A Year on the PRSSA National Committee

I stood in front of more than 150 PRSSA students across the country and began my speech, “Hello everyone!  I’m so honored to be standing here to talk about my goals and dreams for the position as Vice President of Regional Activities.”  We were in Austin, Texas for the PRSSA National Assembly.  I was running against five other candidates for a role that had truly made me fall in love with public relations.

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I started my journey in PRSSA as a member of the Regional Activity planning committee as a freshman and continued onto the role as Regional Activity Coordinator as a junior.  The opportunity to work with PR students across the country to plan similar conferences was a dream.  And that dream was made a reality as I assumed the role as National Vice President of Regional Activities.

A year later as I finish my term, I look back and am nostalgic for all the amazing times I had in this position and grateful for the opportunities it gave me to meet and work with inspirational students across the country.  The most interesting part of this position is the interaction with students you never would have otherwise been in touch with.  The organization has 10,000 students.  That is 10,000 students with different interests, different personalities, different accents, different goals and different dreams.  Some students aspire to be in a large city, and other students aspire to be in a small town.  Some students aspire to work in non-profit organizations, and others aspire to work in agencies.  Some studies are interested in new media, and other students are more focused on traditional media.  But one thing is for sure, every student I have met has inspired me in different ways.

So for those of you who are fortunate enough to have more years in PRSSA, make the most of it.  I can honestly say that my time in PRSSA has been the best part of college.  Traveling around the country to different conferences to learn more about public relations and meet the future of the industry is more fulfilling than I can even put into words.  Witnessing the satisfaction and excitement of the Regional Activity coordinators when they secured a speaker or a sponsor was probably just as exciting for me as it was for them.  I have always loved mentoring other students, and being in this position gives you the ability to help so many more students than you even thought was possible.  As a member of the National Committee, you go beyond your position.  I was in charge of managing the Regional Activities, but I found myself helping students secure internships, editing resumes and cover letters and giving general career advice.

Even though being active in PRSSA can seem daunting, it ends up being so fulfilling.  We may always preach about professional development and networking opportunities, but do not forget about peer networking.  Your peers will one day be your colleagues and may even be your boss.  Learning to work with people who are different from you will be valuable in your future career.  And making those connections will not only be a way to make new friends but may lead to future job opportunities.

I know I am a bit of a PRSSA fanatic, but I have good reasons for that.  Become active in your local Chapter and even on the national level.  The end result will make your time spent SO worthwhile.  And as I pass the torch to the next Vice President of Regional Activities, I am only excited and thrilled to see what the committee will accomplish.

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2011 PRSSA National Assembly

This year PRSSA’s National Assembly was in Seattle.  The National Committee arrived on Wednesday so we could have our full day of meetings on Thursday.  We made the finishing touches on our goals for the rest of the term (which ends on May 31) and had a very productive meeting.  Then delegates from many Chapters arrived on Thursday for the Day-of Competition.

For the Day-of Competition, seven teams had an hour to prepare a campaign to promote Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign.  Then they had 8 minutes to present to a panel of judges and 2 minutes to answer questions.  The winning team (pictured below) won because of their in depth research and measurements to show whether or not their campaign would be successful.

The next day, the National Committee led a series of Leadership Training Workshops focusing on branding, ethics and PRSSA national initiatives.  Along with Brandi Boatner, Danielle DuPree, Kara Robinson and Julie Henderson, I helped lead the branding workshop.  We started off with PR Idol which asked members to give a 30 second elevator pitch about their Chapters.  Then we went into the do’s and don’ts of Chapter branding which took a look at fundraising ideas and Twitter and Facebook etiquette.  Finally, we had discussions about the proper ways to brand your Chapter and resources available by PRSSA for branding guidelines.

We had a chance to tour the city a bit as well.  We went to Pike Place Market (where I took part in catching a fish, apparently a Seattle tradition) and the first Starbucks.

The next day we had elections for the 2011-2012 National Committee.  The following people (pictured below) were elected:

Nick Lucido, Immediate Past President

Adam Aisner, National President

JR Rochester, Vice President of Advocacy

Kendall Schmidt, Vice President of Chapter Development

Joe Clarkson, Vice President of Internships/Job Services

Vanessa Perkins, Vice President of Member Services

Jessica Noonan, Vice President of Professional Development

Lauren Gray, Vice President of Public Relations

Haley Higgs, Vice President of Regional Conferences

Amy Bishop, FORUM Editor-in-Chief

From left to right: Haley, Lauren, Jessica, Vanessa, Joe, Kendall, JR, Amy, Adam, Nick

The next day Frank Shaw, the Corporate Vice President of Corporate Communications at Microsoft spoke as our keynote.  He said that PR people tell stories and manage issues.  He used a great quote from Mark Twain that said “A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”  He also touched upon the importance of aligning with business objectives and working with people in marketing and sales.  He spoke about his experience in crisis communications and said that you have to prove your leadership to others.  While dealing with a crisis, you need to try to prevent it from happening but also react when it does.  He also spoke about some of Microsoft’s responsibilities and its structure.

After the keynote, Nick recognized the National Committee for our work throughout the year.  He spoke about some of our memories from the year as well as our accomplishments.  It was so great to share everything we have done this year with the delegates.  I was presented with the Elaine Averick Outstanding National Committee Member Award for my dedication to the society which was SUCH a great honor.  I also had the chance to recognize Nick for everything he has done for the society at National President.  (Video to come!)

 

So I still have until May 31 for my PRSSA term, so I am not going to reflect on that quite yet.   But I do have to say I’m so excited and proud of the new committee.  They are already fired up and ready to go with great ideas, and I know Adam will lead them to great success just like Nick led us!

The Reality of PR: A Survivor’s Guide to the Public Relations World (Penn State Regional Activity)

This past weekend I went to my last Regional Activity (very bittersweet).  But after working with Andrea Crawford all year, I was so happy to see the event come together.  The event was called The Reality of PR: A Survivor’s Guide to the Public Relations World.  They had a great social on Friday night and a day full of excellent speakers on Saturday.  In addition to the speakers, they had an etiquette luncheon and networking reception.  Many schools from around the region came, and the committee made everything run very smoothly.  Congratulations on a great event!

Steve Manuel, Professor at Penn State University

In addition to being a former Penn State professor, Steve Manuel is also a former public affairs officer for the Office of the Secretary of Defense and Marine Corps spokesman.  His stories about his adventures doing photojournalism and other PR work were very interesting, and the engagement he had of his students was very inspiring (and reminded me of my PRSSA Faculty Adviser, Steve Quigley).  A few things that stood out in my mind when he spoke were the following.

  • 10% of people working on a group project will not pull their wait.  As students, we can definitely relate to that (or even say 10% may be underestimated).
  • We spoke about how it has been over 10 years since the 9/11 tragedy and we still have not found Osama bin Laden.  But what would happen if we actually found him?  What would the government do?  What would the public demand?  And who would become our new “#1 target?”  There will always be a new bad guy.
  • He also said you should always have a communications objective in your pocket.  And make sure you are clear about what your objective is.

After his presentation, we played PR Jeopardy.  There were questions about PR History, Agencies, AP Style the National Committee (I was an answer!) and Penn State.  My team won, and the Regional Activity committee gave us t-shirts, cups and a zip drive!

Michael Hinman, Account Executive & Media Manager at Environmental PR Group

The keynote speaker came all the way from Tampa to speak to us about environmental PR.  He started off by giving us some background about the work he does and some environmental PR issues.  Then he gave us some suggestions when dealing with media relations.  He cited Steve Jobs as an example of someone who has the ability to tell us what we want before we even know we want it.  That is how you have to treat media relations.  The Internet helps us create and own a conversation, but you also have to tailor your message to every audience.  Every target audience has their own wants and needs, and it is our job to figure out what that is.  Personalize your outreach by looking up every beat and publication of the people you are pitching to.  Utilizing social media is great, but you have to have followers and an established base or it will not do any good.

He also talked to us a bit about SEO news releases.  He showed us his own example that he did for Water Optimizer.  He told us that reporters have less time than ever before, and it is important as PR professionals to do anything you can to make it easier for a reporter to do research on your story.  They do not have the time to do in depth research like they used to so this is our opportunity to do it for them so we can still have the story published.

Ron Smith, Senior Lecturer at Penn State University

I next went to a technology session where they taught us how to use Illustrator.  It was a great refresher about some of the basic tools you need to know to use the program.  I thought this was an excellent addition to the Regional Activity.  They also had an InDesign workshop later in the day.

Jeff Boggie, Chef-Instructor at Penn State University

During lunch, we had an etiquette presentation.  There were some interesting tips he gave us about how to present ourselves in a business setting.

  • Deliver a firm handshake.
  • Stand when introduced or being introduced.
  • Travel light (you need both hands).
  • Don’t go in cold.  Have a purpose, be prepared and visualize.
  • Walk the walk aka be confident.
  • Follow up with questions about them.  Show you are interested in them.
  • Don’t arrive hungry.
  • Do not treat staff poorly.

He also displayed the following diagram to show us what utensils are used for the different courses.

Mindy Bianca, Public Relations Director at Hershey Entertainment and Resorts and Cara O’Donnell, Associate Vice President of Public Relations at Tierney

The next session I attended was about tourism PR.  This session was the most engaging session of the day.  Both Mindy and Cara are former journalists so they understand PR in a unique way.  They stressed the importance of having a background in journalism or at least interning in journalism.  When you have this background, you understand what the media is looking for and can tailor your news releases to that.  You also learn the structure of a news room and know who to pitch.

They spoke about the tourism and travel industry being more proactive than reactive.  It is also built on relationships that take years to develop. They told us some funny stories about some of the ways they have developed these relationships with journalists.  Even though they were funny, they proved to be successful relationships for both parties.

Even though travel and tourism PR seems very glamorous because of all the traveling, they did stress the long hours.  When you are traveling during the day, you have to do work all night that you didn’t get to finish during the day.

They also gave us some interviewing advice.  Present yourself well from the moment you walk into a building because you are interviewing with everyone from the receptionist who welcomes you to the recruiter.  Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.  Have inner-confidence without being arrogant.

Meredith Topalanchik, Vice President & Director, Client Services at CooperKatz

This session was about agency life and a lot of the decisions you need to make when you are in an entry-level position.

  • Don’t accept a job on the spot.  If they want you, they can wait.
  • There is no other place you can get as much experience right out of college than a PR agency.
  • Most work is in media relations.  It is very valuable to learn how to pitch.
  • Your organizational style will change within the first year.

Patricia Whalen, Assistant Professor at DePaul University and Board Member of the Board of Ethics and Professional Standars of the Public Relations Society of America

To end the day, was the Ben Bronstein Lecture called “Can PR Pros Act as the Corporate Conscience.”  It was all about the ethical dilemmas that PR professionals face.

Whalen emphasized the importance of standing up for yourself.  Don’t be afraid to speak the truth to power.  It is better to get fired and find another job than engage in unethical actions.  She said to do the right thing because there is a huge benefit to both you and your organization.  By doing this, you can build up trust which will come in handy long-term.  Every organization will make a mistake at one point, but if you have built up a trust bank, the people will forgive you.

She gave us some interesting facts about the people who are practicing PR.  Many have not been trained in PR so do not always know how to work in PR.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that 500,000 people practice PR but only 32,000 are in PRSA (less than 7%).

A lot of times there is a question between whether PR people or lawyers should be the ethical conscience of an organization.  But there is a difference between being legal and being ethical.

She told us to focus on strategic advocacy and enlightened self interest.  She explained that enlightened self-interest means that an organization is a member of society.  So corporate citizens benefit in the long run in reputation and profits.

Networking Reception

To conclude the day, we had a networking reception where we talked to some of the speakers and students from different schools.  Overall, Penn State did a great job putting on this conference, and I’m so glad I was able to attend!

With the Penn State Nittany Lion, Dana Bubonovich, Immediate Past President of Penn State PRSSA and the FIT PRSSA Chapter

 

PR Advanced: Be the Change (Boston University’s Regional Activity)

Every year Boston University hosts a conference, and every year I have been impressed by the dedication of the conference committee, caliber of speakers and involvement of professionals, agencies and professors.  This year my expectations were completely surpassed under the leadership of conference coordinator, Ginny Soskey.  I have had a different perspective of the conference this year as I worked with PRSSA Nationals to oversee the Regional Activities across the country.  But it was nice to be at Boston University to see the process throughout the past few semesters.  I saw as Ginny dedicated her life and put her heart and soul into this event.  Not a day went by without her working to make it a success, and it was better than I could have imagined.  I’m truly excited to see all the wonderful things Ginny (who is only a sophomore) is going to do in the future with BU PRSSA and beyond.

For those of you who were not able to attend PR Advanced: Be the Change, there were many fantastic speakers who I was able to listen to.

Jon Iwata, Senior Vice President, Marketing and Communications, IBM


Jon Iwata started off by discussing the strengths of public relations: listening and adapting.  He then spoke about the marketing funnel:

He then split his talk into four sections: Forge a shared belief, Spur people to act, Sustain Behavior and Enable advocacy.

In this digital age, people find out about things almost instantaneously.  During his presentation, he admitted that people were probably posting about his presentation, and he didn’t know what they were saying.  It could be bad things, but he has no control over that.

He spoke about why belief is important.  He used a scenario about bottled water as an example.  It used to be the belief that bottled water was better than tap water, but we now know that isn’t true.  He said, “We ought not to confuse fact with what people believe.”  Belief matters in the public relations field, and it is over predetermined by customers.  It is the job of public relations professionals to distinguish beliefs from fact.

People don’t like change.  Iwata suggested to not try to convince people to change but eliminate the inertia that is preventing them from changing.  He gave the example of hotels trying to convince people to reuse towels.  There was a 26% increase in people who used towels in hotels for more than one night when the signs said “Hotel guests use towels more than once” instead of telling people to use towels more than once to help the environment.

He continued by quoting The Social Network:

He spoke about the multiplier effect and how Facebook was able to grow so quickly.

Finally, he spoke about something everyone was waiting to hear about: Watson.

He told us that he actually competed against Watson (and lost) before they went public with him!  We watched a clip from Jeopardy and spoke about the benefits to Watson.  During questions, he said the next step for Watson would be health care to help physicians stay on top of all the literature.

And did I mention “Jon Iwata” was a trending topic in Boston almost immediately?

The conference continued with two breakout sessions.  I attended both agency panels.

Session 1 – Opportunities Worldwide

This panel covered topics from skills and personality traits to getting your first job to client relations.

Barri Rafferty, Senior Partner and Director, Ketchum New York

She spoke about the importance of being able to translate social media skills to the corporate role.  You might be able to use Facebook and Twitter, but can you use it in a professional setting?  You also need to be a good communicator verbally and orally.  Finally, be open to trying new things.  Don’t be afraid of doing something you have not previously worked on.

Meaghan Smith, Senior Account Supervisor, Edelman New York

When you start a new job, you need to learn other people’s working styles and be organized.  Keeping up relationships when searching for your ideal job is important.  Something may not be available right away, but in a few months you could get something you are looking for.  It is also important to give a business case to clients to convince them it is worth investing in your company.  That’s where business classes come in handy.  Finally, there is not a line between personal and professional social media.  You always represent your company so be careful what you say about the company and its clients.

Katherine Wilburn, Consultant, Gagen McDonald

Resiliency is important.  You may finish a plan for a client and have to redo it.  It is important to try to make clarity out of chaos in an agency setting.  Remember to listen and ask the right questions to arrive at a solution.  Keeping in touch with people is important.  If you see an agency is in the media, show that you saw the article and congratulate them (if appropriate).  Take as many business classes as possible, especially negotiations.  It may come in handy when working with clients to tell them what the consequences of their decisions may be.

Session 1 – Opportunities in Boston

This panel focused more on the Boston market.

Sarah D’Souza, Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility, Edelman

Agencies never know when they will need to hire so it is important to keep in touch with people.  They are looking for interns who will get their hands dirty and work on multiple accounts.  It is important to learn to juggle multiple projects at the same time.  Internships are like long job interviews so it is important to show your best work.

Jason Glashow, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Fleishman-Hillard

The Boston market has an entrepreneurial environment that creates a lot of opportunities.  There is an untapped opportunity as some of these companies try to figure out their social strategies (which will be very important in the future).  Things change very quickly and constantly which is important to get used to in an agency.

Christine Perkett, Founder, PerkettPR

The ways you can reach reporters are now different.  Twitter may be a great resource, but sometimes reporters want to be reached in the “old fashioned ways.”  It is important for interns to learn how to juggle multiple clients.  Interns should take initiative and walk in with ideas.  If you can talk through a strategy for a class project and show you understand strategic thinking, that is great!

Margery Kraus, Founder, President and CEO, APCO Worldwide

The afternoon started off with another keynote address.  She told us about the way APCO has survived and made a name for itself.

  • Be the partner of choice with clients.
  • Push the boundaries of communication.
  • Provide a global service, culture by culture.
  • Do not build an organization by yourself.  Build it with a team of people.
  • Help companies, organizations and governments build, defend and monetize their reputation.

Clients often are looking for a solution but do not know how to get there.  It is the job of the PR agency to think about what they need and how it can be achieved.

The formula that APCO lives by is ROR (Return on Reputation) + ROI (Return on Investment) = Market Share.

They also live by the word passion.

  • Passion provides the fuel for our souls and minds.
  • Passion makes us work better and smarter.
  • Passion makes it more than a job.
  • Passion builds relationships that live beyond the project.
  • Passion is our secret weapon.

Ginny Soskey, Regional Activity Coordinator

I then had the honor of recognizing Ginny for all her hard work on behalf of the National Committee.  Mike DeFilippis recognized her on behalf of the conference committee.

I should also mention that by this time #pradvanced, Jon Iwata and Margery Kraus were all trending topics in Boston on Twitter.  And #pradvanced was a trending topic in the United States on Twitter.

Career Panel

Stephanie Deitzer, Founder and President, Style at Work

She gave advice about what to wear in an interview.  Know your audience when deciding what to wear.  Think of it as a first date.  What impression are you trying to make?  And she said you can never fail with the blazer!

Kate DiChristopher, HR Manager, Marina Maher Communications

When you go into an interview, show that you are passionate about the agency.  She is looking for people who know a lot about the company and are digitally savvy.  Also, be prepared to talk about the ways you consume media.  You should be able to name a few blogs you read and talk about why you read them.

Eric Leist, Emerging Technology Strategist, Allen & Gerritsen

When people come in for an interview, they are asked three main questions: Are you curious about technology?  What are you curious about?  How do you fulfill your curiosity?  It is good to ask questions that show you know what’s going on in the industry.  Look at your skills and passions and think about what you want before choosing a job.

Maggie Van der Leeuw, Manager of Human Resources, Burson-Marsteller

Show your personality during your interviews.  Does your personality online match with your personality in person?  It should!  It is good to show that you have a life outside of the industry, but also show you have industry knowledge through Twitter.  During the interview, show that you went beyond the basics of the website.  Don’t settle.  As an employer, they want to know you are going to dedicate yourself to your job.

Other Parts of the Conference

There were also many other speakers that I did not get a chance to see including Mariana Agathoklis, Director of Communications, MTV, Peter Stringer, Director of Interactive Media, Boston Celtics and Jamie Thompson, Founder and CEO, Pongr.

Additionally, Twitter was a constant throughout the conference.  Students were tweeting the entire time, but they also were asking questions of the panelists through Twitter.  Questions were answered by people raising their hands but also taken right off Twitter.

The day ended with a career fair with companies including 360 PR, Allen & Gerritsen, Boston University College of Communication Graduate Program, Burson-Marsteller, Cone, LLC, EMC CorporationFleishman-Hillard, Hill Holliday, Ketchum, Lewis PR, Marina Maher CommunicationsMSL Group, NYU School of Continuing and Professional Studies, Porter Novelli, PRSA Boston and the Publicity Club of New England.

Once again, congratulations to Boston University and the entire conference committee!  Another job well done!

DePaul University Regional Activity

This past weekend I had the exciting chance to make my first trip to the Midwest and visit Chicago.  In addition to going to Millennium Park, the Willis Tower (aka Sears Tower) and Lincoln Park and seeing the Bean and Lake Michigan (I have never seen a Great Lake before), I had the chance to attend DePaul University’s Regional Activity, Transforming Traditional into Digital: The New Ways of PR (@NewWaysPR).  I have worked closely with the coordinator, Jamie Harris, since September, and her hard work truly paid off.  They had a great conference full of agency tours, intelligent and informative speakers and a career fair.  Their organization made the conference flow very smoothly and go off without a hitch.  Jamie and the entire conference committee should be very proud of their hard work and success!

I had the chance to sit in on their keynote speaker, Rick Murray, President of Edelman Chicago, Chris Barr, Yahoo! Senior Editorial Director, and Trent Frager, Senior Vice President at GolinHarris.  All three speakers were very informative and taught us a lot about the changing landscape of public relations.

Rick Murray, President of Edelman Chicago

It was very interesting to hear Rick Murray speak again.  When I was a freshman, he spoke at Boston University’s Regional Activity, and I found it very interesting to hear about the changes in public relations from that time until now.  He started off by telling us that the job descriptions for what we’ll all be doing in five years won’t be written for another five years.  But that’s what keeps the industry exciting – it is always changing, and there is always something new to learn.  As the former president of Edelman Digital, he knows this fact better than anyone.

The three questions that we need to ask as PR practitioners are:

1) What should you destroy?

2) What should you preserve?

3) What should you create?

Public relations is about public engagement and finding out what is important to an audience.  Murray said we play in the space of truth and authenticity, and it is important to blend passion and purpose to reach out and truly connect with an audience.  The content used to reach an audience will vary from person to person.  Some people want their information on their phone, some want it on their iPad and some want it in a newspaper.  In a time when there are so many ways to reach out to people, it is important to focus on media, ALL types of media.  That means new, old, traditional, everything.

To become a successful PR professional, it is important to keep a few things in mind.

1) Stay on top of what influences culture and the public.

2) Live and work global.  (With new ways to immediately reach people around the work, it is important to have a global way of thinking.)

3) Create value every day by thinking about goals you can measure.

4) Find your passion, and chase it.  If you are not passionate about your work, you are hurting yourself, your company and your client.

5) Making mistakes is how you grow.  Don’t be afraid to make them.

Chris Barr, Yahoo! Senior Editorial Director

Chris Barr gave some valuable advice when writing for the Internet versus written publications.  Writing online is VERY different especially when 79% of people scan web pages, and half of adults in the United States read at the 8th grade level or lower.  So in order to keep attention for as long as possible, it is necessary to do a few things.

1) Get to the point.

2) Make text scannable.

3) Write for the world.

When organizing your story, it is important to keep a few things in mind in order to once again keep the attention of your readers.

1) Front-load the most important information.  People will stop reading at some point on the web page so it is important to get as much information up front as possible.

2) You have 3-5 seconds to hook readers.

3) Limit stories to about 300 words per page.

In a digital world, it is also important to think about how the story will appear on a mobile device.  Now more than ever, people are reading news on the go on their cell phones.

Finally, he spoke about headlines and how to write them in a way that will be clear to readers and appear in search engines.  His overall advice for this aspect of writing online was that accuracy and clarity are more important than cleverness.

Trent Frager, Senior Vice President at GolinHarris

The focus of this session was crisis communications.  In particular, he focused on the impact of social media on a crisis, something that agencies have had to learn over the past few years.  There is now a lot less predictability about how your company is perceived in a crisis.  Even so, only 20.7% of companies have social media crisis plans set.  That is very low considering the impact that social media tools have on a crisis.

From the company’s perspective, it is important to have a few plans in place in case of a crisis.

1) Assess your footprint.  Figure out where your audience is on the Internet, and make sure you are interacting with them.  When a crisis hits, it will be helpful to have this contact already in place.

2) Find the right team to work on a crisis.  Prepare an advisory group.  Provide social media response training.  Online reputation management requires a strong team.

3) Be able to distinguish “baseline chatter” vs. an escalating issue.  Some people may complain online about your company, but it may not truly affect the company’s overall image.  It is important to be able to discern between the two.

All three speakers truly hit on the changing landscape of public relations.  While it is important to remember to interact with traditional media outlets, it is also important to learn how to converse with an online audience.  Whether writing a basic story or dealing with a crisis, there is a completely different set of skills necessary to succeed with social media.

And once again, congratulations to DePaul University on a fantastic Regional Activity!

Final Post of the Year

As the year comes to an end, I wanted to take this time to write about my most memorable moments from the past year (1 per month).

January

In the beginning of the year, I was lucky enough to win the Jersey Shore Public Relations and Advertising Association (JSPRAA) James R. McCormick Scholarship.  I was invited to attend a luncheon and met some incredible public relations and advertising professionals who work in the Jersey Shore area.  I also met some very talented students from the Jersey Shore area who were also awarded the scholarship.  Steven Lubetkin took a picture of us at the luncheon.

February

The PR Advanced: Brand Yourself conference that I helped plan as co-coordinator of Boston University’s Regional Activity was on February 27.  More details about the conference are at the PR Advanced: Brand Yourself post.  The conference was a culmination of my love for the Public Relations Student Society of America, public relations and event planning.  I had an incredible committee who contributed to its success, and it was truly an exceptional day to see everything come together.

March

In this month, my life changed for the better.  I went to PRSSA National Assembly in Austin and was elected to serve as the 2010-2011 National Vice President of Regional Activities.  Not only do I get to assist in the Regional Activities across the country, but I have had the chance to get to know some incredible people on the National Committee and in other Chapters who are truly going to make a huge impact on the industry.

April

After filling out and submitting many applications and cover letters and researching a lot of agencies, I accepted an offer from Burson-Marsteller to intern in their Corporate and Financial Department in New York City.  More details about the internship are in my Lessons From A PR Intern post.  I didn’t know it then, but I would gain a lot of public relations experience, interact with some of the industry’s top PR professionals and work on many interesting clients (often at the same time).

May

I have always befriended people who are older than me so it only made sense that I attend Boston University’s graduation ceremony.  It was a great “last hurrah” to spend with my friends who were graduating, but it also made me think a lot about my future (and the fact that I only had a year left to enjoy college and potentially Boston).  I wrote about my thoughts in my Graduation Reflection post.

June

There will obviously be a common theme about PRSSA in this blog post, but in June I really began to understand the organization inside and out.  Every year the PRSSA National Committee goes to Scottsdale, Arizona for a few days for a retreat to kick off the year.  I was amazed at the talent and leadership in the room as we discussed our platforms for the year and got to know each other.  The four days I spent with these people were truly the best days of my summer.

July

On July 14…I turned 21!  It was a great birthday and definitely exciting to be considered more of an “adult.”  Below is the best birthday card I have ever received!

August

For my grandmother’s 80th birthday, she took my family on a Mediterranean cruise that left from Barcelona.  We traveled to Capri, Rome, Pisa, Cannes, Monaco and Toulon.  It was my first time in Europe and truly an incredible experience.

Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona, Spain

Capri, Italy

Rome, Italy

Pisa, Italy

Pisa, Italy

Cannes, France

Monaco

Toulon, France

September

In September I started my last year at Boston University and my last year of school forever.  It is crazy to think that after so many years of school and classes, I will not be starting a new year next September!

October

In October I spent 10 days in Washington, D.C. first at the University of Maryland and then at the PRSSA National Conference.  More details about the conference are in my 2010 PRSSA National Conference: Washington, D.C. post.  Long story short, the conference was the greatest week of my life.

November

November was a very busy month.  I felt like I had a different event/commitment every night.  But I did one thing that I have always wanted to do.  I competed with Chris Wilcox in the Mr. and Miss BU pageant as Mr. and Miss COM!  We had a few challenges and prepared a skit and dance to Lady Gaga’s “Telephone.”  We got 2nd place, and it was a lot of fun!

December

I was hoping to talk about my smartphone here but since I still have my Blackberry (see #downwithblackberry), I will discuss 2 tweet-ups I went to that I really enjoyed!  Harrison Kratz asked me to plan Boston’s TweetDrive to gather toys for needy children.  More details about this event are in the Boston TweetDrive post.  Zach Cole asked me to be part of a social media task force at the MegaTweetup 2.  More details about this event are in the MegaTweetup 2 post.

TweetDrive

MegaTweetup 2

Happy New Year to everyone, and I look forward to many more memories in the next year as I have had this past year.

2010 PRSSA National Conference – Washington, D.C.

Time for my much overdo blog post!  But it was worth the wait.  For the last few weeks, my life has been consumed with planning for the PRSSA National Conference.  And last week, I had the honor of attending the conference in Washington, D.C.  From October 15 to October 19, I met about 1,000 PRSSA students across the country, networked with professionals at the PRSA International Conference, attended Chapter Development Sessions and Professional Development Sessions, learned about other Chapters and some of their exciting events and even held a session about Regional Activities.  It always inspires and amazes me how much different public relations students dedicate to improve their Chapters and themselves and future public relations professionals.

The speakers at the Conference were fantastic.  I didn’t get to sit in on as many as I would have liked, but I did get the opportunity to hear many of them.

Jim Margolis, senior partner at GMMB, was the keynote speaker for PRSSA.  He told us all about his involvement in the Obama campaign and some of the different strategic approaches they took to win.  In comparison to past years, they focused on young people and embraced the Internet.  He spoke about a lot of their social media strategies aimed at reaching a younger audience (which obviously proved successful).  They used a really impressive iPhone app to recruit volunteers to get the word out to vote.  They also put together 2,000 videos but 440,000 more user generated videos were created.  He ended off by saying “when you have big stresses, big change is possible.”  He was a great speaker and definitely inspirational about what can be accomplished.

I also attended a speed networking session with professionals from Booz Allen Hamilton, the Air Force, the MWW Group andOur Lady of Victory Homes of Charity.  I was in a group of other students as well, and we spoke about some of our interests in the field of PR.  But the four professionals also gave us some advice on networking and finding the perfect job.  Some of the highlights include:

  • Get the other person talking about what they are passionate about.
  • As soon as you get back, touch base.
  • It is important to see energy and that the person knows how to present themselves.
  • The first impression is key.  This includes your outfit, shoes, purse and overall appearance.

I attended a session on Crisis Communications with Eliot Brenner, Director, Office of Public Affairs at the Nuclear Regulatory CommissionLaura Brown, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Public Affairs at the Federal Aviation Administration and Richard Levick, President & CEO of Levick Strategic Communications.  The highlights of this session include:

  • Communicate early, often and clearly.
  • The goal in a crisis is to shorten the time between the start of a crisis and return to business as usual.
  • It is vital to be able to rely on people in your own organization.  These relationships need to be developed in advance.  You also need to build relationships with those outside your organization.
  • Always have a pen and paper ready when working with crisis communication.
  • First seek to understand then to be understood.

The last session I attended was called “Where Coding and Communication Meet” with Nick Lucido, National PRSSA President and Associate at Edelman DigitalBrandi Boatner, External Relations Professional at IBM Global Business Servicesand Mary Henige, Director, Social Media and Digital Communications at General Motors.  Some of the highlights from their presentation include:

  • Your LinkedIn profile is nearly as important as your resume
  • Follow companies and people you are interested in, and periodically engage with them.
  • Treat your online relationships like your offline relationships.
  • Identify trends in a particular industry or area of interest.
  • Have an integrated approach using social media in your search.

Overall, the conference was a great success.  The Conference Coordinators did a fantastic job bringing in different professionals from various areas of public relations, and everyone had a fantastic time.  If you are interested in hearing more about the conference, check the #prssanc hashtag.  Many attendees are posting their blog posts and thoughts from the conference.  See everyone in Seattle at #prssana!