One of Hollie Gilroy’s duties at the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission is to publicize the agency’s clean-up of the Passaic River system. Photo provided by Hollie Gilroy

One of Hollie Gilroy’s duties at the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission is to publicize the agency’s clean-up of the Passaic River system.
Photo provided by Hollie Gilroy

By Tiffany Lu

It isn’t a glamorous name, but today’s “sewerage commission” is essential to the workings of government as a means to improve the environment and routinely clean up polluted waterways. Its partners are schools and environmental groups. Its outreach involves not only the media but every resident who lives within its service area.

In Northern New Jersey, the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission (PVSC) is responsible for the environmental health and livelihood of more than 1.4 million residents in 48 different municipalities. Hollie A. Gilroy, J/MS 1985, is public affairs director for the agency.

At times one can find her in the office in Newark, but often she is out on the Passaic River and tributaries and in Newark Bay, making sure community-based river restoration programs are in place and showing the media how the PVSC’s surface skimmer vessel removes debris and litter from the water. Gilroy has had an illustrious career in the world of public communications.

Before beginning work for PVSC last year, Gilroy served New Jersey government for three years, holding chief communications jobs at the Department of Community Affairs and the New Jersey Economic Development Authority. At PVSC, she draws from all her past experience as she writes aggressive press releases that support the PVSC policy and reforms agenda. She also communicates with a variety of people, including elected officials, key stakeholders, educational groups and internal employees.

“Each day is different, ranging from writing press releases to conducting tours to administrative work.” Gilroy said.

She also administers the commission’s award-winning outreach program for schools district-wide that teaches students about environmental awareness. This allows Gilroy to work with local schools as well as environmental groups.

Gilroy has come a long way since she attended J/MS and worked as a part-time writer for the Courier News in Bridgewater, and even farther since she was the managing editor of her community college paper.

Yet Gilroy still uses the skills she learned from her stint in newspaper reporting and time in J/MS to keep on her toes in the world of public affairs.

“Having worked on newspapers, you learn how to research a subject, identify opinion leaders and synthesize a story or argument,” she said. “From reporting, my strengths in the field include meeting tight deadlines and compiling and writing succinctly to highlight the most important facts and themes.”

These skills are what helped Gilroy win numerous professional awards. They include “Communicator of the Year Award” in 1998 from the National Council for Marketing and Public Relations, and “Woman of Influence in Communications” in 2006 from the Women’s Fund of New Jersey. After J/MS, Gilroy’s interest in the field and the financial incentives led her to pursue a master’s degree from Seton Hall University in Public and Corporate Communications. “I was able to put my strategic communications skills and my government rel­ations skills to good use,” Gilroy said. “Because I have both skill sets, I’ve been able to craft some unusual and exciting job opportunities.”

She began her career by working at Rutgers, a trade association, and two prominent lobbying firms, later serving eight years as the director of communications for the HealthCare Institute of New Jersey, a trade association for the research-based biopharmaceutical and medical technology industry. There she worked with the late Congressman from New Jersey, Bob Franks, who had become the institute’s president.

Whenever she is asked how to break into the public communications field, her advice for prospective graduate students is to “go get some real world experience first.” A higher degree is costly and time consuming, so it is better first to go into a field and know the inner-workings of it, according to Gilroy.

“Some valid work experience makes you better prepared to tackle the rigors of graduate study — with passion and commitment,” she said.

Her particular passion — in addition to being a public spokeswoman for government — is horses. Off the job, Gilroy is a frequent lecturer and experienced horse racer. She is also an American Sailing Association-certified sailor, having earned her USCG license by sailing a Hunter 36 yacht around the Caribbean in 2001. She lives in Edison with her husband, Michael Skowronski, and her son Max.

By Anna Batt

Lizzie Plaugic Photo supplied by Lizzie Plaugic

Lizzie Plaugic
Photo supplied by Lizzie Plaugic

Lizzie Plaugic, a 2012 J/MS graduate and assistant editor at The College Music Journal, knows how to turn music into words with wit and ease.

The College Music Journal (CMJ) is a music news/event/online media company that hosts a popular annual music festival, the CMJ Music Marathon. Established in 1978 as a bi-weekly magazine aimed at college radio programmers, CMJ has changed drastically throughout the years. The journal also releases a monthly mixtape of music for fans and DJ’s to download to discover new music.

As the assistant editor Plaugic is responsible for writing and editing music news, album reviews, interviews, compiling the monthly Mixtape and weekly Scene Report, organizing downloads and reviews for staff writers. She is also in charge of CMJ’s social media components like Facebook, Twitter and Soundcloud.

She has worked there since May 2013.

Working for CMJ, Plaugic uses skills she learned at J/MS every day. Professors like Bruce Reynolds helped her sharpen her interviewing abilities, knowing what to say and what not to say, and developing her ability to go out and find interesting stories and write them quickly.

In her professional life, she has gotten the opportunity to go to various concerts and festivals for free, and has interviewed more than 100 bands. “Usually when I do interviews I try to make them fun,” said Plaugic. “It’s usually just someone talking to me and me laughing a lot.”

Plaugic is dedicated to covering local, lesser-known bands that would not be written about in mainstream media. “I think it’s better to interviews with lesser-known bands because they are more excited to talk to you,” she said. “With an artist like Drake, they are not really that into it, and it would be more boring.”

Before working at CMJ, Plaugic held an assistant editorial position at Nerve is an American online magazine dedicated to topics like sex, relationships and culture. She was in charge of writing feature stories, various social media projects and photo editing.

She free-lanced for Time Out New York, a print and online guide to the best events, places to go, and nightlife in New York. “I would go into the office and basically do whatever they told me to — a lot of it was fact-checking,” Plaugic recalled. “I would call places and say things like, ‘do you still sell this ice cream for $2?’”

During her time at Rutgers, Plaugic wrote for the Rutgers Review, and eventually became editor-in-chief. She was one of the creators of the column called “Potpourri” about random events going on in New Brunswick or whatever members want to write about. At the Review, she learned how to use Adobe InDesign, and learned valuable skills she uses in her job.

Plaugic lives in Bushwick, Brooklyn, where she said she sees famous people pretty often. The comedian Joel McHale was standing behind her in line, and she saw actor Edward Norton during CMJ Music Marathon “in a coffee place around 10 p.m. He was the only one in there, and we locked eyes. He looked he was having a rough day.”

Plaugic is currently working towards her master’s degree in Creative Writing at the New School in New York.



Steven Sandberg, left, with U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez. Sandberg, a 2000 graduate, made the move from journalist to press secretary. Photo provided by Steven Sandberg

Steven Sandberg, left, with U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez. Sandberg, a 2000 graduate, made the move from journalist to press secretary. Photo provided by Steven Sandberg

By Kalah McLaughlin

After working more than a decade and a half in broadcast journalism, Steven Sandberg, J/MS 2000, has flipped the script and become the press secretary for New Jersey’s senior U.S. Senator, Robert Menendez, a Democrat.

Sandberg’s main duty is to interface with the press and so has switched from being the reporter to now responding to reporters’ questions and giving them information to write and produce their stories. Without letting his journalism degree go to waste, Sandberg also writes press releases and speeches and arranges public events for the senator, who is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and is prominent in U.S. immigration policy reform.

“The decision to go to ‘the other side’ was not made lightly,” said Sandberg, who worked for WINS 1010 Radio for the last 10 years. “It was done with great deliberation, but in the end without regrets. Having covered the senator over the years, I had great respect for his public service and tireless work on behalf of the people of New Jersey.”

This career change should not have taken anyone by surprise. Sandberg graduated with dual degrees in journalism and political science. He also briefly studied law at Rutgers Law School in Newark.

During his years as an undergrad at Rutgers, Sandberg fell in love with radio at WRSU. He broadcast Rutgers football and men and women’s basketball through his junior year. During his senior year, Sandberg was hired to broadcast College of New Jersey football and did so for three seasons.

“Simultaneously, I had begun to pursue a career in news while still an undergrad,” he recalled. “Towards the end of my freshman year, I answered an ad and got the job as a news assistant at WOR Radio in New York. Within a few months — at just 19 years old — I was on the air in the Big Apple. “

During that time, Sandberg also did some freelance news anchoring and reporting for WRNJ AM/FM in Hackettstown, NPR and Metro Networks. In 2004, Sandberg joined 1010 WINS as a New Jersey correspondent. There, he covered the Tyler Clementi trial, the fight for same-sex marriage and Superstorm Sandy.

One professor’s words stuck with Sandberg through the years. “I’ll never forget what Steve Miller told us the first day of his Intro to TV class: If you’re pursuing a career in journalism, it’s not for the money, but for the passion. He was absolutely right. It’s a calling.”

Sandberg also added, “The skills I acquired studying at Rutgers and working as a reporter for more than a decade and a half are absolutely vital and essential in my current role. I use them every day.”

Sandberg has worked for Sen. Menendez since last December. He is primarily based in New Jersey but travels with the senator around the state and occasionally to Washington, D.C.

“I am still a journalist and storyteller at heart,” Sandberg emphasized. “Reporters will joke that I have jumped to the ‘dark side,’ in reference to the sometimes adversarial relationship between the media and people in my position. However, it only further illustrates the dichotomy and two-sided nature of a story.”

Sandberg resides in Nutley with his wife, Kathy, and son, David.


Heather Brookhart, J/MS 2010, has grown in her job at Jaffe Communications. Photo by Gina Rizza

Heather Brookhart, J/MS 2010, has grown in her job at Jaffe Communications. Photo by Gina Rizza

By Gina Rizza
Media convergence has drastically altered the job market for recent graduates with Journalism and Media Studies degrees. Students often hear that they must be well-rounded and willing to pick up new skills. Recent graduate Heather Brookhart, J/MS 2010, will be the first to say this is true.

Brookhart works as the creative services coordinator for Jaffe Communications in Newark. Her job encompasses everything from public relations to reporting to web design. Over the past several years her position has both shifted and expanded.

“My position actually spans a couple different areas,” noted Brookhart.

She began at Jaffe with writing press releases, pitching stories, and reporting. Now, she added, “There’s been a shift towards more digital needs for our clients. My position now is more marketing focus and also graphic and web design.”

In addition to providing design and social media content for her clients, Brookhart is a reporter and editor for many of the firm’s hyper-local newspapers, which are distributed to residents in Central and Northern New Jersey.
She interned for the firm in the summer of her junior year and was asked to return for her last semester after staying in touch with her boss, Jonathan Jaffe, also a J/MS graduate from 1993. The position transitioned into full-time when she graduated.

“When I started working full time there was a pretty big need for [design], and I was able to fill that need for our clients,” said Brookhart.

Being four years into the business, Brookhart seems to be on her way to being an expert in all aspects of the media. Many of her skills, she said, were developed during her undergraduate career.

“A lot of what I learned at Rutgers definitely prepared me,” said Brookhart. “I’d say probably the most useful courses that I attended while I was at Rutgers were more the skill-based classes—all of those things I use day to day in my job now.”

Like many students in J/MS, she expanded her skills outside of the classroom as well. Brookhart started at the Daily Targum her freshman year and became metro editor by her junior year.

“There are things I learned that I don’t know I would have learned otherwise—just little ins and outs of business and the industry overall,” said Brookhart.

Brookhart said she was doing “real-life reporting” at Daily Targum while covering New Brunswick news.

“At the time I was on the other side; now I’m in PR,” said Brookhart. “I had that insight from being a former reporter.”

Brookhart also worked as a graphic designer for RU-tv. That provided her with a “creative outlet” since graphics were a hobby and passion of hers.
During this time she also experimented with the Adobe Creative Suite and taught herself skills that she would find herself using at her job.

As a successful and talented J/MS graduate, Brookhart stressed the importance of taking advantage of the resources at Rutgers.

Brookhart landed her internship through Professor Steve Miller, who provided her with a list of contacts, one of them being her current boss.

“You should start in the industry as soon as possible,” said Brookhart. “Get yourself in the door as soon as you can whether it’s through an internship or early on. Do what you can to learn first-hand.”


By Maiy Elbery 

and Catarina Pereira —

For five fortunate J/MS alumni, one doctor has brought them all together.  “The Dr. Oz Show,” filmed in Manhattan, has become a fulltime job to Tim Sullivan, Class of 1994, Jenna Bauer and Stephanie Makowski, both Class of 2012, and Steve Pappas and Melissa Mendonca, both Class of 2013.

The Emmy-award winning syndicated talk show, hosted by cardiothoracic surgeon and Columbia University professor Mehmet Oz, has been on air for five seasons.

Tim Sullivan has been Dr. Oz’s director of publicity since the show first premiered in September 2009.

While attending Rutgers, Sullivan became a journalism major thanks to Steve Miller, who became his subject and career mentor when he did not know where else to turn, Sullivan said.

Sullivan wrote for The Green Print while pursuing his degree at Cook College and got his start in public relations prior to graduating when he was offered a fellowship at the Johnson and Johnson national headquarters near campus. He became their first public relations fellow and was able to work while pursuing his masters’ degree at Rutgers.

From left, Melissa Mendonca, Tim Sullivan, Dr. Mehmet Oz, Jenna Bauer and Stephanie Makowski all work together at “The Dr. Oz Show.” Steve Pappas is not pictured. Photo by Barbara Nitke.

From left, Melissa Mendonca, Tim Sullivan, Dr. Mehmet Oz, Jenna Bauer and Stephanie Makowski all work together at “The Dr. Oz Show.” Steve Pappas is not pictured. Photo by Barbara Nitke.

After working for J&J, Sullivan’s career ran full speed when he took a position at Dan Klores Communications in New York, doing everything from publicity for major musicians’ charity work such as Paul McCartney, Heart and the Doobie Brothers to having more than dozens healthcare clients.

“When I was hired at Dan Klores Communications, they needed someone to run their health care division, and I wanted to work in music, so I said I could run your healthcare department if you could provide me with some music projects,” Sullivan recalled. “And that’s what we did, and I was there for 10 years. It was fantastic.”

When Oprah Winfrey was getting ready to launch Dr. Oz as a TV show, Sullivan seemed like the perfect match because of his level of experience in both television and healthcare. He assisted prepping the show for its launch and when the season kicked off, he managed the show’s PR while at Klores, he said.

By season two, Sullivan was brought into the Dr. Oz offices as fulltime head of the PR Department, where he continues to work today.

“The thing about Oz is, I got to launch the show, and I got to take him around for an entire year around the country to let everyone know there was a show coming,” said Sullivan. “I got the privilege to build the brand, and I do not see myself leaving anytime soon.”

Jenna Bauer

Being in the offices of “The Dr. Oz Show” can be both rewarding and demanding at the same time for one of the young professionals who work for Sullivan, publicity assistant Jenna Bauer. She started with Dr. Oz in October 2012.

When asked to describe her role in the office Bauer said:

“My position includes a wide variety of tasks. I keep a to-do list for each day, but things are always changing. It’s an exciting and challenging environment to be a part of.”

While at Rutgers she double majored in Journalism and Media Studies and Dance. She interned at numerous places during her college career, including NBCUniversal, Imbue You, the popular wedding and party website, and Resound Marketing. When she got the job at “The Dr. Oz Show,” Bauer said she was able to put together all her radio, television, and PR experience to become Sullivan’s assistant.

If there is one piece of advice Bauer would give to graduating students it would be:

Rutgers alumnae and co-workers at the “The Dr. Oz Show,” Melissa Mendonca, left, and Stephanie Makowski, said they are grateful for the preparation they received On the Banks. Photo provided by Melissa Mendonca and Stephanie Makowski.

Rutgers alumnae and co-workers at the “The Dr. Oz Show,” Melissa Mendonca, left, and Stephanie Makowski, said they are grateful for the preparation they received On the Banks. Photo provided by Melissa Mendonca and Stephanie Makowski.

“Whatever path you take in life, take time to really get to know the people you meet along the way,” Bauer said. “Their stories will be inspiring, and their lessons – timeless. Also, in the wise words of Conan O’Brien, ‘Work hard, be kind, and amazing things will happen.’ Both will ring true in your personal and professional lives.”

Steve Pappas and Melissa Mendonca

Oz is new to recent graduates Steve Pappas, an assistant to the producers, and Melissa Mendonca, who works on the production side as a scripts and control room production assistant.

Pappas describes the environment as fast paced, keeping him sharp and alert.

“As an assistant to the supervising producers, you really have to know what you’re doing,” Pappas said. “It’s such a critical position for the planning stages. I manage all the organization of the core brainstorming for episodes.”

The Cleveland, Ohio native moved to New Brunswick to attend Rutgers and while completing his degree at J/MS was involved in multiple activities on campus as well as off campus. He obtained internships at ABC’s “The Chew,” “General Hospital,” “The View,” and then went into programming and development at ABC’s TV group.

He began working at the show in July. Although his job consists of logistics, planning and organizing, Pappas has grown a passion for production and directing. All his experience has exposed him to many career paths that taught him to take the best opportunities because they will be most rewarding.

To find the right career fit, he stressed that “the most important thing is to get involved and meet people. Added Pappas, “Whether it is an internship or an on-campus activity, you need to see how to work in an environment outside the classroom, which will help you build your career.”

Pappas is not the only one who believes that getting involved is crucial. So does Melissa Mendonca.

A dedicated assistant, Mendonca began working at Oz three months after graduating. Knowing how rare it is these days for a student to get a job right after graduation, Mendonca said she realizes that the industry is all about whom you know, how you put yourself out there and how you connect to other professionals.

While at J/MS, Mendonca took on three internships to further her connections: interning as a high quality production intern at VH1 her junior year, a promotion intern at Republic Records Universal Music Group, and as a web intern at “Elvis Duran and The Morning Show” on New York radio station Z-100 her senior year.

“Internships are an incredible opportunity, and I strongly encourage every college student to do at least one.” Mendonca said. “This is how you get your foot in the door and how you begin to network yourself.”

Today, Mendonca’s daily routine consists of making changes to scripts with producers and prompters on show days. Her job requires her to be extremely keen on detail and a quick thinker, she said. Beside scripts, Mendonca works closely with the show’s graphics supervisor, associate director and the director.

Being a member of the Oz team is far from a typical nine-to-five job.

“We work crazy hours, but working on a project and putting so much effort into it, only to see it come to fruition, make it all worth it.” Mendonca said. “This industry isn’t for everyone.”

Stephanie Makowski

Luckily, this industry is quite right for Stephanie Makowski.

Makowski has been at Oz since her J/MS days. The New York resident began as a publicity intern at the start of her senior year after hearing back from none other than Sullivan himself, she said. Makowski ended up working as a publicity intern for all of season three.

“I realized that The Dr. Oz Show was where I wanted to stay,” she said. “ When I graduated from Rutgers, I voiced my opinion that I’d love to have a job here.”

Makowski was offered a job as assistant to supervising producers, which she kept for a season. After helping out around the studio, she realized that her interest really lay in the middle of all the action, she said. At the end of season four, Makowski was offered another position, this time as studio production assistant.

“It’s fast-paced, changing constantly, and it keeps you on your toes,” Makowski reported. “My days are long, but worth it. Dr. Oz is a great host who truly cares about his staff and makes us strive for greatness.”

Both Makowski and Mendonca are forever grateful for all of Professor Steve Miller’s work and help throughout their college experience.

“I am so grateful to have known him [Steve Miller] as not only a professor, but now as an amazing mentor,” Makowski said. “He truly goes out of his way for his students. After all, look how many Rutgers alumni we have at Oz because of him!”


By Maiy Elbery

Interning in the publicity offices of “The Dr. Oz Show” in Manhattan is an unforgettable experience, and I get to share it with two other J/MS majors, Kristin Seigeldorf and Shanice O’Brien. We all are Class of 2014.

We have busy days and slow days, but each day we gain more knowledge than the previous. It is such an exciting and challenging environment to be a part of, especially because we get to work side by side with J/MS alums (see larger story).

Logo supplied by

Logo supplied by

As publicity interns we get a firsthand look at how to manage and focus on one client. We research and maintain press clips from top media outlets where Dr. Mehmet Oz’s name is mentioned as well as write show listings to distribute to stations, TV writers and media. Our duties change every day depending what needs to be done, which makes it fulfilling.

The internship is a six-credcourse in the J/MS Department, and although it is not mandatory, most majors find an internship quite useful in resume building.

Undergraduate Coordinator Steve Miller maintains a huge virtual Rolodex of media businesses where majors can learn the ropes – for pay or not — and perhaps catch the eye of a higher-up that can lead to a formal job offer at graduation.

By Emily D’Alessandro and Elizabeth Herlihy  —

Retired undergraduate adviser Marsha Bergman accepts the J/MS Lifetime Achievement Award at the tailgate party. Photo by Elizabeth Herlihy.

Retired undergraduate adviser Marsha Bergman accepts the J/MS Lifetime Achievement Award at the tailgate party. Photo by Elizabeth Herlihy.

The Rutgers football team may not have been impressive on Homecoming Day as it lost to Houston, but the Journalism and Media Studies Department certainly was thrilling.

Students, staff, faculty and alumni came out to enjoy the second annual Alumni Tailgate Mixer. Like any return home, the event, which took place in the infamous blue lot near the stadium, was filled with open arms, big hugs, long stories and tons of food. And while professors supplied the grills and refreshments, alumni brought along their smiling friends and families.

Marking the J/MS tailgating territory were customized scarlet and white balloons swaying high above the crowd — an indicator that visitors were in for a celebration. With the demanding schedules and distant jobs most alumni have, returning to Rutgers was a rare opportunity.

“I love coming back — it’s a lot of fun,” said Taso Stefanidis, J/MS 2000, a photographer at News 12 New Jersey. “I live so close to here, but I don’t come back a lot unless I’m doing something for work or a big event like this, so I’m excited.”

For alumnae Bonnie Cohen-Lafazan, J/MS 1993, and Gina Levine-Levy, J/MS 1994, returning to the tailgate meant Levine-Levy’s hiring a babysitter. Lafazan, an academic librarian at Berkeley College in Woodbridge, was joined by her husband Ryan, her son Aiden, and her closest college classmate, Levine-Levy.

A full-time mother of three young boys and feature writer for in Springfield, Levine-Levy appeared to be enjoying the day with her old professors and laughing with her fellow Scarlet Knight, Cohen-Lafazan. The two women have been best friends since their college years, and several professors said the two are among the department’s “most memorable memorable students.”

The first J/MS tailgate, held a mere two weeks after Superstorm Sandy, left a strikingly positive impact on recent alums. Close friends and 2012 graduates Luke Kalamar of Farmingdale and Stella Morrison of South Amboy never once considered passing up the party this year.

Among the J/MS alums at the Tailgate Reunion was Kyle Beakley, left, class of 2009, who works for the game show “Who Wants to be a Millionaire.” With him is a friend, Ellen Teitel. Photo b y Liz Herlihy.

Among the J/MS alums at the Tailgate Reunion was Kyle Beakley, left, class of 2009, who works for the game show “Who Wants to be a Millionaire.” With him is a friend, Ellen Teitel. Photo b y Liz Herlihy.

“I came back last year primarily to reunite with a lot of friends who I did journalism with,” said Kalamar, promotions and research assistant for Katz Media Group in New York. “It was great last year, and I wanted to come back again this year. And there’s even more people now than were here last year. So it’s totally different, but I’m glad it’s real popular. I love being here.”

Morrison, a staff writer for Greater Media, enthusiastically agreed.

“I made it a point to come back,” she stated. “I’m not even going to the game. I’m here just for the tailgate because it’s not often that you get to see professors that you had and people you went to school with. It’s really good to come back and to reconnect with people. A lot of it is nostalgia, but the other half is just really productive.”

Not only did alums share their stories, but also they offered advice and words of encouragement to current journalism students and those heading into the working world.

The collective theme was to intern, network, and soak up as much experience as possible before graduation.

A smiling Stephanie Berryer Jean-Louis met up with friends and professors at the tailgate. Photo by Ron Miskoff.

A smiling Stephanie Berryer Jean-Louis met up with friends and professors at the tailgate. Photo by Ron Miskoff.

Kyle Beakley, J/MS 2009, who writes for “Who Wants to be A Millionaire” and a new NPR game show, “Ask Me Another,” advised undergraduates and graduating seniors to “just get involved as much as you can, do as many activities as you can.”

Looking for old professors and meeting new ones, returning Scarlet Knights smiled ear to ear at the mere memory of their favorite professors. And at the core of every trip down memory lane were stories about former department secretary and later SC&I undergraduate adviser Marsha Bergman, who retired in May after working 35 years for the university.

Alumni huddled in close to watch J/MS Department Chair Jack Bratich and Professor Steve Miller, coordinator of Undergraduate Studies and the chief organizer of the tailgate reunion, honor Bergman with the Journalism and Media Studies Lifetime Achievement Award.

This is only the second time it has been awarded. Last year’s award was won by J/MS Professor Emeritus Roger Cohen.

Bratich addressed the crowd before the presentation of Bergman’s award. “Home is not just a physical space but a space of relationships, and this is what we want to celebrate today— relationships that we’ve had over time,” he said. “When someone who has given so much to the department over decades retires, and we want to show her that she’s still part of the family, that we want her to always be part of the family, that’s coming home, too. So I want to thank Marsha.”

Added Miller, “For some of you, there are only two words that say J/MS: Marsha Bergman. She’s the one who ushered you through all the hard times, all the good times, and helped you graduate. And while she was there, she was a kind heart, a kind soul and the person you knew you could turn to when chips were down.

Recent grads, from left, who attended the tailgate included Samantha Coppolino ’12, Hillary Goldsmith ’13 and Carla Marie Monica ’10. Photo by Ron Miskoff.

Recent grads, from left, who attended the tailgate included Samantha Coppolino ’12, Hillary Goldsmith ’13 and Carla Marie Monica ’10. Photo by Ron Miskoff.

“We are all better people because of our honoree, the second annual winner of the Journalism Lifetime Achievement Award — Marsha Bergman.”

Even though she has been retired just a few months, Bergman confessed to missing the professors and students she worked with. Although she no longer sits in the advising office, Bergman assured students that there is always someone in the department to help them. “Continue growing — there’s never an end,” she said. “You can always find something new. Make the most of your years at Rutgers because they really can be great years. And if anyone has a problem with anything, if they’re not sure of something, there are always people around to help at the university.

“But unfortunately we can’t go to them. They have to come find us, but there are lots of people that are willing to help.”

Victoria McKinzey-Gonzalez, J/MS 1996, said when she was an undergraduate, Bergman’s positive attitude made a genuine impact on her. She traveled back to the tailgate to honor and support Bergman.

“Marsha, there was no way in the world I was going to miss today,” McKinzey-Gonzalez told Bergman. Then, describing her relationship with Bergman, she added, “I would always say, hands down, she was the one who always held the department together. She was your go-to person, anything you needed.”

School of Communication and Information Dean Claire McInerney welcomes J/MS alums at the Tailgate Reunion. Photo by Liz Fuerst.

School of Communication and Information Dean Claire McInerney welcomes J/MS alums at the Tailgate Reunion. Photo by Liz Fuerst.

After hours of eating, mingling and reconnecting, alumni went off to see football, and the Tailgate Mixer was deemed yet another success.

Many remarked that the food was excellent. Perhaps that’s because of the baking of Jerilyn Richardson, J/MS 2012, who provided dessert for the tailgate with tiny caramel apple tarts and carrot cupcakes from her new business, Sweet Spot Dessert Bar in North Brunswick. The shop specializes in small-sized desserts baked from scratch with the freshest ingredients.

J/MS Professor Liz Fuerst remarked, “Jerilyn first talked about having her own bakery when she was a student in my PR class and gave a persuasive speech accompanied by the most delicious brownies our class had ever tasted. I am thrilled she has pursued her dream.”


By Freddie Morgan —

PG1_DrOzS PG1_FundraisingS

Alumni now have naming opportunities for SC&I classrooms, like 212, according to Director of Development Linda Christian. Photo © Nat Clymer

Alumni now have naming opportunities for SC&I classrooms, like 212, according to Director of Development Linda Christian. Photo © Nat Clymer

The Journalism and Media Studies (J/MS) department is unlike any other. With dedicated, experienced faculty and an ambitious student body, J/MS prides itself on providing real-world knowledge to budding professionals. But the secret to the department’s success is its alumni.

“Our alumni make us look so damn good,” said Steve Miller, coordinator of Undergraduate Studies and active in alumni outreach. Miller’s job is to “let alumni know that they’re not removed upon graduation.”

According to Miller, students should actually be more involved after they graduate than during their time at Rutgers.

“Grads have a better understanding and knowledge of what they learned on campus,” he said. “What they learned assisted them in becoming who they are today.”

However, alumni outreach was not always a priority within J/MS. When Jack Bratich became department chair in the fall of 2012, he realized the department had not done enough to maintain contact with its graduates.

“My task was to look at how to strengthen alumni relations,” he said.

He knew he had to do something to build on the department’s relationship among alumni, staff and students.One of the classrooms mentioned as possible naming sites by SC&I administration. Photo by Freddie Morgan. To further the department’s network with alumni, Bratich worked with Miller to coordinate several events, among them the J/MS Annual Tailgate Reunion, which took place at

One of the classroom mentioned by arm i nitration leaders as a possible naming site. Photo by Freddie Morgan.

One of the classrooms mentioned by arm i nitration leaders as a possible naming site. Photo by Freddie Morgan.

Homecoming on Oct. 26. Additionally, Bratich and Miller created mixers for the alumni who live

and work in New York City.

“It’s for recent alums to network and share the same space [to talk] about what’s out there,” Bratich said. At the fall event, around 20 alumni met in the Lower East Side to share drinks and socialize.

The two believe that a sense of community is paramount to the department’s success.

“What we’re trying to do with the tailgates and alumni mixers is to open our door, put down the welcome mat and say to alums, ‘You’re family and you always will be,’” Miller said.

The passionate faculty and staff prove that the J/MS family is invested in helping each other, providing alumni opportunities to socialize, network, and even work with fellow graduates and current students. The hope is that one day, alumni will give back to the department.

Miller is quick to note that giving back does not necessarily mean writing a check.

“The best way to pay it forward is by donating, whether it be with money, time, or willingness to share knowledge,” he said.

Indeed, Miller agrees that money is generous, but the most valuable gift an alumnus or alumna can give is time. He believes visiting classrooms, providing mentorship and even offering internships or entry-level positions are all equally generous ways to show the department gratitude.

“Giving time and knowledge can last a lifetime,” he said.

“Donations should come out of generosity, plentitude and abundance,” Bratich added.

Conversation with alumni

SC&I Director of Development Linda Christian believes contributing should be a conversation with alumni about how they want to give back.

“There are varying levels of ways to support,” she said, citing volunteering as a charitable use of time and an effective way to engage young alumni.

Recent graduates do not need to contribute a significant amount in order to advance the development of J/MS.

“Every dime counts,” Christian said.

ContributePromoAlumni who choose to donate can pick the areas of the department where they want their gift to go.

“The majority want something to do with student support,” Christian said. “Some help provide scholarships and fellowships or faculty support.”

Scholarships are a fundamental aspect of J/MS. Currently, the department offers more than 15 awards and scholarships to defray the cost of tuition.

“There has been an abundance of good will from alums,” Bratich said.

Among the many generous donors is Paul “Pete” Jennings, an 88-year-old cardiologist from Piscataway who still works part-time in administration at St. Peter’s Medical Center. In 1986, he and his family gave a gift of significance to establish a scholarship named for his late father, Kenneth Q. Jennings, Rutgers College 1924, who taught journalism at Rutgers for almost 40 years while working at several New Jersey newspapers, including the Home News. 

When Jennings’ mother died, Pete Jennings had her name added to the scholarship, which is for juniors who intend to make a career in print journalism. Viola Weiss Jennings, NJC 1923, was women’s editor of the Home News for 36 years.

“I thought it was a nice thing to do,” said Jennings, who has been a member of the Rutgers Board of Trustees for more than 30 years. “My father and mother always believed in the importance of education.”

His parents also felt strongly about newspapers. “My parents were traditionalists who believed in print journalism,” Jennings said. “I am, too. When my kids ask why we need newspapers when you can read them on the computer, I tell them if there are no newspapers, what are you going to read on the computer?”

Other J/MS alumni over the years have contributed to the Jennings Scholarship, including a graduate from California who took a course with Kenneth Jennings.

“She had a great experience with my father as a professor,” Jennings said, “and wanted to honor him.”

Another scholarship the department offers has been developed recently. Last summer, Bratich and Miller worked together to create a transportation scholarship for interns who commuted into New York City. They raised almost $2,000, primarily from alumni contributions.

Alums drawn to scholarship

Bratich believes alumni were drawn to this scholarship because it reminded them of when they were student interns.

“They were helping a student do the things they did,” he said. The department plans to continue this scholarship for the following year.

While alumni fund many scholarships, they are not the only way to contribute to the department and get something in return. Naming rights are applicable both in the current SC&I building and in the future building SC&I plans to build across the street.

“Donors can ask for naming opportunities right now,” Christian said, specifically for seminar rooms and for labs.

Ultimately, Bratich would like the department to create a hyperlocal news site, not just for students to use for instruction, but also to work on-site both virtually and in a newsroom. “This is a challenge for the future of news,” he said.

Miller has a broader goal for the department.

“I’d like to see the expansion of all programs with J/MS,” he said. “The department and SC&I have grown exponentially in five years. We need to increase the number of resources to students in order to meet growing demands of the industry.

“If we are fortunate enough to receive donations, it would benefit students now and for years to come.”

By Tanvi Acharya —

New J/MS Assistant Professor Melissa Aronczyk tackles the very popular topic of branding and takes it to another level in her book, Branding the Nation: The Global Business of National Identity, which was published this fall by the Oxford University Press.

Melissa Aronczyk has written a new book, Branding the Nation: The Global Business of National Identity. Photo by Carol Peters.

Melissa Aronczyk has written a new book, Branding the Nation: The Global Business of National Identity. Photo by Carol Peters.

Branding the Nation focuses on the use of strategic communication by national governments to solidify the image of their national identity, attract foreign capital and cement citizen loyalty.

Through various case studies, she shows how various governments are taking a page out of commercial management tactics and choosing branding as a way to create a national identity in this increasingly globalized world. Among the countries she studied is India, with its “Incredible India” campaign to increase tourism, and several Olympics hosts, with their campaigns to sell tickets to the Olympic Games and at the same time brand themselves in a positive light.

Aronczyk teaches in her class, Media and Politics, that corporate branding techniques as well as attention-drawing techniques used by grassroots organizations link media and the government. She refuses to limit the class subject matter to political parties and their electoral campaigns.

The class also spends a lot of time analyzing the strategic use of communications by politicians, corporations and media. Students work on understanding the goals behind the use of different strategies and images.

“You realize branding can have serious consequences when it moves away from selling products to selling drugs to doctors or selling music to consumers,” she said.

Two such serious consequences of nation branding she discovered while doing her book research are the reinforcement of stereotypes and corruption of the concept of diversity.

“What happens in nation branding is that so much of [people’s] sense of belonging gets reduced to stereotypes because we are constantly told that those images that other people consume are all that matters. But I think it can be damaging to the sense of who we are.”

She calls her book “a story of miscommunication and failure” since nation brands many times do not represent its people the way they see themselves.

Aronczyk came to Rutgers from the School of Journalism and Communication at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. She holds a Ph.D. from the Department of Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University. She is also secretary for the Popular Communication Division of the International Communication Association.

She previously co-edited a volume in 2010 called Blowing up the Brand, which contained articles and case studies of how branding has moved out of the commercial world and started to infiltrate governments around the world.

Aronczyk is currently working on a research project based on the politics and public relations of oil pipelines. The research looks at communication strategies by different actors involved in the politics of oil flows.

“That project has a bit of a personal connection too because I’m so outraged at what’s happening with climate change discourse that I needed to research in this area to try to bring to light how PR obscures discourse on oil and its impact on the environment,” she said.

The topic seems to veer away from the tenets of her nation’s branding book, but Aronczyk emphasized that national identity is a major frame of communication — even in the oil pipeline conversation.

By Jessica Lee —

Classroom lights go off, and a YouTube video from 2007 comes up on the big screen showing the viral classic “I Got A Crush . . . on Obama,” seen more than 120 million times since it was made by the satirical collective Barely Political.

Lauren Feldman speaks to her class about “Obama Girl.” Photo by Jessica Lee.

Lauren Feldman speaks to her class about “Obama Girl.” Photo by Jessica Lee.

As actress Amber Lee Ettinger poses and gyrates to photographs of then-candidate Barack Obama, new J/MS Assistant Professor Lauren Feldman asks students whether they think the music video might have affected the outcome of the 2008 election.

For her first course at J/MS, Feldman is teaching a lecture class of 35 about the relationship between news and entertainment and how the media has influenced public opinion and engagement with policy issues.

She is particularly interested in the less-traditional sources of political information—like political satire and opinionated cable news. Bring on “The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart!

Showing her class the provocative yet politically sensitive “Obama Girl” clip is very much in keeping with Feldman’s teaching style. “Be open to learning even outside of classrooms,” Feldman tells students.

Feldman comes to J/MS from the School of Communication at American University, where she was an assistant professor. She was an English major at Duke and pursued a job in publishing until she realized that publishing was not where she wanted to be.

“I worked in a textbook publishing company after I graduated, but I realized it wasn’t really a field for me,” she recalled. “I knew I didn’t want to pursue that career, especially when the publishing area is currently falling out of favor.”

It was only when she took a job in development at Philadelphia’s Franklin Institute, one of the nation’s top science museums, that she decided to carve out a career in communications and writing. According to Feldman, it was just the perfect blend of the two academic fields.

University of Pennsylvania was her next stop as a graduate student to earn her masters degree and then Ph.D. in Communication.

“Graduate school really prepares you for an academic teaching career,” she said. “The Ph.D. program really helped me develop into an academic researcher as well as being a professor.”

Taught at American

While teaching at American University and acting as senior thesis project adviser, Feldman had the chance to work closely with students and enjoyed the experience. She even found satisfaction in writing recommendations, a chore most professors find tedious.

“Any student who did high quality work or pushed themselves in the class I would be happy to write a recommendation for,” Feldman noted.

Now, as the newest addition to J/MS, Feldman has an array of compliments for the vast variety of choices that the department and the School of Communication and Information provide for students.

“I love the structure of the school,” she said. “It houses many different departments under one roof.”

She appreciates that Rutgers is giving her the opportunity to collaborate with other researchers and provide the kinds of equipment and databases she needs to continue her research.

This research focuses on how partisan news media and political satire programs influence the particular perception of climate change. She hopes the findings will lead to ways to use media more effectively and communication to engage the public on the important climate change issue.

By Tanvi Acharya —

J/MS students in the Sports Journalism class of new Professor Joe Lapointe are hearing it from the horse’s mouth.

Lapointe has been in the field for 40 years and has covered major events like the Olympics, the Super Bowl and the soccer World Cup.

Professor Joe Lapointe, left, interacts with J/MS student Julio Prestol during his sports journalism class. Lapointe often takes students to watch professional games. Photo by Tanvi Acharya

Professor Joe Lapointe, left, interacts with J/MS student Julio Prestol during his sports journalism class. Lapointe often takes students to watch professional games. Photo by Tanvi Acharya

But he just doesn’t tell war stories. When questioned about what he focuses on the most in his classroom, he replied, “The basics.”

Lapointe, a former sports reporter for the New York Times for 20 years and segment producer for “Countdown With Keith Olbermann’’ on the now shuttered Current TV, expects clear writing, accuracy, speed and most important, keeping up with the deadlines. Students are told from the start that the class requires a lot of hard work and is not an easy A.

He said that the worst thing a student can do in his class is to either miss it or miss a deadline. “The students get disappointed, but there are deadlines,” he said. “If you don’t submit it on time at your newspaper then you can’t do anything about it. You’d probably lose your job.”

Another rule that he enforces in the classroom to help the students once they starting working as sports journalists is to not wear any sports team merchandise.

“The students know how to be a fan but here they learn how to be a sports journalist,” he said.

Being professional, he emphasized, includes not cheering for your team while covering a game from the press box.

And during the semester the students get a chance to enter that professional atmosphere. He takes a few students at a time to watch a game of the Giants, the Jets, the Mets or the Devils, depending on everyone’s availability. The students also get to go to the locker rooms and talk to the athletes. And like professional sports reporters, they have to submit their story a few hours after the game.

While this is a traditional approach to teaching a sports journalism class, Lapointe decided to do something additional and designed the class to be a hybrid. It means that the students meet in class just once a week. The other times they are either covering games from the stadium or having critical student-teacher discourse online.

The class “meets” on Facebook and discusses the game that all are watching online. At the end, Lapointe assigns everybody to report about the game from a specific angle and write something akin to an opinionated column in two to three hours.

It is not a necessity for a student to be interested in sports to take his class, he said. The student should want to write.

To write a good story, he said, “You have to be calm and report what is happening around you. Just look around and keep writing.”

Lapointe stresses the importance of unrelenting hard work when it comes to writing a good story. He said that the students fail to realize that it is very rare to get a good story in the first draft.

He himself makes around seven drafts and claims a good story is 90 percent perspiration with 10 percent of inspiration.

“You need to polish it again and again to make it sing,” he said.

By Jake West —

Montague Kern is so affable and reserved that her retirement as a J/MS professor managed to slip by somewhat unceremoniously this year. Behind her humility, though, she hides ample experience in global media, gender relations and documentary film, which will surely cement a proud and impressive legacy.

Montague Kern has retired after 23 years of teaching at J/MS. Photo by Jake West.

Montague Kern has retired after 23 years of teaching at J/MS. Photo by Jake West.

After 23 years of teaching, Kern now holds the title of professor emeritus, which allows her the opportunity to work on her new book about the growing social and political role of documentary film in the digital age. More important to Kern, however, is that the position also allows her to work hands-on with her close-knit group of Ph.D. students as they craft their own documentary films.

This work will entail, as it has for the last two decades, frequent trips from her home in Washington, DC, to the Banks. She joked that she knows the New Jersey Turnpike intimately and affectionately claims that her book will feature “Exit 9” in the subtitle.

When asked about her most rewarding experience, Kern replied simply, “I taught at Rutgers for 23 years because of the students.” She further added, “I loved the ‘aha’ moments that occur in the classroom, and I loved working with students for most of my years on the research and term papers that were required in my classroom.

This is the poster that advertised the program by Montague Kern.

This is the poster that advertised the program by Montague Kern.

“Students left understanding how to conduct research as well as test the value of ideas which arose in the classroom.”

In recent years she has tailored her focus to document areas of politics and social significance, namely how the global agendas of social movements and policy makers are publicized via documentary media. While her work entails crafting a documentary of her own, she seems equally interested in helping her students to develop their film proposals.

Undoubtedly, Kern’s pride is a product of her experience as an educator and from the success shared by her students. She recalled, “I enjoyed engaging with them in the classroom and working with them on papers from the first day I came to Rutgers. Students frequently ended up in my office in DeWitt (a building housing SC&I offices) to bat around ideas relating to their papers.”

Among Kern’s most well known students from her pre-Rutgers days is the award- winning documentary filmmaker and co-founder of Skylight Pictures, Pamela Yates. In October, Yates keynoted the “Mediating Advocacy: A Symposium on Women, Global Documentary Media, and Agenda Setting” at Rutgers. Kern took the lead in programming the symposium.

The two-day event highlighted a festival and multi-part panel discussion that focused on the proliferation of documenting technologies and the human condition, as understood by prominent media makers, analysts and organizers from around the world.

Yates talked about her dynamic new film “Granito: How to Nail a Dictator,” which tells the extraordinary story of how a film about former Guatemala dictator Efraín Rios Montt’s brutal war against the country’s Mayan people in the 1980s became a granito — a tiny grain of sand — that helped tip the scales of justice.

Co-sponsors were the School of Communication and Information, the Center for Latino Arts and Culture, and the Institute for Women’s Leadership, among other campus organizations.

The festival concluded with a reception at the Rutgers Club for a long overdue and much needed appreciation of Kern on her retirement.

Livingston Alumni Association honored J/MS Professor Emeritus Roger Cohen this fall when it gave him the Livingston Legacy award for his role in “strengthening the college’s mission.”

Roger Cohen accepting the Livingston Legacy award for his role in “strengthening the college’s mission.” Photo by Elizabeth Fuerst

Roger Cohen accepting the Livingston Legacy award for his role in “strengthening the college’s mission.” Photo by Elizabeth Fuerst

Cohen, Rutgers College ’65, was a radio journalist when he joined the Rutgers Radio and Television Center in 1970 and began teaching in Livingston’s Department of Journalism and Urban Communication as a volunteer. He went fulltime in 1980, teaching radio production, broadcast newswriting and TV production, both beginning and advanced.

When Rutgers was implementing a campus-wide cable TV system, he designed a course that not only examined how TV executives develop and schedule content but produce programming for the channel, now RU-tv.

Cohen, who retired in 2004 and lives in Monroe Township, served as J/MS Department chair for seven years. For almost two decades he ran the student internship program and started the department newsletter, Alum-Knights. 

Along with Cohen, Jessie Hanna, a Livingston graduate from 2007, was honored with a Distinguished Alumni Award. He founded the Sean Hanna Foundation in memory of his brother Sean, a J/MS major from Piscataway and an active member of WRSU, who died from pediatric cancer in 2007. He was 20.

One of the organizers of the event, which took place at the Rutgers Club, was Eric Schwarz, J/MS ’92. A quality analyst for due diligence and risk and compliance at Dow Jones & Co., he serves as the association’s vice president.

Erin Medley

Photo by Flisadam Pointer
Erin Medley, a pioneer in the field of online journalism, stands in front of the Morristown office of

By Flisadam Pointer —

As readers browse for the day’s top news stories affecting the state, they should be aware that a J/MS graduate from 2004 is one of the driving forces behind the popular website.

Erin Medley is now the Director of Engagement for the online news source,

As the Director of Engagement, Medley is responsible for increasing user engagement, distributing content more widely through site programming, and promoting the brand across social media, third-party alliances and newsletters.

From her office in Morristown, she oversees a team of producers that includes the social media producer, community producer, sports producers and homepage/site producers as well as freelance bloggers.

Her position at allows her to feel the pulse of New Jersey while serving as kind of an unofficial ambassador for the state, a job she takes seriously. “New Jersey is an amazing place, and it’s important to showcase all — the good and the bad — we have to offer,” said Medley.

Many would consider Medley a pioneer in the field of online journalism, having worked in the decade following graduation at as a content development manager where she produced and edited short-form videos.

She also spent time at Clear Channel Media and Entertainment as a senior manager for programming and editorial content, where she developed content for web properties like audio, video and multimedia, and at VH-1/Viacom as a senior producer of music and events. There she led creation, production and posting of content for music pages on This included the popular TV music series “VH1 Storytellers” and “Unplugged,” live acoustic performances by the top recording artists of their hit songs.

When asked about her most recent transition from entertainment to hard-hitting news, Medley said, “I wanted more substance. I loved doing entertainment news but I just wanted more.”

Wanting more is what has driven Medley since her first days as a journalism major. During her undergraduate career Medley created the widely popular film review television segment “Pass the Popcorn” on the university’s student station RU-tv. She also started Rutgers’ chapter of KTA, the journalism honor society and served as its first president.

Although the many courses J/MS offers in social media and online news post-dated Medley’s academic career, Medley channeled the knowledge she acquired through courses such as News Reporting and Writing.

In exchange for the skills she learned at J/MS, she never stops giving back. Medley is always available to students for career advice and last May gave the keynote speech at the KTA induction.

As her 10th class reunion approaches Medley jokingly admitted, “I feel old.” In that decade, though, she has achieved success in a variety of media — from TV to radio, magazines to online journalism — and that is very rare.

Medley throws herself into her work, but manages to devote time to one of her favorite hobbies, recreational volleyball.

“Initially my social life did take a hit,” she said. But she emphasized, “It’s your responsibility to create that happy medium between professional and personal.”

She credits her success to “going out and getting hands-on experience” as well as “always saying yes — within reason,” which is her advice to students entering the workplace.

By Vinnie Mancuso —

Mark Beal, J/MS 1989, is no stranger to pushing himself to the limit. After five marathons and numerous triathlons he knows what it takes to reach the finish line and reach it successfully.

Yet according to Beal, his endurance training extends far off the race course. For the managing partner of the public relations and brand counseling firm Taylor Strategy in Manhattan, the fast-paced worlds of public relations and grueling marathons are one and the same. So is getting up in the morning at his home in Toms River, teaching public relations at Rutgers’ Department of Communication, and zooming into the busy streets of New York City to go to work.

Mark Beal, J/MS 1989, a managing partner of a PR firm and Rutgers professor, still finds time to relax on his boat. Photo provided by Mark Beal.

Mark Beal, J/MS 1989, a managing partner of a PR firm and Rutgers professor, still finds time to relax on his boat. Photo provided by Mark Beal.

“To me, and I know it’s been said before, but I always say to people ‘Success is a marathon,’” Beal said. “That applies to business, my teaching, anything,” Beal said. “It is not about quick results. It is not about quick satisfaction. It is about building towards something and always building towards something.”

In the PR business, one could say that Beal has crossed the finish line and is standing in the winner’s circle. At Taylor Strategy, Beal is one of several owners of a 110-person agency that has represented such high-end clients as Allstate, Guinness and Taco Bell. It is his job to formulate and execute large-scale advertising campaigns for these companies as well as build relationships with new clients to solidify Taylor’s future.

“I am active day in and day out leading our clients and campaigns and all that,” he noted.

He began with the company 20 years ago.

Like any marathon, changes come when you least expect them, and one must adapt. For Taylor this change came in the mid-1990s, just a few short years after Beal had joined the agency. The PR game was evolving with the times, and agencies had to change along with it. Beal and his colleagues saw this as an opportunity to be more than just a public relations agency.

“Yes we are a PR agency, but at the end of the day we are marketers,” Beal said. “We’re doing everything. The way things evolved this is what an agency like ours needs to be today.”

Beal was crucial in Taylor’s evolution, which hit an apex during the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Kleenex came to Taylor for a campaign idea that tied in with the company’s popular “Let It Out” commercials that saw everyday people opening up about their personal feelings.

“That was around the time that we looked around and said PR just isn’t what it used to be, which is just pitching media — it is a lot more,” Beal noted.

For Kleenex, Taylor produced and shot “Let It Out” the movie. It premiered in Beijing and 25 cities across America.

“That was one of our first unique pieces of content,” he said.

Beal’s training helped create everything Taylor started at J/MS. Like a frenetic tri-athlete, Beal spent a summer interning in New York at both Mike Cohen Communications and WNBC radio. He also freelanced at the Asbury Park Press, thinking at the time he wanted to be a writer or a broadcaster.

He found he loved public relations the most.

“The reason I loved it so much was, while I was doing the writing or broadcasting I was reporting the news,” Beal said. “In PR I was actually creating news. That was the big difference.”

Recently Beal has returned to his starting line, teaching Principles of PR. For him, his homecoming to New Brunswick is less about teaching facts than it is offering a glimpse into his actual experiences