3 Takeaways from the 2017 PRSSA National Conference

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of traveling to Boston for the 2017 Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA)’s National Conference along with three other PRowl Eboard members and PRSSA’s chapter president. The conference was held in the Boston Park Plaza Hotel, located right next to Boston’s beautiful Public Garden.

The event lasted five days and offered a variety of workshops, career development sessions and opportunities to network with professionals and peers. During the day, there were a variety of breakout sessions to choose from. For this reason we were able to attend breakout sessions that were most relevant to us and our individual interests. I had the privilege of meeting a few PR professionals that are doing amazing things in their career.

Here are a few things from conference that stuck with me…

1. Every good story starts with a good press release

One of the breakout sessions I attended called, “Heartbeat Heard ’round the World: PR is Nonprofit’s Lifeline,” gave us the rundown on how the Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency (LOPA) managed to get one of their stories to go viral this past Father’s Day. If you don’t know the story already, LOPA managed to set up a father who lost his daughter with the man who received her heart on Father’s Day 2017. Because of LOPA he was able to hear his daughter’s heartbeat again. LOPA planned this meeting diligently and knew that the story had to potential to receive press coverage. Little did they know this story would end up being covered by news outlets all over the world, including BBC. 

LOPA’s PR team stressed the importance of writing a perfect press release in order to receive this kind of coverage. What I found most inspiring about this presentation was that the person who wrote the press release was a PR student from Louisiana State University who was given this project as an assignment in his summer class. LOPA talked about how they’ve had stories before that they thought had the potential to go viral but never did. They believe the reason why this story was so successful was because of the quality of the press release, the timeliness of Father’s Day and the human interest factor. 

If you haven’t seen the video yet, check it out here! (It’s pretty amazing)

2. Market on your customer’s terms, not yours

Meghan Keaney, Vice President of Marketing at Hubspot, led a workshop about the ins and outs of inbound marketing. The biggest takeaway I took from this workshop is the idea of meeting consumers where they are, when it’s relevant. People are targeted by thousands of advertisements every single day. So how do you get them to pay attention to yours? Meghan would say that you need to stop trying to bring the customer to your ad, and start bringing the ad to your customer when it’s relevant to them.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is one way to to bring your ad to the customer. Your ad will be shown only when people search for something that is relevant to your product/service. It is also effective to find ways to imbed your advertisement into the apps that people are already on. Having links that take viewers off the page they’re looking at is inconvenient and unappealing.

3. Experience gets you in the door, personality lands you the job

As a senior beginning my job search, I found this insight from Michael DiSalvo extremely comforting. Michael DiSalvo from Ogilvy talked about the importance of having valuable experience such as jobs, extracurriculars and volunteer work when it comes to job searching. He also stressed, however, that having this sort of experience on your resume will land you the interview… but not necessarily the job.

Michael shared the story of his interview at Ogilvy. He talked about how they barely discussed the job, he just kept cracking jokes and making the interviewers laugh. He left convinced that he didn’t land the job because they barely spoke about his qualifications, they only had good conversation. But on the way home, he received a call from Ogilvy asking when he was available to start. Overall, when going in for a job interview the most important thing is to stay relaxed, confident and true to yourself. 

This blog post was written by Assistant Firm Director Marlie Derstine.

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