Graduate students Austin Maddox, Nicole Burnett and Katherine Butler from the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism were announced as new USC Center on Public Diplomacy student fellows for the academic year. Along with their studies, the fellows will work within the journalism, public diplomacy and public relation sectors at CPD to contribute to digital platforms, research and strategy.
Maddox, who is pursuing a Master of Science in journalism, will be working at CPD as a journalism fellow. Throughout the year, she will develop CPD’s website and create interactive, accessible assets for those who are unfamiliar with the school’s program. In addition to reporting on USC’s involvement in global public diplomacy, she will also craft videos to highlight current news in public diplomacy.
“I’m so excited to begin my fellowship with the Center on Public Diplomacy,” Maddox said. “I’m excited to bring more video content that will help spread the word about the great things that USC is doing to further public engagement. I’m really grateful that this department is embracing technology’s different ways that stories can be told.”
Burnett, who is studying in the Master of Public Diplomacy program, will develop and promote CPD projects. She will mainly work with CPD Director Jay Wang and the center’s publications and research teams. She will manage online and social media content.
“One thing I have been involved with so far is adding to its PD Hub,” Burnett wrote in an email to the Daily Trojan. “CPD frequently adds to this virtual classroom, which includes a repository of public diplomacy resources such as books, articles and multimedia content.”
Butler, who is pursuing a Master of Arts in strategic public relations, will directly manage the center’s digital presence, reviewing analytics and other metrics of its website and social media accounts. She will brainstorm ideas on how to best disseminate the center’s mission statement across different platforms.
The program’s goal is to recruit the best students to USC, according to the CPD website. It provides funding for graduate students developing, conducting and promoting the department’s projects.
“CPD provides a wide range of beyond-the-classroom learning opportunities at the intersection of communication and global affairs,” Wang said in a statement to the Daily Trojan. “The student fellowship program is one of our platforms where students can expand their horizons and further their careers. The need for international perspectives and exposure in today’s world is greater than ever.”
Maddox plans to use her previous experience at Sony Pictures Television Diverse Directors Program and for Terry Hines and Associates’ multicultural public relations branch to guide her through her fellowship. During Maddox’s five months at Sony, she was tasked with adding more diversity to the director’s space. She was able to interact with many minority directors and view independent films. At Terry Hines, she marketed films to Latinx and black audiences.
“After I graduate, I would love to make short-form documentary pieces for the digital space … working with online publications to make their video content, doing on-camera interviews and making content for young people that is entertaining but also informative,” Maddox said. “I want to work with content that reflects the intersection between popular culture, politics and social issues.”
Burnett had a previous internship with communications firm CLS Strategies, where she was hired as a full-time associate and then promoted to a senior associate role. According to Burnett, she worked on several client account teams to create and carry out communications strategies, primarily involved with the firm’s crisis and litigation sector. During her four years at CLS, Burnett said that she became familiar with communications strategy, media relations and fast-paced work environments and hopes to utilize these skills at CPD this year.
“I am particularly excited to learn new skills and apply them to a real-world setting,” Burnett wrote. “CPD, and USC generally, has so many training opportunities to become familiar with programs like those in the Adobe Creative Cloud and those used for website and social media management.”
Before coming to USC, Butler gained professional experience within the public relations field. She worked at a startup public relations firm RISE Creative that was a branding company for ethical fashion groups. Butler focused on influencer outreach by brainstorming places to distribute products and creating connections with larger companies. She later worked with the Virginia House of Delegates campaign to further her interest in politics and public relations.
“I want to really grow and feel comfortable with working in public diplomacy,” Butler said. “After USC, I have not yet decided on what route I would like to go in, but I am definitely considering something on a world-wide scale, which is why public diplomacy is so appealing to me.”
Butler is also interested in working for a corporate communications firm or representing a company where she can work in public relations.