Grady InternViews: Austin Clark

Austin is participating in the Grady D.C. program led by Professor Joseph Watson.

Briefly describe your internship and responsibilities.

I support the entire communications team through compiling daily press clips, drafting press releases and creating press lists. Additional office wide responsibilities include logging voicemails and comments left for the Senator, and giving tours of the Capitol.

What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned so far?

I have been able to see how a Senate office is able to create and maintain relationships with journalists in Georgia. There is not an emphasis on national publications, but the communications team will target specific releases to markets to which the news is relevant. Seeing that deliberative process, as opposed to a mass email, has been interesting to learn.

Austin (far left) behind Senators Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock addressing a crowd. (Photo:submitted)
How will this role guide your future career path?

I would love to make it back to D.C. soon. I am staying at Delta Hall, UGA’s dorm in D.C., and I have loved every second of it. The connections I have made so far in Senator Ossoff’s office, at networking events, and even in the elevator in the office building, will help me land a job up here when I graduate.

What advice would you give to other students looking to pursue a career in politics?
Austin is interning in Washington D.C. as part of the Grady D.C. program. (Photo:submitted)

Start looking for internships and opportunities now. The Virtual Student Federal Service is a great place to find remote, low commitment internships with the State Department and other federal agencies. I have participated in that program for two years, and I have no doubt it helped me land this internship.

What has been your favorite part about your internship so far?

The work of drafting press releases and collecting daily press clips is nothing new to me; however, being in the Senate, in D.C., and being able to go to the Capitol building whenever I want is very, very cool. I have also been able to interact with the Senator and speak to him about policy and communication strategy.

Austin (pictured left, back) is a communications intern for the office of Senator Jon Ossoff (pictured right). (Photo:submitted)
How has the public affairs communications (PAC) certificate prepared you for this role?

The PAC certificate has given me the ability to make suggestions to this professional communications team that shows that I know what I’m talking about. Being able to ask, “Can I help pitch this story?” or “Would you like for me to find new outlets for this release?,” shows that I too am a professional communicator, and that my team can trust me with other assignments.

Grady InternViews: Erin Riney

This is part of a series where we ask Grady College students to describe their summer internship experience.

Briefly describe your internship and your responsibilities.

As a project management intern, I am working on the Regions Bank and Blue Cross Blue Shield accounts this summer. I will be working under two senior project managers. In this role, I will be creating timelines, estimating budgets, and scoping the necessary resources for all our projects.

How will this role guide your future career path?

I knew that I wanted to pursue project management at the end of my undergraduate career. I have prior experience creating timelines and managing a team, but I have never done anything regarding budgets or resource management. I am excited to learn more about these so I have a complete skillset as a project manager. These next two months will also help me decide whether I want to work at a bigger agency (like Luckie) or a smaller one after I graduate with my master’s degree.

What has been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned so far?

Be flexible! Agency life is fun, but it is also extremely fast-paced and challenging at times. Sometimes proofing takes a little longer than expected, or a design is finished earlier than the date listed on the timeline. Regardless, be flexible and work together to submit the deliverable to your client when promised.

What has been your favorite part about your internship so far?

My favorite part of the internship has been the people. Everyone that I have met at Luckie so far is incredibly talented, but they are also extremely welcoming and willing to help in whatever way that they can, even if they do not work in your specific department. I have also enjoyed working with some of the bigger clients that Luckie has.

Erin works in an office in Duluth, GA. (Photo:submitted)
If you could describe your internship in only three words, what would they be?

Challenging, hands-on, rewarding.

What advice would you give to students looking to pursue similar opportunities?

For those who want to pursue a career in advertising, I would suggest working in an agency at least once. Even if you decide that you want to work on the client side, agency life challenges you and causes you to grow extremely quickly. It is also beneficial to know both sides of the industry.

Grady InternViews: Caroline Parlantieri

This is part of a series where we ask Grady College students to describe their summer internship experience.

Briefly describe your internship and your responsibilities.

As a public relations communications intern, my responsibilities include monitoring and reporting on team coverage in new and traditional local and national news outlets, as well as maintaining and updating all media archives for press. I assist with the development of departmental publications including but not limited to press releases, media advisories, game notes and media guides. I leverage existing media relationships and cultivate new contacts within the industry and local market media and pitch compelling and creative storylines to the media.

What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned so far?

The most valuable lesson I have learned with Nashville SC is the impact I have as an individual working for a specific team. The impact goes far beyond the organization and its fan base. Because I am employed by a team instead of an outside publication, my work reaches countless people through different media outlets as opposed to a specific publication. This emphasizes the importance of credibility across all areas in communications.

How have the classes you’ve taken at Grady prepared you for this internship?

Along with the UGA Sports Communications staff, Grady has prepared me tremendously for this internship. The hands-on experiences I’ve had in my public relations and sports media classes helped groom my writing skills, my awareness of newsworthiness and my ability to produce quality content under tight deadlines. I have learned far more from Grady that has prepared me for this experience, but those are among the most important.

The relationships I have created with my Grady professors and other staff members have guided me through this process immensely. Their experience, expertise, advice, guidance and encouragement have prepared me and allowed me to thrive.

What qualities or qualifications do you have that you believe made you stand out in the process of getting this internship?

The qualifications that made me standout were based on my experiences working in the UGA Sports Communications department. My delegated game day tasks and duties at Georgia are very similar to my assignments for Nashville SC. This provided me with the proper knowledge, familiarity and qualifications to operate media relations with another organization.

Caroline pictured at Geodis Park, the stadium in Nashville, TN home to the Nashville Soccer Club. (Photo:submitted)
What advice would you give to other current sports media students?

It is important to get involved in sports any way that you can if that is your desired industry. You might think you want to pursue a specific path, but you never know what else is out there until you give it a chance. For example, my knowledge of professional soccer prior to this summer was very little compared to that of other sports. However, I have already gained invaluable knowledge and increased my skillsets remarkably within a short period of time. Having knowledge of multiple areas is a great way to market yourself. There are countless opportunities to get involved in sports at UGA, within the Athens community and sports media program; therefore, you shouldn’t limit yourself.

Grady InternViews: Kathryn Miller

This is part of a series where we ask Grady College students to describe their summer internship experience.

Briefly describe your internship and responsibilities.

As a social media intern at Green Olive Media, I help run the various social media accounts for Green Olive’s clients. My responsibilities include posting, community engagement, and coming up with new ideas to ensure the accounts are cohesive with the brand voice and are staying on top of trends.

What’s the most challenging part of this position?

The most challenging part of this position is that social media is always changing, and there are always new trends to stay on top of. There is never a dead season for social media, and there is always a need for new content.

What has been your favorite part about your internship so far?

My favorite part of my internship so far has been working with the Green Olive team. I have learned so much from them, and they are the nicest group of people. Many are UGA grads, so there is an extreme sense of community on this team, which I love!

How have the classes you’ve taken at Grady prepared you for this role?

Grady classes helped me prepare for this internship by teaching me about target audiences, brand voices and social media analytics – all of which are critical for successful social media engagement.

What advice would you give to students who are looking to pursue similar opportunities?

I would tell students who are looking to pursue similar opportunities to get involved. I found out about Green Olive through PRSSA! Whether it’s Ad Club, Talking Dog or Paw Print, Grady offers a ton of opportunities to gain experience and learn about summer internships.



Grady faculty and graduate students present at ICA conference

Several Grady College faculty and graduate students will present their research at the annual International Communication Association Conference May 26-30.

The hybrid conference takes place in Paris as well as virtually.

Among the highlights are a presentation by graduate student Haley Hatfield and co-author Sun Joo (Grace) Ahn that was awarded one of the Top Four Papers in the Information Systems Division. The paper is titled “Do Black Lives Matter in the Empathy Machine? Investigating Whiteness and Immersion on Creating a Shared Reality with 360-Degree Video,” and studies the different impact of Black and white speakers delivering anti-racist messages using a 360-degree video platform.

During the conference, Kyser Lough will complete his term as secretary for the Visual Communication Studies division of ICA. He will also chair a Journalism Studies session during the conference.

Other faculty and graduate students participating in the ICA conference include (listed in chronological order of presentation):

Friday, May 27
  • Virtual Poster Presentation (virtual, all day) Graduate students Xuerong Lu, Haley R. Hatfield, Shuoya Sun, Youngji Seo (PhD ’22), Solyee Kim (PhD ’22), Sung In Choi, Wenqing Zhao and Jeffrey Duncan; and faculty members Hye Jin Yoon, Bartosz Wojdynski and Glenna L. Read presenting “Gaining Insights into Effects Appeals for COVID-19 Vaccine Messages Targeting 18-23 Year Old College Students”
  • Virtual Poster Presentation (virtual, all day) Solyee Kim (PhD ’22) presents her poster, “Making Sense of DEI: The Construction of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Public Relations Agencies in the United States.”
  • 8 to 9:15 a.m., Juan Meng, Tong Xie (Ph.D. ’22), Jeonghyun Lee (graduate student), presenting “Understanding the competency spectrum for communication management: The need, the gap, and the continuous learning mindset.”
  • 3:30 to 4:45 p.m., Haley R. Hatfield (graduate student) and Sun Joo (Grace) Ahn, “Do Black Lives Matter in the Empathy Machine? Investigating Whiteness and Immersion on Creating a Shared Reality with 360-Degree Video.”
  • 8 to 9:15 p.m. (Virtual presentation), Sung In Choi (graduate student) Sungsu Kim (PhD ’19) and Yan Jin and others present, “Trust and Cultural Factors Shaping COVID-19 Vaccination Intentions Across Six Countries.”
Saturday, May 28
  • 9 to 10:45 a.m. Juan Meng chair session “Issues in Digital PR: AI Applications and Digital Ethics” and will present a paper she was co-author on, “Ethical Challenges of Digital Communication in Public Relations: A Comparative Study of Individual, Organizational, and National Factors in 52 Countries.”
  • 9:30 to 10:45 a.m. Ivanka Pjesivac presents research she was a lead author on entitled, “Between the Facts and a Hard Place: Trust Judgments and Affective Responses in Information-Seeking Processes During Early COVID-19.”
  • 12:30 to 1:45 p.m. Juan Meng will present a paper she co-authored entitled, “Toward an integrated model of healthy food choice: Examining the moderated mediation effects via online search for nutrition information.”
  • 5 to 6:15 p.m. Ivanka Pjesivac (faculty); Leslie Klein (graduate student); Wenqing Zhao (graduate student); Xuerong Lu (graduate student); Yan Jin (faculty) present in an interactive poster session featuring their research, “Factors That Impact COVID-19 Conspirational Beliefs and Health-Related Behaviors.”
  • 8:30 to 9:45 p.m. (Virtual Session) Alumni, graduate students and faculty including Taylor S. Voges; Solyee Kim (PhD ’22); LaShonda L. Eaddy (PhD ’17); Jeonghyun J. Lee; Sara Ervin; Yan Jin; and Bryan Reber  present “Threat Assessments and Organization Resources for DEI and Ethics: Practitioner Insights on Sticky Crises.”
Sunday, May 29
  • 8 to 9:15 a.m. Juan Meng presents a paper she co-authored entitled, “Examining the characteristics and virtues associated with servant leadership in public relations.”
  • 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Kyser Lough presents his research, “Visual News Practices: Ethics, Power and History Panel Session, Visual Communication Studies.”
  • 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Yan Jin chairs a session about COVID-19 and Public Relations
  • 8 to 9:15 p.m. (Virtual presentation) Graduate students, alumni and faculty including Taylor S. Voges; Yan Jin; LaShonda L. Eaddy (Ph.D. ’17) and Xuerong Lu present “Responding to Fire Ignited From Outside: Explicating “Crisis Spillover” Through the Multi-Layered Lens of Organizational Crisis Communication.
Monday, May 30
  • 9:30 a.m. Karin Assmann (faculty) presents her research about German reporters’ and news organizations responses to physical attacks, “Enemy in the streets: German journalists on the defensive” on the panel, “Enemies of the Press: Global Harassment, Abuse and Violence Against Journalists.”
  • 12:30 p.m. Karin Assmann presents her co-authored paper, “Women in newsroom leadership in Germany 30 years after reunification:  A West German domain?” as part of the session, “Women in Journalism: Newsrooms, Unions, Protests and Online Hate.”
  • 12:30 to 1:45 p.m. Michael Cacciatore, Juan Meng and Bryan Reber will present their research paper, “Leveraging the cybersecurity function to build influence and strategy: An empirical study of public relations professionals’ cybersecurity acumen.”

Juan Meng named Department of Advertising and Public Relations Head

Juan Meng, an associate professor of public relations and founder and director of the Choose China Study Abroad program, has been tapped to direct the Department of Advertising and Public Relations at Grady College effective August 1, 2022.

Current department head, Bryan Reber, will retire effective August 1, 2022.

“Dr. Meng adds to the long line of distinguished faculty who have stepped up to lead AdPR over the decades,” said Charles N. Davis, dean of Grady College. “She possesses the leadership skills needed for this demanding position, and she’s earned the role through years of strong service to the college. I’m so excited to work with her.”

Meng joined the AdPR faculty in 2012 and is an affiliate graduate faculty member, serving as the founder and advisor of the UGA/SHNU cooperative education 3+1+1 degree program, which recruits undergraduate students of Shanghai Normal University in China to complete their undergraduate and graduate degrees at UGA. Meng’s teaching focus includes public relations foundations, public relations campaigns, PR ethics, diversity and leadership, and global PR. Her research specialization includes public relations leadership, leadership development, diversity and leadership in PR, measurement in PR, and global communication.

Meng has published more than 70 refereed journal articles, scholarly book chapters and research reports on leadership-related topics. She is co-editor of the book, “Public Relations Leaders as Sensemakers: A Global Study of Leadership in Public Relations and Communication Management,” published by Routledge in 2014. Her most recent scholarly book, “PR Women with Influence: Breaking through the Ethical and Leadership Challenges” (Peter Lang, 2021), is the Volume 6 of the AEJMC-Peter Lang Scholarsourcing Series. Meng has presented her research at various panels, workshops, webinars, podcasts, and symposiums nationally and internationally.

Meng serves on the editorial advisory board for six leading scholarly journals in the field of public relations and communication management, including Journal of Public Relations Research and Public Relations Review, among others. She was recently named to the advisory board of PR Daily. Meng was recently tapped to serve as an inaugural member of the Institute of Public Relations new initiative called IPR ELEVATE, a group of PR leaders dedicated to advancing the research-focused mission in the industry. She currently also serves as the Research Co-Chair on the executive leadership committee of the Educators Academy at Public Relations Society of America (PRSA).

Meng serves on the national advisory board of The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations at the University of Alabama. She has collaborated with The Plank Center over the past ten years on several signature research projects, including the largest global study of PR leadership, Millennial Communication Professionals in the Workplace, the biennial Report Card on PR Leaders and the biennial North American Communication Monitor.

She is a graduate of the UGA Women’s Leadership Fellows program, the Office of Service-Learning Fellows program and UGA Teaching Academy Fellows program.

Meng earned Ph.D. and Master of Science degrees from the University of Alabama; a Master of Arts degree from Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio; and a Bachelor of Science degree from Fudan University in Shanghai, China.

“I am honored and thankful for this opportunity. I look forward to working more closely with our talented students, dedicated colleagues, passionate alumni, and other brilliant leaders in the field to continue upholding AdPR’s legacy of excellence in education, research and service.” — Juan Meng

AdPR is the largest department at Grady College and graduated more than 200 advertising and public relations students this past Spring 2022. The department, one of the most prolific in terms of research productivity and cited articles according to a 2019 study, houses several certificate programs, labs and key programs within the College including the Crisis Communication Coalition, the student-run agency Talking Dog and the Center for Health and Risk Communication.

Incivil replies to ‘The Squad’ nearly doubled after Trump tweet, researchers find

After Trump’s 2019 tweet telling four congresswomen, known as “The Squad,” to “go back” to their home countries, the number of incivil replies to tweets made by the congresswomen almost doubled, new research finds. 

Despite all four congresswomen Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts — being U.S. citizens, many of the remarks echoed Trump’s sentiment that the congresswomen don’t belong holding office in the United States. In particular, two types of incivility towards the congresswomen increased significantly after Trump’s tweet — the use of stereotypes and threats to individual rights. 

According to the researchers, these four women “represent the racial, gender and religious minority in the United States” and have been the target of a large amount of incivility online. This research provides insight into incivility on Twitter, particularly when it is directed towards members of minority groups. 

“Conceptually, we were trying to figure out what incivility is,” said Itai Himelboim, a co-author of the study and the Thomas C. Dowden Professor of Media Analytics at Grady College. “Part of it is vulgarity, name calling and so on, but another element is a threat to one’s rights and democracy as a whole.”

To conduct their study, the researchers collected all replies to all tweets made by the four congresswomen from June 1, 2019, to August 31, 2019 six weeks before and six weeks after Trump’s July 14 tweet.

Out of the total 102,815 replies to the congresswomen’s tweets during the time period, a sample of 20,563 were coded for 14 variables, including tones and popular topics such as immigration, Muslim ban, abortion, LGBTQ rights and more. 

The researchers determined that just under two-thirds of all replies during the 12-week time period included at least one type of incivility. The findings also showed that, after Trump’s comments, the total number of replies to the congresswomen’s tweets jumped by roughly 20 percent. 

Overall, the most common type of incivility used against The Squad was “name calling,” identified as using disparaging remarks, such as “idiot” or “stupid.” Second was “stereotype,” which was identified as associating an individual with a group and using terms, such as “Muslim,” in a derogatory manner. Third was “threats to individual rights,” which is implying someone should not have rights, such as freedom of speech. Fourth was “vulgarity,” which is the use of swear words. 

Less frequent types of incivility included “aspiration,” which is making disparaging remarks about a policy, such as immigration, “pejorative wording,” which is using disparaging words about how someone is communicating, and “threats to democracy,” which is stating or implying a threat to the democratic method of governance as an ideal or system, such as advocating an overthrow of the government. 

“We need to understand that it is more than being vulgar and calling names not that there is justification for that but it comes down also to threatening individual rights and threats to democracy,” said Himelboim.

The study, titled “‘You are a disgrace and traitor to our country’: incivility against ‘The Squad’,” was published in the journal Internet Research.

Additional authors include recent Grady Ph.D. graduate Bryan Trude (PhD ’22), Kate Keib (PhD ‘17), associate provost of non-traditional programs and an assistant professor of communication studies at Oglethorpe University, Matthew Binford (PhD ‘21), assistant professor of practice at Western Carolina University, Porismita Borah, an associate professor in the College of Communication at Washington State University, and Bimbisar Irom, an assistant professor in the College of Communication at Washington State University. 

Student plans to change the world one policy at a time

Mennah Abdelwahab grew up in Bogart where she was one of the few Arab Americans in town. Her parents were raised in Egypt and her family is Muslim. She said that this, combined with growing up in a working-class family, gave her a unique perspective and made her want to help others and get involved in policy work, two things she has definitely accomplished during her time at the University of Georgia.

In fact, she and her twin sister just won an award celebrating their service to the community. Ayah and Mennah Abdelwahab were selected as UGA Presidential Award of Excellence recipients, which recognizes the top 1 percent of UGA undergraduates who excel not only in academics, but also in service to the community and leadership, both on and off campus.

In addition to servicing as a Grady College Ambassador, Menna Abdelwahab was also co-director of the Student Government Association’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion program, a Morehead Honors College teaching assistant and a CURO Honors Scholar.

Mennah said her UGA classes combined with her internships during college helped her find the necessary tools to do something about fixing some of the barriers she faced growing up. “I didn’t have the most elaborate understanding of how these issues are addressed or changed until I got to UGA,” she said. “My education and my internship experiences are helping me understand a lot of the more systemic issues. I started to realize that a lot of these things are policy issues.”

During her time at UGA, Mennah has taken every opportunity to learn and participate. She’s been co-director of the Student Government Association’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion program, a Grady Ambassador, a Morehead Honors College teaching assistant and a CURO Honors Scholar. The graduating senior has two majors—journalism and international affairs—as well as two minors, Arabic and law, jurisprudence and the state.

“I came to the University as an international affairs major,” she said. “My goal was to help people, and I was trying to learn more about systemic issues in our society. I ended up adding a Journalism major to figure how to properly condense these issues in a way that is approachable and understandable to people, but also in terms of ‘This is why this policy is bad’ or ‘This is why we should pass this policy.’”

In her sophomore year, Abdelwahab started working for Georgia state Rep. Spencer Frye as a legislative fellow. In the fall, students conduct policy research on a topic of their choosing. In 2019, one of the things Abdelwahab researched was rural broadband access. “It wasn’t something that was really talked about then and it’s been cool to see something I did research on get more traction,” she said, noting the improvement in Georgia’s rural broadband access since the passage of the infrastructure bill.

In the spring semester, the fellows spend lots of time at the Capitol, hitching rides with Frye for the drive to Atlanta. “We’d arrive at his house at about 5:30 in the morning then go on our merry way,” she said. Often, they’d get back to Athens at 9 p.m. “They were long days but also really fun. We got the opportunity to go to committee meetings, watch sessions and read different legislation.” For the past two years, Abdelwahab has served as Frye’s public relations director.

If Abdelwahab ever needs to commiserate about what’s happening in her life, she can turn to her twin sister, Ayah, who has an especially expert perspective. Ayah Abdelwahab is also an international affairs major (although her second major is economics) and is the director of legislative research for Frye. The two share tips on their ongoing internships or just provide the comfort of someone who really does know exactly what the other is going through. “You never really feel alone, which is great,” she said.

After graduation she will spend the summer in the Muslim Public Affairs Council’s Congressional Leadership Development Program. “I’ll be in training for a congressional office, and then after that, I’ll be looking to work in jobs that are in the policy research area,” she said. “My interests are very broad, which is a good thing, but it also makes looking for jobs kind of difficult because I am interested in so many different things.”

Her best advice for fellow go-getters?  “One of the things that college has shown me is that showing up and being engaged will benefit you so much in ways that you don’t even recognize,” she said. “I’m not under the impression that I’m the smartest or most accomplished person in the room, but I do try to make the most of being there and getting the opportunity to engage with the school and different people. Even when I’m a little exhausted—or very exhausted—I try to come back to this idea that if you are the person in the room who is engaged and trying and clearly shows that they care, it will reap so many benefits in the future.”

Abdelwahab said she encourages students to make sure they balance this desire to be as engaged as possible with their mental health needs. “I have been blessed to have the support of my friends, family, professors and UGA administrators and staff to make sure I feel as supported as possible. These individuals have been instrumental in my college career, and I encourage all students to find that supportive community by taking advantage of the variety of resources available on campus.”

Editor’s Note: This feature was originally appeared on the UGA News website


Fitzco helps students earn Google Ads Certification

This spring, I had the privilege of participating in the 2022 Fitzco Google Ads Certification Program, directed by Dr. Joe Phua, a wonderful Advertising professor here at Grady College.

Fitzco is an incredible, full-service advertising agency based out of Atlanta. Throughout the three-month experience, we were able to connect with and learn from Fitzco employees in the Digital Media Department. During the program, my team, led by Schuyler O’Malley and Richa Das, ran a Google search campaign for the Sports Media Institute. It was incredible to learn the tips and tricks of using Google’s search engine to organically advertise. Whether it be general guidelines or best targeting practices, this hands-on experience greatly helped my professional development.

Students receive Google Ads Certification training from team members at Fitzco.
Logan Frost (ABJ ’15) and his team speak in front of students participating in the Google Ads Certification Program. (Photo: Jackson Schroeder)

In this program, students are tasked with completing the Google Ads Certification on Google Skillshop. This course is very valuable in terms of understanding how to run a campaign, as it teaches everything from specifying keywords all the way to understanding your bidding strategies.

We also got to choose a second certification to complete. Thanks to the guidance of my team leaders, I chose the Google Ads Video Certification. This program gave me a fundamental understanding of advertising on YouTube and Google Video.

As an Advertising student who is interested in a career in digital media, this program helped me gain real-world experience with common digital platforms. Throughout the program, I was able to show my passion for these topics, which led to me interviewing and accepting a position in Fitzco’s Digital Media Department. I am incredibly grateful to both Grady College and Fitzco for sponsoring this program and allowing me to pursue my passion.

Fitzco’s own Logan Frost (ABJ ’15), one of the mentors and coordinators, also completed this program while at UGA and now works in media at the company.

This opportunity has allowed me to connect with other Grady students interested in digital media, and I cannot recommend pursuing this opportunity enough to future students. I really hope to be able to participate in this program next year, from the other side, and give future participants the incredible experience I was able to have.

Logan Frost poses for a picture with Hogan Scoggins.
Hogan Scoggins (right) has accepted a job offer from Fitzco and will start following graduation in May. (Photo: Jackson Schroeder)

Editor’s Note: Thank you to Hogan Scoggins, a participant in the Fitzco Google Ads Certification program, for sharing the following reflection of his experience with the program this semester. Scoggins is a fourth-year Advertising major from Dacula, Georgia.

Grady researchers explore the effectiveness of humor in STD advertising

For decades, companies, government systems and other organizations have incorporated humor into their advertisements as a way to grab consumers’ attention and help them retain information. 

It’s clear that humor is a powerful tool when advertising, for example, chips and beer during the Super Bowl. But could it be effective when presenting information about stigma-associated health issues, such as human papillomavirus (HPV)? 

That’s the primary question Hye Jin Yoon, an associate professor in the Department of Advertising and Public Relations at Grady College, set out to answer through her most recent research. Yoon worked with Eunjin (Anna) Kim, an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Southern California, and Grady Ph.D. student Sung In Choi, to conduct the research. 

“I wanted to see how humor can help communicate health information, especially health information that people are not very comfortable communicating or talking about,” said Yoon. 

As noted in the research paper, HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease. It is known to infect almost all sexually active adults at some point in their lives, causing health problems such as genital warts and cervical cancer. However, despite how common the disease is, there is still a significant lack of public knowledge about HPV, the researchers explained in their paper. 

“In 2022, it has shifted a bit for sure, but it is still the case that people hear HPV and don’t necessarily know that it is a sexually transmitted disease,” said Yoon. 

Therefore, there is a clear need for health communicators to develop ways to effectively educate people about HPV prevention and treatment methods. 

While conducting their research, Yoon and her team showed HPV advertisements, some that incorporated humor and others that did not, to a diverse group of more than 150 individuals. Ultimately, they determined that, among those who did not know much about the disease, incorporating humor, without including information about HPV being an STD, proved to be effective in creating greater attention and more positive responses. 

However, when information stating that HPV is an STD was brought into the ads, the researchers found that the ads without humor proved to be more effective for those with low HPV knowledge. To those who already knew a lot about HPV, incorporating humor had no impact on the effectiveness of the ads. 

“It is likely the case that once you tell them it is an STD, they have to focus on that information,” explained Yoon. “Humor takes up our cognitive space in order to process it. You have to process humor to find it funny.”

Yoon explained that the takeaway from this research is that when advertising HPV prevention and treatment methods to people who don’t know too much about the disease, it is best to use humor without explicitly mentioning that HPV is an STD. However, if HPV advertisers do decide to give explicit STD information in their ads, it is better to not use humor. 

The study, “Will Humor Increase the Effectiveness of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Advertising? Exploring the Role of Humor, STD Information, and Knowledge,” was published in the March 2022 edition of the Journal of Marketing Communications.