PRSSA national conference

PRSSA National President speaks to UF PRSSA Members about “What PRSSA Means”

PRSSA National President Emma Finkbeiner spoke to UF PRSSA Members September 14 on “What PRSSA Means” to her and what it should mean to members.

Emma attended college at Northern Michigan University; a small college in the upper peninsula of Michigan, which had a PRSSA chapter of about 25 students at the time.

She made a point to explain to members that she joined her PRSSA chapter having no idea what she was doing; she just wanted to get involved.

At the end of her first year, she ran and was elected to be Chapter President of NMU’s PRSSA. Even further, she had a drive in her to bid and become elected National Publications Editor for Progressions and Forum.

At the end of her reign at NMU, she couldn’t get enough. While attending DePual University in Chicago for her masters degree in public relations and advertising; Emma is serving as the National President of PRSSA.

“The number one lesson I can give you is to work hard and stay involved,” Finkbeiner said. “I got here because of PRSSA”.

Finkbeiner drove into attendee’s minds the importance of attending National and Regional Conferences. “The connections you make there are going to get you really far,” she said.

National Conference is an excellent way attend career fairs, workshops and to form and nurture organic relationships with professionals in the public relations industry.

“I cannot stress how important networking will be in your future,” she said. Finkbeiner reminisced about the time when the CEO of GolinHarris asked to meet her! That moment knocked her off her feet.

Finkbeiner presented the idea of “servant leadership.”

“The servant-leader is servant first… it begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead.” - Robert K. Greenleaf

Finkbeiner brought this quote to member’s attention to reinforce the fact that to become a leader, you must get involved first. One cannot happen with the other. So, dive in!

For members, whether it’s attending conferences, writing for UF PRSSA’s blog, becoming a member of one of the committees or connecting with the mentor/mentee program, PRSSA is an incredible opportunity for students studying the public relations field.

 


“The Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) is the foremost organization for students interested in public relations and communications. We seek to advance the public relations profession by nurturing generations of future professionals. We advocate rigorous academic standards for public relations education, the highest ethical principles and diversity in the profession.” - PRSSA Website.

Written by: Sydney Denninger

 

Spreading Diversity #withPRSSA

Happy Diversity Awareness Month from UF PRSSA! Diversity is crucial to the success of any organization, and PRSSA is no different. We take care to ensure that our Chapter is inclusive and representative of students from many different backgrounds, beliefs and viewpoints because we understand that our strengths often lie in our differences. In order to make our Chapter as inclusive as possible, we encourage students from all grade and skill levels to become members. We hold membership rallies in the beginning of both the Fall and Spring semesters to inform students about the benefits that PRSSA can offer them. We reach out to all colleges within the University of Florida to recruit members in order to make sure that our Chapter is comprised of students from many different backgrounds, with many different interests, talents and perspectives. This year we are very excited about reaching out to students at Santa Fe College as well! We will be sending out emails on Santa Fe's college-wide listserve and tabling on their campus to inform them about PRSSA. We also work hard to keep our membership dues as low as possible to make sure that all students can afford to be part of our Chapter.

Internally, our Chapter strives for full inclusion among members. We are taking a bus to National Conference this year to cut back on transportation costs because we believe that every PRSSA member should have the opportunity to attend this event. We host diversity events throughout the year to make sure that all members fully grasp the importance of celebrating our differences. This past spring, our Chapter, in conjunction with Alpha PRoductions, presented a "Diversity in Public Relations" panel-style discussion. The panel featured four leaders and advocates of diversity in the communications field who discussed issues such as inclusion of diverse races, ethnicities, backgrounds, genders and disabilities in the field and in our personal lives. In addition to the panel, we used a hashtag to get members involved in Twitter and actively discussing what diversity meant to them.

To UF PRSSA, diversity is more than just a quota to be filled - it's a way of living that recognizes that we are stronger, smarter and better together; that inclusion, diversity and synergy are more powerful than exclusion, uniformity and individualism; that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

This post was written by Torri Macarages, Vice President of Chapter Development

Add Social Media to Your Event Networking Strategy

This post was written by UF PRSSA member Ryan Baum and was originally featured on culpwrit.com.

Ryan-Baum-150x150Social Media and Networking Strategy

PRSSA 2014 National Conference has finally arrived, and many students are brainstorming ways to maximize their weekend in D.C. With an intentional approach to networking, attendees can build valuable relationships that last long beyond the closing ceremony.

Strategic networking can lead to mentorship opportunities, internships, and, in my case, even a guest blog post on Culpwrit.

It is important to practice smart networking during any meetings with potential connections, but, in this day and age, any professional repertoire is incomplete without a social media component.

Social networking can be used to set the scene for in-person meetings and to sustain newly formed relationships once everybody returns home. It’s also a great way for students not at the conference to stay connected and engage with attendees.

The advice in this post can be applied to large gatherings like National Conference or on a smaller scale with professionals that visit your PRSSA chapter. Here are my tips for success:

Brace for Failure  

Before you start reaching out to new contacts, it’s important to prepare yourself for silence.

Most of the time, even when you are doing everything right, you won’t hear anything back from the professionals you reach out to. Try not to take it personally, and keep at it — it will all feel worth it when you finally get a response from a popular speaker or industry leader.

Culpwrit owner Ron Culp, providing perspective from the other side of the aisle, explained that industry-standard long weeks can make it difficult for professionals to interact. “There simply isn’t enough time in the day,” he said, “even for those of us who are inclined to respond to everyone.”

Plan Ahead 

Start by researching the event speakers, and, more importantly, their topics.

Try to find personal connections with your target contacts, like something distinctive you share in common. Bring it up when you talk during the event, and then mention it when you follow up to jog the professional’s memory.

In that vein, narrow down your pool of potential contacts at larger events to focus on a handful of authentic interactions instead of an abundance of shallow small talk.

Attend sessions and workshops prepared with the Twitter handles of the speakers and some background information, which can be gleaned from their Twitter history and a quick Google search. By understanding what each speaker cares about, and why, you can engage in a more meaningful way.

You can also set yourself apart by starting in the days leading up to the event and tweeting to speakers about how excited you are for their presentations. Again, authenticity is key, so utilize your research and include one specific aspect of their topic that you are particularly looking forward to.

Provide Value

Students often have more to gain from professional relationships, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a one-way street. Figure out what you can bring to the table to show that you care about the other person beyond what they can provide you. Use what you learned in your research to determine what needs your new connection has and think about how you can help.

This could be as simple as tweeting an insightful article related to a speaker’s discussion point during her workshop or even recommending a restaurant if a professional travels to an event in your town.

I have personally had success with live-tweeting speakers at the UF PRSSA chapter and creating Storify event recaps afterward. Here is an example I made after Golin CEO Fred Cook spoke to our chapter last month.

This technique works because you are engaging with the speaker (and other attendees), sharing the content with a larger audience and preserving the presentation for posterity — all benefits for the speaker. Also, any engagement will help professionals remember you when you follow up.

Continue the Conversation

Face time at the event is important, but relationships form over time, not through a quick handshake.

As you process National Conference and assess all of your new connections, follow up by requesting to connect on LinkedIn and make sure that you personalize the message. Include something distinctive that you talked about to recall his memories of the conversation. I also like to include one specific idea from the presentation that resonated with me, and how I plan to apply it to my life or professional career. That means a lot more than saying “nice presentation.”

In the case of a multi-day conference, you can also use social media to follow up before you leave the event. My university hosted the first frank gathering last year and one of the speakers was Jenifer Willig, who led the charge on the international (RED) campaign. Adara Ney, 2013–2014 UF PRSSA president, reached out to her on Twitter after her presentation, and they ended up having coffee the next morning before Willig flew home.

In the weeks following the event, continue the conversation by occasionally reaching out and staying on the professionals’ radar. Like and retweet their content that you enjoy and share your own relevant articles and information with them when appropriate. You can also reach out via email for a more personal discussion. Just be careful that you don’t overdo it; it rarely helps to come off as overeager.

2012 PRSSA National Conference in San Francisco: Bridging the Gap

 This year PRSSA held its National Conference in San Francisco with the motto “Bridging the Gap.” The whole point was to bridge the gap between pre-professionals in public relations and others who are already working in the industry. Needless to say, the 2012 National Conference did that – and so much more for me.
       The first day of sessions started off with Timothy Jordan, a senior developer advocate for Google, as the keynote speaker. His speech gave insight into what the future of online communication can be and why it’s important to use online tools to promote business while still maintaining a close connection with friends.

     After this, it was time for roll call of all the attending PRSSA chapters. While standing on ballroom chairs, UF PRSSA did a cheer and gator chomped, finally finishing it all off by Tebowing. That’s one of the great things I noticed about going to National Conference: it brings your chapter together and you learn to support each other.
     The fantastic thing about how conference works? There are several sessions at a time and you get to choose to go to the ones that best fit your interests and curiosities. Oh boy, was I glad I chose to go to Media Training featuring President and CEO Trahan Associates, Joseph V. Trahan III.
     Trahan was so enthusiastic. He spoke about his career in the military and handling public affairs in government. He also gave tips on how to direct to the media and how to prep others to do the same. Some of his advice was to always show sympathy/concern in times of strife and to never settle for a generic phrase that just any spokesperson can say. He remained animated throughout his entire presentation and that allowed me to retain so much of his information. I was really glad I chose to hear him speak.
     I could go on and on about every speaker, but the main aspect of National Conference is that you truly learn so much in so little time. There were also joint sessions with PRSA where you have a chance to mingle and network with professionals already working in the field. I didn’t mind that I would wake up at 7 a.m. and put on business clothes because it was a sneak peak into what I would have to do if I want to be a future professional.
     All the people I met at conference were what made the experience so worthwhile. I met other PR students from different universities and got to experience a fantastic city, San Francisco. Conference was about personal growth and going to all the sessions made me realize how much I can do with a degree in public relations. Sessions ranged from sports management, to hospitality, to tourism and crisis management. There is something for everyone, and I really hope that all of you can make it to next year’s conference in Philadelphia on Oct. 25 -- 29, 2013.
     I leave you with a quote of one of the keynote speaker at a joint session with PRSA. Biz Stone, the co-founder of Twitter, said, “In order to succeed spectacularly, you need to be willing to fail spectacularly." What the 2012 PRSSA National Conference was all about: taking risks and believing in yourself.
By: Ana Gomez, University of Florida PRSSA Online Strategy Committee