ISA Leadership Visit Manteno Elementary

Two Olivet Nazarene University students and one faculty member were invited to Laura Lubben’s fourth-grade class at Manteno Elementary School on Tuesday, September 12.


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Lubben invited her student’s parents to visit the classroom for thirty minutes to describe how they use math in their careers. Kerns responded as a parent of one of Lubben’s fourth-graders.

Liz Kerns, Assistant Professor of Communication, said, “Sharing how I use math in my role as a college professor can be explained in one easy word: grading. I asked Ms. Lubben if I could share with the class how public relations and strategic communication professionals use math in their careers and have a few student leaders join me to share how they have used math in PR campaigns they have run in class.”

Two students joined Kerns at Manteno Elementary School. Kate Cox is a senior Public Relations and Strategic Communication major and Agency Director of Inspired Strategies Agency, Olivet’s student-run, strategic communication agency. Jessie Kilbride is a junior Public Relations and Strategic Communication major, Junior Account Executive for Inspired Strategies Agency, and Club President of Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) Olivet Chapter.

“Today, we were lucky to have Mrs. Kerns and two college students from Olivet, come in and speak to my class in regard to public relations and how they use math and numbers in their field,” Lubben said. “They each explained what public relations entails and brainstormed with one of their client projects on budgets and statics. The students were able to work together,  thinking about how they would use numbers to create a public relations campaign.”

During an exercise to demonstrate PR, the fourth-grade class collectively came up for ways to increase awareness and attendance of Manteno families to The Exploration Station… A Children’s Museum in Bourbonnais, Ill. After thinking about traditional advertising methods such as billboard, newspaper ad, or television commercial, Kerns asked the young students if they could name one local business they remember seeing publish an ad.

“The students struggled to identify local companies using traditional promotional methods,” Kerns said. “Once we identified the target audience as families in Manteno, I asked them where they go during the evening or weekends with their families. We were able to identify local sporting leagues, the library, Dairy Queen, and one student’s grandma’s house as common locations on the weekends. The students began brainstorming immediately how they could creatively promote the museum at these venues.”

The admissions office generously provided an Olivet pen for each of the fourth-grade students. Lubben stated, “The first thing a student said was, ‘Look the pen is a little billboard’.”

Kerns said, “We might have a surge of spectacular Manteno graduates join our Tiger family in the Fall 2026! I look forward to having any of them in class after I watched their arms go up with excitement in order to share their ideas.”


Lucky Connections Business After Hours Networking Event

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Over the past several months I have had the opportunity to work as an Account Executive for Inspired Strategies Agency (Olivet Nazarene University’s student-run strategic communication agency) where I manage the Kankakee County Chamber of Commerce as a client.

One of our biggest objectives this semester was to plan the Lucky Connections Business After Hours Networking Event.

Students found luck at this extraordinary event by meeting community and business leaders, crafting their networking skills and most of all learning how to become engaged in our vibrant community. Business leaders came to find their “pot of gold” in a future intern, potential employee or provide mentorship to the next generation of professionals. The event on Thursday, March 16, 2017 had roughly 65 attendees.

The process of event planning was something that was something that was new to me. Through the process of planning this event, there are several things that I learned.

Trust your team

Putting trust in the other members of my team was something that I had to learn how to do. Even though I trust the members of my team, I had to trust that they could take a task that I needed done and not only get it done but get it done well. They delivered great work and I was highly impressed.

Manage your time

Managing your time when you are working as an event planner is crucial. You need to have a timeline of when everything needs to be done because if you let yourself fall behind you risk the success of your event.

Have a vision

Starting the planning with the end in mind is extremely important. We would not have been able to put together if we would have not know how we wanted the event to look. My team and I sat down in the beginning of the planning process and asked the question “What do we want this event to look like?”. Because we asked this question we were able to stay on track to reach the goal we had set.


In event planning there is one thing that is key: Communication. Communication is important because it allows everyone to be on the same page. There were times during the event planning process where we lacked communication and it effected the way we were able to continue to plan the event. If I was able to go back to the earlier stages of the event planning process, I would have made sure we kept strong communication the whole time.

Be flexible

Being flexible is something that every event planner should understand. During the planning process of the Lucky Connections Business After Hours Networking Event, my team and I had to be flexible when making decisions.

After many sleepless nights, I have finally been able to catch up on my sleep. Being an event planner is not an easy task, but watching our event come together was one of the most rewarding things that I have ever experienced.

Hayden’s Not-So-Important Opinion?

Event planning is one of the most tiring but rewarding jobs I have ever taken on.

Hayden’s Advice of The Week?

Dare to dream. When you think outside of the box is when you have the best ideas.

By Hayden Keifer, Account Executive, Kankakee County Chamber of Commerce

Read the original post here!



Another year, another event! Last year I had my first real experiences with event planning during the required course for my major, as well as joining the event committee for our PRSSA club on campus. One event, sponsored by the Kankakee County Chamber of Commerce, was to be planned by our club, and I volunteered to officially be in charge of the decorations, along with another member.

This event started as an idea to bring Olivet Nazarene University and its surrounding community together for a mutual benefit. PRSSA members pushed for a community networking event on campus to bring both students and professionals together and spark internship or job opportunities for each group.

The first annual “Green with Networking Envy” event occurred on St. Patrick’s Day 2016, by the extreme efforts of the PRSSA event committee and Chamber volunteers. The event, though executed with a few hiccups, was ultimately a success. Plans were in the workings for the next year’s event before the first one had even concluded!

“Lucky Connections,” the title for this year’s networking event, will still be sponsored by the Chamber. However, the event planning will be taken over by Inspired Strategies Agency’s Chamber team. I happen to be a member of this team, which has been strategically planning this event since last fall.

Details about the Lucky Connections Networking Event include:

  • When – March 16, 2017
    • 4:30-6:30 p.m.
  • Where – Olivet Nazarene University
    • Reed Hall of Science
  • Who – Business Professionals & Students

While the theme for this year’s event will be kept as St. Patrick’s Day, the name of the event has obviously changed. We have also moved the event from the Warming House to another location on campus, Reed Hall of Science, to accommodate the growing number of attendees. Our agency team has spent many hours brainstorming and making decisions to make this year’s event even more of a success!

The main objective of our agency team this semester is to plan and execute the Lucky Connections Networking Event, but we cannot do it alone. We want to thank PRSSA members, Chamber members and volunteers, and business leaders in advance for coming alongside us to make this year’s event possible.

We hope to see you on March 16th!

By Julie Hogan, Junior Account Executive,  Kankakee County Chamber of Commerce

Read the original post here!


3 Reasons why you should join PRSSA

I, like many other Public Relations students have been impacted by the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA). Similar to the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). This is the student branch of the largest Public Relations Society in the U.S. There are so many reasons people should consider joining these organizations. Through my personal experiences, here are three:

  1. Professionalism: PRSSA teaches business and professional techniques throughout the year. With the Olivet Nazarene University (ONU) chapter’s workshops on business cards, resumes, and other job-related materials I’ve learned valuable skills that will aid me in my job search following my years here in college. But why focus solely on the future when PRSSA can help you in the here and now? Another fantastic part of this society is that members gain access to internship listings on the PRSSA website. Although I have not personally used this feature yet, it is a valuable tool I intend to take full advantage of in the near future.
  2. Networking: PRSSA puts your name out there. Through ONU’s chapter’s activities I have connected with various leaders and employees in the community. Sometimes this is done through specific events like ONU’s “Green with Networking Envy”  event hosted in the spring near St. Patrick’s day. Other times I have been introduced to people of interest by working on projects or attending regular meetings.
  3. Community: Out of all the qualities PRSSA embodies, my personal favorite is the community. You get to network and meet other passionate students through the society’s participation. For me, this meant that I became surrounded by people with a similar drive and was able to meet new friends. It is the atmosphere that makes the time spent there worth while. You are there, together, with a mission to become more successful professionals through learning and practical application. This idea is the back-bone of PRSSA and the reason why many students keep on coming back.

Granted , there are probably many other benefits to PRSSA, but this is my personal reflection on what themes stood out the most. Do you agree with me or believe something else should be added? If so please leave a comment in the section below.

by Steven Novinski, Junior Account Executive, Communication Department

Check out his blog here!

Fall 2016 Clients and Staff

meet-our-team-titleInspired Strategies Agency (ISA) is a student-run, strategic communication firm at Olivet Nazarene University. The Fall 2016 client and account executive team includes:

  • Kankakee County Chamber of Commerce; Hayden Keifer, Account Executive
  • The Exploration Station… A Children’s Museum, part of the Bourbonnais Township Park District; Rachel Schramm, Account Executive
  • Kankakee County Center Against Sexual Assault (KCCASA); Kate Cox, Account Executive
  • Olivet Nazarene University’s Communication Department; Nicole Pilbeam, Account Executive

The Account Executives are lead by Alexis Smith, Agency Director and Prof. Liz Kerns, Agency Adviser and Managing Director.

Additional staff at Inspired Strategies Agency include:

  • Helen Berdebes, Junior Account Executive
  • Ailis Bull, Junior Account Executive
  • Steven Case, Junior Account Executive
  • Christina Cusumano, Junior Account Executive
  • Sarai Guerrero, Junior Account Executive
  • Baylee Harrison, Junior Account Executive
  • Lindsy Hentschel, Junior Account Executive
  • Julie Hogan, Junior Account Executive
  • Jessie Kilbride, Junior Account Executive
  • Samantha Lopez, Junior Account Executive
  • Mackenzie Mehaffey, Junior Account Executive
  • Jasmine Smith, Junior Account Executive
  • Danielle Snuckel, Junior Account Executive
  • Elijah Svoboda, Junior Account Executive
  • Hira Uddin, Public Relations Consultant

Check back for weekly updates about our clients, blog articles from our team members, and public relations news.

Inspired Strategies Agency Student Impact

Inspired Strategies Agency Launches to Help Community Partners
Olivet Students launch Public Relations and Strategic Communication Agency

Bourbonnais, Ill. (February 5, 2016) – Inspired Strategies Agency (ISA) was launched in the Fall of 2015 to provide public relations and strategic communication services to community partners while concurrently affording undergraduate students at Olivet Nazarene University (ONU) professional experience.

Elizabeth Kerns, Assistant Professor of Communication at Olivet, said, “Our goal is to leave Kankakee County a better place than when our students arrived. This outreach is a win-win partnership where the students can gain experience while in college and local businesses or organizations will gain a strategic public relations campaign from young professionals.”

Olivet Nazarene University launched a new Public Relations and Strategic Communication major in August 2015 and hired Kerns to help build the program.  Students take courses relating to public relations, team building, leadership, multimedia storytelling, professional communication, and writing while participating in extracurricular opportunities such as the Public Relations Student Society of America club and Inspired Strategies Agency.

Kate Cox, Account Executive for Inspired Strategies Agency, elaborated about the professional benefits when she said, “I believe that this opportunity is the stepping stone to any future professional.  School is a place for us to learn and receive a solid education, but ISA provides us with a real world experience that rounds out our marketability after graduation.  It helps us learn first hand about the PR industry and how to interact with business leaders.  Olivet is preparing us professionally which many other schools do not do as well.”

Student-run, strategic communication agencies are not a new concept nationally.  The National office of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) states that there are many advantages of these types of firms including: “building client relationships and meeting professionals, learning how to lead and work as a team, creating résumé/portfolio material, getting hands-on public relations experience, learning to balance tasks and handle numerous duties and applying theories learned in the classroom.”

Alexis Smith, Student Director of Inspired Strategies Agency, said, “We fully support Dr. Bowling and Olivet’s community outreach initiative.  The agency is a way to not only get closer to our community, but also make it a better place.  Very few college students receive the opportunity to gain professional experience through running a PR firm.”

ISA is currently working with two community clients and plan on taking applications for interested businesses and organizations.  The Kankakee County Chamber of Commerce and the Kankakee Symphony Orchestra have been working with ISA since December 2015.

“ISA is an incredible opportunity for Olivet students to gain real life experience working with clients in the community.  The advantage of graduating college with a few years of experience will set us apart in the professional world,” said Rachel Schramm, Account Executive for Inspired Strategies Agency.

Hira Uddin, Account Executive for Inspired Strategies Agency, said, “We gain experience in the agency through hands-on experiential learning.  We get exposure to real-world clients and by experiencing the challenges of client relations and managing a team, we learn how to handle these challenges professionally.”

The mission of Inspired Strategies Agency is PR education with a Christian purpose at Olivet Nazarene University through four pillars: 1) Professional development through experiential learning; 2) Faith centered ethics, 3) Servant leadership by way of community outreach and 4) Business literacy cultivated through education.

“I am proud of the accomplishments our students have already achieved in founding a professional agency and building relationships throughout Kankakee County since we started this endeavor in October.  Their work ethic and vision for the future of the agency demonstrates their dedication to leaving a legacy to future Olivet students,” said, Kerns.

Businesses or organization interested in learning more about Inspired Strategies Agency or to apply for consideration of services are encouraged to visit or contact Professor Kerns at


About Inspired Strategies Agency

Inspired Strategies Agency is Olivet Nazarene University’s student-run, strategic communication agency and offers services to clients from throughout the campus and community. More information on Inspired Strategies Agency can be found at