Communications students hone in on marketing skills

GVL / Emily Frye     
Founder of The Tillery and Unlocking GR, Marketing Consultant Spencer Blanchard speaks to Grand Valley State University's Advertising and Public Relations club on Oct. 6th.

GVL / Emily Frye Founder of The Tillery and Unlocking GR, Marketing Consultant Spencer Blanchard speaks to Grand Valley State University’s Advertising and Public Relations club on Oct. 6th.

Teagan Wilkinson

Grand Valley State University has always taken it upon itself to benefit the students inside and outside of the classroom through events and workshops, and now there is a series of speakers who will talk about real-life experiences with advertising and public relations students.

The advertising and public relations speaker series kicked off with its first speech, “Design Thinking and Marketing for Good,” on Sept. 30 and will host events throughout the next few weeks until its final presentation on Nov. 18.

Students interested in pursuing the advertising or public relations fields professionally can look forward to attending presentations intended to give them insight and advice about their future careers. The list of guest speakers contains a wide range of expertise – from GVSU alumni to the former CEO of Campbell Foods – all with the intention of bettering students ideas about all the field can offer.

“I think of it as a supplement to the curriculum that we are providing in class,” said Frank Blossom, professor of advertising and public relations.

The series was started as a way to inform students of the rapidly changing field that is the communication business from people in the business itself. Whether the changes are due to new trends or new technology, the industry professionals asked to be a part of the series have insight on the current happenings in the field.

“Advertising is a unique industry and is rapidly changing and expanding which makes text book education difficult to keep up with,” said Ben Kaluski, vice president of the GVSU advertising club.

With presentations taking place on both the Allendale and Pew campuses, this series is intended to be accessible to all students. Even though the speeches seem to cover niche topics, such as “Portfolio Ad School” and “Branding and Storytelling,” the overall theme and the professional advice given during the presentations is universal.

“I think it would be beneficial for any (major) in that really what they are talking about is communication, and pretty much any career, any major is in the communication business,” Blossom said.

Blossom said that even for those students who are not advertising or public relations majors, going to one of the speakers featured can be time well spent.

In addition to the insight offered by the speakers, the audience has the chance to ask questions to the speaker after each presentation. In the past, many of the guests have even provided contact information for email, Twitter and LinkedIn so that students can connect with them in the future. This gives students the opportunity to contact the speakers outside of the large group setting, which can make some nervous, or to ask questions they think of at a later date.

“Every speaker that comes into a classroom or is a part of a speaker series is another opportunity to network,” Blossom said.

The APR speaker series is possible due to the efforts of the school of communications to integrate a real-world education piece into the education it already provides in the classroom. There are also speakers frequently presenting with student organizations affiliated with the majors, the GVSU Advertising Club and the GVSU chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America.

Students are encouraged to take full advantage of every opportunity given to them and the APR speaker series is no exception. For more information about the speaker series, visit