer will understand. Make sure you pluck the low-hanging fruit:

  • Are there any pre-existing company values you can relate a response to?
  • What goals do you have that stakeholders are interested in? (This will help get higher leadership on board.)
  • Look back at a recent employee survey. Is there any dissatisfaction that DEI could solve and further bolster the argument you’re making?

Talk through any next steps with them. Make sure they’re a part of the process to grow their own involvement and investment.

Using AAPI Heritage Month as the example, this celebration of heritage concerns a lot of different people. Those of Chinese, Indian, Filipino, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Micronesian, Melanesian and Polynesian descent are included in AAPI. Make sure your workplace gets the “inclusion” part of DEI right by considering all involved.

3. Involve Your Employees

Public relations can be a very secretive and tight-knit profession by nature, but DEI is the time to reach out and include the larger staff. Whether you’re holding a company-wide business meeting, sending out a specific survey or conducting one-on-one interviews, their insight is invaluable.

Here’s some DEI-specific information you’ll want to cover in your meetings:

  • What does DEI mean for your company? (If you celebrate one month’s ethnicity, will you celebrate the next?)
  • How will strategic planning with DEI in mind change your company? (What actual differences can employees, customers and shareholders look for to back up your business’ DEI claims?)
  • How else can the company make positive changes in the DEI space? (Ask everyone you can. The most important insight can come from an unlikely place.)

With a few open, honest conversations, these three areas can help your employer properly include DEI in future strategic planning for your workplace. Just remember that this is only the beginning of the conversation; follow-through is imperative to make real change. Luckily, they have you on their PR team.

Has your company recently added DEI to the conversation? Let us know the role you played in the comments below!