Jade Laston, a student in the College of Communication and the Arts' dual degree BA/MA in Public Relations program, recently presented a scholarly research paper she co-authored with Dr. Kristen Koehler, Assistant Professor, at the 21st annual New Jersey Communication Association (NJCA) Conference on March 25th.
Latson's and Koehler's research, "Banking on Third-Party Credibility: Capitalizing on Low-Cost Social Media Trends to Expand Nonprofit Public Relations Outreach" explored how two of the fastest emerging nonprofit social media trends, social influencers and social investors, influenced the use of technology for advocacy and crowdfunding. These low-cost initiatives have a significant impact on both small and large nonprofits. Latson originally wrote a similar paper for Dr. Koehler's Theory and Evolution of Public Relations class, and both thought they could submit it for consideration to the NJCA.
"Working with Dr. Koehler was such a privilege. She is so well-informed on the topic of non-profit strategic communication, and offers an excellent firsthand perspective based on her professional experience. She is the kind of professor that is always looking for opportunities to collaborate with students," Latson notes.
According to Latson, the submission process was competitive, but she encourages all students to submit their research for consideration at academic conferences. About 120 scholars attended the NJCA Conference and many expressed interest in their presentation. The experience taught Latson the importance of trusting one's research interests and capabilities as a writer. She learned that many conferences are seeking submissions are interested in showcasing student research.
Dr. Koehler appreciated the opportunity to work alongside Latson and present their findings on a topic they are both passionate about. Koehler adds, "Jade wrote an outstanding paper that needed a wider audience due to her findings and relevance to PR in the current climate. Presenting at the NJCA Conference was a great experience for both of us. I appreciate the opportunity to work with Jade inside and out of the classroom and I am sure she will be a standout PR professional after her academic career concludes."
Latson is currently taking both undergraduate and graduate public relations classes as part of the dual degree program, and is highly involved on campus. She takes advantage of the College's extracurricular organizations, particularly the Public Relations Student Society of America. In addition, Latson holds the position of Firm Director, a leadership role, for the College's student-run strategic communication agency, The Litore Agency. Through her graduate coursework and extracurricular opportunities offered by the College, Latson has learned how to be a leader, and the importance of understanding how theory and research inform practical application.
Latson plans to continue pursuing her professional interests this summer at an internship with MasterCard's North American communication team.