My Role As Diversity Director

By Lia Hyman

When I first interviewed for the position of Diversity Director, all I really knew about it was that I was passionate about it. There was no previous director to reach out to, but based on the description and responsibilities of the role, I knew it was a position that had to be filled with a real sense of commitment. Little did I know that only a month later, the country would erupt in protests nationwide after the death of George Floyd. This only made me more sure that it was more important than ever to have a Diversity Director on our executive board.

Since I accepted the position, I have started reading and watching as many articles, books, and documentaries that I can. Connecting with professionals in the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I)  field has been a big focus of mine, so I have initiated conversations with executives who can tell me about what they do on a daily basis, giving me inspiration for actions I can take as well. These conversations have helped me brainstorm for the Diversity Panel that PRSSA will be holding in the Spring, an event with a panel of qualified professionals to answer questions about diversity and ethics, followed by a Q&A from the audience. After much contemplation, I concluded that this event would be most beneficial if our panelists answer questions about Ethical Company Procedures vs Individual Expression in the workplace. In the coming months, I hope to solidify our professional lineup and questions for the event.

One of my main goals as Diversity Director is to give members opportunities to hear from a wide range of people that hold different perspectives on issues. In a world that has become so divided, I hope to invite people outside of their comfort zones and listen. This includes promoting events that discuss heritages, religions, disability awareness, and more on our social media accounts. By making members aware of these opportunities for growth, I hope to inspire a more inclusive atmosphere within our own chapter of PRSSA. This leads me to another one of my goals, which is to reach out to other student organizations on campus and collaborate with them so their members can also take advantage of our PRSSA meetings. By making these connections, I hope our chapter can not only grow in size, but grow in diversity.

As a committee member of the PRoud Council, I also have been lucky enough to learn a lot about DE&I from my fellow committee members. The PRoud Council seeks to “actively facilitate diversity and inclusion initiatives on a local and international level on behalf of PRSSA by acting as a resource for Chapters and individual members”. Our committee members come from all different backgrounds and languages, and it has been an honor to engage with such hardworking students, committed to making Public Relations a more inclusive field. Some of my responsibilities for the Council include developing 3 DE&I activities for PRSSA Chapters to engage in, assisting in creating three changes in terms of accessibility, and assisting in implementing a workshop for DE&I leaders and Chapter general body members. 

I look forward to our upcoming viewing of “The Social Dilemma” where we will discuss the ethics of addictive and manipulative social media; controversial topics like these help engage our brain and prepare us for a career in PR! Open discussion around ethical problems in PR is another goal of mine. As Diversity Director, I know it is important to be genuine and well-researched on crucial issues, but the truth is that I will make mistakes! This is why I am very open to feedback and hearing from our members, as well as other UD students, on how I can do better. I am excited to continue my work in making our chapter welcoming to all!

What Jon Meacham Taught Me

By Stella Galli

ICON 2020 was kicked off with loads of inspiration, hope, and motivation. Jon Meacham, a writer for George H.W. Bush and presidential biographer, was the first keynote speaker. As someone who aspires to work on political campaigns and speech writing for politicians one day, his non-partisan perspective is something I believe everyone should hear and grasp on to. After all, his 45 minute speech truly changed my perspective to a more positive light on the current state of our country. 

It’s 2020, and let’s face it, most of us have not seen such a hectic year. We have undergone a pandemic, televised police brutality, and many people are losing hope in the state of the union.. Jon Meacham, however, exclaimed that hope has never been stronger in this country. He urged the audience to think deeply about how, while the nation may feel more divided than ever – that we the people are the ones who can unite the nation. This made me ponder the question, how can we all talk in a non-divisive way? Because how we act and what we think has a discernible public effect, whether we like it or not. Time and time again, I feel that everyone is in a constant state of blaming the other side of the political spectrum for issues, rather than using core facts to argue the roots of the issues. We see this everywhere on social media – just take a look at your Instagram stories and Twitter feed. We are not getting the full picture, rather we are engaging our own selective exposure (which I am sure we all remember from Professor Mortenson’s class). What we are viewing and what we are seeing all affect what we say, and how we act. I took Jon Meacham’s words, to be hopeful and unite the nation, as something we can all work harder on. To educate ourselves on what others think, to challenge ourselves to stop blaming the other side, and maybe just maybe, we can be more united. 

Jon Meacham further inspired the audience by emphasizing how public relations can truly change the world. As aspiring PR professionals, we have the power to influence millions of people and draw attention to things that we care about. As students, while sometimes one may feel powerless, Jon allowed me to remind myself that I can use the power of my own perspectives to make the world a better place. He stated, “When the voices of the powerless capture the attention of the powerful, things will get done.” That is why people such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Jon Lewis are so important to our nation and our history: they used their voice to influence millions. They started revolutions for the people. They understood that we are all in this together, and when we all stand together to make our voices heard, improvements will be made. 

Jon Meacham spoke at ICON 2020 for 45 minutes, and within that time, we received incredibly important life lessons. We learned to be hopeful in times of crisis because we are the solution, and that when we use our voices to speak up, we can bring people together to start something larger than ourselves. I am grateful that joining PRSSA has given me the opportunity to hear from Jon as well as other amazing keynote speakers – they are inspiring us to be the PR professionals that we are well on our way to becoming.

The Social Dilemma

By Jonna Anello

The documentary The Social Dilemma, directed by Jeff Orlowski, opens our eyes to the daunting effects of digital technology and social networking. Many of us pick up our phones and spend hours of screen time scrolling through our social media feeds without even thinking about what is involved in the invisible algorithms our feeds are designed with.

Every click, every like, every share, and every move we make is being collected, analyzed, and used to determine what will show up on our individualized platforms. A quote that put things into a perspective that I never even thought of before was when Justin Rosenstein stated “We live in a world in which a tree is worth more, financially, dead than alive, and a world in which a whale is worth more dead than alive. For as long as our economy works in that way, and corporations go unregulated, they’re going to continue to destroy trees, to kill whales, to mine the earth, and to continue to pull oil out of the ground even though we know that it is destroying the planet and we know that it is going to leave a worse world for future generations. This is short term thinking based on this religion of profit at all costs. What is so frightening is to realize that we are the trees and the whales”

He made such a powerful point in the fact that we are these “resources” and “products” being manipulated by focusing our attention on things they want us to look at rather than things that are consistent with our interests. Our physical lives don’t matter to these big corporations because all they really care about is who is getting our attention, and if they aren’t, how to get it. The documentary really shed light on the fact that, as students going into the PR industry, there is a lot of work to be done to integrate more regulations to be put into place and ethical issues to be solved in the digital world.

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