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Carol Pardun

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Reprinted from the Fall 2011 edition of InterCom

As if 11 School of Journalism and Mass Communications alumni weren't already enough, Erwin Penland, one of the largest full-service advertising agencies based in the South, with offices in Greenville, S.C., and New York, acquired two more remarkable members in its Greenville office earlier this year.

It's no surprise that many alumni have landed there — the company has earned several nominations and awards for its creative achievement, commitment to diversity and workplace excellence.

Kate Venuto and Josh Crowley endured a competitive interview process and joined the public relations team as paid interns after graduating from the University of South Carolina in May. Both agree the journalism school provided them with great preparation for careers beyond college.

"The J-school prepared me in many ways. The ability to write is the most important aspect of public relations, and my classes throughout my time there improved my skills every day," Crowley said.

But along with skills learned in classrooms, Venuto added, the work experience is also key to her learning. "I do not believe anything could have prepared me for the amount I have learned here at Erwin Penland. After my first week of work, I had experienced everything from pitching to the media, participating in client meetings, creative planning, writing press releases and media advisories, and I even assisted in a TV promotion for a client in Charleston."

"Erwin Penland being named one of the best places to work by Ad Age was an awesome feeling for everyone at the agency," said Crowley, "We all have a sense of pride that we work for one of the best agencies in the country, and we have fun doing it! I feel very lucky to have the opportunity to start my public relations career at such a well-respected company and learn from the best in the business."

The company finished 23rd in Ad Age's Best Places to Work, the advertising and marketing industry's leading publication, and seventh in the Best Places To Work competition by SC Biz Magazine for companies larger than 250 people. The South Carolina Chamber of Commerce and the South Carolina Diversity Council also recognized it with the 2011 Excellence in the Workplace Diversity Award.

Erwin Penland

Workplace environment awards as well as industry achievements validate the firm's dedication to involvement, creativity and enjoyment and make it such a desirable pipeline for USC alumni of various disciplines.

Additionally, the company provides incentives such as fitness trainers, massage therapy, car washing services and discounts as well as ping-pong tables to keep the environment light and friendly. Erwin Penland is also involved in mentor programs, minority internships and supports pro-bono work including the Greenville Humane Society and the Julie Valentine Center for sexual assault and child abuse recovery.

"Not only does Erwin Penland work with a broad spectrum of local and national clients," Venuto said, "the agency culture is unlike anything I have seen before. Open work areas encourage communication through all of the departments to work together and produce creative results."

The other SJMC alumni who work at Erwin Penland are Bill Reynolds, 1977; Elizabeth Jenkins Baker, 2007; Jessica Deuel, 2007; Lanford Stone, 2007; Lauren Roach, 2005; Martin Salisbury, 2002; Melissa Hampton, 2001; Nika White, 1998; Sara Haulik, 2008; Whitney Howell Hanna, 2008, and Ashley Metcalf, 2001.

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