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Atlanta attraction

Posted June 14, 2016
Story by Raven Ellis, Reprinted from InterCom
Photo by Raven Ellis. A group of USC public relations students and aumni attend the Real World Conference in Atlanta.


Daley Michael graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Journalism and moved to Atlanta motivated to find a job in the city she loved. The job hunt was successful – she is employed by FOCUS Brands – and has maintained her Carolina connections.

The relationship between USC students and the city strengthened in 2005, when Professor Lisa Sisk was asked by public relations students to create a Maymester specifically for them. “I wanted public relations students to have the same opportunity to explore the industry with people who have successfully made it in the real world,” said Sisk.

The Atlanta Public Relations Experience, as it’s now called, relies on the close ties Sisk has developed with Atlanta alumni. “I make sure I keep an open line of communications all through the year. I become friends with the alumni and the relationship is what keeps the connection there,” she says. In 2016, students are visiting the Atlanta Aquarium, AT&T, Cohn & Wolfe, the High Museum of Art, American Cancer Society, MSL Group and the Georgia Aquarium. They will be studying effective crisis communication strategies in public relations.

USC journalism alumni in Atlanta also were involved in the 2016 Public Relations Student Society of America one-day Real World Conference. Stephen Brown, chief innovation officer at Cookerly PR and Daley Michael from FOCUS Brands participated.

Brown is a 2002 graduate from USC’s School of Journalism and Mass Communications who moved to Atlanta and now maintains ties with fellow gamecocks. “Garnet and Black never gets out of your blood,” he said. “There are always reasons to be interacting, to continue to talk to students and find out what dreams they have. It keeps us fresh because we know what the next generation of people wants to do with our field.”

Brown’s advice: “Link in and connect with people on social networks if you’re in the Atlanta area. Take advantage of professional networking events if you find out people are coming to campus.”

Daley Michael moved to Atlanta in 2012. “I moved here right after graduation with no job. But that was all the motivation I needed,” she said. “Go after what it is that you want to do – people are the most forgiving during this time in your life.” Her advice: “Do whatever it takes to make it! Take people out to lunch, to drinks, to whatever. If you can show how badly you want it, somebody is going to want you on his or her team.”