Broadcast journalist Carlos Ferreira MCM ’21 produces and covers stories about the Portuguese community in the United States. As a result of an Independent Study course he took as part of the Master of Communication and Media (MCM) program, Carlos founded a boutique PR firm. “I believe in communication as a tool to educate and build a more enlightened society. The MCM program gave me more than a degree—it gave me a purpose within the communication universe.” Carlos graciously took the time to share his experiences and advice with SC&I.
SC&I: Tell us about your educational experiences and what led you to pursue a Master of Communication and Media degree at SC&I.
CF: I graduated with a master’s degree in Journalism from the Catholic University of Portugal. During one of those years, I had the opportunity to study at the Complutense University in Madrid. I believe that it is vital to study in different languages as well as different socio-cultural contexts. Studying at Rutgers was the first time that I studied in the United States. The MCM program accommodates full-time workers, and its flexible design allowed me complete control. I had the wonderful opportunity to customize my classes around my areas of interest and strategically complement my European studies. It worked perfectly! The online courses are very interactive and engaging, so the learning process is still stimulating.
SC&I: You took advantage of the pandemic to extend your coursework and graduate with a specialization in Communication and Media Studies. Tell us about that.
CF: I worked as a journalist for the international service of two Portuguese channels, RTPi and SIC International. In the world of ethnic journalism, we are exposed to various topics to cover, so we have to be ready for a broad range of roles to play. The public relations and strategic organizational communication courses enabled me to deepen my communication sensibilities, especially during this era when miscommunication and misinformation have risen to the surface. I want my career to be meaningful and contribute to the betterment of society. Also, major corporations prioritize corporate social impact. Currently, I work as a bridge between the nonprofit sector and companies who want their brand to be associated with a great cause. The MCM program prepared us to become great assets for any company that wants to be associated with a noble purpose.
SC&I: Describe how the MCM major prepared you for your current career path.
CF: The MCM program exposed me to key subjects. In Public Relations Management and PR Strategy, taught by Kristen Koehler, I learned what is required to plan successful PR campaigns. I found Crisis Communication with Kenneth Mizrach very pertinent and fun—we would deconstruct the anatomy of a crisis with real examples. In his International Public Relations class, Mark Beal, assistant professor of Professional Practice, Communication, introduced us to professionals in key companies that shared their experiences and strategies behind successful campaigns such as LG’s Café OLED. Matt Charles shared excellent insights in his Reputation Management class. In addition to always being just a phone call away, Teaching Professor Richard Dool, the director of the MCM program, exposed me to the tremendous potential offered by the nonprofit sector in his Persuasion and Advocacy class.
My Independent Study course inspired me to found a boutique PR firm, Plusable. For our first big project, we produced “NYPALC TV Magazine,” a digital magazine for the New York Portuguese American Leadership Conference (NYPALC), the country’s most iconic Portuguese American nonprofit. “NYPALC TV Magazine” shares inspiring stories of Portuguese speakers, and the fact that it has subtitles helps disseminate the content among a wider audience. The digital magazine is not only a great way to give visibility to the community, but it also elevates the nonprofit’s brand, boosts levels of engagement, and preserves its reputation, thus avoiding potential crises. We’ve been very well-received by the general public, and in three episodes, we can proudly say that we’ve received 35K views. The show’s quality has resulted in institutional supporters, including the Portuguese Republic Assembly, the New York Senate, Westchester County, the City of Mount Vernon, and others. The magazine is the perfect balance between my journalistic sensibilities and PR strategy. It results in reputation management and communication with a socially responsible purpose. These are skills and sensibilities I wouldn’t have had if it wasn’t for the MCM program.
SC&I: What advice would you offer to anyone pursuing the MCM degree?
CF: The MCM program prepares communication professionals for the modern, globalized world. I would advise students to take full advantage of this program that is designed to meet their particular areas of interest. They can elevate their knowledge and growth with the support of experienced, caring professors. It’s a beautiful academic journey whose destination is a success.