What It’s Like To Help Plan PRSSA’s National Conference

National Conference, where to begin? It all started last summer when Drexel’s PRSSA chapter found out we could submit a bid to host this year’s conference. Because I was originally planning to study abroad this summer, I contributed to the bid but wasn’t planning to be a part of the Conference Committee (how could I help plan a conference from Italy?).

Flash to after our chapter presented the bid in California at last year’s conference and won. There was a gap in the planning committee for Programs Director and I had to take it! My name was submitted with the rest of the planning committee, and we were officially the new hosts of PRSSA’s 2013 National Conference.

Last fall we spent time gathering information on potential speakers, finalizing the conference’s theme (we went with “Foundation for Innovation”), and prepping other materials for our first in-person planning meeting with PRSA headquarters. In February we spent two days at the Loews going over conference details, discussing speakers, thinking about logistics, and outlining our promotion plan.

After our in-person meeting, the following months consisted of more speaker research and outreach, thinking about how our socials would pan out, and lots more. Our committee held bi-weekly meetings as well as frequent conference calls with headquarters. Not only were we figuring out who should speak at the conference, but we also were doing outreach for sponsorships…you can’t host a five-day conference without a budget!

As time ran low with the dwindling summer months, we started to have weekly meetings and biweekly conference calls. Then, the weekly conference calls kicked in. By this point, say mid-September, most of our speakers were confirmed as well as sponsors – minus two or three final confirmations.

October was packed with finalizing volunteer schedules, weekly meetings, more conference calls, coordinating entertainment, picking up swag bag items, and much more!

October 24th hit and I found myself moving into the Loews for a six-night staycation. Aside from coordinating the Friday night social, introducing speakers, and managing the hospitality desk, our committee networked and connected with peers from around the nation. One of the best parts of PRSSA is all of the connections that can be made during national events.

Being Programs Director was a huge responsibility, a lot of work, demanding, and also a lot of fun! Seeing conference attendees learn from professionals, connect with peers, and enjoy Philadelphia made the year-long commitment worth my efforts.

This is a guest post written by Ian Michael Crumm. Ian attends Drexel University and serves as Vice President of Drexel’s PRSSA chapter. When he isn’t busy with school and PRSSA, Ian also runs his own blog, where he posts about all things fashion. 

Philly’s Student-Run PR Firms

While aspiring PR pros are still in school, they are constantly reminded that internships are essential if they ever want to get a job in the industry. In recent years, some college students have found an alternative to the traditional internship — joining a student-run PR firm.

Across the country, students at colleges and universities have launched their own PR firms and taken on a variety of “real-world” clients. Those who take part in these student-run firms are able to put their PR skills to work and enjoy a number of unique experiences. In the Greater Philadelphia area, there are three local schools that boast successful student-run PR firms: Drexel University, Rowan University and Temple University.

33rd Street Public Relations – Drexel University

What began as the communications senior project of Drexel student and PRSSA member Sarah Mason quickly developed into a functioning PR firm. Sarah’s goal was to form a student-run public relations firm as a tool for applied learning. Upon its launch, 33rd Street Public Relations only had one client (Drexel’s student-run literary publication, Maya) but in the years since, the firm’s client list has grown immensely. Today, 33rd Street Public Relations offers a wide array of communication services to both professional clients and Drexel University student organizations.

PRaction – Rowan University

PRaction was started by members of the Anthony J. Fulginiti Chapter of PRSSA at Rowan University nearly 3 decades ago. Their firm is all about putting the PR skills students learn in the classroom into action. PRaction’s past clients include Rowan University’s Department of Theater and Dance, Bogey’s Club and Café, Two Vic’s Sports Shop and Studio 24 Scoops and More. This year they are working with a number of clients, including the Greater Pitman Chamber of Commerce, the Salvation Army Kroc Center in Camden and Labrador Hill Farm. Students are encouraged to join PRaction at the beginning of each semester, and they can reach out to Vice President Henry Grant at granth31@students.rowan.edu with any inquiries. Potential clients can contact President Stephanie Russo via email at russos17@students.rowan.edu.

PRowl Public Relations – Temple University

PRowl Public Relation is Temple University’s first and only student-run PR firm. PRowl strives to provide clients with comprehensive PR strategies and solutions, offer Temple PRSSA members the opportunity to apply their knowledge and gain experience beyond the classroom, and build credibility while forming lasting student-client relationships. In recent years, PRowl has worked with clients such as the Lemon Hill Mansion, Temple University’s Department of Strategic Communication, and the Pennsylvania Innocence Project. Interested students and potential clients can contact Firm Director Kaitlyn Sutton via email at tuc50460@temple.edu.

Have you been a part of a student-run PR firm? What did you learn from the experience? Tell us about it in the comments section below. 

Maintaining a Successful Blog as a College Student

Students studying communication or public relations are all united by one common factor: competition. With the growth of academic programs at various universities in the field, it isn’t uncommon to run into another student with the same major. These students usually go after the same internships, and eventually will send resumes off to the same jobs.

This competition requires that students do something to set themselves apart. After a while, resumes and cover letters of different students all begin to look the same. It is extremely important to do something that shows what makes you a better candidate than your peers. Blogging is a great way to do this. It allows you to gain writing experience, to learn how to curate content, and is a public display of who you are as a person.

Screen shot 2013-10-05 at 10.14.15 PM

Maintaining a blog as a college student can be a difficult task, as we often have other responsibilities to focus on. If you’re interested in starting a blog to help you stand out from the crowd of PR students, here are some things you should consider:

  • How much time can you dedicate to blogging? Blogging can be extremely time consuming whether you do it as a hobby or have made a small business from it. You need time to generate content, format posts, take photos, and respond to comments and emails. Take this into consideration with the time you already dedicate to class, work, and extracurricular activities.
  • Develop an organization system. Keeping up with your blog is the key to gaining and expanding your readership. Get a planner that you dedicate to blogging and make an editorial calendar for each month. Be realistic with yourself; if you know you can’t post every day, then don’t place that expectation on yourself.
  • Brand your blog consistently. Your blog should be treated as one of your clients. If you use Twitter or Facebook to promote your blog, be sure that those profiles are consistent with the content and design of your blog. Make the cover photo of your blog’s Facebook and Twitter match the header image, and keep the colors the same. This will create a sense of familiarity among your readers.
  • Create original content. No one wants to read your blog only to get information that can be found elsewhere. It is important to always be creating fresh content, not just sharing or reposting. Adding your own input and life situations helps readers create a more personal relationship with you and your blog. Posting about topics you truly have a passion for is the best way to insure quality content.

Though it may seem overwhelming at first, blogging is the easiest way to promote yourself as a professional while still having fun. Don’t get lost in the feeling that your blog has to look or sound a certain way. Allow your unique voice to come through, and the rest will settle on its own.

This is a guest post written by Amber Burns. Amber is a junior at Temple University majoring in Strategic Communication with a concentration in public relations and minoring in Spanish. She serves as one of the Assistant Firm Directors for PRowl Public Relations. She also serves as the Vice President for Temple University’s PRSSA chapter. This summer she interned for Philadelphia’s Independence Seaport Museum as their PR and Marketing Intern. Amber also runs a personal lifestyle blog called, And Yes To Joy, where she blogs about college, goal setting, and life tips.