PRSSA Fall 2020 Field Trip

By: Jessica Gardner

I was fortunate to be able to go to the PRSSA’s fall 2020 virtual field trip. I am a freshman this year and it’s not an easy year to be a freshman at any college. Honestly, it’s just not an easy year for anybody. But one of the highlights of my freshman experience has been joining the PRSSA as they do a really good job consistently holding engaging virtual meetings so that all students can be an active part of their organization. This field trip was no exception.

The field trip was with an organization called W2O, a San Francisco based healthcare marketing and communications firm. In a way, the timing was perfect, I appreciated the opportunity to learn about a health-focused organization while our country faces a public health crisis. One thing that makes the W2O group stand out is their specialized approach rooted in analytics and insights in their various healthcare promotions. Meaning that they don’t just research the end results of how a product they are promoting did, they also conduct research during the process. This research-based approach really gives the W2O firm and any of their clients an advantage, especially in a scientific field like healthcare.

As a communication major, I also really enjoyed getting to know how I could apply my communications knowledge to a career in healthcare, or healthcare promotion. Another unique thing about the W2O company was their goal of having integrated aspects of communication such as social media, public relations, and advertising (to name a few) collaborate in order to create integrated marketing intelligence and solutions. It’s really special that so many different aspects of research and communication go into the W2O client’s healthcare promotions.

As stated earlier, I’m a freshman so I really don’t have a background in public relations and the business aspect of communications yet. With that being said, I still managed to take away a lot of interesting points about the world of Public Relations that I did not previously know. One thing I learned about was earned media stories, which are news stories that depend on finding the right reporters to pitch their stories at the right time through the right media channel in order to attract an audience. What makes earned media relations stand out is that it is authentic, credible, not controlled, not purchased, and not guaranteed. Basically, it focuses on the quality of the story not a financial relationship between client and reporter. I also learned about the three different types of earned media stories: hard news, soft news, and created news. In the healthcare promotion field, some examples of hard news would be a first-of-its-kind FDA approval or major company announcement whereas soft news would cover things like product launches or awareness days, created news is all about special events and partnerships. The W2O workers told us about their experiences with all three types of news and how each could be used to promote their client’s product.

Overall, I was so impressed with the W2O firm and learned a lot from the field trip yesterday. One thing that really stood out to me was how all of the people at W2O were passionate about their cause: integrated and research-based communication for a better future in healthcare. Every product launch or campaign launch that W2O does is to help people, whether through spreading awareness for AFib related strokes through (go check out that website to learn more) or through promoting a new FDA approved medication for sickle cell disease that would allow patients to receive treatment from home, which is especially important with the coronavirus. I respect both W2O’s values and their causes and I’m grateful that I got to have an in-depth meeting with professionals through my involvement with the PRSSA.

My Summer During a Pandemic

By Matt Caplan

It was not easy to obtain a Summer internship this year due to the pandemic. Therefore, I had to work extra hard to do my research and obtain an internship that would be beneficial to my career-oriented goals as well as provide me with a valuable learning experience. This past Summer, I was very lucky to virtually serve as a Public Relations intern at SCG Advertising and Public Relations (Success Communications Group) and I had an exceptional experience with a number of valuable skills learned in the PR industry.

Michael Cherenson, the Executive Vice President of SCG, was a past Chairman & CEO of the Public Relations Society of America and has a substantial amount of connections in the industry. I was lucky enough to sit-in on internal meetings with him and get to know him on a professional level. Him along with his other colleagues made me and the other interns feel very welcome and comfortable to ask them any type of questions that we had.

In addition to working with Mike Cherenson, I worked directly with Alexa Cangialosi, a PR Account Executive and the director of interns. She gave me and the other interns a number of daily tasks, including writing news releases, creating social media content, research related to client projects, and creating media lists. This helped me widely expand my knowledge and skills in the Public Relations industry and will allow me to feel confident to enter the workforce with what I gained this past Summer. In addition to these tasks, I got a first-hand review on my resume and LinkedIn to make sure it is perfect as I enter my last year of college and prepare to have a career.

As well as serving as a Public Relations intern for SCG, I also was a participant of the PR-Council Agency Ready Certificate Program, which gave me incredible insight on what it is like to work for a PR agency as well as a number of great connections. Due to the pandemic, the PR-Council set this up to help young talent gain insight from top PR professionals. The program went in-depth in subjects such as earned media, client service, giving presentations and pitches, good research, press release distribution and storytelling, crisis communication, building your brand, professional growth, and public affairs. These are all great subjects to learn about as a college student and I would recommend being on the lookout for this program next Summer for those who did not complete it.

I feel fortunate that I was able to use my time wisely during a pandemic Summer, and I can confidently say that I am going into my senior year ready to enter the workforce and take this giant next step in my life. As long as you put yourself out there, you can achieve your aspirations and secure that internship that you have desired. Connect with everybody you speak with on LinkedIn and send thank you emails to any presenter that you attend. SCG and the PR-Council made it much easier for me to make connections during a Summer of social distancing and staying six-feet apart.

The 7 Valuable Lessons I’ve Learned as Meetings Director

By Becky Kazenoff

Obtaining the role as the meetings director for PRSSA was exciting but nerve-wracking at the same time. I have the responsibility of communicating with potential speakers for our meetings, with all of my work in the spotlight for those to see. This can amount to putting some pressure on myself because I have to make sure I am communicating with these professionals effectively, while assuring I am finding the most enticing and interesting ones. Member satisfaction has also proved itself to be a huge factor in evaluating my success in the position. Though the speakers have yet to be presented to the rest of the organization, the responses from my fellow executive members have been the recognition I needed to prove I can secure gravitating speakers. Along with customer/member satisfaction being very important in PR, so is building meaningful connections. With that being said, there are a few things I’ve learned along the way when it comes to contacting prominent and high-profile professionals. 

  1. When in doubt, go by the safe title. Ms. and Mr. are always a safe bet when it comes to initially addressing a professional. When they reply, you can then see how they label themselves at the bottom of their email and use that for future reference.
  1. “Please” and “thank you” are always appreciated. For example, instead of “let me know if that works,” saying “please let me know” is a more mannerly alternative that doesn’t go unnoticed.  
  1. Make a subject for your emails. A lot of professionals’ inboxes are flooded with emails and if you don’t have a clear and concise subject line it could go straight to junk mail. 
  1. Communication is key. You’re better off saying “sounds good” then no reply at all. Let that person know you read their last email. 
  1. Proofread! This is so important. If you’re anything like me, it’s been ingrained into your head that attention to detail in the PR world is pertinent. 
  1. Try to only send emails during “work hours.” I recommend sending the initial email at the start of the day, opposed to the late evening. This way your email won’t get lost under the bulk of other people who will be emailing the recipient the following morning. Plus, it’s a small chance whoever you’re reaching out to will reply that night, so you’re better off reaching out when you know you can get a reply before they unplug for the day.

Follow-up if you haven’t received an answer from your recipient in a few working days. I recommend starting your follow-up after the weekend where you can introduce it by saying something like, “I hope you had a great weekend! I am just checking in with you via my last email about xyz…..” This should also be a reply from your last unanswered

My Summer Internship at HUNTER

By Rachel Ornstein

03/07/19 PR Women Who Changed History — The Museum of Public Relations

Internships took a big hit this summer due to the coronavirus, as many of them were postponed until next summer, transitioned to remote, or canceled altogether. This summer, I was lucky enough to virtually serve as the Barbara Hunter Fellow at HUNTER and I had a fantastic experience.

Grace Leong, CEO of HUNTER, graduated from UD in 1988. She has been a very active alum and was even named alumni of the year in 2013. During her time at UD, Grace was involved with PRSSA and served as the chapter president. Her legacy is upheld by providing a fellowship for one PRSSA member each summer at HUNTER. 

From the start, I was grateful to even have an internship this summer, so I was determined to benefit from the unique experience in any way I could. I’m happy to report that it was so much more than I could have predicted.

I was assigned to the Social and Digital team and primarily worked on two main accounts. Some of my responsibilities included conducting community management sweeps to note engagement opportunities, helping with a daily digest that summed up the most popular food trends on social, and drafting consumer monitoring reports.

I also attended weekly virtual meetings with the whole Social and Digital team, as well as internal team meetings for the accounts that I was working on. I loved listening in on the conversations that occurred behind the scenes regarding a social media post or collaboration, as well as other business decisions. I was lucky enough to be working with genuine, creative, and hardworking people who always made me feel part of the team. 

Among my meetings and recurring responsibilities, I was assigned a few long term projects. The one I enjoyed most was working on creating monthly visual outlines for the account’s social media. This entailed pulling pictures from a portal, planning out the images that will be included in future social posts, and drafting copy content for the post. In doing this, I had to keep in mind national holidays that would be relevant for the brand to post something specific, and enter that conversation. 

In addition to working on my accounts, I was assigned to a team to become familiar with a tool and contribute to a presentation for the rest of the HUNTER staff to showcase how they can use the tool for their clients. It was a really special experience for me to not only have the (virtual) floor and share my learnings with the team but also to have my work valued by the rest of the staff.

When pitching PRSSA, we talk about bridging the gap between the classroom and the real world, and my internship experience at HUNTER this summer did just that. It exceeded my expectations, presenting me with meaningful projects that I enjoyed working on and also learned from. We are so happy to welcome Grace as our first speaker this semester, the woman behind my amazing internship, so be sure to attend the meeting on September 14!

How I Filled the Void During Quarantine

By Neha Shanker

Uncertainty is all around us, now more than ever. The current COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to adopt new routines and challenged us to live a semblance of normal life within the boundaries of strict safety precautions. Despite the abrupt change of pace, canceled internships, and postponed summer plans, the silver lining presented during these events has been the ample amount of time available to explore new interests. Here are three simple ways I took advantage of online resources that you can still use to improve your professional development.

  1. Become PR Agency Certified

Communication is a vital skill, no matter what field you hope to pursue. With a range of topics covered, such as an in-depth tutorial on writing press releases, useful marketing strategies to cater towards Generation Z, and candid conversations about diversity and inclusion in the industry, the PR Council’s eight-week, twenty-credit certificate program is an opportunity every young professional should take advantage of. The program also offers extensive networking opportunities to connect with industry professionals and fellow students. If you missed the registration period, no worries! Muck Rack offers a similar certificate program covering the fundamentals of social media and media relations. 

  1. Remotely Volunteer your Skills and Expertise

Virtual volunteering is at its peak and CatchaFire allows participants to match with nonprofit organizations to find short-term projects that match their interests. There are over a hundred different programs to choose from, differing in cause area and skill level. Not only would you be lending your talents to organizations that support communities, but you will also be gaining hands-on learning experiences at your convenience in the comfort of your own home. 

  1.  Learn the Basics

Harvard University offers an array of online courses taught by the school’s professors so you can become more knowledgeable in fundamental skills such as coding, persuasive writing, and personal finance. If you are looking to scratch the itch of curiosity, you can also immerse yourself in new areas of interest, including (but not limited to) history, anatomy, and political science. The courses are completely self-paced and can be completed anywhere from 2-9 weeks. 

If our time in quarantine has taught us anything, it is that the world can function digitally in almost every way possible. Whether you used this time in isolation to keep busy or explore new hobbies, positioning yourself to take on the career world once the pandemic subsides will help serve you in achieving your professional goals. 

Why I Joined PRSSA/What I Have Learned

By Danielle Raskin

It was week one of college and I was slowly starting to get into the swing of things. I was sitting in my 250 people communications lecture, chit-chatting away with my friends until a voice came to the microphone. It was the previous President of PRSSA who was on the mic sharing briefly what the pre-professional group was about and the date of the first meeting. Her short, but effective two-minute speech caught my attention right away. I came into college as a Communication Interest Major yet had absolutely no clue what I wanted to do. I dragged a friend with me to attend the first meeting of PRSSA, I was so excited to learn more about the group. That meeting was super memorable, the guest speaker was Colleen Cordaro who at the time worked for Anthropologie as their social media content manager. Here I am, my second week of college, learning more in this one hour about real-life work experiences than I ever had before. I came out of the meeting so impressed, not only by the speaker but by how the executive board of students just my age and a few years older ran everything. They shared more information on what PRSSA was all about and what the plan was for the rest of the semester, which included amazing guest speakers, a mentor-mentee program, skill slams, and more. From the start, I knew this wasn’t going to be just one of those groups you sign up for to just have on a resume. This was going to be something, that every single time I would step into a room with these people I would take away something new. And I did. I attended every meeting after that first one, and it has truly inspired me. I have learned about the endless number of paths you can take in our field and how to better grow my individual professional skills. I am so excited to be on the executive board myself this year and learn even more. Words cannot describe how grateful I am to have PRSSA, and it is just my beginning.

A Letter To Our Seniors…

University of Delaware graduation: Here's here's what you need to know

Dear Seniors, 

While of course this is not how most of you expected your college experience to end, we wanted to congratulate you on this milestone.

We wish you the best of luck in your future and hope that when you land that job, you look back on how PRSSA helped you. 

In the future, some of you may come back as a speaker at one of our meetings. You can tell our members how this organization played a role in your journey. Until then, we know you will go far, as you took the initiative to develop your professionalism during your college years. 



“Life is an improvisation, You have no idea what’s going to happen next, and you are mostly just making things up as you go along.” -Stephen Colbert

List of the 2020 Graduating Seniors:

  • Samantha Murphy (PRSSA UD Executive Board)
  • Jenna Newman (PRSSA UD Executive Board)
  • Isabella Antignani (PRSSA UD Executive Board)
  • Nicole Vuong (PRSSA Executive Board)
  • Katie Coulson (PRSSA UD Executive Board)
  • Marissa DiGiacomo (PRSSA UD Executive Board)
  • Emma Beins
  • Sarah Cottrell
  • Samantha Havens
  • Taylor McCormack
  • Kate O’Donnell
  • Leah Sandford
  • Gillian Schmerl
  • Emily Sousa
  • Rachel Stamberg
  • Natalie Truglia
  • John Wasdin

Grad School & PR: What’s the deal?

By: Jenna Newman

“You don’t need to go to graduate school for PR.” “Only go to grad school if they pay for it.” “Grad school is a good way to broaden your network and learn more about the field.”

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These are all the different things I heard throughout my junior and senior year, which made it really difficult to figure out what I wanted to do post-grad. On top of that, most of my friends were looking for big city, big agency jobs, which isn’t exactly the route I’ve seen myself taking. My guess is that I’m not the only one who has considered grad school or just felt as though they were on a totally different path than most of their peers, so here are some questions and insights that I found helpful in my journey to grad school.

What are your goals? Not the goals of the people around you. This can be so hard when you’re surrounded by friends and classmates that are all fighting for the same internships at the same firms in the same big cities. But within PR, there is so much you can do. You can teach, do research, work in-house, work for an agency, work for a non-profit and so on and so forth. That being said, it’s super important to figure out your goals.

What gets you excited? A good way to figure out your goals is to figure out what you’re passionate about. Almost every organization has (or needs), a PR person. Start by figuring out what gets you excited and then determine what the best way  to go about working for a company that does that, or that company is. I am really interested in working with nonprofits; however, I am also potentially interested in teaching one day. I grew up in a household with two professors and I got to see the benefits of teaching and what that entails. I’ve always been passionate about helping others and have really enjoyed my experiences at UD as a teaching assistant, working as a peer tutor and conducting research for various honors projects. Although grad school means postponing my dreams of working in a non-profit, it lines up with the excitement I have teaching and doing research.

Are there programs that line-up with your goals/interests? Once you figure out what makes you excited and what your goals are, start looking into programs that line-up with those. You can start this search before you definitively decide that you want to go on to grad school. Look into how long the program takes, whether it’s online, in person, or a hybrid, cost, funding opportunities and the location of the program and whether the program is career only or has a thesis track. I was looking for a program that was located in the Philadelphia area and had the option for a thesis track because I am interested in research and potentially want to pursue my doctorate. I also ideally wanted to get an assistantship that would cover my tuition as well as provide a stipend. That’s what led me ultimately to applying to Villanova University for their masters in Communication and certificate in PR & advertising program.

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How does COVID-19 impact the industry’s trajectory? This may not be a question that everyone has to answer. Personally, I hope that after this year’s graduating class, COVID-19 does not need to be a consideration, but either way, COVID-19 will change the way the industry functions. My father, a professor, said he’s had many students suddenly come asking for graduate school recommendation letters, because even though many companies are putting a freeze on hiring, graduate schools are still accepting applicants. Also, if you have any interest in research, there will be a whole new base of literature being conducted in the aftermath of this pandemic and you may be able to get your name on a paper that will be read for years to come.

Ultimately, there are pros and cons to going right into the job field as well as getting your masters degree. I opted to get my masters because I love learning in a classroom, conducting research, teaching and I see additional education as an opportunity to advance myself in my career, but you need to make the decision for yourself. Consider these questions, evaluate your goals, and determine the next steps to get you to your dream career!


Why Should You Take Communication and Persuasion?

By: Matt Caplan

Over the course of the semester, I’ve had the opportunity to take a great class that has helped me gain pubic relations skills, as well as how to create effective communication campaigns. This class is called Communication and Persuasion (COMM452), and it has been great in helping me understand how persuasion works in the field of communication; it’s taught me what it means to be persuaded. We have done multiple activities in class and learned a lot of information, such as features of persuasive messages, media effects as persuasion, persuasion in behaviors and attitudes, emotions, persuasion in television shows, the inoculation theory, and we just learned about health communication.

Being a student that is not a communication major, this class has helped me develop an understanding of how persuasion is used in various ways during our everyday life. There are persuasion techniques that I have learned that can be useful to my future in public relations. This class also helped me continue my interest in the communication field, since it is a field that I have recently been more interested in. I am a political science major and picked up 2 minors in political communication and advertising. If you are someone that is not majoring in communication, these minors are definitely ones to think about if you want to take communication courses and expand your public relations skills.

What I enjoyed most about this course is learning about the role in media effects as persuasion. The role of the media is essential for understanding how persuasion is used in public relations, since its effects are substantial to gaining the trust of viewers. Media is all about trust; viewers will only have trust in media that supports their beliefs and attitudes. I enjoyed learning about the link between the message, source, recipient, channel, and context to make a media message persuasive. When going into a career in public relations, it is essential to understand how the media effects society as a whole, and what specific message will resonate to the target audience. I enjoyed learning about health communication, and the amount of campaigns that are present in this area. There are many firms that focus on health communication; they try to take action by solving health crises. This is a very important part of communication for the current COVID-19 pandemic, since there are many campaigns that are advocating to stay-at-home to slow the spread of the virus.

Communication and Persuasion (COMM452) is a great class if you have a desire to expand your skills on how to persuade an audience and learn how persuasion is used in the world that we live in today. This class is great for the media and interpersonal concentration since it factors in both aspects of persuasion. Persuasion is a vital component of public relations and it relies on years of practicing strategies that can get trust among target audiences. Persuasion is all about influencing, and if the right people are influenced, then a good reputation is built. Overall, I would highly recommend this course to be taken to gain more knowledge in public relations]\ and to expand your communication skills.

First Online Meeting Featuring Kerry Cheney

By: Sammy Chmara

Even though we couldn’t meet in person for this weeks meeting, we did have the opportunity to have a live zoom session with an experienced Public Relations and Media Relations specialist!

Kerry Cheney; a University of Delaware alumni, currently serves as Vice President of OGILVY in NYC. She began her Public Relations journey at Motion PR in Chicago where she got to work with a lot of food and beverage companies like Panera Bread. She then spent time at GOLIN, and then became PR director of Park Hyatt. At OGILVY, Kerry has done work with companies like Brand USA, Citizen’s Bank, and MSC Cruises. Her journey has included a lot of freelance where she’s done other work for McDonald’s, LG, and Country Crock.

She specified what exactly Media Relations entails, which her entire career has consisted of. Media Relations focuses on trends, including consumer, corporate, industry, and media trends. It is all about quality, personalization, cultural relevance, and awareness. She emphasized that the field is always changing and can be very time consuming to work in, but always worth it at the end.

She explained how it is important to customize pitches specifically for a certain brand or company, and that it can often take multiple pitches to get the right one. She also said she prefers pitching on the phone rather than email, if possible. Additionally, she differentiated what she considers “Good PR” and “Bad PR”. Good PR is connecting people to useful or interesting information while bad PR is being too showy or dishonest.

The last topic she was able to touch on was how the current COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the media industry as a whole. She explained that the media is heavily producing articles covering COVID-19 related symptoms, proper sanitation, and testing facility information. Other topics such as the election, the economy, and small businesses are also being covered by the news. Even articles about virtual travel and at home beauty and entertainment tips are being supplied. The media is really interested in taking extra steps to help during this time, but there is certainly a fine line between appropriate and non-appropriate pitches to be made during this very difficult time.