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Breaking the Ice: DePaul PRSSA Visits the Chicago Blackhawks

By Natalie Rohman

DePaul PRSSA members pose in front of the famous Michael Jordan statue in the Chicago Blackhawks HQ

On Friday, DePaul PRSSA had the honor of visiting the Chicago Blackhawks and be hosted by one of the largest sports organizations in the city. Despite the rainy weather, the Chicago Blackhawks's media teams welcomed DePaul students with warmth.

This special visit focused on revealing the inside scoop and hard work that goes into building and growing the Blackhawks franchise. Students were able to understand what the day to day looks like for a variety of professionals that specialize in different departments: media relations, social media, event management, foundation fundraising, and business analytics. These are all areas that work together to ensure that the Blackhawks reaches their goals (and makes them, too)!

Students were warmly greeted by the hospitable, Josie Petrielli, who lead the session and shared a little background as to how she started with the Blackhawks in Human Resources, graduating from the University of Louisville, and making her way into sports.

Will Chukerman, Media Relations Coordinator, shares the importance of intersecting roles within media relations and always being one step ahead in the game

The first speaker, Will Chukerman, introduced himself as the Media Relations Coordinator and explained more about what his role entails: distributing press releases and media advisories for all on-ice and off-ice activities, including games, ticket sales, marketing, corporate sponsorship, youth hockey, community relations. He also mentioned that "this is not a 9 to 5 job" and that it's important for him and his team to be at least two days ahead in order to prepare for sudden game losses or wins, as well as, in-game injuries or overnight trades.

"This is not a 9 to 5 job," -Will Chukerman

Following, DePaul alum, Leah Hendrickson, manages the Blackhawk's social media team and outreach efforts. She formerly studied journalism and media studies at DePaul and highlighted her transition into sports communication and broadcasting as she was inspired by Radio DePaul and interning for the Chicago Fire Soccer Club before gaining the opportunity to start as a New Media Intern and work her way up into the Senior Manager of Social Media. One key takeaway was always prepare an elevator pitch—you never know who might open the doors for you! (Come to our next PRSSA meeting Monday, October 14th in Arts and Letters 209 for an elevator pitch workshop).

Leah Hendrickson, Senior Manager of Social Media, shares her lucky elevator pitch that landed her the spot on the Blackhawks's media team

The next speaker, Paul Unruh, Manager of Event Marketing, gave insight as to what planning events for the Blackhawks is like and how reaching more diverse audiences has allowed for increased authenticity and community relations. Unruh mentioned that they are hosting a Día de Los Muertos event to cater to their Latino public, as well as, events that coincide with local Chicago festivities such as Lollapalooza. Unruh began working with the Chicago Blackhawks on their Marketing Street Team and eventually working his way up by creating events that brought fans together, even after the hockey season had ended.

In relation to event marketing, the Community Relations Event Coordinator, Rachel Stellfox, shared her background with studying marketing at Valparaiso University and following her love of sports which was formerly inspired by her previous internship with Bridgestone Americas and now developing authentic fan relations. She highlighted the importance of establishing close and trusted sponsorships within the Chicago community.

In closing the immersive session, Chris Levine, Manager of Business Analytics, shared his side of starting as a Digital Content Analyst. He mentioned that he is heavily involved with social media, website and app management, ticketing, and marketing data and strategy. Levine also relayed his experience with gaining sponsorships for the Blackhawks as a means of developing strategic relations and achieving business goals. By strategizing ways in which the Blackhawks can turn one-time ticket buyers into full-time, active sports fanatics, they are able to ensure that the Blackhawks is constantly being talked about and shared.

"Outstanding. Awesome. Amazing."

E-board members from left to right, Natalie Rohman (VP of Digital), Lauren Russett (VP of Special Events), and Taylor Williams (VP of Communications) smile in knowing the inside secrets of the Chicago Blackhawks

"Outstanding," "awesome," and "amazing" were some of the positive feedback students gave and were blown away by the intricacy and magnitude of this company. Hearing the media team's career journeys, their love for the team, their detailed responsibilities and duties, and sharing their insights as to how students can boost their appeal during internships and interviews impassioned them with hopes of one day being in their shoes, or perhaps their skates.

On behalf of DePaul PRSSA, we would like to thank all of the Blackhawks professionals who took their time out of their long days and busy season schedule to share their experiences and wisdom with us. As always, we are beyond grateful for the opportunities PRSSA gives its students and would highly encourage joining us at our next meeting Monday, October 14th in Arts and Letters 209 for an elevator pitch workshop with Nina Abnee from DePaul PRAD, formerly Leo Burnett.

If you have any questions regarding PRSSA and how to join, feel free to email us at! Also, be sure to follow our socials @depaulprssa for latest news and event updates.


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