“I needed a program that was designed for the working person . . . After a lot of research, Ball State’s program seemed the best fit.”
—Colleen Bormann, former TV news anchor and reporter and current Ball State public relations student
Colleen Bormann remembers it as “the perfect storm.” She was working her dream job as a television news anchor and reporter. “I’m a writer and storyteller,” she says. “I absolutely loved my job.” But as her job title began to expand, she was soon reporting the story, producing the story, shooting the story, editing the story, updating the story on the web, and posting to her social media site, all before climbing into the anchor’s chair for the 10 o’clock news. “The journalism aspect of my job began to decline,” she says. “I rarely had time to focus on telling a great story. I began to crave more out of my career.” Reconsidering her career in broadcast news, which won her three Associated Press awards, Bormann enrolled in Ball State’s master of arts in public relations program.
“A month into the program,” she says, “it clicked.” What clicked for Bormann was that after several years of working in the media, she was now learning to work with the media. The winds of a career change were perfect in the spring of 2011 when she learned about an open marketing/promotions manager position with the South Bend/Mishawaka Convention Visitors Bureau. Bormann believes that being a student in the master’s program in PR was a strong factor in her hiring in June. Today she manages public relations, media relations, and marketing for the South Bend/Mishawaka CVB as well as the St. Joseph County Chamber of Commerce. She also works on the marketing team of Young Professionals Network, an affiliate of the Chamber. Part of her job is to help other storytellers find angles in her community, which was recently named All-America City by the National Civic League and Best College Football City by Sporting News. “My job is to pitch stories to travel journalists that they can’t ignore,” says Bormann. “As a former journalist myself, I know what they are looking for and what they are not looking for. They care about the story that evokes emotion. They are looking for a story that has never been told before.” Although her work schedule today is relatively consistent, that was not the case when she started the master’s program in public relations. The fact that it was 100 percent online was good news at the time. “I needed a program that was designed for the working person,” says Bormann, who was still working as a TV anchor/reporter when she enrolled. “From day to day, my schedule was unpredictable. After a lot of research, Ball State’s program seemed the best fit.” Online study now means she has time to volunteer in the community. Bormann is marketing chair for the Northern Indiana Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure and events for Downtown South Bend’s First Fridays. But more importantly, grad school helped Bormann clarify her career goals. “I took a huge leap,” says Bormann. “I left news because my pursuit for education taught me there’s another path I can take.” Helping pave that path were skills she cultivated as a reporter. “Public relations was the perfect choice for me,” says Bormann. “Companies need a professional on staff to build positive relationships with all publics. A company’s reputation is crucial to its success.”
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