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PR Grad Student Sits Out Semester for Twins and Travel

Seth Conley
“The Ball State program is giving me the opportunity to look at broadcasting from a different angle. I can see aspects of what I am learning having an influence on classes that I currently teach.”

Seth Conley, former news anchor and current TV news professor

Photo courtesy of Goshen College


In the fall of 2011, a wise faculty advisor gave public relations graduate student Seth Conley some insightful curricular advice about his expanding domestic duties: "Sit the next semester out!"

Conley, also a faculty member at another Midwestern college, took his advisor’s counsel. And when twins Addison and Katelyn were born to Conley and his wife in February 2012, he realized more fully the advantages of studying online and having a faculty advisor who cared.

“It would have been a lot to take on since the twins were born prematurely,” says Conley, who is assistant professor of communication at Goshen College, director of FiveCore Media, the college’s video production company, and now the father of four.

Sitting out the semester also gave Conley the opportunity to teach a three-week video production class that traced the Apostle Paul’s missionary journey through Greece and Rome.

Allowing time for twins and travel was only part of the appeal of Ball State’s online public relations graduate program.

“I wanted a program that had a reputation for excellence in the field,” says Conley. “The online delivery, program reputation, and my specific interest in learning more about media relations drew me to Ball State’s distance program.”

Conley says PR practitioners and the media can work in tandem.

“Having worked in television, I recognize that reporters and PR practitioners both rely on each other in a somewhat symbiotic relationship,” says Conley, who did a three-year stint as morning anchor and reporter at WLFI-TV, a CBS affiliate in West Lafayette, Indiana.

Although Conley doesn’t teach public relations classes, he sees a lot of threads he can pull into his broadcasting classes.

“The Ball State program is giving me the opportunity to look at broadcasting from a different angle,” says Conley. “I can see aspects of what I am learning having an influence on classes that I currently teach, such as broadcast writing and television news reporting and videography.”

As for his research interests, Conley is zeroing in on what he calls “the effectiveness of specific ‘story pitching’ techniques and their effectiveness on reporters.”

“I am guessing my thesis will be on a topic along those lines,” Says Conley.

As a capstone experience, a research project or thesis is required of all Ball State PR graduate students.

Faculty have offered more than timely advice, says Conley. Some professors are providing videos which introduce the goals and visions for the course.

Conley is eager to return to the virtual classroom in the fall. In fact, while in Rome he stepped briefly off the missionary footpath to register for his Ball State fall class. From Hotel Portamaggiore, just a mile from the Colosseum, he signed up for PR 665 Public Relations Campaigns.