MEET YOUR PROFESSOR – Dennis Kinsey
Dennis Kinsey is the director of the public diplomacy program, as well as a professor of public relations, media studies, mass communications and communications management, at the Newhouse School. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in political science from Kent State University, as well as his Ph.D. in mass communication from Stanford University. Kinsey was a political consultant for 10 years during the decade of the 80s. Around the time he finished his master’s, he started working at Decision Research Corp. (now Triad Research), a public opinion research and political consulting firm. Kinsey is now head of the independent label, Hondo Mesa Records.
Q: What is your favorite course you teach in Newhouse?
A: Research Methods. I love research, and I think it is fundamental to successful public relations. Research doesn’t have to be as boring as it sounds. It’s exciting. You are understanding things that other people don’t know, and that is a great benefit of conducting research.
Q: Do you have any particular interest(s) within public relations?
A: I particularly like visual public relations. In PR, we have been too concerned with the written word and have not paid much attention to visual communication. Visual communication is more important today than it has ever been. The name of the game in public relations is building relationships and opening doors of communication, and there are certain cultures in the United States and around the world that respond better to visual communication.
Q: What is your favorite part of working in public relations?
A: When I look at all the majors and really stop to think, “students in which major really have the best chance of changing the world for the better?” It’s public relations. It’s about building relationships, opening doors of communication, reducing uncertainty, and increasing understanding. That’s the aspect I love most about being in the public relations field. We are really improving the world for the better.
Q: What motivates you?
A: F.A.M.: Family, art and music. That is what I really get up for in the morning. It’s a bonus to have the University. Very few people have that privilege to be around intellectually curious students. You have different discussions about really interesting things, and I think that’s all important.
Q: Did you always want to work in public relations and/or communications?
A: No, I wanted to be a rock star like a lot of my peers growing up. For something to fall back on I decided to go to college just in case the rock star thing didn’t pan out.
Q: How did you know public relations was for you?
A: In all the research I was conducting, I saw the power of communication. The field that was focusing on communication was public relations. I knew public relations was for me when I realized how powerful communication really was and what field was known for it.
Q: What has been your proudest moment in your communications career?
A: I think when I realized what I was doing. I was teaching these future leaders and communicators, and I realized these are the folks that really have the best opportunity to make a difference. Prior to that I was thinking, “What am I doing?” You hear these stories about people doing amazing, wonderful things, and all I was doing was teaching classes. My proudest moment is when I finally realized I’m probably having a bigger impact than I think.
Q: What is/are your favorite quote(s)?
A: “Until there are experiments, I take no notice of anything that’s done” (William Stephenson). My other favorite quote is, “Death is afraid of him because he has the heart of a lion” (Arabian Proverb).
Q: What qualities do you think make a student successful?
A: Sincerity, motivation and drive for your own personal enhancement. If you can forget about the grade and just concentrate on learning as much as you can from the professor, the class and the content, that will make you much more successful than if you are just looking for that grade. Because than you are focusing on the wrong things. You are not focusing on the material that is going to stay with you forever. You’ll get that A, but you may miss half of the important information.
Q: What qualities do you think make a person successful?
A: Kindness, generosity, concern for your fellow humans, and someone who does not deny people their human dignity.
Q: Do you have a personal message for Newhouse students?
A: Don’t worry about the grades. What’s ironic is if you focus on getting as much as you can out of the classes and the professors, you get better grades. But if you are really nervous about getting that grade, you are not retaining the information and connecting the dots as well. If you can relax and forget about the grades, you will learn more and ironically you will get better grades.