By Manship School public relations instructor Doug Draper
I love my job. How many people can say that and truly mean it? I always look forward to teaching public relations courses at the Manship School because of the students. They come ready to learn skills that will make them relevant in today’s marketplace and lead to meaningful careers. Most days, they bring energy, curiosity and creativity to the classroom and bravely tackle real-world challenges. Sometimes, they even laugh at my “dad jokes.”
In teaching my students how to be skilled communicators, I find that many need more experience in an area that most people fear—public speaking. While I rely on my own experience, I also have an amazing ally who I discovered at a workshop for fiction writers.
One of the presenters, Lindsey Duga, author of Kiss of the Royal, delivered two “elevator pitches” when describing techniques for getting a book published. Her powerful pitch blew me away. I turned to the person next to me and said, “Wow! My students need to hear this.”
Lindsey accepted my invitation to come to my PR writing and social media strategy classes because she is a Manship School graduate, class of 2012. She delivered two remarkable pitches and participated in a Q&A session that my students loved. Lindsey inspired them because she had been in the same room as a student six years earlier and is now a published author and the account manager for Gatorworks, a digital design studio in Baton Rouge.
While Lindsey impressed all the students, she had the most profound effect on a class visitor that day. Mary Chiappetta, a Manship School graduate student, attended to write about the presentation for the Manship School Blog. After hearing that Lindsey wrote her first novel while at LSU, Mary decided she would follow that example and signed up for a writing challenge to draft a novel in 30 days. She did it! Mary gave me a sneak peek of the first few chapters, and she has a fun, engaging story to tell. I can’t wait to read the rest.
To my delight, Lindsey agreed to be a guest speaker in my current classes, but this time I’m applying her expertise in a much more interactive way. For my PR writing classes, we’re holding a friendly competition—MC 3001 Pitch Wars. The first round took place this week under the banner of Celebrity Challenge. Lindsey came as the celebrity, with Mary Chiappetta and me playing the role of challengers. All three of us pitched story ideas for the novels we’re currently writing.
The second round takes place next week, with 57 students participating. They will be delivering pitches to get new business for a PR agency or to sell a story idea to a reporter or editor. Thanks to the generous team at Communication across the Curriculum, we get to hold this version of MC 3001 Pitch Wars at Studio 151 in the CxC offices in Coates Hall. Knowing these students, I expect it to be epic and produce many “Wows!”