For this edition of Defining Experts, I was able to sit down (via zoom) with Associate Instructor and AD/PR Program Coordinator, Lindsay Hudock. She describes her interest in public relations, shares her accomplishments, discusses the current challenges in the public relations industry, and goes into detail about the projects she and her students in Quotes Club are working on for the future.
The transcribed interview:
What sparked your interest in Public Relations?
“Well, it was my first semester as a student at UCF and I chose an elective that was Introduction to Public Relations, and it was taught by a man named Dr. Tom Morgan. By the second week in the class, I turned to my friend and said, “If I can be him when I grow up, I know I can be really happy with what I do with my life.” And that was it for me. That class changed everything. It introduced me to public relations, and I knew right away that I didn’t know what I would do with it but I knew it was home and that’s where I’ve been ever since.”
What are some accomplishments you’d like to share?
“I got my Bachelors in Advertising and Public Relations at UCF and a Masters in Mass Communication also from the Nicholson School. When I started my career, I started working in public relations for nonprofits and then was eventually able to start my own consulting agency. And when UCF approached me about coming back to teach, that was one of the moments I’m prouder of in my career because Dr. Morgan, who had been my introduction to the industry and would go on to be a mentor for me (even to this day) and would share my master’s thesis committee, was retiring which created an opening to this program. He wrote the letter of recommendation for me to take over in his role and that was a tremendous honor. I also love the involvement I get to have with the professional community. One of the things I’m really proud of is that I’ve served in leadership for many years for the Florida Public Relations Association, been the president of the Orlando area chapter, and I’ve served on the state board now for four years. In 2020, I was at the Orlando’s PR Professional of the year, which I was also really proud of.”
What aspect of your work do you find challenging?
“I think one of the challenges working in public relations right now is how isolated we all became through COVID. That really eroded a lot of interpersonal skills, and as a society we are much more challenged right now in developing strong, meaningful positive interpersonal relationships. When we have a hard time doing that, all kinds of things also struggle because without relationship you don’t have trust, empathy and understanding. And those are the things that breed cooperation, teamwork, and the ability to solve conflict. I think we’re seeing some fallout from that which makes the type of consulting work that I do a little more challenging. I still consult through my consulting company and we work mostly with nonprofit clients all over the country that are really experiencing a lot of these challenges. And we also see that same challenge at the university with students. The students that are coming into our programs now lost a really important part of their high school experience to COVID. So, helping to identify where they might need training and instruction that students before them didn’t need and how can we help them recapture that personal growth and professional development that disappeared when everything shut down and went virtual.”
What are your research interests?
“As an instructor, research isn’t directly a part of my contract or an obligation with the university. But, one of the things I pursue a lot in my personal time and through my involvement in professional associations are avenues for continued professional development and personal growth and looking at how can we continue to position our students in our program for success. And where do we need to be evolving our program to continue to make our graduates the most competitive, they can be in the industry. So, that’s an area I spend a lot of time look at data on, looking at our counterparts at other institutions and professional associations to identify how is the industry evolving and based on that, how does training for these up-and-coming professionals need to evolve.”
Do you have any advice for students interested in AD/PR?
“Absolutely. The biggest thing I can say is get involved. In the Ad/PR industry, there’s a lot of different routes to ending up there. Employers in this field want to see so much more than just a degree. They want to be able to look at a student’s resume and see internship experience. Yes, of course they want to see a degree, but they want to see that you more than just did your time in a classroom and got the grades. They want to see that you’re interning and taking the opportunity to get exposure to the industry. But, they’re also looking for things like: how did you spend your free time, involvement in student clubs, student chapters in professional associations. Those things are becoming increasingly important to employers because more and more people are wanting to move into this industry which means employers get to be increasingly selective. What they’re looking for is not just somebody who is qualified (they do want somebody who’s qualified), but they want to see signs that you were passionate about getting to work in this field. I think that’s important and one of the reasons why in the AD/PR program at UCF we work so hard to give students so many different outlets for that. Whether it’s through Quotes, our student chapter of the Florida Public Relations Association or through something like Zeta Phi Eta (a national communication fraternity), just giving students different avenues to show employers that they’re passionately pursuing this industry more than just in the classroom.”
Do you have any upcoming projects that you or your students are working on for the future?
“One of the recent projects that I am the most proud of, and I think is a very important effort in the growth and future of our program and the growth and professionalism of our students, is that a few years of ours started working to bring industry credentialling program into the university. The universal accreditation board is a governing body that consists of 14 different associations related to public relations. Six or seven years ago they created an industry credential that students that are about to graduate or have just graduated could earn as a way to set themselves apart from their peers. So, an industry credential is the professional community’s seal of approval saying that you are better than average. Your degrees and academic accolades are academia saying, ‘this person is qualified,’ but this industry credential was the professional community saying ‘this person is qualified.’ I felt that this was an important opportunity for our students to continue to be competitive in the industry. We started working to bring that program here and were able to start offering a class that prepared students to sit for that industry credential a few years ago. By 2018, 30% of all people who were earning this credential in the country were coming through UCF and today we are the single largest contributor to that credentialing program nation-wide. That’s something I’m proud of and want to see continue to grow because I love to see all of our majors leaving UCF with not just a degree, not just internship experience, but also an industry credential- which is the trifecta of being a stellar applicant looking for a new job.”
What kind of impact do you want to leave?
“I think what I want more than anything else is to be somebody who helps students figure out where they can be happy in life; to find the place that feels like home, find the skillset you need to get there, and to help set themselves up for success. The greatest impact I can imagine is coming to the end of my career and being able to look back on it and say, ‘I helped people be the best versions of themselves so that they can live a happy and fulfilling life.’”
By Majdulina Hamed.
Published to Nicholson News on March 2nd, 2023.
If you have any news, accomplishments or highlights about your work or life, please be sure to share them with us, by emailing us at NicholsonNews@ucf.edu.