September 2017 Student Spotlight - Melissa Christine Pfirrman

Name: Melissa Christine Pfirrman

Major:  Public Relations

Expected graduation: May 2018

Hometown: Temple City, California

Why did you choose to attend Annenberg?

I remember sitting in an Intro to Public Relations class at the community college from which I transferred from and realizing that PR was the perfect career choice for me. I immediately started researching the best schools for the field and unsurprisingly, USC Annenberg was number one. After learning more about the school, the amazing professors and incredible USC community, I knew I had to be a Trojan at Annenberg.

Tell us about a great experience or opportunity you've had here at Annenberg.

Besides the wonderful experience I’ve had with the professors at Annenberg and the valuable skills I have learned in each and every one of the courses I’ve taken thus far, a great opportunity that comes to mind while at Annenberg is attending the 27th Annual Kenneth Owler Smith Symposium: The Future of Truth, in March of 2017. Prior to the panelist discussion, Paul Holmes, Founder and Chairman of the Holmes Report and widely known leading specialist of the Global PR industry, delivered the keynote on “The Future of Truth.” Included in his passionate address were proactive steps current and future PR industry leaders can take to prevent the dispersal and takeover of fake news. I felt it was extremely eye-opening and valuable for those of us entering the field as future PR professionals, and I know I will take every word of guidance he addressed in his speech with me throughout my time at Annenberg and beyond.

What makes Annenberg special?

One of the many incredible benefits we Trojans are offered at Annenberg is the advantage of being taught by true professionals in the field of Public Relations, and I’ve had the honor of taking courses by the best in the industry. I was taught skills of PR writing by Ron Grover, journalist for over 25 years and worked as Los Angeles Bureau Chief for Reuter News and BusinessWeek Magazine. I took a strategy course on media and content led by Stefan Pollack, President and CFO of The Pollack PR Marketing Group, who brings real time professional experience from the field into the classroom and prepares us for our future careers. These are only a few examples on the type of esteemed professionalism Annenberg offers us, and I am beyond excited for what I will learn in my last two semesters here. I am both honored and humbled to experience the privilege of being taught valuable knowledge and skills by professionals who truly make it a priority to help shape us into educated, honest and respectable PR experts of the future.

What's one thing at USC that no student should miss?

I think every USC student should take advantage of the events and talks on campus in regards to their major. I was able to attend a few this past semester and I feel that these events are opportunities to not only learn valuable information about your field of interest outside of the classroom, but also to make connections with individuals you could possibly work with in the future. The exposure to contacts you may not have met otherwise is invaluable in itself, let alone the knowledge that is shared from professionals in the field.

Tell us about an experience you’ve had outside of class.

As a final project in one of my courses, we were required to venture outside of the classroom to find and contact an individual who works PR for a firm, company, organization, etc., and go over an actual strategic public relations plan or campaign they launched. I felt that this research project was extremely beneficial to me because I had the opportunity to analyze and discuss a real campaign in-depth with the PR professional who created and initiated it. Spending weeks in the classroom learning how to create a strategic plan and launch a successful campaign helped keep me up to speed with the woman I worked with and allowed me to openly review, question, and evaluate her plan. This experience was both enjoyable and valuable in helping me apply what I learned in class to real time PR.

What have you learned (or are learning) that's made a difference to you?

Throughout my time at Annenberg, I have learned so much about relating to and connecting with different publics, trust and professionalism in representing an organization, proficient writing, strategic planning and more. In my Strategic Media and Content course last semester, our final project was to create a complete online newsroom from scratch for an event or organization including all the materials necessary. Everything I have learned so far in my studies prepared me for what I believe was one of the most valuable projects I have completed, and helped provide me with necessary skills and abilities I will need and use throughout my career.

What has been your greatest challenge?

I would say that one of my greatest challenges while in school is balancing my roles as full-time student and mother. While it has been extremely tough, it has also been incredibly rewarding for my daughter and I. One of the most important goals in my life has always been to make her proud and inspire her to feel like she can do anything she wanted with a little hard work and determination. She proudly struts her USC gear to school and tells all her teachers and friends about me. It truly makes me stand a little taller knowing I am instilling motivation and drive in her to want to go to college and work towards her own goals. I beam with pride and joy when she tells everyone that one day she will be a Trojan just like mom.