Katherine Kinnick, an associate professor of communication,
helps her students get a taste of the real world by working
with various community groups in COM 4465, Public Relations
Campaigns. Kinnick is the 2003 winner of the Distinguished Teaching
the Year recipient brings real-world experience to her classroom
Long before Dr. Katherine Kinnick became an associate
professor of communication at Kennesaw State University, she learned
first-hand that not everything public relations students need to
know about their career field was being taught in the classroom.
The experience she gained during 10 years as a PR professional in
Atlanta is paying dividends today, as she helps prepare a new generation
of students to enter the workforce.
"I felt like I had something to offer, because
I had all of this real-world experience," said Kinnick, a full-time
faculty member for nearly eight years. "And there are so many
things that I wish somebody had told me as a young professional,
everything from business etiquette to what its really like
handling the rejection of reporters as a PR person; they never taught
me those things in classrooms."
Kinnick, the 2003 recipient of Kennesaw States
Distinguished Teaching Award, endeavors to give her students the
"inside scoop" through courses such as COM 4465, Public
Relations Campaigns, which provides senior communication majors
on the PR track with a taste of the real world by allowing them
to adopt a client (usually a local non-profit agency) and develop
a promotional campaign geared to its specific needs.
"That course is really our showcase for service
learning in the PR track," Kinnick explained. "Its
the capstone course that students can take when theyre a senior."
Each group of COM 4465 students is divided into
teams, simulating agencies competing for the business of the organization
in question. This spring, that organization was Cobb Christmas,
a volunteer group that collects enough toys for about 4,000 children,
as well as food for their families, each holiday season. Past clients
have included MUST Ministries, the city of Smyrna and Cobb Family
"I think theres a lot of value in having
the students work together in a team, rather than doing only individual
assignments in that class," Kinnick said. "It really is
much closer to what happens in the real world.
"Classes like this and the internship program,
which I also supervise, Im really passionate about,"
she explained, "because this is the kind of hands-on, real-world
training I think students need to be prepared for an entry-level
If outside feedback is any indication, thats
just the sort of education Kinnick and her colleagues in the communication
department are providing.
"My goal has been to make our graduates every
bit as prepared and marketable as the schools that have these long-standing
reputations in the business community, and I think were really
making some headway," she said. "The feedback that we
have heard from internship supervisors and from the clients for
the PR campaigns class is that these students are prepared and that
they are just as competent, if not more competent, as students that
they get as interns coming out of some of the bigger programs.
"That makes me feel really good," she
added, "that we are doing our job in getting them prepared
for the expectations that employers are going to have."