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Division of Communication Studies Presents Two-Day Workshop, "Future Speak: Public Relations Today & Tomorrow," Sept. 18-19

Event to feature keynote speaker Fred Cook, CEO, GolinHarris

Updated Sept. 17 10:30 a.m. - workshop venue change, see below

The Division of Communication Studies at SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts presents its fourth annual Communicating Excellence workshop, “Future Speak: Public Relations Today & Tomorrow,” Sept. 18-19 on the SMU campus. Keynote speaker of the two-day event will be Fred Cook, president and CEO of GolinHarris, an international communications firm whose clients include market leaders like McDonald’s, Unilever, Nintendo, Texas Instruments, Dow Chemical and General Mills. Cook will share observations about his company’s recent strategic reorganization in response to the rapidly changing communications landscape and will focus on the state of public relations today and challenges for the future.

The event will also include three professional workshops targeted to both practitioners and students. Workshop topics include “Blurring the Lines: Marketing, Advertising, Journalism and Public Relations”; “The Talent Gap: Developing, Recruiting and Retaining Top Public Relations Talent to the North Texas Area”; and, for students only, “My First Two Years as a Public Relations Professional.” The event concludes with a luncheon and audience discussion led by Cook and Linda Rutherford, vice president of strategic communication and outreach for Southwest Airlines. The pair will discuss the different challenges faced by public relations professionals working in agencies versus corporate settings.

The Communicating Excellence event coincides with the Meadows School’s fall 2012 launch of a new interdisciplinary Bachelor of Arts degree in public relations and strategic communications. The new degree, which includes courses from Meadows’ divisions of journalism and advertising as well as communication studies, is part of a multi-pronged program unique among universities. The program emphasizes not just theory but hands-on practice and learning outside the classroom through such activities as a student-run consulting firm, debate teams, local and international internships, SMU-in-Washington, and more.

SMU Associate Professor Maria Dixon-Hall, co-chair of the Communicating Excellence workshop, says the event highlights SMU’s commitment to the training and success of PR professionals. “Our goal is not only to get our students market-ready, but to get them the promotion,” says Dixon-Hall. “This event brings together top communicators to examine and discuss what is necessary for public relations professionals to be successful now and in the future.”

The Communicating Excellence event is sponsored by GolinHarris and by the SMU Meadows School of the Arts Division of Communication Studies and the Communication Studies Advisory Board.

Cost of the event is $20, and includes lunch. There is no charge for those wishing to attend the keynote address only. In addition, students may attend one workshop at no charge. Seating is limited and registration is required. To register, call the Meadows Ticket Office at 214-768-2787. For further information, call 214-768-1574 or email Rebecca Hewitt at

Event Details

Future Speak: Public Relations Today & Tomorrow

Tuesday, Sept. 18:
6 p.m. – Registration
7 p.m. – Keynote address by Fred Cook, CEO, GolinHarris
Bob Smith Auditorium in the Meadows Museum, 5900 Bishop Blvd. on the SMU Campus

Wednesday, Sept. 19:
Three Workshops
10 a.m. - Workshop 1: “Blurring the Lines: Marketing, Advertising, Journalism and Public Relations” - Umphrey Lee Center, room 228
11 a.m. - Workshop 2: “The Talent Gap: Developing, Recruiting, and Retaining Top Public Relations Talent to the North Texas Area” - Umphrey Lee Center, room 228
10 a.m. and 11 a.m. - Workshop 3 (For students only): “My First Two Years as a Public Relations Professional” - Umphrey Lee Center, room 244

12:30 p.m. – Luncheon with speakers Fred Cook of GolinHarris and Linda Rutherford, Southwest Airlines
Mack Ballroom, Umphrey Lee Center, 3300 Dyer St. on the SMU campus

Parking is available for all of Wednesday's events on Bishop Boulevard on the inside lane closest to the median and away from the fire lanes.

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