The balancing act: Purpose, politics and polarization at the 34th annual Kenneth Owler Smith Symposium

Thursday, April 4, 2024

6 p.m. 7:30 p.m. PT

Wallis Annenberg Hall (ANN), Forum

The 34th Kenneth Owler Smith Symposium, USC Annenberg’s annual overview of the public relations industry, is scheduled for April 4, from 6 – 7:30 p.m. This year’s theme is “Purpose vs. Polarization,” a discussion about the evolution of corporate reputation and how polarization is impacting how communicators engages with various audiences. The program will feature corporate leaders from companies and agencies whose work is making a positive impact on their brands and society. 

This program includes:

  • A welcome from USC Annenberg Dean Willow Bay
  • Keynote and recipient of Purpose Award from Virginia Rustique-Petteni, NIKE Inc., VP of enterprise and purpose communications
  • Review of 2024 Global Communication Report highlights from Fred Cook, USC Annenberg Center for PR director and chairman emeritus, Golin
  • Panel discussion about the evolution of corporate reputation and how polarization is impacting engagement with audiences, including Rustique-Petteni, Ben Kalevitch, managing director of Myriant by United Minds, Jerilan Greene, executive consultant and formerly of Yum! Brands and Christina Bellantoni, USC professor and director of Annenberg Media Center. 

A hosted reception for USC Annenberg students and alumni, and PRSA and IABC guests will begin at 4:30 p.m. in the Annenberg Forum. RSVP will be required. The main event will begin promptly at 6 p.m., followed by a Q&A session. Food and beverages will be provided.  

As with previous years, the Center for PR will reserve auditorium seats for PR and journalism classes interested in attending. Please reach out to Ron Antonette at

Panelists for Kenneth Owler Symposium
Panelists (from left to right) Ben Kalevitch, Jerilan Greene, and Virginia Rustique-Petteni.