Public relations professional visits AIC’s Public Relations class

Candy+Lash+speaks+to+AICs+Public+Relations+class.

Mary Ellen Lowney

Candy Lash speaks to AIC’s Public Relations class.

Mary Ellen Lowney, Publisher

Students taking Public Relations this semester learned a few tips from an expert guest lecturer who revealed her secrets about the ins and outs of the communications field.

Candy Lash, senior public relations specialist and an official ‘public voice’ at AIC, found her professional sweet spot after a career that included teaching and administrative work at a local insurance company.

Public relations, she told students in Prof. Mary Ellen Lowney’s class, turned out to be a perfect fit for her – especially when the company mission fits in with her own beliefs.

“I love it here,” said Lash, who is in her third year here. “I love the work, I love the people, and I especially love working with students. There is nothing as good as this.”

Lash, a longtime Springfield resident, told the class how she started out as a teacher, working six years before switching over to a corporate job at MassMutual, where she took on a variety of jobs over a 14-year period. That included a community relations position that ignited her interest in the field.

She left the insurance giant for a PR job at the former Springfield office of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, where she did media relations, fundraising and other communication work. When that office closed, she worked again briefly as a teacher, and doing PR for the Dakin Animal Shelter, before landing at AIC in 2014.

Here, Lash works mostly with traditional media – the local newspapers, television stations and radio stations – getting out the good word about AIC and occasionally putting out fires.

Frequently, she asks faculty to comment publically via local media on news events related to their fields – Prof. Julie Walsh is a frequent TV commenter on all things political, Prof. John Rogers on matters of business and the economy, and Prof. Gary Lefort when international affairs or business, or the military, are in need of local analysis.

She also helps connect the media with AIC students for interviews, and she is sure to watch over those occasions with a protective eye.

Students in the PR class gave Lash high grades.

“She was very good,” said Kwame Jarvis, who is a junior. “I learned that you have to really like what you’re doing. Success doesn’t come over night. I learned that hard work doesn’t go unnoticed. PR is all about putting the product or organization in a good light.”

Senior Shannon Millane said Lash gave particular insight into a profession that interests here.

“I realized how difficult her job can be,” Millane said. “I think that a lot of people do not understand how important public relations is to a business or organization. People often see it as light and fluffy work when in reality her job is to maintain AIC’s reputation and that is huge underappreciated task on its own.”

“Her passion is quite inspiring.  I do not think I would have even known about the challenges she endured or this situation at all if she had not come to speak to our class,” she added.

Students got some top-notch advice from Lash: “A good PR person has to know how to write. Also, we have to be good with people, and sometimes to be firm.”