Entertainment Industry Pro Now Teaching at Manship School

Manship School professor David Stamps

The Manship School just added eight new people to their internationally – known faculty full of scholars and top professionals, and on that list is St. Louis native, Dr. David Stamps.

Stamps brings a dynamic background, working within the entertainment industry, as an actor and dancer, as a field publicist with NBC Universal, as well as a strong research portfolio. It was his professional dancing that initially led him into acting and eventually to NBC Universal.

“I really wanted to be a dancer for Janet Jackson, but I would go to auditions and see these huge guys and I did not look like that, so I told my manager that we needed to find something different,” Dr. Stamps said.

That “something else” turned into opportunities for Stamps to work as an actor/dancer in film, commercials, and on shows such as “Hannah Montana,” as well as introduce his very own line of fitness videos.

Stamps soon found his way to the world of entertainment public relations, where he worked for NBC Universal for about eight years. Along the way he found himself interacting with various stars like Rihanna and Blake Lively on the films BATTLESHIP and SAVAGES, respectively.

“My boss would call me Sunday night and tell me that he needed me to deliver a film to Oprah’s estate Monday morning that hasn’t been released yet, so I would have to travel, wait for her to watch it in her theater, and make sure the movie did not leave the estate because that was a multi- million dollar project that has not yet been released to the public,” Stamps said.

Stamps helped develop marketing and strategic communication plans for multi-million-dollar box office movies such as the Fast and Furious franchise and the tentpole blockbuster, Despicable Me.

“My team and I helped bring this set of minions from unknown characters in a movie that hadn’t launched yet to a household brand – now you see them everywhere,” Stamps said.

Stamps traveled across the country, sometimes spending time working in multiple cities during a week. “It was exhilarating and exhausting,” Stamps said.

After nearly a decade in public relations, Stamps decided to go into teaching, specifically at the college level. Stamps wanted to teach students the same lessons he learned in the classroom, with his bachelor’s degree in media management, as well as his lessons in the industry. David earned his master’s at California State University in Northridge and doctoral degree at the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB).

During his time as a graduate student, Stamps was awarded the Kennedy/Graves Research Fellowship in 2017 and 2018, was named the Pearl S. Simmons Scholar and Graduate Equity Fellow, and his research has been supported by the Congressional Black Caucus and the University of California, Santa Barbara Center for Black Studies. He also won the Mass Communication Graduate Portfolio Award from the CSU Mike Curb College of Media and Communication and was named a finalist of the CSU Trustee Award in 2015.

Stamps has bridged his work in media to his research program. He examines race-related media effects and stereotyping of marginalized groups within mass media. He’s authored numerous publications on media, including “The social construct of the African American family on broadcast television: A comparative content analysis of The Cosby Show and Blackish” in the Howard Journal of Communications and “Is it Really Representation? A Qualitative Analysis of Asian and Latino Characterizations in Broadcast Television” in The American Communication Journal.

Now that he’s at LSU, Stamps is eager to continue his important work and to mentor graduate and undergraduate students who want to conduct research and work in public relations or the academia.

“It’s cool that I walk past a tiger every day. The Manship School has a lot of great resources and potential and if we work together collectively, we can tap into a unique and culturally rich space,” Stamps said.

Written by Brianna Jones-Williams

Student Explores Social Media Advertising Trends

Loreal Johnson
Manship student Loreal Johnson

Loreal Johnson graduated from the Manship School in May 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in digital advertising but not before pursing unique communication research on social media.

In her last semester at LSU, Johnson was selected as an LSU Discover Scholar and awarded an LSU Discover Undergraduate Research Project Grant for her project, “Sharing more than expected: Exploring whether and how young people have privacy concerns related to social media advertising.”

Johnson explored the ways in which ads on Instagram and Snapchat target young African Americans, as well as the potential privacy concerns that may arise when young people give those brands too much power. Under the guidance of her mentor, Erin Coyle, Ph.D., Johnson used qualitative research techniques and conducted one-on-one interviews with students as part of her project. While her research hasn’t yet concluded, it’s already provided her with the opportunity to explore topics she finds interesting while putting her communication skills to work.

Johnson is pursuing her master’s degree at the Manship School, where she will continue her research on targeted ads on African Americans. Choosing the Manship School for her master’s degree was an easy decision for Johnson, who said the small class size was an initial draw.

“The Manship School’s small class sizes made me feel at home, but my favorite thing about Manship is definitely the faculty,” Johnson said. “They are so encouraging and always willing to lend a hand.”

Written by Beth Carter

Faculty and Students Study “Avengers,” “Black Panther”

Meghan Sanders, Ph.D., works in a job that combines her love for media entertainment with her fascination with human behavior. Sanders is an associate professor with the Manship School and is also the director of the Manship School’s Media Effects Lab, a research and teaching facility where faculty and student researchers can study how the media affect consumers emotionally and cognitively.

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Meghan Sanders collaborates with Manship School graduate students on research.

MEL researchers use advanced experimental and survey methodologies and technologies (like reaction time monitors, facial expression analysis, heart rate, eye tracking and more) to investigate theoretical and applied problems, explore innovations and uncover trends in mass communication. Approximately 800 to 1,200 Manship students participate in MEL surveys each semester.

Sanders has been interested in the media since childhood but discovered her true passion for blending media and research during college.

“I found that the questions about media that intrigued me most revolved around how, when and why different forms of media, specifically entertainment, seem to have such a strong influence on how we think and feel,” Sanders said.

Sanders’ most current research focuses on Marvel’s blockbuster “Avengers” movies. She looked at audience sentiments toward the “Avengers” and another Marvel hit, “Black Panther,” to see how entertainment media can serve as a force for positive social change by tapping into viewers’ emotions.

“With ‘Black Panther,’ I’m examining the role that racial identity may play in weakening the internalization of stereotypes traditionally perpetuated by entertainment,” Sanders said. “With ‘The Avengers,’ I was able to explore how emotions help draw people to a cause and feel connected to one another.”

LSU0901 Media Effects Lab - Meghan Sanders
Meghan Sanders conducts research in the Media Effects Lab.

Sanders said that while media entertainment’s main role is to provide fun and joy to viewers, it is important to study entertainment because our media consumption can explain, reflect and predict society’s values.

“Entertainment can reflect and advance culture and society – connecting us, highlighting both our flaws and our potential for greatness,” Sanders said. “Understanding the ‘how’, ‘when’ and ‘why’ of these influences allows us to better understand the significance of stories in our ability to grow, form relationships and broaden our perspectives.”

Written by Beth Carter

The Political Evolution of a Conservative Icon, Ronald Reagan

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Manship School professor and author Robert Mann

Manship School Professor Robert Mann recently published his new book, “Becoming Ronald Reagan: The Rise of a Conservative Icon.” Mann’s book is an extensive look at the beginning of Reagan’s political career.

Mann feels that this compelling biography of Reagan describes “an era where we cared about the truth.” Mann questions if, as a society, “do we care about the truth at all anymore or just want to be entertained?”

These thoughts were provoked because, according to Mann, Reagan was an incredible storyteller, but sometimes his stories were not entirely true. Reagan’s ability to engage an audience derived from his understanding of how “the entertainment industry could serve you well in politics,” Mann said.

The inspiration to write about Reagan began after Mann finished his last book, “Daisy Petals and Mushroom Clouds: LBJ, Barry Goldwater and the Ad that Changed American Politics,” which discusses the 1964 presidential election. During the election, one single point stood out to Mann as the most effective and persuasive tool of the entire campaign: the nationally televised speech on Oct. 27 that Reagan gave in support of Barry Goldwater. At the time, Goldwater was the Republican nominee for the presidential campaign. That speech, Mann argues in the book, was the highlight of Goldwater’s campaign and it launched Reagan political career.

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The cover of Robert Mann’s book, “Becoming Ronald Reagan: The Rise of a Conservative Icon

Mann feels that the importance of the 1964 election and Reagan’s speech is the “dawn of modern campaigning; the DNA of what happened that race is in today’s politics.”

When Mann began writing his book, he initially intended to focus solely on Reagan’s speech, but Mann found that Reagan’s life leading up to that speech was much more intriguing. Reagan started as an actor turned liberal union leader and became a conservative icon.

“We do evolve; we do change, Reagan is a good example of that,” Mann said. “His evolution resonates with me because I used to be a conservative, I voted for him both times, but now I don’t agree with any of his policies, but I like him as a man.”

New Book Fills Education Gap for Communications Professionals

Manship School professor and author Jinx Broussard

A forthcoming book by Manship School professors Andrea Miller and Jinx Broussard will fill a gap in information about crisis communication, a critical but often neglected component for every business and communication organization. Often, businesses fail to think about how to handle the backlash that sometimes accompanies crisis until a crisis is already upon them.

“You can’t make a bad response good with good communication, but the opposite is also true. Organizations must have a crisis plan, and it must include communication,” said Miller.

“Another major problem is having a plan on paper but never practicing it, never training, just having it sit on a

Manship School professor and author Andrea Miller

shelf such that when a crisis occurs, no one knows what to do, where to begin, or how to deal with the situation,” Broussard added. “A negative event does not have to be a crisis.”

Miller and Broussard’s book, Public Relations and Journalism in Times of Crisis: A Symbiotic Partnership is unique because it does what no other existing book on crisis communication has done: it addresses crisis communication from the point of view of both journalists and public relations professionals.

“The value of our book is that we approach crisis communication from the perspective of the journalist and the public relations practitioner,” Broussard said. “The other value is it’s a how-to guide and a best practices guide for journalists, public relations practitioners, professors who teach crisis communication or risk communication, as well as the students who will one day have to address crisis.”

“There are many books for public relations professionals on crisis communication, but not one that includes best practices for journalists, too,” Miller added. “Information is so important in crisis that it makes sense to approach crisis communication together.”

Miller and Broussard reviewed national news stories and the way in which large organizations handled crisis issues that were followed by media closely around the country, including the Ebola outbreak in 2014 that sickened two nurses in Dallas. Other crises they studied included the listeria contamination of Blue Bell ice cream in 2016, Hurricane Katrina and the “great flood” that affected Baton Rouge in 2016. As part of their research, they reviewed press releases and other media materials and interviewed public relations professionals and journalists who covered these stories.

Their comprehensive dive into notable crises yielded unique insights on best practices for both public relations professionals and journalists, Miller said.

“There are constants in all crises, but every crisis is different,” she said. “Each crisis has nuances and experiences specific to it. Communication professionals have to be ready for surprises.”

“Journalists and public relations people need to understand the roles that each profession performs or undertakes,” Broussard added. “And then, learn how to work together during times of crisis. That entails establishing relationships way before a crisis takes place and fostering those relationships throughout.”

Miller said the most important thing to keep in mind when managing communication in crisis is to prepare a strategy for dealing with the inundation of media requests that inevitably follow a high-profile disaster.

“It’s important to manage press requests without clamming up. That’s not a strategy, it’s to your detriment,” Miller said.

Broussard agrees.

“The journalist’s job is to get information to the public in a timely fashion. The public relations practitioner’s job is also to get information to the public in a timely fashion,” she said. “In an absence of information the rumor mill begins, and once that rumor is in the public sphere it’s very difficult to get the correct information out to the public.”

Miller also recommends that public relations professionals sometimes prioritize national media requests over local ones, which isn’t always the best strategy.

“Make sure you’re giving information to the local media so they can give it to the community, so that the community can heal,” she said.

For the working press who are covering a story, taking care to not sensationalize stories or get involved in the blame game is key.

“Both journalists and public relations professionals need to keep their constituencies in mind in crisis, and give them the information they need to make the best decisions about their lives and livelihoods,” Miller said.

Like the ideal symbiotic partnership between journalists and public relations professionals, Miller & Broussard’s collaboration on this book brings together the best of both worlds in a how-to, best practices format.

Miller, a former journalist, was inspired to produce this book when she found herself creating materials for her own crisis communication classes that fused the needs of public relations professionals and journalists in a holistic fashion. In the real world of communication, these dual sides must work together, Miller said. Like Miller, Broussard’s many decades of experience in high pressure public relations positions gives the book the complementary public relations point of view.

“I have lived crisis communication,” Broussard said. “I was the public relations director for the city of New Orleans and press secretary for the mayor of New Orleans. We were always bombarded with potential crises.”

Miller’s interest in crisis communication came from her own practical experience working in the field as a journalist in Dallas. Then, other crises throughout her career piqued her interest in how the media and public relations professionals work together – or don’t – in communicating with the public in crisis.

“I hope professionals read this book and understand each other a little bit better, and see their job a little differently than they might now when it comes to crisis,” Miller said.

“I hope readers will take away that a negative event does not have to become a crisis,” Broussard added. “Planning in advance can help mitigate a negative situation such that it does not become a crisis.”

Look for Public Relations and Journalism in Times of Crisis: A Symbiotic Partnership in June 2019.

Article by graduate student Mary Chiappetta