The Department of Communication honored Alan (Skip) Branch as this year’s Parry D. Sorensen Distinguished Lecturer at the Town and Gown Forum held at 7 p.m. on Nov. 11, 2014, at the Little America Hotel. Each year, the event celebrates the important role professional communicators play in the education of University of Utah Communication students and honors the distinguished career of the late Communication Professor Emeritus Parry D. Sorensen. In his tenure at the U, Sorensen created countless professional internships to ensure that experience in the professional workplace is an integral part of the U students’ education.
Branch’s talk, titled Persuade Me? An Analysis of the Role of Persuasive Messages in Strategic Communication, drew from his extensive experience as an advertising and PR professional and highlighted the myriad types of persuasion in everyday life. He reviewed guest lecturers he had hosted in his Communication class who spoke on how persuasion was essential to topics ranging from magic and fundraising to law, fashion, torture, and politics.
Branch was most recently a partner at Riester, an integrated marketing and communication firm in Salt Lake City, Los Angeles, and Phoenix. He graduated from the University of Utah with a B.A. in English and has since acquired 45 years of professional experience in advertising and public relations. During his many years as a partner at Riester, Branch served as executive vice president and manager of the Salt Lake office, on the executive management team, and as a new business director, among other titles.
The Town and Gown Forum concluded with a reception where students, alums, and community members gathered to honor and celebrate Branch and the late Professor Emeritus Sorensen. The night was, by all accounts, a great success.