CLS News
June 28, 2019



Andrea was born and raised in Miami, Florida, constantly surrounded by loads of sun, Spanglish and Peruvian food. She’s a University of Florida alumna (go gators!) with a bachelor’s degree in political science and public relations. Now, Andrea is a rising second year graduate student in the international affairs program at George Washington University. Having previously interned abroad in London, she will now further her cross-cultural experiences by studying abroad in Paris this fall, where she’ll hopefully learn French.
 

1. Who/what has had the most impact on your academic or professional interests?

Interning at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) shaped my career ambitions. I learned that working for an organization that allows for growth while teaching you about important issues, such as the refugee crises happening around the world, is something I really value. Moreover, working at UNHCR is why I decided to go to graduate school and concentrate on international law and organizations, since I felt that I had so much more to learn before entering the field. This experience also honed by interests in refugee and child protection issues, which I aim to dive more into with my future academic and professional experiences.
 

2. What do you look for in an internship experience, and how has this shaped your career goals?

I look for a supportive work environment that invests in both teaching its interns and allowing them to practice the skills they are most interested in improving. Thus far, my recent internships at Legal Services Corporation, Republica and the University of Florida’s University Relations Office have allowed me to grow in the communications field. Each let me really develop different skill sets in the field and showed me where my strengths and interests lie.
 

3. What are your long-term career goals?

My ultimate career goal is to work for an NGO or UN-related agency that concentrates on refugees, women or child protection issues in either a communications or external relations capacity.
 

4. What has surprised you so far about your journey towards your career goals? 

The biggest reality check has probably been learning about the amount of bureaucracy there is when it comes to the job market, along with the critical need for a strong network. I always knew the job market in D.C. was competitive but the more time I spend in D.C., the more I realize how important it is to build connections and invest in developing that skillset.
 

5. Can you expand on your interest in public relations?

I originally was not the biggest fan of public relations throughout my studies, despite choosing it as one of my majors. However, during my junior year, I was able to put my education to practice through a strategies course I had to take. At the end of the course, we had to create as a final group project a campaign for an organization, which including conducting research on its competitors, analyzing our target audience, and so on. We chose the International Rescue Committee and were able to learn more about refuge crises and how the organization itself worked. I was able to further develop my particular interest in the subject and found out how much I enjoyed the research and strategy side of public relations.
 

6. What comes easiest to you as an intern at CLS Strategies?

Research tasks come easiest to me because I genuinely enjoy it and as a graduate student, research is a huge part of my life. Focusing on the most relevant, dependable information with an end goal in mind is key for any project, and I’ve found always keeping that in mind is helpful. This is especially true for accounts that deal with sensitive and/or political information.
 

7. What has been your biggest challenge as an intern at CLS Strategies? How do you address that?

Keeping up with all my accounts’ internal communications and relevant news has been the most challenging part of my internship so far. I’ll admit I am still working on that, but as time passes, I’ve noticed that I’m adjusting to the common vocabulary used during meetings along with keeping up with all the internal/external communications.
 

8. What is your favorite thing about living in Washington, D.C.?

To be honest, the fact that our local news is national news still blows my mind about D.C. I love the fact that most people here care as much about international issues and domestic politics as I do.
 

9. On our website, we ask all of our staff to share three things about themselves. What are three things about yourself that we might not know?

  1. I’m a dual citizen (U.S. & Peru)
  2. I collect shot glasses from every city I’ve been to
  3. I’m a huge nerd when it comes to Marvel and tv shows

CLS News
June 21, 2019

Alex was born in Moscow, Russia, but has called Maryland home since he was about 13 months old. A rising junior at the College of Charleston in South Carolina, Alex is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in communication with minors in international studies and history. He attended high school just outside Washington, D.C., which exposed him to a variety of different cultures and sparked his early interest in foreign affairs and public relations. Alex is also a fan of everything sports related, and he also happens to be a bit of a history buff.
 

1. Who/what has had the most impact on your academic or professional interests?

My Introduction to International Studies professor was the first person to really expose me to foreign affairs and everything that field has to offer. I was originally interested in Business Administration, but after constantly participating in class, my professor encouraged me to take a public affairs or communication course. Once I was introduced to what the communication major had to offer at my school, I immediately switched majors and I have been pursuing public relations and consulting ever since.
 

2. What do you look for in an internship experience, and how has this shaped your career goals?

This internship is my first real exposure to the professional world. Not knowing exactly what to expect, I knew I wanted to find an internship that would introduce me to the public relations world, and I really wanted to find an internship in a big city. Most importantly, I was looking for an internship that would not only challenge me, but also educate me in a field that I’m increasingly learning more about in the classroom.
 

3. What are your long-term career goals?

I would love to work in operations consulting on an international scale. I have always been interested in foreign affairs, so being able to help resolve issues for clients around the world would be a great way to be exposed to diverse cultures while helping solve complex problems.
 

4. What has surprised you so far about your journey towards your career goals?

While taking different courses last semester, I realized how many other fields are intertwined with public relations and consulting. For example, many of my communication courses have contained aspects of marketing, international relations and politics. I was amazed to learn just how many different pieces are part of public relations and consulting as a whole.
 

5. Can you expand on your interest in public relations?

Going into my freshman year of college, I knew very little about public relations. One of my friends told me to watch the show House of Lies, and while it doesn’t quite go into how much work is entailed in consulting, the show did give some insight into what consulting might be like. My interest in this show combined with my professor’s encouragement got me to really dive into the communication major and give it a real go. Since then, my knowledge and interest in the field has only continued to grow.
 

6. What comes easiest to you as an intern at CLS Strategies?

My ability to effectively listen in on conversations in meetings has proven to be very helpful. I have found that the meetings here offer extremely valuable insight and have increased my knowledge about each case I work on in the office. I have also developed stronger, more effective research techniques that have allowed to improve my ability to contribute to my teams as much as I possibly can.
 

7. What has been your biggest challenge as an intern at CLS Strategies? How do you address that?

My biggest challenge has been catching up with all the news and materials related to each case. All the associates on each case has had the time to really learn about each client’s needs, and I have spent a significant portion of my time researching each case to learn as much as I can.
 

8. What is your favorite thing about living in Washington, D.C.?

I grew up right outside the city, and I always love coming home in the summer and being able to spend time exploring new parts that I never got to see when I was younger. Another thing I enjoy about being back in the area is being exposed to all the different people and cultures the city has to offer. Getting the chance to meet and learn about other people is a great way to build relationships with people from all over.
 

9. On our website, we ask all of our staff to share three things about themselves. What are three things about yourself that we might not know?

1. I am a founding member of my fraternity’s chapter at my school.

2. My favorite hobby is cooking, and my best dish is Steak Diane.

3. I’m loyal to most Washington sports teams, but I am also an avid Vegas Golden Knights hockey fan.


CLS News
April 24, 2019

Politico Playbook

How/where are you celebrating your birthday and with whom? “I’ll spend the day in D.C. with my husband, Roy, as well as my mom, dad, oldest sister and two nieces who are all visiting this week. It’ll be a touristy birthday day but super excited to have family in town.”

How did you get your start in politics? “During my junior year in college, I had the opportunity to volunteer for an American hero, the late Sen. John McCain, during his presidential campaign.”

Read more from her interview below -- and happy birthday, Ruth!

Read Full Article


April 10, 2019

MediaPost | Andrew Koneschusky

As artificial intelligence and machine learning advance at breakneck speed, almost no other industry has invested in the technologies as heavily and aggressively as automotive manufacturers. With outlays second only to the tech sector, automakers see AI as a fundamental component of transformation across four critical pillars—autonomous driving, connectivity, electrification and shared mobility—with a projected value of $215 billion by 2025.

And though the auto industry has already spent tens of billions of dollars on AI development, a new survey reveals that this massive investment may be subject to previously unforeseen risks to brand reputation. 

A third-quarter 2018 review by a new industry AI Risk Index developed by the Omnicom Public Relations Group reveals poor stakeholder engagement is driving negative sentiment that will have a direct impact on brand reputation if left unaddressed. While automakers rightly focus on improvements in the technology itself, many are overlooking or undervaluing the importance of a communications strategy grounded in data-driven research and seasoned insights, an oversight that could prove to be extremely costly.

Even the most cursory scan of headlines will reveal the risks of researching and developing these technologies in the spotlight, with no communications policy to support them. From the fatalities caused by self-driving vehicles, to concerns about AI’s impact on jobs, data privacy and the economy, the risks span from the individual to the global.

Whether due to a lack of understanding of the stakeholder landscape, insufficient focus on brand perception or lack of expertise required to effectively address the public’s concerns, the auto industry has done a poor job communicating the benefits and managing the risks of AI adoption.

As a result, the industry has created a void which has allowed media, consumers, activists, legislators and other stakeholders to shape the narrative surrounding these billion-dollar investments. And even when auto companies strive to communicate effectively, their messages are often not received by stakeholders as intended.

The AI Risk Index reflects a substantial gap between what is intended and what is perceived by critical stakeholders. The results are stark—especially in the context of substantial investment and many more years of public scrutiny as AI is improved—and reveal a growing crisis of trust.

Though an average of 62% of Americans are familiar with companies in the transportation industry, only 35% have a positive opinion of them (compared to 43% for non-automotive manufacturing and 41% for retail companies) and only 37% trust them (compared to 44% for manufacturing and retail companies).

Even more concerning is that the transportation companies most heavily involved in AI technology drive this sense of distrust, more so than traditional carmakers. That may explain why only three out of eight transportation companies analyzed during the third quarter of 2018 mentioned advancements in AI at all—indicating that auto companies are either communicating poorly or not communicating at all. Avoiding the conversation  will only compromise the opportunity that automakers have to undo negative sentiment and influence neutral perceptions.

Over the next several years, automakers will have to introduce extremely complex, transformative technologies to a public that is deeply skeptical about the innovations themselves, and even more wary of the companies creating them. Only about one-third of Americans think that companies in the transportation industry are visionary (39%), innovative (41%), create more jobs (38%), will use automation to be more efficient (39%), will use AI to be more efficient (36%), care about people’s safety (41%) and can be trusted with their personal data (32%). Just 39% think that AI generally will have a positive impact on companies in the transportation industry.

That is a tough sell for any industry, much less one that has spent nearly a century associating their products with personal freedom and a defining sense of self expression. As AI is further developed for commercial and consumer automotive use, it is critical that automakers close this chasm of engagement. Like any effective communications strategy, this begins with a deep immersion into data-driven research that maps and contextualizes the relationship between carmakers and their stakeholder audiences to identify gaps and misperceptions. And not only must this communications strategy address perceptions of automakers, it must also gauge sentiment around tech companies, and the alignment of the two industries. It is a communications landscape as complex as the technologies they hope to align and deploy.

Over the past several years, a global audience has grown intensely wary of a technology industry that prided itself on moving fast and breaking things. As automakers increasingly partner with tech companies to realize the benefits of their substantial AI investments, they will need a much more intelligent, informed and insightful communications strategy if they hope to persuade consumers to strap themselves into products that are moving fast. Regardless of how much the auto industry believes in it, without consistent, effective stakeholder engagement, AI could remain a risk most drivers aren’t willing to take.


CLS News
March 29, 2019


Kiana is a current junior at American University majoring in Communications, Legal Institutions, Economics, and Government (CLEG) and minoring in Justice and Law. She is from Orange County, California and loves warm weather and the beach, and she is a firm believer that the West Coast is the best coast. Last semester, Kiana interned on Capitol Hill for a congressman, where she enjoyed learning about the U.S. political system.

1. Who/what has had the most impact on your academic or professional interests?

Definitely my freshman year political science professor. Her expansive knowledge surrounding policy influenced my desire to learn more about public affairs. Studying a variety of disciplines, including communications and government, has also peaked my curiosity in the intersection between public affairs and strategic communications.

2. What do you look for in an internship experience, and how has this shaped your career goals?

As an intern, I hope to gain hands-on experience where I can be challenged and expected to be a team player. I also aim to strengthen my ability to communicate, write, and think critically. I think that while learning about different industries through various internships is important, it is the skills that are gained from these experiences that matter the most.

3. What are your long-term career goals?

As I continue to learn new things every day, I like to keep my future career options open. Having said that, I plan to continue down a career path in the realm of public affairs and strategic communications.

4. What has surprised you so far about your journey towards your career goals?

My major in various disciplines has taught me that it is common for career paths to cross – a revelation I found not only beneficial, but unexpected.

5. Can you expand on your interest in public relations?

I did not know much about public relations up until my time with CLS. However, I have thoroughly enjoyed learning more about the various strategies used to promote and protect a company’s brand.

6. What comes easiest to you as an intern at CLS Strategies?

Being able to stay on top of my daily tasks such as media monitoring has been the easiest for me. At my previous internship, I was also responsible for doing media sweeps and daily clips, so I quickly got used to that. I also enjoy doing clips because I get to learn about the client.

7. What has been your biggest challenge as an intern at CLS Strategies? How do you address that?

My biggest challenge as an intern at CLS has definitely been knowing which projects to prioritize. While working on a handful of client accounts can be exciting, it can become hectic unexpectedly. It shows how important it is to be able to multitask and ask for help when needed.

8. What is your favorite thing about living in Washington, D.C.?

I love D.C. because there is so much to do and get involved with. I love exploring the city and dining with friends, especially brunch. I’ve also been to a good amount of concerts in D.C. and get excited when one of my favorite bands or artists comes to town.

9. On our website, we ask all of our staff to share three things about themselves. What are three things about yourself that we might not know?

  1. I’m a bit of a music nerd and could talk about artists and genres for hours
  2. I am a twin
  3. I am Filipino, Lebanese, and Irish