SMC welcomes new chair of Strategic Communication Department

SMC’s Department of Strategic Communication will launch its second decade this fall with a new chair at its helm.

Professor Lance Holbert joined the faculty this summer with visions of expanding the program to expose as many students as possible to the international trends in the field.

HolbertHolbert replaces Cornelius Pratt who has served as chair since 2012 and will continue to serve on the faculty.

“I think the big change over the course of the next decade is the true internationalization of the field,” said Holbert during an interview on his plans for the department. “It’s really going to be worldwide in scope. If you look at the more well situated disciplines — psychology, political science or the sociology — they are truly worldwide in scope.

Expanding the international reach
A strengthened international presence in the program could come in the form of faculty members and graduate students collaborating with researchers from around the world and ensuring that as many undergraduate students as possible have an international experience by studying abroad or interacting with foreign communication practitioners.

Holbert said he will always be asking himself, “What can we do as an international program? There’s a lot of it here already. The fact that Temple’s so well situated for the process of internationalization is a big reason why I came here. We can take it up a couple of notches.”

Holbert has held teaching positions at the University of South Carolina, The Ohio State University, the University of Missouri and the University of Delaware. In 2013, the National Communication Association’s Mass Communication Division named him the Teacher of the Year.

Holbert specializes in political entertainment media and the growing trend of politicians using entertainment outlets to humanize themselves, like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s recent appearance on The Tonight Show, when he danced with Jimmy Fallon.

“It allows a politician to connect with an audience in a way that news simply won’t allow,” Holbert said. “It’s no different than Clinton playing the saxophone back in 1992 during that election.”

Building connections
As the head of the department, Holbert plans to build strong connections with strategic communication practitioners in Philadelphia and will work to increase their presence on campus and in the classrooms.

“But there’s no reason to stay bound to Philly,” he said, noting that he’d like to build similar connections in New York and Washington, D.C.

The study of strategic communication is of vital importance today, Holbert said, because of its pervasiveness.

“People are bombarded left and right. You can’t get away from somebody advocating something or somebody trying to persuade you in some way,” he said. “Educating people to it, not just to engage in it, to be practitioners of it, but to be critical consumers of it, I think is exceedingly important.”

Innovation and ethics
And as the ways we communicate continue to evolve, he hopes to continually integrate new media into the classroom and hopes the faculty will work to become familiar with whatever comes next.

“If we’re going to be teaching it, we have to be doing it as well. It’s not like we can just talk to it like there’s this thing out there,” he said. “Scholars need to be engaged in this type of practice. It does nothing but benefit them as well.”

Among the principals he hopes all students who come through the department learn is a strong sense of ethics.

“If you’re handed the reigns of trying to persuade others, then functioning ethically is essential,” he said. “I think it is important to recognize that ethics and effectiveness do not run counter to one another in the practice of strategic communication. When you function ethically, it’s the single best thing for your career.”

 By Jeff Cronin
SMC Communications

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Professor edits new book on social movements

A faculty member in Temple’s Department of Strategic Communication has co-edited a new book that can be used as a “how-to” guide for planning a successful social movement.

Jason Del GandioAssistant Professor Jason Del Gandio, along with Anthony J. Nocella II, a senior fellow at the Hamline School of Law, have produced “Educating for Action: Strategies to Ignite Social Justice.” The book, written for classroom instruction as well as real-world guidance, is a collection of work from activists with experience in inspiring others to promote social change. It was published in June by New Society Publishers.

Del Gandio, an active social movement participant for the past 14 years and most recently with Occupy Philadelphia in 2011, has been teaching classes on rhetoric and public advocacy at Temple since 2006.

“Bringing together a collection of authors allows for a greater diversity of voices, insights, experiences and perspectives,” Del Gandio said. “Activism is a collaborative effort, and the book reflects that. Despite the diversity of voices, the book does have an overarching narrative theme: that idealism is not enough; you have to learn how to mold your idealism into concrete practice.”

Del Gandio said he and his co-editor have tried to show that social change isn’t easy.

“The book approaches ‘peace and justice’ as a political force involving challenge and confrontation,” he said. “Young activists need to understand that peace and justice don’t happen on their own; that changing the world is hard work.”

The book offers a history of social movements and details everything that activists need to address when fighting for social change, from communication and conflict negotiation to social media and personal consumer choices.

“Overall, the book is intended to instruct and to inspire,” he said.

This is Del Gandio’s second book on activism. In 2008, he wrote “Rhetoric for Radicals: A Handbook for Twenty-First Century Activists,” also published by New Society.


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Book showcases benefits diversity brings to the workplace

There exists a sentiment in corporate America that diversity in the workplace can negatively impact the bottom line because hiring people from different backgrounds could spark more internal conflict.

Not necessarily so, writes Donnalyn Pompper in her latest book.

A stack of Pompper's new book, Practical and Theoretical Implications of Successfully Doing Difference in Organizations.The associate professor of strategic communication, who has taught at Temple University’s School of Media and Communication since 2007, has published Practical and Theoretical Implications of Successfully Doing Difference in Organizations with Emerald Group Publishing. The book examines why a conscious and sustained commitment to diversity is needed in organizations.

It’s a hard case to argue, Pompper said, because the benefits, such as building respect among co-workers or enhanced creativity, may be less tangible than financial success or failure.

“Diversity management in organizations remains a highly controversial issue – and valuing all people by providing equal opportunities at work persists as one of the central challenges of the 21st century,” Pompper said.

As a result, she found that diversity programs in organizations “fail to explore root causes of enduring power relations, which perpetually stratify people negatively according to their social identity dimensions.”

Pompper said workplace diversity goes beyond ethnicity and race.

“My book is about how these social identity dimensions are important, but that diversity is much, much more than that one social identity dimension, because each intersects with so many others,” she said, noting that age, culture, gender, physical/psychological ability, faith, sexual orientation, social class and more should all be taken under consideration.

When there’s a solid “business case,” for diverse hiring, Pompper said a company is more likely to take that step. For example, a PR firm may hire a Latina to work on Hispanic business accounts or an ad agency might hire a gay man for its fashion accounts.

“There’s a lot of push-back from employees when they suspect a colleague is hired only because he or she is x,” Pompper said, “because everyone wants processes to be fair and equitable.”

It’s her hope that the findings in her book can help its readers become “future managers and researchers who embrace social identity difference.”

Media contact:
Jeff Cronin

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SMC professors earn Provost merit awards

Thirty-nine faculty members from the School of Media and Communication have received awards for meritorious activity from the Temple University Office of the Provost.

Each year, Temple University recognizes faculty for outstanding performance in teaching and instruction, research, scholarship, creative activity and/or service to the university or their individual professions or disciplines. The selection process began in fall 2013, through either nominations by the provost, deans, department chairs and colleagues or self-nominations.

“A merit award reflects our faculty’s continued dedication and commitment to scholarship and students, and highlights the exceptional drive for excellence in teaching, innovation and performance,” Provost Dai said. “Our deans, college and department committees, and department chairs were committed to ensuring that these deserving and distinguished individuals received recognition. I want to thank everyone for their time and diligence in this important process.”

SMC’s recipients are:


Brooke Duffy
Jennifer Lovrinic Freeman
Joseph Glennon
Stacey Harpster
Sheryl Kantrowitz
Michael Maynard
Katherine Mueller
Dana Saewitz


Fabienne Darling-Wolf
Christopher Harper
Carolyn Kitch
Andrew Mendelson
George Miller
Maida Odom
Larry Stains
Lori Tharps
Edward Trayes
Karen M. Turner
Linn Washington

Media Studies and Production

Amy Caples
Sherri Hope Culver
Jan Fernback
Matthew Fine
Paul Gluck
Peter Jaroff
Jack Klotz
Matthew Lombard
Nancy Morris
Adrienne Shaw
Barry Vacker
Kristine Trever Weatherston
Laura Zaylea

Strategic Communication

Gregg Feistman
Scott Gratson
Donnalyn Pompper
Cornelius Pratt
Tracey Weiss
Thomas Wright
Kaibin Xu

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Notable Alumni: Emily Ascani

Emily Ascani notable alumni

Emily Ascani, STRC 2012, is currently a Project Manager at Liquid Interactive, an interactive marketing agency in the Lehigh Valley. Specializing in user experience design, creative design, website development, search engine optimization, social media strategy and mobility consulting, Liquid has been named a Top Interactive Agency by BtoB Magazine for five consecutive years.

In her role as a Project Manager, Emily uses her public relations background to facilitate and schedule client work through internal and client communication. Prior to her current position, Emily worked as a Media Facilitator at Carbon Lehigh Intermediate Unit to promote student work through social media channels covering fourteen school districts in Carbon and Lehigh counties.

While at Temple, Emily served as Vice President for Temple PRSSA, Assistant Firm Director for PRowl Public Relations, President of Temple’s Panhellenic Association and a sister of Alpha Epsilon Phi sorority. Emily held a variety of public relations internships over her four years with companies such as Breslow Partners, Jubelirer Strategies and Morgan, Lewis & Bockius.

Explain how your experience at Temple helped you get to where you are now?

Temple provides so many opportunities for students, but it is up to you to harness and use them as effective learning experiences. Working part-time, being involved in student organizations and interning as a full-time student taught me valuable time management skills, as well as what I did and did not want from a future career. It is easy to show up to class and fly by in an unpaid internship, but the difficult part comes with being present and building yourself as an individual with these resources.

How do you continue professional development on a post-grad level?

I really enjoy coming back to campus for events with alumni networking through Temple PRSSA or PRowl Public Relations. I think it is really valuable for students to hear from someone recently out of school to bridge the gap between the seasoned professionals they are usually networking with at their internships and other school events. I have also recently joined the Marketing Committee as a part of the Young Professionals Council for the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce. I also act as a Contributing Writer for Elite Daily.

What does it mean to you to be Temple Made?

Being Temple Made to me is about opportunity and reinvention. As Strategic Communication students with the city of Philadelphia at your fingertips, there are no boundaries. College years (and post-grad life) are a time for you to be a million different people, to try new things and see what kind of person you want to be.

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Study finds hints of social responsibility in top Fortune 500 company mission statements

Wal-Mart wants to “save people money.” Chevron aspires to “be the global energy company most admired for its people, partnerships and performance.” Microsoft’s mission statement says the company’s goal is to “help people and businesses realize their full potential.”

A headshot of Donnalyn Pompper

Donnalyn Pompper

In her most recent study, Donnalyn Pompper, associate professor of strategic communication at the Temple University School of Media and Communication, found that the most profitable companies at the top of the Fortune 500 list are balancing financial success with social responsibility better than companies at the bottom.

“It is fairly well-acknowledged that many corporations hesitate to ‘do the right thing’ when it comes to stakeholders [employees, customers, etc.] and the environment if doing so will detract from the bottom line,” Pompper said. “Our study findings suggest that the higher-performing Fortune 500 companies may have found a way to accomplish both aims — to be socially responsible and to turn a profit.”

Pompper, who co-authored the study with Taejin Jung, associate professor of communication studies at SUNY-Oswego, compared the mission statements of the top Fortune 500 companies like Wal-Mart and AT&T with the bottom-tier Fortune 500 companies, such as H&R Block and Electronic Arts.

“The top 20 higher-performing corporations’ mission statements more frequently mentioned non-financial objectives and concern for satisfying shareholders than the bottom 20 lower-performing corporations,” the professors wrote in their paper,  “Assessing Instrumentality of Mission Statements and Social-Financial Performance Links: Corporate Social Responsibility as Context,” which was published this year in the International Journal of Strategic Communication.

Pompper and Jung said it’s important for these companies to work toward the goals in their mission statements in practical ways.

“Corporations with strong public image components in mission statements must periodically evaluate contribution of these image goals against genuine relationships with publics in order to achieve balance and to counterbalance negative perceptions of public relations as a green washing tool when it comes to [corporate social responsibility],” they wrote.

Pompper said the research can be used a catalyst to dive deeper into the relationship between financial success and social responsibility to determine if one causes the other: Do responsible companies earn more money, or does having more money give a company the ability to be more socially responsible?

“With these findings, we discovered that there may be a relationship between being profitable and mission statements,” Pompper said. “Being socially responsible may be a key; one that deserves deeper scrutiny.”

By Jeff Cronin

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Notable Alumni: Niki Ianni

Niki Ianni notable alumni

Niki Ianni, STRC 2012, is currently the Special Events Coordinator at The Humane Society of the United States, the largest and most effective animal protection organization in the country.  In her role, she helps manage several high donor events, from small cultivation programs to large-scale fundraising galas with more than 500 attendees.

Prior to her current position, upon graduating, Niki joined The HSUS as a public relations specialist where she managed the media relations campaigns for several key campaigns including animal research issues and puppy mills, and garnered media coverage in top tier outlets including The New York Times, L.A. Times, Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post.

While at Temple, Niki majored in Strategic Communication with a concentration in Public Relations. During her time in the department, Niki served as the Firm Director of Temple’s first and only student-run PR firm, PRowl Public Relations and was co-chair of Temple PRSSA’s PR committee. She credits her post-graduate opportunities and success to her involvement in both organizations, which she claims provide PR students with the best hands-on experience and networking opportunities possible.

Niki also held several internships at key Philadelphia institutions during her time at Temple, including The Franklin Institute and the Wilma Theater, as well as two small PR agencies, Fleischman Gerber & Associates and Sharla Feldscher PR. During these internships, she planned a variety of special events and developed media relations and social media strategies for many clients in the non-profit sector.

“My advice for any PR student looking to enter the industry is simple,” said Niki. “Dive in. Join organizations; take on leadership roles; get your name out there, even if it means working for free; network and build a circle of mentors; and embrace every single opportunity that comes your way. To me, that is the definition of being Temple Made and the foundation for a successful career.”

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TUTV show on self-acceptance leads to new book for adjunct prof

BIENsmOn Tuesday, April 29, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Lisa Bien, an adjunct professor in the Strategic Communication Department and host of Bouncing Back with Lisa Bien, will launch her first book and self-help/memoir Life Happens: Bounce Back! Bien said the book can be used as a tool for “your life’s education in learning to love yourself.”

The launch and reception will be held in Annenberg Hall on Temple’s Main Campus, 2020 North 13th Street, Philadelphia, Pa., 19122. All are welcome to attend.

“I am thrilled to launch Life Happens: Bounce Back! at Temple because my journey started here,” said Bien, JOUR ’91. “Temple has seen me through many personal ups and downs, and I’ve always found a sense of purpose here. I want to inspire men and women here and beyond this community to discover their self-worth and purpose, and to develop tools for bouncing back from whatever life throws at them.”

Life Happens: Bounce Back! builds a unique approach to self-acceptance that uses witty humor, raw honesty and relics of a childhood in Northeast Philly. The book offers a 90-Day Challenge with four simple steps that anyone at any age can use to turn life around: “get clarity, get real, get vision, get moving!”

Life Happens: Bounce Back! is the companion effort to Bouncing Back with Lisa Bien, an exclusive TUTV-Temple University Television program geared toward the college student population. The show has received overwhelmingly positive student reviews for its honest and open practice of sharing stories about personal struggle and redemption. Similar to the book, the show addresses the personal issues some students face, including family and romantic relationships, depression and body image.

“I was struck by Lisa’s passion, commitment and honesty,” said Betsy Leebron Tutelman, senior vice provost and professor of media studies and production. “Lisa found her voice through her life experiences… She could draw stories out of young people and inspire them to move forward.” Tutelman approved and facilitated the show alongside Paul Gluck, TUTV general manager and professor of media studies and production. The pilot premiered in August 2013. Episodes air live on Comcast 50 and Verizon 45 in Philadelphia, or on-demand at

Bien is an author, speaker and senior-level communications specialist. After nearly 20 years in the corporate public relations sector, she founded B!EN Marketing Group in 2010, and has been an adjunct professor at Temple University since 2004.

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Strat Comm major proves leadership prowess at Temple’s Organization of African Students

By Sofiya Ballin
SMC Communications

Mathos Sokolo, 21, of Philadelphia is a senior strategic communication major and the president of the Organization of African Students (OAS). As we celebrate Black History Month through SMC students who are leaders of some of Temple’s student organizations, we discussed how he pursued his passion while breaking the mold.


Mathos Sokolo is president of the Organization of African Students at Temple.

What was your major before strategic communication?
I was physical therapy. I decided to change my major because I got some advice from a couple people, my mom, I prayed on it and my advisor. They were like, “If your heart isn’t in it, don’t do it.” I wasn’t passionate about it. So I decided to go into something that I love. I love people and I love communicating.

What’s your concentration?
It’s organizational leadership.

So you’re in the perfect position for your field! How’d you get involved with OAS?
My freshman year, the treasurer of OAS said I would be perfect for their annual pageant. I won prince. From there, it became my home away from home. I was a general body member first, then I was on the executive board and now I’m president.

How’s it going so far?
It’s going awesome!

And your parents are from?
They’re from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

For your mom to be supportive of a communication-centered major is often rare for first-generation American students. How was it talking to her about it?
At first, I was scared to tell her I changed my major.

So you changed it before you spoke to her?
Yeah I did. I was very intimidated about talking to her but I think as time progressed she changed a little bit as well. She became more accustom to American ways. I found it a lot easier to talk to her. I told her I changed my major and she was very supportive. She had the mindset that as long as it is something that you love and you can provide for your family well, and then she’s fine with it.

You’ve been a strategic communications major for two semesters now. How do you like it?
I love it! The professors are really down to earth; I can always approach them any time I have a question. The curriculum isn’t bad either there are definitely things that I can apply to my life in general.

Do you plan on incorporating organization leadership with the your interests in Congo?
Well for right now, I plan to do consulting and focus on real estate. Specifically because that’s the field I’m in. I’m a leasing agent at University Village. As time progresses, I definitely plan on finding an avenue where I can go back to the Congo and help out.

Do you feel that through strategic communications you can combat stereotypes about Africans?
Definitely. I feel like no matter how much we talk about how we’re portrayed in the media, it’s never really had a drastic change. It’s only right that ambassadors like myself and other first-generation Africans to combat these stereotypes that arise.

What kind of stereotypes do you see in the media?
Wow! There’s a lot. Do we walk around with lions and cheetahs in our backyard? Or the things that we may eat and what music we listen to.


Mathos Sokolo shows off his dancing skills during a recent OAS bake sale.

What role does OAS play on Temple’s campus?
I feel we play a really big role. We promote African awareness, that’s our motto  and our goal. Right now, we’re having a bake sale and playing our music. People of different ethnicities are stopping by and asking questions or getting baked goods. Either way, they’re learning. We’re here to be that avenue for people to understand our culture.

Why should an African SMC’er join OAS?
It’s your history. It’s your culture. What better way to express yourself  and feel at home than to be a part of the Organization for African Students.

Any African leaders you aspire to be like?
It’s kind of cliché, but Nelson Mandela. He did so much for not only South Africa but the entire continent. He set such a great example for me and other African leaders to follow. I would definitely like to emulate him.

Is there anything you would like to leave us with?
I would like to leave you with a profound quote that a fellow fraternity brother of mine always leaves with me and it’s, “Ever evolving and never complacent.” Do everything that you can to catapult yourself forward, never be comfortable with where you are.

For more information:
Twitter: @TempleOAS




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Sisters discover social media gold with skyline shots from Morgan Hall


Temple SMC students Megan and Maureen Healy gaze on the Philly skyline from the 22nd floor of Morgan Hall. (Photo by Betsy Manning/Temple University)

By Jeff Cronin
SMC Communications

You’ve seen the stunning images of the Philadelphia skyline that have been shared, retweeted, liked and have otherwise run rampant on Temple University social media.

These shots of looming rainstorms and sunsets that paint the sky with pinks, reds and purples all came from the 22nd floor Morgan Hall room of School of Media and Communication students Megan and Maureen Healy.

The twin sisters from North Jersey had ties to Philly and to Temple before they began their education here. They were born in a Philadelphia hospital and their great-great-grandfather was an Owl in the 1920s (their family still has a certificate signed by Russell Conwell). But waking up to this view every day has intensified their connection to the city and all that it has to offer.

“Living in Morgan Hall definitely makes me more aware of where I am,” said Megan, a strategic communication major.


A close-up of the Healy sisters standing in their Morgan Hall window. (Photo by Betsy Manning)

“Just looking out our window, you can see everything: Jersey across the river, the bridge. From City Hall all the way to the Art Museum,” Maureen, an advertising major, chimed in. “You can talk about all the opportunities that Temple gives you because we’re in Philly, right in the city, but here, you can see it just by looking out the window. Some day, I could be working there, or interning there, meeting people that will change the rest of my life.”

Ending up on the 22nd floor was no accident. They were born on 2/22 (and they’re twins) so it seemed like the obvious choice. They say the view from 22 stories up is much better in person than through their iPhones, which sometimes makes it seem that Center City is farther away than it actually is.

“It’s literally right outside my window,” Maureen said.

As sophomores, the Healy sisters are just now beginning to pursue internship opportunities in the city. They hope to gain a bit more knowledge and experience in the classroom before heading out into their prospective fields.

Realizing social media’s power
Megan and Maureen average one skyline post on their social media accounts a week, a frequency for which Megan recently issued an apology.

“I’m sorry for all the skyline pictures, they’re just too good,” she said to her friends and followers.

As an advertising major, Maureen’s classroom discussions regularly focus on social media.

“It’s one thing to talk about the power social media has, but it’s another to see it work,” she said. “A simple hashtag has the power to reach thousands of people across the nation. As social media continues to evolve and change, it’s especially important for me to have an understanding of how it all works since someday I will be using it in the advertising industry. So why not start now?”

Some of the images have inspired their friends to visit Philadelphia and the Healys are encouraging those still in high school to tour Temple – and include a stop at their residence hall.

“If you visited Morgan and saw the view, I don’t even know how you would be able to not choose Temple,” Maureen said.

Click to view slideshow.

Media contact:
Jeff Cronin

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