The PRowl Executive Board and PRSSA Chapter President traveled to Austin, Texas for the 2018 PRSSA National Conference. We arrived in Austin on Thursday, Oct. 5 and departed in the early afternoon on Tuesday, Oct. 9. The conference spanned from Friday, Oct. 6 and wrapped up with a gala dinner on Monday, Oct. 8. At the conference, attendees were able to pick and choose from dozens of sessions that peaked their interests. Each session began with an introduction of the speaker(s) and concluded with a question and answer session from attendees.
The members of PRowl’s Executive Board attended many sessions throughout the weekend. This post will give readers information about the sessions some of our Executive Board found most interesting and/or beneficial to their future career.
Emily McKain, Firm Director, attended the Not for PRofit session where the speaker discussed the role public relations plays within the non-profit sector. Speaking directly from her experience, Michele Glaze shared her knowledge from working with the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Austin Area. She compared her experience to that of working with Dell, which she described as very different. Glaze explained that by working with nonprofits, students can actually achieve a much more diverse and educational experience because you have to wear many hats within the organization. Emily says “it was wonderful to hear how her work not only filled her passion, but also had a strong mission behind it that allowed her to do good works within her community.”
Jeremy Rives, Assistant Firm Director, says his favorite session was the #MeToo and Smoldering Crises: Communicating When Bad Behavior Threatens Your Company with Deborah Hileman, President and CEO of the Institute for Crisis Management. This session was informative and helpful to understand the complexity of crisis communication. She stressed the fact that public relations professionals need to expect a crisis and plan for every potential outcome. Hileman emphasized that organizations worry excessively about the court of law, but often forget about the court of public opinion.
Kate Yeager, Co-Director of Public Relations, says her favorite session was the Becoming the Change: Rising from Tragedy to March for Our Lives that took place on Monday afternoon. During this session, the crowd heard from Brendan Duff and Delaney Tarr, student activists and founders of the March for Our Lives movement. Tarr was a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas during the shooting at Parkland High School. Duff had previously graduated from Marjory Stoneman Douglas, but had a younger brother and mother who was a substitute teacher at the school during the shooting. During this session, they discussed how important it was for them to frame their message correctly so they could 1) make voting “cool” and 2) make sure the media would take them seriously. They stressed to attendees how crucial it was for them to tailor their message when speaking to different audiences, whether it be through forms of art or during their Road to Change tour.
Evan Goldwasser, Director of Finance, enjoyed hearing from Temple Alumni Jason Mollica while listening to him discuss personal branding. He says he looking forward to connecting with Jason during regional conference in Philadelphia. The other most interesting thing Evan says he took away from conference was “seeing how other student run firms were run, taking advice from chapters, as well as answering questions from other PRSSA members about potentially starting their own student run firms.” He emphasized how fortunate he felt having the opportunity to attend National Conference in the beautiful city of Austin. Evan believes the connections in Austin are endless, and a lesson from the conference was to build and make connections. Evan truly optimized his connections in Austin when he managed to get free VIP tickets to Austin City Limits, a music festival that was happening during that same weekend.
Overall, the PRSSA National Conference was a wonderful experience for all members of PRowl’s Executive Board to grow professionally. To those who could not attend this year’s conference, we hope you can attend next year in San Diego, California!