By Sophia Mora
SAN ANTONIO – The predominantly student-led second annual Mass Commference, presented by the Salazar-Escobedo School of Mass Communication and Theater will take place from April 25-27 at Our Lady of the Lake University (OLLU) to allow mass communication students to hear from professionals within the field.
The Mass Commference is a three-day event taking place April 25-27 from 9:30 a.m.- 3 p.m. each day. The event will be both face-to-face and virtual, including sessions from industry professionals in public relations, multimedia journalism, professional technical writing, digital film & theater.
The event is being organized by a group predominantly made up of students. Leading the event’s planning is public relations coordinator and student director for the Ruben M. and Veronica Salazar-Escobedo School of Mass Communication and Theater, Jeremy Falkner. The OLLU students also involved in the event planning include mass communication majors, Sydney Rodriguez, Annabelle Vasquez, Teresa King and Sophia Mora. Falkner and the team of students are all overseen by faculty adviser, Professor A.J. Arreguin.
“It’s important to students to get project-based learning experience compared to real world situations,” Arreguin said. “The students are put into teams of many different areas in communication such as public relations, multimedia journalism, videography, photography, community relations, media relations and more.”
Arreguin said these experiences will help students get a grasp of what is expected in the career areas that surround mass communications.
Catalina Sanchez, OLLU alumna and last year’s Mass Commference coordinator, developed relationships with conference speakers such as, CEOs, acclaimed filmmakers and other communication professionals. By developing marketing and public relations plans, she also expanded brand awareness.
“Students shouldn’t see this as just another school event,” Sanchez said. “They should see it as an opportunity to further their career. It’s all about connections and who you know. The fact that the mass communications department provides this event for the students just makes it that much easier to get your foot in the door.”
Some roles that the student team members are fulfilling this year include public relations coordinator, media relations director, digital content coordinator and event coordinator.
“Networking is probably the best thing students gain out of the conference,” Arreguin said. “Students apply public relations techniques to reach out to speakers, vendors, attendees and organizers and become familiar with the process of event planning. Another important aspect students learn is the value of teamwork and organization skills.”
Last year’s Mass Commference was completely virtual due to COVID-19, but this year, it will take place face-to-face. This year’s Mass Commference will also integrate a workshop series during each day of the event.
“The workshop allows professionals to engage with OLLU students and give them valuable insight into the selective fields,” Arreguin said.
The 2021 Mass Commference allowed students to hear from mass communications professionals such as entertainment publicist Laura Puig, British Broadcasting Company journalist Angélica Casas, founder of Defiant Motion Pictures David Carbajal and more. After each session, viewers were able to send in questions for the speakers to answer.
The first day of the event will take place April 25 and will focus on public relations. The speakers for day one will feature the CEO of KGB Texas Katie Harvey, marketing director of San Antonio Current Cassandra Yardeni and CEO & Communications Strategist of Innovate Aesthetics and chief communications officer of Happithy Marketing Thomas Mcbryde.
The second day of the event is April 26 and will focus on multimedia journalism. Freelance sports radio host Carolina Teague will be the first speaker for the day. Teague’s session will be followed by digital reporter for KENS 5, Lexi Hazlett. For the final session of the day, multi-media journalist with Fox 29 and News 4 Michael Jimenez and multi-skilled journalist with KENS 5 Eyewitness News Sarah Duran will share the stage.
Finally, the last day of the event will take place April 27 and focus on professional technical writing, digital film & theater. Owner of PrimaDonna Productions Nikki Young will begin the day at 9:30 a.m. with the first session. Disney voice actress Josey Porras ends the day and the event with the final session.
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