Southeast Public Relations Majors Interning as Brand Team Members at CMA Festival

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From left are Vanessa Luster, Tanza Smith, Kailan Miller and Kelly Forhan who are interning this week at the Country Music Festival.

NASHVILLE, Tenn., June 12, 2015 – Five Southeast Missouri State University public relations majors are in Nashville, Tennessee, this week soaking in the sounds of the Country Music Association (CMA) Festival while putting their public relations skills to work with internships in the heart of the music industry.

Vanessa Luster of Cape Girardeau; Tanza Smith of Clever, Missouri; Kailan Miller of St. Louis, Missouri; Kelly Forhan of St. Charles, Missouri; and Amanda McMillan of Cape Girardeau are engaging with fans and acting as the face of the CMA brand team, distributing items, including hats, T-shirts, koozies, sunglasses and other “swag” items for partners of the CMA Music Festival. The event began June 9 and runs through June 14.

“I’m excited to be in the city of Nashville again and also be a part of one of the biggest events of the year in the music industry. The Country Music Festival attracts people from all over the country and world. I’m excited to meet new people and learn more about the CMA Company,” Luster said.

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From left are Vanessa Luster, Kailan Miller and Kelly Forhan preparing for their work at one of 11 stages that are part of the CMA Festival.

The festival features an incredible lineup of country music talent, including Alan Jackson, Rascal Flatts, Dierks Bentley, Florida Georgia Line, Jason Aldean, Zac Brown Band, Lady Antebellum, Luke Bryan, The Band Perry, Carrie Underwood, Little Big Town, Brad Paisley, Keith Urban, Eric Church, Darius Rucker and Cole Swindell.

Forhan says she has enjoyed interacting with fans at the festival.

“I really like the experience,” she said. “It’s taught me a lot about public relations” and working for nonprofit organizations.

The five students are all pursuing a Bachelor of Science in mass communication with a public relations option at Southeast.

“I believe by listing the CMA on my resume, it will open new doors and opportunities. It gives me that extra push to land internships and jobs now and after college. It also allows me to grow with the CMA company and continue to brand and be a part of this brand,” Luster said.

She is using her opportunity to gain experience as an aspiring public relations professional. After graduation she hopes to work in the fashion or music and entertainment industry, specializing in crisis management.

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From left are Tanza Smith, Kelly Forhan, Kailan Miller and Vanessa Luster who are getting a taste of work with the music industry this week.

“I hope to meet other professionals, learn the ins and outs of the country music industry, and take my internship to the next level by possibly landing a position after school,” Luster said.

The Southeast students learned about their internship at the Public Relations Students Society of America (PRSSA) Conference held at Belmont University in Nashville over spring break earlier this year. A representative provided testimonials and information for interested candidates.

“I took a leap of faith and applied for the position,” Luster said.

McMillan said, “This is such an amazing opportunity and experience. I still can’t believe that I am here and that I get to say that I have worked for CMA. Not only that, but the doors that it can open inside and outside of the company — nothing but opportunities can come from this experience.

“Although we are running around in the heat and are exhausted by the end of the day, I am having so much fun working and connecting with other members of the FUN Team, who are from all areas of the country,” McMillan said. “The fans at the festival are such a blast too. You get to meet and talk to so many different people who came in from all over the globe. It’s amazing. I truly am so thankful to be here.”

The Southeast students are working alongside a large contingent of interns from Belmont, some of whom they met at the PRSSA conference in March.

Luster said she plans to apply for an internship with the CMA after completing her internship with the CMA Festival.

Miller said she hopes their work with CMA opens doors with the organization down the road.

“Whenever you work one event for CMA, you get the opportunity to work all events in the future,” she said.

Luster added, “The country music industry is definitely huge and a great place to start. It’s been a great opportunity to be in the midst of the CMA.”