West Virginia University
Changmin_Yan-2_toned This Fall, Dr. Changmin Yan, a well-established health communications scholar and teacher, will join the WVU Reed College of Media faculty as an assistant professor in Strategic Health Communications. He will also join a cohort of four other university faculty to tackle issues of health disparity impacting the region and nation, with an initial focus on alleviating obesity.

Yan was hired as part of the WVU 2020 Strategic Plan’s Mountains of Excellence – five areas of strength and opportunity upon which the University is focusing its multidisciplinary research and innovation efforts. These multidisciplinary areas include:

1. Addressing health disparities in Appalachia
2. Improving STEM education and scientific literacy
3. Utilizing shale gas responsibly
4. Promoting stewardship of water resources
5. Achieving international leadership in radio astronomy

In 2012, the WVU Reed College of Media was asked to participate in the “Health Disparities” Mountain along with five other colleges and was provided funding to hire a health communications professional.

Yan will teach courses in the Strategic Communications program, develop a graduate-level health communications course for students in health sciences, and collaborate with faculty across campus on grant-funded research projects in this area.

Most recently, Yan served as an assistant professor of advertising at Washington State University’s Edward R. Murrow College of Communication. He also has taught courses at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Pennsylvania State University and University of Maine. Yan’s research and teaching areas include strategic health communications, advertising and integrated marketing communications.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in communication from the University of Colorado at Denver, his master’s degree in communication studies from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and his doctorate in mass communications from Pennsylvania State University.

Ackerman head shot Interview by Christa Currey

Stephanie Ackerman (BSJ, 2005) is a member of NASCAR’s Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) team in Charlotte, North Carolina. When Ackerman, a native of Wheeling, West Virginia, started working for NASCAR in 2012, she could count on one hand the number of drivers she knew. Two years later she has grown to love the sport of auto racing and its fans. Read more about Ackerman’s career with NASCAR.

Currey: Why did you want to work for NASCAR?

Ackerman: Before joining NASCAR, I worked for the H.J. Heinz Company for five years. Heinz has a partnership with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and I enjoyed working on that sponsorship and with a professional sport as one part of my job. When I saw the job at NASCAR, it looked interesting to me because I saw a lot of parallels between my job at Heinz and the one at NASCAR.

CC: What do you do at NASCAR?

SA: I am manager of stakeholder communications. We serve as a communications liaison between NASCAR as a sanctioning body and the teams, tracks and drivers. For example, if a team has a new sponsor and they need NASCAR support to help tell that story, they’ll call me and I’ll work with members of our integrated marketing communications (IMC) team to create a communications plan. Another part of my job is managing industry events at key times during the season and finding professional development opportunities for PR people who work in the industry and bringing those opportunities to NASCAR.

CC: What do you like about your job?

SA: I think the best part about my job is our team and getting to work with so many people from diverse backgrounds. It’s so much about diversity of thought and experience.

CC: Have you always been a NASCAR fan?

SA: I started working for NASCAR on a Wednesday and went to the track on Friday, and that was the first time I had ever been to a race. I wasn’t a fan before, I just didn’t know much about the sport. My first impression: I was completely blown away by the number of people and the amount of organization it takes to pull off a race, and this happens 36 weeks a year.

CC: Do you travel to all the races?

SA: I don’t. Last year I traveled to about 15 races and had a few other trips here and there, getting up to speed. This year I don’t have as much travel, but I enjoy it when I do, mostly traveling to race tracks and for industry events.

CC: What changes have you seen in the industry since you graduated in 2005?

SA: When I was in college, Facebook was just starting to take off and Twitter didn’t exist. There are so many opportunities in that realm of communications, so if you have any sort of passion for technology and innovation, it’s a great time to be in the field.

Also, the days of the traditional PR person who only focuses on pitching media are gone. We’ve seen a shift from traditional PR to an IMC approach where you have to have a seat at the table, and communications has to be a key part of every decision made along the way.

CC: How did your course work at WVU prepare you for your career?

SA: During my public relations capstone class we had to go through all the stages of a campaign from research to execution to reporting. Working on that in a team setting and seeing every detail from start to finish prepared me for what I’m doing now—and especially for my first job.

CC: What advice do you have for graduates entering the job market?

SA: Be pleasantly persistent and don’t rely too much on social media and electronic communication. Doing something simple like picking up the phone and calling someone or sending a hand-written note after your interview can go along way.

Hilary Kinney, a West Virginia University sophomore journalism and geography student, has spent her summer working to ensure there is less food waste in the state of West Virginia. Now Kinney is bringing her work back to campus this fall. Alexis Randolph of The Daily Athenaeum interviewed Kinney about her project. Read about it online.

Assistant Professor Dana Coester, who also serves as the acting creative director for the College’s new Media Innovation Center (opening next year), was interviewed in an article on PBS’s MediaShift alongside three other universities that are creating “maker spaces.” The Innovation Center is a 10,000-square-foot project that will allow students to collaborate on projects in creative ways. Read more.

Maryanne Reed Dean Maryanne Reed’s column, “Life in the Middle Ages,” was recently recognized by The National Society of Newspaper Columnists (NSNC). The column, which runs in The Dominion Post, won third place in the General Interest, Under 50,000 Circulation category. Winners were announced at the awards banquet during the 2014 NSNC conference on Saturday, June 28, at Howard University in Washington, D.C. Read the full article online.
Katie Heller Katie Heller, a strategic communications senior from St. Mary’s, West Virginia, is one of 140 people participating in the summer White House internship program. Josephine Mendez of the Charleston Daily Mail recently interviewed Keller. Keller told Mendez that the internship was a “far-fetched dream” she had on her bucket list. To read more of Keller’s story visit http://goo.gl/gbY9qO.

From start-up agencies to corporate banking, Aly Goodwin Gregg (BSJ, 1995) has been crafting strategic plans for more than a decade, but 2014 is her year to be recognized by her professional peers in her home state of West Virginia. Aly Goodwin Gregg

Gregg, vice president and chief marketing officer at MVB Financial Corp. in Morgantown, received the 2014 West Virginia Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America’s (PRSA) Practitioner of the Year award. The award was presented at the chapter’s Crystal Awards Gala in Charleston, West Virginia, on June 18.

The Ripley, West Virginia, native has extensive experience working in both public relations agencies and corporate public relations. Her career began on Capitol Hill, but after a year, she was back in the Mountain State working on Senator Rockefeller’s re-election campaign. Soon after that, she was managing public relations for The Greenbrier.

In the years that followed, she worked for Charles Ryan Associates, a well-known agency based in Charleston, West Virginia. She also founded and eventually sold two public relations agencies, where she worked with corporate clients and high-profile individuals like Jessica Lynch.

In 2013, Gregg was hired by MVB Bank, a former client, and in 2014 was named vice president and chief marketing officer of MVB Financial Corp.

Gregg says the primary difference between agency work and corporate public relations is what you’re expected to know.

“In agency work, you are as informed as the client allows you to be,” she said. However, corporate PR practitioners must know all the details about their company.

While it’s easy to get caught up “in your own story,” Gregg cautions that it’s essential to take a broad perspective of any situation.

“It’s a challenge and a necessity to offer a viewpoint of 15,000 feet,” Gregg said. Practitioners must be able to step back and offer their management and human resources teams an overview of both sides, for example.

Gregg said winning the award for Practitioner of the Year was a tremendous honor, particularly because she was recognized by her peers.

“To be singled out in an industry like ours in West Virginia, where we have a unique set of challenges, including environmental and social concerns, is overwhelming,” she said.

Under her leadership, MVB Bank also won PRSA Crystal Awards for Community Relations, Crisis Communications, and Special Event: Seven Days or Less, as well as honorable mentions for annual reports and invitations. MVB Bank also won the Best in West Virginia Award for having the highest single score on its entry in the Special Event: Seven Days or Less category.

The Crystal Award is the top prize in each of PRSA’s award categories. A complete list of winners from the gala will be posted at http://prsawv.org/awards.php.
Photo credit: Buddy Davidson

PRSA Crystal Award As part of their coursework at WVU, students in the public relations program at the P.I. Reed School of Journalism give back to the community through service-learning projects. Now, as in year’s past, they are earning recognition for their hard work.

School of Journalism students won five Crystal Awards and four honorable mentions at the Public Relations Society of America – WV Chapter Crystal Awards Gala held in Charleston on June 18.

All of the work was completed as part of Dr. Rita Colistra’s Spring and Fall 2013 public relations capstone classes.

“These students work hard to implement quality strategic communications campaigns for their clients, and it’s wonderful to see their work recognized by industry professionals,” Colistra said. “The awards exemplify the quality of our students and the public relations program. I couldn’t be more pleased with their work.”

The Buy Local Shinnston campaign won Crystal Awards in five student categories including top Community Relations Campaign, Logos, Research, Brochure and Poster. Six public relations seniors worked throughout the Spring 2013 semester to raise awareness of the importance and economic value of shopping at local businesses in the Shinnston area. The students used an integrated approach to build a campaign, securing extensive media coverage, executing social media efforts, launching the city’s first Buy Local Day event, and producing promotional materials.

Another student-produced campaign for the West Virginia Manufacturers Association (WVMA) received honorable mentions in the following student categories: External Communications Campaign, Poster and Research. Ten public relations students worked on the WVMA campaign during the Fall 2013 semester to increase awareness of the many unfilled manufacturing jobs and the lack of young professionals with the right skills to fill the vacancies.

Students who worked on a campaign for the Health Sciences and Technology Academy (HSTA) Engineering and Technology Expos received an honorable mention in the student category of Special Events and Observances: Seven Days or Less. A team of 10 students planned and executed two promotional events as a part of their Fall 2013 capstone course. The events took place in Huntington and Beckley, West Virginia, providing opportunities for attendees to interact with new technology and raising awareness of the HSTA program.

The Crystal Award is the top prize in each of PRSA’s award categories. A complete list of winners will be posted at http://prsawv.org/awards.php.
Photo credit: Buddy Davidson

In preparation for the opening of the School’s new Media Innovation Center, SOJ faculty are planning a digital news startup that will debut in the Center. Outfitted with a maker space, a hacker space and a device lab, the center will also feature a “digital storytelling hub.” The space is designed to support experimental journalism and serve as a sandbox for industry innovators-in-residence.
“This venture needs to be a living experiment in news production and distribution. We are taking inspiration from start-ups like Quartz, Vox, and Syria Deeply,” SOJ Dean MaryanneReed said. “But our mission has to be to iterate on these industry innovations, not to duplicate them.”

Read more on MediaShift.

The WVU IMC program hosted its INTEGRATE 2014 conference in Morgantown Friday, May 30 and Saturday, May 31. More than 200 attendees heard from incredible industry speakers from NASCAR, Microsoft, Silverpop and more. The program also hosted a networking reception and dinner keynoted by Elliott Nix, Head of Media Solutions – Tech at Google. Elliott Nix 2

Learn more about the sessions and experience INTEGRATE 2014.

  • Access INTEGRATE posts on the student blog
  • Look up the hashtag #integrate14 on Twitter or Instagram
  • Find a Storify account from attendee and student, Mel Moraes

Watch several presentations on SlideShare:

Photos and session video will be made available soon.


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