What we learned at PRSSA National Conference 2016


By Michigan State University’s PRSSA E-Board

PRSSA is the foremost organization for students pursuing careers in communications and public relations.

Every year, the organization has a conference where members from across the nation come together to network, learn and develop their professional skills. In October, our chapter’s executive board took a road trip to Indianapolis to attend National Conference. Here are some takeaways from this year’s event for those who did not attend.

“Digital Monitoring. More Monitoring. And then even more monitoring. The digital sector of public relations is constantly evolving. I attended last year’s National Conference in Atlanta and there was not as much stress on digital monitoring as there was this year in Indianapolis. As public relations professionals, it is important to prove your worth/effectiveness to c-suite executives. Digital monitoring is a way to showcase the value of public relations in language c-suite executives speaks…metrics!”

–Danielle Homic

“Networking with peers is just as important as networking with professionals. Look around you. People next to you in meetings, classes and conferences could be your future coworkers, employees or bosses. Spend some time getting to know them and their experiences, you never know what doors that could open for you. I’ve always wanted to intern out of state and networking with students just like me from all around the country, gave me connections to seek new opportunities in new places. (Plus it’s a great way to add LinkedIn connections and Twitter followers and hey who doesn’t love that?

Also, it’s okay to not feel caught up all the time. During the new pros panel a piece of advice that stuck with me was that it’s okay to not always feel caught up. Going into the exciting PR world, young professionals like ourselves feel the need to always know what’s going on and be on top of every single thing going on. But, it’s okay to not be. Catch up when you have time, go through the news online when you have spare time here and there until you can really catch up on everything, but don’t stress about it.”

Joanna Miller

“When I was at National Conference, my main takeaway was that there are always ways to grow and improve as a person in the workforce. For example, Danny Rubin of Rubin Communications Group had a breakout session about building your resume. He said we should always put a number on everything in our resumes, and don’t be afraid of the specifics. It really helps potential employers paint a picture in their mind of the work you were really able to do. I found that so interesting. There were so many seminars with speakers who gave you all sorts of information regarding public relations, but I found that the main takeaway from most of the seminars was all the tips on how to grow as a professional. You can never have too many ways to improve your professional self!”

Marisa Bennett

“You don’t need to have your whole life planned out, and you shouldn’t try to plan every aspect. Meet your peers. You never know who knows whom or who has interned where. Reach out and grow your network.  And finally, there are SO many things can do in the PR field. If you try something and don’t like it, there is bound to be something else that suits you.”

Gina Peera

“I think the biggest thing I took away from PRSSA National Conference was the fact that no matter if we are competing for jobs, internships, clients or whatever the case may be, we all have the opportunity to make an impact on our communities. Some of the keynote speakers were so powerful by telling the story of how they followed their passions and turned it into impact. As future leaders in public relations, we can’t forget that we have the power to change lives for the better and create change within a community.”

–Meg Dedyne

“Everything you do as a PR professional should tie back to the bigger, strategic picture. Being a strategic communicator is an important characteristic that will help set you apart. As the PR industry continues to evolve, employers will be looking for creative individuals who can bring new ideas to the table as well. Golin CEO Fred Cook shared this piece of advice: Creative PR professionals must invest in ideas, because ideas drive relationships.”

Brittanie Chludzinski

“As a student, it’s easy for us to have an unintentionally narrow lens of what the PR industry has to offer. Often we’re pigeonholed into “Agency or corporate?” But during National Conference, Anne Hathaway and Jane Jankowski of Hathaway Strategies focused on political PR in their session: Knowing What to Say: A Guide to Political Public Relations. Whether you’re thriving off the daily political avalanche on your social media or running from it, Hathaway and Jankowski offered some practical advice for those of us considering political PR post-graduation.

Jankowski said to find a message and keep hitting people with it. Creativity isn’t saying different things, but rather saying the same thing in enough ways for it to penetrate. For those of us driven to the agency side, take a minute to think about this. It’s not about the BEST ad or the BEST graphic. It’s about saying the same thing in enough ways, enough times for people to take hold of your message and run with it.

According to Hathaway, campaigns are not a collection of one-offs. Each story tells the story of the candidate. Much like a social media channel, one immaculate post doesn’t define the organization — it’s a collection of content that makes the brand its own.”

— Sam VanHoef

National Conference was one of the greatest PR experiences I have had as a student. My greatest takeaway came from the resume critiques. I was able to learn how to show what I have done instead of just tell what I have done. It’s important to include numbers and results as a way to create quality in your experiences.

Marideth Tschirhart




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