“Night with the Pros": Demystifying a Career Path

For a moment, if reading this from the perspective of an upper classman, revisit your freshman year and envision some of the anxieties it is possible you felt as an inexperienced freshman in terms of choosing the “right” major, “right” classes, and dreaming of a career that was both attainable and rewarding. According to Dr. Fritz Grupe, founder of MyMajors.com, “it is little wonder 50 percent of [college students] who do declare a major, change majors — with many doing so two and three times during their college years” (as qtd. in Ronan). If you are currently a freshman, like I am, then certainly these concerns have occurred to you once or twice in the last few months.

On that note, having only experienced what feels like a brief moment of college life over these couple of months, perhaps the greatest piece of advice I’ve received thus far came from a professor who encouraged his undergraduate students to seek meaning and knowledge in the courses they took, not to choose classes destined to land them a job and a sizeable salary. As much as I intend to avoid “preaching to the choir” (I am clearly not as skilled at avoiding using clichéd phrases in certain blog posts), I think it is fair to say that many of you involved in the Public Relations Student Society of America here at UD, and in the public relations concentration in general understand that it will take time and hard work before landing a so-called “dream job”.

This concept is not meant to seem cynical, but to accredit all of us getting involved in PR, we won’t mind beginning with an entry-level job that may not be extremely lucrative if it means we get a shot at working in a field that makes us happy.

I say this because, until recently, I was worried that I would not figure out what it is I wanted to do in terms of a career. Then, after getting involved with PRSSA-UD, I found what feels to me like a family of other students who share the same goals and interests. The organization has been such a huge help for me in terms of discovering what the field of public relations is all about, and has been very comforting in giving me the sense that my future holds a space for a potential career in this field.

More specifically, on November 10, PRSSA-UD hosted “Night with the Pros”, an event that has really encouraged me to join the field. Three very honest and down-to-earth speakers, Katie Wilson, Lisa Quinn, and Alex Schnabel, gave students a fantastic insight into the world of PR and what their jobs entail on a regular basis. Their generosity in sharing personal stories and advice, as well as their willingness to speak with us afterwards, was really gratifying, and I feel lucky to have heard them speak. Listening to these young professionals helped me begin to understand that the field of PR travels in many different directions, and that it is possible to hone in on a specific skill or interest and still find the area of PR that makes sense to you. All of the speakers acknowledged, as well, that your first job may not be your permanent one, but it is a great way to get “a foot in the door”. Ultimately, I learned from them that your job should make you happy, and should be something you love to do. Financial stress may be present early on, but with enough hard work and dedication, the job of your dreams will find its way to you.

Article Cited: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10154383/ns/business-personal_finance/t/college-freshmen-face-major-dilemma/

Written by Sara Penchina.

Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous: #Twitter style

Who is the one celebrity that you love and would do anything to meet? We all have one. Unfortunately, you’ll likely never get to meet your dream celeb in person, but Twitter is quickly helping you connect to your favorite stars.

When you follow these celebrities, you get a glimpse into their life — what they are doing every day, what new TV shows, movies, or events they have coming up, and just advice they have learned over the years. Following celebrities on Twitter can be a gratifying feeling for those of us who would love to meet a celebrity but know that it is a one in a million chance. Knowing that you are getting a play-by-play of your favorite celebrity’s day is the closest thing to meeting the real live person. It makes you feel like you do have some connection with them because you are getting constant updates from the celebrities themselves. There is also the occasional time that you will get a real interaction with a celebrity if they answer your tweets.

Some celebs announce big news to their Twitter followers before even announcing it to the press. For example, when Kim Kardashian got engaged this year, she told her followers first. Kim tweeted, “It’s true… Kris and I are engaged!” Her sister Khloe Kardashian tweeted, “I can’t believe I was able to keep this a secret but now I can scream all I want about it! Kim is engaged!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! OMG!!!!!!!!!!”

Twitter also allows for other celebrities to react to celebrity news. This summer Beyonce announced that she and Jay-Z were expecting their first child together. Once the news broke, the Twitter community reacted to it. Beyonce’s former Destinys Child bandmate Michelle Williams tweeted “OVERJOYED! a friend never tells! :).” Chris Brown tweeted “Congrats on the baby B and Jay.” Usher tweeted, “Woke up to the news that BEYONCE IS PREGNANT! So happy for her!!! Congrats B and Jay-Z!!!” and Kim Kardashian tweeted “I’m sooo happy for Beyonce & Jay Z!!!! Be’s preggo!!! Congrats!”

While Twitter allows us to hear from celebrities about their lives and exciting news they have to share, it also allows for us to hear about their reaction to sad events that go on. When Amy Winehouse passed away suddenly this year the Twitter community reacted to her death by sharing comments about her incredible talent that the world lost. Demi Lovato tweeted, “Amy Winehouse.. So sad. Unfortunately the world lost an incredibly talented woman to such a powerful disease… addiction. #RIP” Jessica Alba tweeted, “So sad about Amy Winehouse -she was so talented. Really tragic.” Demi Moore tweeted, “Truly sad news about Amy Winehouse. My heart goes out to her family. May her troubled soul find peace.” Rihanna tweeted, “Dear God have mercy!!! I am SICK about this right now! #DearAmy”

In true para-social interaction fashion, Twitter allows us to feel as though we’re part of celebrity’s life. Who needs E! news when you have Twitter?!

Written by Caroline Davis.

A Blog on Blogging

Just a few months ago, if someone would have recommended I start reading a certain blog or perhaps start my own, I would have thought they were crazy. ‘Blog’ in my mind corresponded the days of Xanga when my friends and I would write endless posts about everything that happened during our day and thought that everyone was interested in reading what was essentially a public journal. I did not want to go back to that. However, over the summer I was exposed to a whole new world of blogging that forever changed my idea of all that the blog world has to offer.

It all started with a little free time that the summer offered and my newfound interest in health and fitness. With some exploration, I came across the world of healthy living bloggers; people dedicated to living a healthy life of exercise and good nutrition (with the occasional, necessary indulgence) and publishing daily posts on how they keep up with such a lifestyle. I immediately became hooked on several of these blogs and soon enough had a Google Reader filled with new exercises, healthy food and workout inspiration! But in just a short time, my Google Reader began to fill up with all different genres of the blogs available on the Internet.

My discovery of healthy living blogs led to the realization that a vast collection of categories exists in the blog world. For basically any interest whether it be books, television, fashion or even public relations, there is a blog out there for you. This not only means that you can find a blog based on any of your interests, but you can also start your very own blog about whatever you wish! Any capable and interested writer has they ability to create a blog literally at their fingertips. Moreover, some of the greatest information I’ve heard from PR professionals is that “good writing is hard to find these days.” A blog can not only be a new pastime, but also serve as an easily accessible writing portfolio to potential internships or employers. As students looking to pursue a career in public relations or communications in general, we are always looking for ways to network ourselves and find a way to stand out.

PRSSA E-board President, Abby Stollar and Meetings Director, Janie Sikes set great examples with their personal blogs. Abby’s PR and Political Commentary and Janie’s i carry it in my heart have been more than just a hobby – their blogs have brought them both many opportunities. Abby admits that blogging is one of the best things she has ever done professionally and has opened the door to many other writing opportunities such as guest posts for other blogs including the Barnes and Noble National blog! Abby and Janie both agree that a blog is also a great place to provide your resume and a portfolio of other relevant and skilled writing samples. According to Janie, having a blog helps you hone your writing skills. The only way to improve is to practice and a blog is a perfect way to do just that. Blogging is also another form of social media, a hot commodity in public relations. Blogging makes you more accessible and allows others to network with you. With an ‘about me’ section, others can easily contact you.

I personally have not yet started my blog but it has been something on my mind lately. While I plan on creating a blog, I’m trying to figure out the voice I plan to express and what I want the focus at the heart of my blog to be. So get out there, explore the blog world, and find your blogger voice too!

Happy blogging!

Written by Jamie Lawlor.

What is Public Relations?

Before the fall semester began, I had absolutely no idea what the term Public Relations meant. The only time I had ever even heard the phrase was watching “Sex and the City.” Carrie Bradshaw’s best friend, Samantha Jones, was the CEO of her own PR firm. That was the extent of my knowledge. I had never really thought about that career or what that job would entail. To be perfectly honest, I only enrolled in COMM309: Intro to Public Relations, because another class that I wanted to get into was full. But when Professor Bartoo kindly explained to us on the first day of class what it actually meant to be in the PR field, I began to realize that even though I didn’t know it, I have been surrounded by PR my whole life. An advertisement on a billboard that I pass while driving, logging onto the University of Delaware website and seeing blurbs about Homecoming, or even a brochure that’s handed to me while walking to class, public relations is everywhere. However, I still had no idea what an actual professional in the PR field would do in a typical day. If you asked me to picture a PR consultant in their natural state, I could not have done so. One of the definitions of PR given to us from our textbook is from Glen T. Cameron, of the Missouri School of Journalism. Cameron defines the field as the “strategic management of competition and conflict for the benefit of one’s own organization-and when possible- also for the mutual benefit of the organization and its stakeholders or publics.” Again, still clueless.  It wasn’t until we had the assignment to interview an actual professional who works in PR that I finally began to see what working in PR meant.

The assignment was to find someone that works in PR, contact them on the phone, set up an interview which will take place in their office, and write a report about it. My group contacted and interviewed Doug Eppler, the Public Relations Manager for Tipton Communications in Newark, Delaware. Before going on the interview, I researched Mr. Eppler to find out more information about his background and his key responsibilities for Tipton Communications. I was shocked to find that although Doug had a good amount of experience in communication related fields, a large part of his background involved working in theatres and the tourism industry. How do theatres and tours prepare you for working at a PR firm? Well, surprisingly they relate quite a bit. Doug’s Linkedin page describes his tasks as the Tourism Development Specialist for Winterthur Museum & Country Estate. Some of Doug’s responsibilities were, “marketing the world-class, world-renowned museum to Motorcoach tour operators, group travel leaders, private group trip planners, social clubs, etc., serving as liaison to state and county tour and travel offices and coordinating group travel advertising,” to name a few.  In the actual interview, Doug explained how his background as the Toursim Development Specialist, prepared him for his current job at Tipton Communications. He may not have to give tours anymore, but similarly to how he had to get tourists interested in the estate, he now has to get target audiences interested in his client’s product or service, whatever they may be.

From both my research and interview I started to see that there is no uniform public relations consultant. Just like PR can be found in various ways around my world, PR officials can be found in different places and different environments. There’s political PR, sports PR, television PR, and more. It’s the diversity of this industry that has kept me extremely interested in possibly pursuing a career in this field.

Written by Emily Kitching.


Die-Hard Fan

As a red-blooded American male, sports have become an integral part of my life.  While this may just sound like every other guy you know who loves to watch sports, I assure you I am different.  So, when the NFL officially ended it’s 130 day lockout on July 25th, I couldn’t have been happier.  The condensed offseason meant there would be a flurry of players switching teams in an unprecedented period of time.  Free agency would be cut down to two weeks, and the pre-season would start with minimal practices taking place.  This meant, as a football junkie, I would be following what would normally be a three month period of offseason activity in the span of two or three weeks.  My mind was spinning.  How would I keep up with all of these players changing teams, and how would I be able to fully comprehend the enormity of this lockout ending.  The answer? Twitter.

I had been a casual Twitter user up until the lockout ended, and it’s safe to say that I am no longer using the site casually.  What Twitter enabled me to do was to follow all of the football “insiders” from various news outlets who could provide me with instantaneous updates from the rumor mill about who was headed where, when, and for how much money.  While the casual football fans were stuck watching ESPN hoping a news flash would jump across the screen, I was getting those news flashes hours in advance from credible, plugged-in sources.  This is when I realized that being on Twitter is like having your very own news network, catered exactly to your interests.  However, Twitter has done more than provide me with news of the players on my fantasy football team.  Twitter has kept me culturally informed more than anything else.  I used to find myself on the outside looking in when it came to politics, economics, and current events, but not any longer.

Don’t let people fool you. Twitter is not just a forum to vent or a place for people to post their sporadic thoughts.  Twitter eliminates the problem of the gatekeeper in the media by giving us unbounded access to any and all information we choose, with the simple click of a button.  Recently I have found myself following developments of the “Occupy Wall Street” protests on Twitter from different newspaper columnists around the country, as well as following political debates from the viewpoint of several different media outlets.  Simply put, Twitter is a great way to immerse yourself in the fast paced world we live in today, as it organizes the entire day’s events for you on one convenient feed. The beauty of Twitter is that by joining you become a member of the media, reporting news to anyone willing to listen.

Written by Alec Nathan.

5 Differences Between Chinese and American Social Media Sites

QQ, RenRen and Micro Blog (also known as “Weibo”) are some of my favorite Chinese social media sites, although Americans have probably never heard of them.  They are closely tied to daily social networking for Chinese younger generations.  Instead of only visiting those sites in my comfort zone when I came to America, I decided to experience American social networking as well.  However, after using Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms. a question popped into my mind: Why do most Chinese social networking sites look so similar to each other while American sites are so different?  Here are a few reasons why:

1. Different Needs and Purposes: Because Chinese social media is booming but still not very advanced compared to American social media, Chinese online users, especially the younger generation, tend to seek out content mostly about entertainment.  Their ultimate purpose is simply to gain happiness and joy through these social networking sites.  Also, there are a variety of interesting applications listed in those sites, such as video games, radio stations, online live shows, and an online store for decorating their own blogs or Facebook pages.  There is even a system of “internet money” that users can buy virtual presents and gifts with, and people even have the ability to express their feelings with moving emoticons.  However, the relatively simple needs might not be satisfying to American online users who tend to absorb different types of content so as to achieve or meet their goals.  Examples of this include online job or internship searching and academic discussions.

2. “All in One” vs. “One-on-One”: This might be the most obvious difference between the two country’s social media sites.  The fundamental reason why QQ, Weibo, and RenRen look alike is because all of them contain similar functions and applications.  This means that even if you only open and constantly use one site, you still can be offered the same level of service such as watching video and listening to the radio stations. This is much more convenient.  Unlike the structure of Chinese sites, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Linked-In have distinct characteristics, which appeal to certain types of people with certain needs.

3.Target Audience Varies Depending on Each Site: The ‘all in one’ model targets general online viewers, regardless of if their age or education level.  Everyone can obtain their own satisfaction through social media, whereas, the ‘one-on-one’ model gathers specific ranges of people sharing similar levels of social values and knowledge altogether in order to make progress and act in their best interest.

4. Distinct Mindsets Reflected by Cultures: One thing that RenRen has but Facebook does not, is a section showing the amount of online viewers that visit your personal page. Most individuals have a strong desire to share more interesting content to help increase the number of visitor hits. This is only more exemplified by the level system on RenRen, which teaches that with more friends a person’s “level” may increase, and those who are newcomers to the site have a much lower level of popularity.  The more attractive your webpage looks like, the higher amount of “fans” you will get, which is a common phenomenon showing how important Chinese people care about how others think about them more than caring about themselves.  Although this is a universal aspect to modern culture, it may be stronger in Chinese culture, due to the sense of collectivism as opposed to individualism, where every single person goes their own way without paying too much attention on other peoples’ expectations.

5. The Extent of Awareness of Using Social Media to Brand Yourself: After participating in the PRSSA-UD Twitter Chat Skill Slam last week, I was surprised by the amount of students eager to become PR pros in the future and that used Twitter to look for internship opportunities.  I was also truly inspired by how sophisticated they present themselves by writing blogs including their own portfolio and resume. In general, Chinese college students are not aware how they can use social networks to build their careers while American students really take advantage of these online tools.

Written by Kathy Hu.

Below are my personal web pages from each Chinese social media site that I mentioned above.  Get a sense of how Chinese popular social media sites look and how Chinese and American social media differ, so that they can learn from each other:

Renren: http://www.renren.com/profile.do?id=277792718
Weibo: http://www.weibo.com/2163593131/profile?topnav=1

My Earthquake Encounter with Twitter

The advent of Twitter never appealed to me, as I have always been a complete addict of Facebook. To be honest, it was (wrongly) advertised to me as “just Facebook statuses” and “pretty much pointless.” I believed them. I truly did not need a Twitter to be interconnected with my friends. But then a little thing called peer pressure happened. Because my friends all started getting Twitter accounts, naturally I did not want to feel left out. I wanted to be trendy and up-to-date on all the latest fads and fashions of my generation. I caved in and made an account, but I was still not convinced that Twitter had any sort of meaning for my social life. I was so unenthusiastic about it at first that my first tweet was a simple phrase: “first tweet.” Original, right?

BOOM. The East Coast Earthquake of 2011 hits on August 23rd. What was a scary and intense moment for most people turned out to be a very calm moment for me. Two of my co-workers and I were outside, running a few errands for work. Suddenly, my sister texted me saying there was an earthquake in State College, PA. I had no idea what she was talking about. We got back to the office, and heard the stories from our other colleagues who had felt it. No one had heard much news about the scope of the quake.

I decided to log onto Twitter to see what my friends’ experiences had been. For some reason, I noticed something that I hadn’t really paid much attention to on Twitter before the quake. In the “Trends” section on the lower right side of my account, “earthquake”, “a 5.9”, and “Virginia” were showing up. For anyone who does not have a Twitter account, trends are essentially the most common phrases or words that Twitter users are posting in their tweets. Twitter users can customize their accounts to show worldwide trends, or just the trends in one specific country. When a Twitter user clicks on a trend, it brings up a page that identifies all of the people using that phrase in their tweets (granted their tweets are not protected). I clicked on “#earthquake”, and found that a variety of news organizations had used this hashtag in their posting. In that same posting, many of them also included an article detailing what exactly happened.

And that is how I got all of the information of what happened. I learned where the epicenter was, how large the earthquake was, the damages (minimal, of course), and the area which it affected. This was how I got my news.  Just through a scanning of the Trends on a social media site. I was amazed at the fact that I could learn so much about what happened without even having to turn on the TV.

Identifying Public Opinion and Key Publics

As a public relations student and future professional, I find the implications of the “Trends” feature on Twitter astounding.  For one thing, it can easily help a PR professional identify public opinion. PR professionals need to be able to identify public opinion on certain issues to better help their organization or client adapt to the public. The “Trends” feature allows PR professionals to see what people are talking about in a quick and efficient manner. This can be very beneficial to a PR professional because by clicking on the trend, they can see who is tweeting about an issue. The tweets that show up may disclose information that includes an opinion about the issue at hand. This can identify public opinion, or can help you to indentify a specific public that your organization wants you to target (based on their thoughts that have been tweeted). The beauty of the “Trends” feature is that although it identifies a commonly used phrase or word, there could be a multitude of different opinions surrounding the issue that the trend refers to. A PR professional could find a variety of different opinions regarding a certain issue by scanning just one trend page.

Opinion Leaders

People who have specific opinions on an issue may serve as opinion leaders, who will, in turn, influence their followers. Since many of the followers of the opinion leaders may not have Twitter accounts, it is crucial that a PR professional reach out to the opinion leaders. Once this is done, the opinion leaders can influence their followers. Now, this is not to say that all the followers will not have Twitters; in this case, PR professionals can identify specific followers and reach out to them directly. This is also not to say that every opinion leader has a Twitter account. But many people who post strong opinions about an issue will want their followers on Twitter to see this and be influenced by the content.

What started out as a pretty pointless forum that I used to post things about my day-to-day life became a tool that I will use as professional in the public relations field. The use of social media in the workplace environment is very interesting and becoming very important. Even though I didn’t feel the earthquake itself, I was rocked by the amazing qualities and usefulness that Twitter has for the professional world.

Written by Bobby Schrader.

Social Media on the Front Lines of War

Non-governmental organizations Resolve (Washington D.C.) and Invisible Children (California) have teamed up by using social media tools to bring Africa’s longest-running war close to home.

For the past 25 years, a brutal war in central Africa has been almost “invisible” to the Western world. The rebel group, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), has been kidnapping tens of thousands of children (as young as 5 years old) in Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, and the Central African Republic to build up their regime. These innocent children are forced to fight and kill, and no attempts to stop the injustice had been made until Invisible Children and Resolve stepped in in 2003 to raise awareness and advocate for change. This past spring, Invisible Children raised $1,778,630 for early warning radio networks in Central Africa to help protect the civilians. Every dollar given to this campaign was raised solely through the use of sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr- proving just how powerful and  resourceful social media can be.

Last week, Invisible Children and Resolve unveiled what is perhaps their biggest social media project to date- The LRA Crisis Tracker. This tool tracks and plots data warning of future LRA attacks, as well as updates when attacks and abductions have been made. It not only brings awareness of the LRA to the Western world, but to the community in central Africa as well. These real-time updates are streamed on Twitter (@CrisisTracker) as well as on LRAcrisistracker.com. The public can also download maps and reports for the most detailed analysis of the LRA attacks. The LRA Crisis Tracker is a huge breakthrough in making the information and data of the war readily available to the worldwide public. Because this war is not on the general media’s agenda, social media networks are shedding light on an otherwise invisible humanitarian crisis. This case is just another example of how social media is making global change possible.

To learn more about the LRA Crisis Tracker and receive real-time updates from the front lines of the war zone, follow @CrisisTracker on Twitter or visit www.lracrisistracker.com. You can also view the LRA Crisis Tracker press packet for more information: http://www.lracrisistracker.com/sites/default/files/CT_presspacket.pdf.

Written by Charlotte Strazdus.

Project Runway Uses Twitter to Keep Viewers “In”

“As you know in fashion, one day you’re in. And the next you’re out.” Heidi Klum’s famous tagline has been a show staple since its inception. True to form, Project Runway has always been about what’s “in.” The design competition, which is now in its ninth season, thrives off creating what’s both current and innovative in fashion. Thus, it’s no surprise that the show has now begun to utilize social media to its advantage, too. And with a Twitter following of nearly 83,000, it’s clear that Project Runway is garnering increased viewer involvement. From a viewer’s perspective, here are a few of the advantages of the show’s use of Twitter:

Viewers Watch in Real Time

Because the weekly Twitter chats happen in real time, viewers who closely follow the show will want to watch in real time, too. Over the past several years, the rise in DVR recorders and online hosts have enabled viewers to record their favorite shows, enjoying them after the original air date with no or limited commercials. However, Project Runway viewers are now further compelled to tune in on Thursday nights at 9/8 central time. Additionally, when they use the #projectrunway hashtag in their tweets, they’re discussing their thoughts on the show with tens of thousands of other viewers.

Viewers Communicate with Judges and Contestants

Through the chats, two-way communication is enabled between those involved in the show and the viewers. When asked during last week’s Twitter chat, Nina Garcia (@ninagarcia), Marie Claire fashion director and judge, confirmed that she doesn’t see the workroom footage until the show actually airs. In confessing that she watches much of the show for the first time, too, Nina placed herself in the same position as the show’s viewers, allowing for a more natural flow of conversation. Similarly, Anya (@AnyadeRogue) and Anthony Ryan (@ryanauld) especially are known for using the chats to thank viewers for their votes and compliments. To their own benefit, other designers are starting to pick up on the trend, too, sounding off on their thoughts about the current episode.

Viewers Vote for Their Favorite Designers

This season, Project Runway has also brought back the Fan Favorite competition. The show has registered a hashtag, such as #PR9joshuam, for each of the contestants. Not only are these hashtags used during the chats to discuss the designers, but they’re also used to vote. According to the competition’s rules, each hashtag incorporated into a tweet counts as a vote, with only one vote counted every five minutes. All twenty of the season’s designers qualify, and whomever has the most votes by the season’s finale will be awarded $10,000. As some of the designers are apparently realizing, the prize is worth some tweeting on their ends!

Viewers Follow Their Favorite Designers

In addition to voting for their favorite designers and incorporating their hashtags into tweets, viewers can now follow their favorite designers, too. Not only do designers build a Twitter following, but their accounts usually include their websites, too. Consequently, Twitter followers can continue to invest more time – and eventually capital – in supporting the designers’ efforts and future collections. Since several of the show’s best designers use Twitter to their advantage anyway, the social media site’s full impact is tough to gauge. Still, through Twitter, the reputations of the designers who are cut from the show certainly won’t diminish as quickly.

Regardless of which designers stay in this week, it’s quite clear that Project Runway’s decision to use Twitter will keep viewers “in” all season long!

Posted by Janie Sikes, PRSSA-UD Meetings Director. Find out more about Janie by visiting her personal blog at http://janiesikes.wordpress.com/ or tweet with her @JanieSikes.

What’s your PRSSA story?

Everyone has a story. In public relations, our goal is to find and create that story and subsequently share that story with others. In PRSSA-UD this year, our goal is for every individual walk away from PRSSA with their own story.

In all honesty, my PRSSA story is long. I began attending meetings as a freshmen, joined the executive board my sophomore year, and served as president my junior and now senior year. I have countless stories about how PRSSA has helped me meet PR professionals and develop my professional skills. My PRSSA story stretches from Newark to Wilmington to New York City to Washington D.C. to Orlando. It would take days to tell you what PRSSA has done for me! So, instead here are just a few highlights from my experience with PRSSA:

1. I met Governor Markell and his Communications Team. Anyone who knows me knows that I absolutely love politics and political communication. Last year, I attended a PRSA Delaware meeting in which I was sitting right beside the Governor and got the chance to talk with his deputy communications coordinator (her business card is still in my file).

How it can be your story: We provide scholarships for two PRSSA members to attend a PRSA Delaware meeting each month. Students who attend these meetings have the chance to network with local industry professionals and participate in that day’s program. These professionals LOVE to talk to students, so bring your resumes and business cards because you never know who you might meet!

2. I traveled to New York City and met with Grace Leong, owner of Hunter Public Relations, an award-winning public relations firm on Madison Avenue. Last summer, I traveled to New York City with our faculty adviser and sat down with Grace Leong, PRSSA-UD alum and PR pro extraordinaire. She helped us significantly rebrand and reinvigorate our Chapter and continually helps support us.

How it can be your story: Grace was a guest speaker at one of our highest-attended meetings last year and offered students a unique perspective on consumer public relations. In addition, our students took a trip to NYC last spring and actually got to tour the Hunter PR offices. Finally, Hunter PR offers a five-week paid internship exclusively to one PRSSA-UD member over winter session. (They usually get 500+ applications for their summer internships and chose only four interns, so this is an awesome opportunity for Blue Hens only!)

3. I attended the National Conference in Washington D.C. and will be presenting a Chapter Development session to over 400 students at this year’s conference in Orlando, Florida. The annual PRSSA National Conference is a great time to meet professionals and students from all over the country. Last year, I heard from a variety of nationally-recognized speakers (including the Intern Queen) and met students from all parts of the country, from Drexel University to Utah State to University of Oregon. This year, our Chapter was chosen to present a Chapter Development Session at the National Conference. Our presentation focuses on how we rebranded our Chapter, and yes – all of your stories!

How it can be your story: This year, four individuals received full scholarships (covering registration, airfare, and accommodations) to the conference in Orlando. We received generous support from our Communication Department, PRSA Delaware, and Alyosius, Butler, & Clark. We also actively fundraise to provide scholarships for our students.

4. I built my professional network. Through our general meetings, annual events (including our Night With The Pros panel and Spring Networking Event), PRSA Delaware meetings, Mentor-Mentee program, and regional and national conferences, I’ve met more professionals than I could count! These professionals have helped me with my resume, to find internships, to build my online portfolio, and so much more. When I venture out into the real world in a few short months, I’ll have a network of 200+ professionals I can turn to.

How it can be your story: At PRSSA-UD, we host multiple events to help you meet and network with local professionals – all you have to do is show up! Our biweekly meetings feature a variety of local professionals. We host Night With The Pros in November, a panel-style discussion with four to five local professionals, each willing to share their experiences and tips with students. We host the Spring Networking Event each May, in which students “speed network” with professionals in a more personalized setting. We take field trips to PR agencies and departments; we provide scholarships for students to attend PRSA Delaware, PRSA Philadelphia, and PRSSA regional events.

My story doesn’t end here. Through PRSSA, I strengthened my leadership skills and learned important management skills. I prepared myself for the “real world.” Finally, I found fabulous friends and study buddies that helped me get through all those tough communication courses (including research methods!).

What will your PRSSA story be? Join us on Monday, September 12, at 5:30 p.m. in Gore 102 to begin your story.

“Like” us on Facebook or visit our website at http://udel.edu/stu-org/prssa/.

Posted by Abby Stollar, PRSSA-UD Chapter President. Find out more about Abby by visiting her website at http://abbystollar.com or tweet with her! (@abbynicole1204)

Getting ready for the year ahead! A picture of this year’s executive board at our summer retreat.