Professor Uses Experience, Research to Affect Others

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STRATEGIC COMMUNICATOR: OSU-Tulsa Professor Dr. Jami Fullerton stands in a room at OSU-Tulsa overlooking downtown Tulsa. Fullerton has been teaching at the school since 1998. In 2008, she received the Peggy Layman Welch Endowed Chair.

EMILY RAMSEY for GTR Newspapers

As industries evolve so must the classes and degree programs that prepare students to enter the workforce.

Oklahoma State University’s School of Journalism is one such example. In 2010, it was renamed the School for Media and Strategic Communications. The name indicated a change in the focus of the program, “giving students a wider, more integrated curriculum,” says -Tulsa Professor Dr. Jami Fullerton, “helping them learn how to go across platforms, such as shooting video for the web, uploading videos, and writing for print and broadcast.”

Within the communications school are three specialties: strategic communications, multimedia journalism and sports media.

While multimedia journalism and sports media are only available at OSU’s Stillwater campus, students can take advantage of strategic communications, which is offered at the school’s Tulsa campus. The degree program centers around strategic thinking and communications management and, in a change from previous years, brings together both the advertising and public relations fields, because that’s more reflective of the real world, Fullerton says.

“Today, professionals have to create a publicity release, design an ad, do social media, plan an event. They have to look at promotion from an integrated standpoint.”

Students, therefore, learn how to write, design a website, take pictures, edit video—in essence, produce all types of content for all types of media.

But before the creation begins, research must be gathered and studied.

Students learn about the various ways to conduct research, such as focus groups and surveys, and how to take their results and use strategic thinking to determine the client’s appropriate message and target market.

Of course, after graduation, the goal is that students then enter a communications position, whether that’s with a communications company, public relations or advertising firm, nonprofit organization, government communications job, or a similar area, says Fullerton.

Nonetheless, she understands that sometimes students, like herself, end up taking a different path than originally planned. “I started out thinking that I wanted to be Barbara Walters but quickly found that I wanted to go in a different direction,” she says.

That different direction was less about investigative reporting and more about creativity.

Fullerton received her bachelor’s degree in journalism, and recognized the pull she felt towards the advertising industry. She attributes that partly to the exposure she received from her sister, who worked for an advertising agency.

After college, Fullerton worked 15 years in the advertising business. She also continued in academia, earning her master’s in journalism and doctorate in philosophy.

During that time, she also began teaching and researching in subjects including modern communication, advertising, branding and tourism.

She began teaching at -Tulsa in 1998, and, in 2008, she received the Peggy Layman Welch Endowed Chair.

Her research has centered largely around her interests of culture, travel and international dealings.

Dr. Fullerton’s current research program is focused on mediated public diplomacy efforts since Sept. 11. In 2003, she received a grant to study international advertising, specifically the U.S. State Department’s advertising effort in the Muslim world.

“After 9/11, everyone was shocked,” Fullerton says. “The president even asked, ‘why do they hate us?’ In essence, we had an unfavorable nation brand.”
She has also worked with the national tourism board after its creation in 2009. It addressed how to improve America’s image and formulated an advertising campaign to encourage international tourism to the U.S.

Additionally, Fullerton has researched ways to improve communication between America and its global neighbors.

Regardless of her research topic, though, Fullerton’s overall goal remains the same: “to do the research and see policymakers make changes in policy,” she says. “I want to see overall change in America’s standing and better communication with our neighbors, learning to talk to each other.”

Updated 10-31-2013

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