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July 17, 2018
Professor Colleen Arendt Brings Public Relations Expertise to CSP
Majoring in Communication Studies involves exploring the ways humans create, transmit, negotiate, and understand meaning through the exchange of messages.
CSP Professor Dr. Colleen Arendt would echo that statement. Arendt is a Northeast Minneapolis native, but was an east-coaster for several years, teaching in Connecticut. She began at Concordia St. Paul during the fall semester of 2017.
In Connecticut, she taught communication classes with specialties in both gender and public relations. Her work in public relations focuses on crisis communication, specifically on how an organization or high-profile individual “survives” a crisis, including how they use social media to navigate their response to the crisis or scandal.
After helping create a new major in public relations at her previous university, Arendt has helped CSP begin a new public relations major as well.
“When I saw the job call last year, I felt like it was written for me.” said Arendt.
Within the field of public relations, Arendt says that the crisis portion interests her the most.
“Public relations gets a bad name, and often for good reason. But I always say that ‘Bad things happen to good organizations.’ And not all organizations have in-house PR or a PR firm on retainer, so how do we help the small business owner or nonprofit weather a crisis?” she asked. “In addition, when we teach public relations at schools like CSP, we are able to focus on issues of ethics and power. I’ll ask students about stakeholders and then we’ll dig deeper and consider any forgotten stakeholders.”
Plus, the advent of social media has created a bit of a “wild west” within PR and crisis spheres, Arendt explained, leading to new rules, best practices, and guidelines about how to best prevent and respond to crises. Arendt’s interest in this evolving, high profile field is as piqued as ever.
In addition to her work on public relations and social media, Arendt just completed her first book, which explores women and gender in roller derby. She based her book on in-depth interviews with forty women athletes. Her book was released this summer from Routledge.
Following her first year at CSP, Arendt notes that her wonderful colleagues have made the transition seamless. She makes a point to walk the tunnel every day and enjoys the energy of CSP’s campus, an energy that is noticeable in her classes. Her favorite part of CSP is the diversity of students’ backgrounds, experiences, and ideas.
“What my students bring to the classroom tops any examples that I can try to use. It pushes me to make sure that I think of examples that speak to everyone at some point,” she said.