BY FAREEHA REHMAN, STAFF WRITER
The sixth annual Student/Industry Communications Forum, Political and Policy Communications: Impact, Ethics and the Art of Persuasion, was held Oct. 25.
For the forum, political communication professionals and former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley joined together onstage to discuss their thoughts, experiences and perspectives on the current state of political and policy-related communication and what we can expect in the years to come, according to the Communication Department’s website.
The forum was moderated by Michael Shear, White House correspondent for the New York Times, and was followed by a speed-mentoring session with various professionals hosted by NBC4 anchor and reporter Angie Goff, who is also a Mason alumna.
Although topics were focused on the world of political communication, the speakers gave life advice as well.
O’Malley gave the opening keynote address, urging students to “be fearless, be persistent” when trying to achieve their goals.
The closing keynote was given by Mark McKinnon, co-creator of Showtime’s “The Circus,” a live documentary of the 2016 Presidential election. McKinnon shared a personal story in which he almost destroyed a valuable friendship for his career.
“You’re at a time when you think work is the most important thing. It’s not. People are. Family and friends are,” McKinnon said.
Dineo Moja, a junior communication major who attended the forum, spoke of her favorite pieces of advice.
Moja appreciated when panelist Danny Selnick, senior vice president of strategic markets for Business Wire, encouraged students to “always ask questions and to always go to the people we admire. We can’t go wrong with asking them advice and that’s how we’ll grow in our careers professionally.”
Another notable quote that Moja appreciated was from panelist Arzu Tarimcilar, a board member of GAMA Holding, who advised the students to be respectful of their employers but to not compromise their integrity.
“[The Panelists] kind of reinforced things I’ve believed for a while, that our society doesn’t always put value on, especially in a field that’s competitive and can be so ruthless,” Moja said.
The communication forum is one of many outreach programs developed to support the Communication Department’s key mission.
According to the Communication Department’s website, “The Insight Committee of the GMU Department of Communication was formed to build and enhance relationships between the department, the students and the larger community of practicing public relations and communication professionals.”
Anne Nicotera, chair of Mason’s Department of Communication and self-proclaimed “Worrier-in-Chief” of the forum, said that, being an election year, this year’s theme was obvious to the Insight Committee during the planning stage this past January.
“We try to come up with a theme that’s different from the previous year and that helps our students explore a different avenue of a communication career,” Nicotera said.
All of her worries were relieved when she saw “all 360 of the chairs were full” that Tuesday morning.
“As the people who will be writing speeches, producing the campaign ads and reporting on the candidates,” the forum pamphlet said, “Mason Communication students will be called on to shape and lead our nation’s political discourse.”