Night with the Pros Recap


On November 6th, 2018, I had the pleasure of hosting the annual Night with Pros event on behalf of PRSSA’s University of Delaware chapter. This event is an evening that is highly anticipated each year, as it gives our members a chance to learn from and interact with experience professionals, and a chance for them to give back to the next generation of those aspiring to work in the field of public relations.

This year we had a panel of five professionals joining us : Mary Ellen Payne, Erin Donovan, Jaimi Blackburn, Michele Besso, and Lauren Mancini, all of whom are alumnae of University of Delaware and who were very excited to return to their alma mater. With careers in industries ranging from telecommunications, environmental concerns, and health, to the arts, hospitality, and retail, our panel members were able to offer a broad scope of experience and knowledge.IMG_7494.JPG

After brief introductions, the panel opened with a discussion of how PRSSA and PRSA has shaped their career in public relations. While the student chapter was not yet founded at the time when some members attended University of Delaware, they all emphasized the tangible significance of being a part of a professional organization such as PRSA to make connections between other public relations experts, not only to network for clients and projects, but also to advance in their understanding of the field – especially as it rapidly changes.

The diverse experiences of our panel members allowed for extensive and engaging discussions of various topics as they relate to public relations. Some of our panel members started their careers before the dawn of social media, while for others, digital media relations was immediately part of their job. We were therefore able to discuss their experiences in the transition from traditional to digital media, and the challenges (and benefits) that come with it. Michele and Jaimi initially worked as news reporters, so they gave our members the inside scoop and advice on how best to pitch a story and how to effectively communicate with reporters to make their jobs easier – which would ultimately benefit the client if their story got covered. Jaimi and Erin both opened their own public relations firms and they shared with us the importance of networking in order to build and maintain a client base, as well as advantage of working independently and having control over projects and management. Another topic that was discussed was the difference between in-house versus agency public relations; Mary Ellen was able to speak to the opportunity of watching a large brand such as Verizon Communications grow and adapt itself over an extended period of time, all while maintaining its image and identity, and Lauren discussed her appreciation of the many different fields and industries that she gets to work on, even as a small agency such as Tipton Communications.

The panel members fielded questions from the member audience, and they all stressed the importance of having an internship experience,  especially to get hands-on work in the field that will aid young professionals in their skill and understanding of public relations. After the panel discussion, we opened the floor so that PRSSA members could have a chance to converse directly with the panel speakers and further their connections. Altogether, the night was a success, and we look forward to more excellent Night with the Pros in the coming years!



New Findings in Philly: PRSSA Field Trip Recap


Throughout the semester, PRSSA offers a variety of opportunities and events that fully immerse members into the strategic, fast-paced world of PR. Our fall field trip to Philly served to do just that, providing us with a glimpse of everyday life at two different companies; Karma Agency and Braithwaite Communications.

Karma Agency specializes in public relations, advertising, and marketing, their current portfolio consisting of around 20-25 active clients. Our delightful hosts, Laura and Hafsa, were eager to share their expertise on how to effectively build a brand’s reputation, a phrase they deemed as synonymous with earning trust among target consumers. Both professionals emphasized the importance of cultivating a brand promise, which poses a challenge for the client to dig deeper into their overall mission, in an effort to discover how it makes their products/ services unique from competitors. In order to stand out in the crowded consumer space, it isn’t about promoting what you do, but rather, the impact you have.

Another key ingredient to leveraging a brand’s reputation is by developing “thought leadership.” Laura and Hafsa defined thought leadership as establishing oneself as an expert in their respective industry. For Karma’s clients, this involves an extensive amount of media training in which a company’s leader is prepped on how to craft a message in a way that will resonate most with their audience. While this tactic might seem trivial, it is especially beneficial for brands that are often overlooked, such as those in the healthcare or chemical manufacturing sectors. The ability to mold wording, perspectives, and taglines that are both captivating and easily understood can initiate a major breakthrough in reaching consumers.

Braithwaite Communications is a full-service agency, their objective to utilize storytelling to drive results for clients. Braithwaite employees pride themselves in not being composed into specialized teams, but rather, working collaboratively as a whole. From branding, to content creation, to media relations, all work is distributed equally across the board, which I found to be a very interesting, yet innovative approach. This allows employees to touch every area of the agency to gain a fuller, more in-depth understanding of the industry.

Employees Megan, Freddy, and Marissa recalled the most valuable lessons they’ve learned since being thrown into the field. As they relayed their personal accounts and stressed key tips for success, I gathered my own takeaways from the discussion:


  • First Impressions: Within every professional interaction, you should always be emulating your personal brand. Your passions, aspirations, and skills are what will make you unique from others, and are going to be the features that enable you to stand out among the crowd. Take time to reflect on each of these aspects to ensure that you’re consistently representing them.


    1. Experiential learning: Always be actively searching for ways to learn outside of the classroom, not just through a formal internship. Anyone that you meet can turn into an opportunity, but you must willing to seek it out, show initiative, and provide support in any way possible. Overall, be hungry and be open to jobs/ volunteer positions outside of your interests, because they can offer invaluable experience.


  • Maintaining relationships: This comes in handy most when fostering professional connections. The most important things to keep in mind are authenticity and insight. Whether congratulating someone on a new job or passing along an article that you find relevant to someone’s work, make sure your message displays genuine interest.


Both companies were so generous to host the members of our organization and nurture our curiosities of public relations and workplace. I think I can speak for all attendees when I say it was truly a great experience, filled with useful knowledge that we will carry with us throughout our entire professional careers!


What I Learned From Lauren Hess


Lauren Hess, a University of Delaware and PRSSA alumni joined us on Monday, October 22 to discuss her position at Bloom Daily Planners. Lauren is the Director of Social Media and Partnerships. It was insightful that Lauren had graduated only in 2016 and has already worked her way to such a successful position. She is in charge of Bloom’s social media which includes tasks such as creating content for posts, pitching ideas for giveaways, and holding creative meetings each week to plan content for the upcoming week among Bloom’s social media platforms.

Keeping Bloom’s social media up-to-date is not an easy task and requires a lot of creativity. Especially with a growing company like Bloom that has 81,000 followers on all their social media combined, it is crucial to stay creative and relevant.

This includes campaign creations- for example, Lauren and her social media team created “Bloom Productivity Week” which consisted of a new post every day that included tips on how to stay motivated to ensure a productive week. Each post featured a Bloom product with helpful tips on how to be the most productive version of yourself.

Lauren has also already been planning future campaigns such as “Thanksgiveaway” where Lauren and her team will be posting different giveaways during the holiday season. This is a creative way to keep their social media audience engaged in their brand, as well as show customer appreciation.

Lauren stressed customer appreciation and women’s empowerment were at the core of what Bloom stands for, which I found inspiring. It is refreshing to see a company care for its consumers and have a mission to help women become the best versions of themselves. Hearing from a young recent college graduate who is dedicated to a job she loves was refreshing and encouraging!

“Why Network?” Skill Slam Recap


On October 15th, PRSSA-UD welcomed career counselor, Nichole Hitchner, who spoke all about networking. Nichole focused on giving us tips on how to make connections, keep those connections, expand our networks, and how to present ourselves in the best way possible, whether it is online or in-person.

Why Network?

Nichole told us that more people are being hired now because of the people they know. Most jobs aren’t being posted, so talking to people you know in the field, at a career fair, or even your professors can help get your foot in the door. Here are a few tips she taught us and things to keep in mind:

Tip #1: “It’s not about what you know, it’s about who knows you are looking.”

When Nichole said this quote, it really stuck out to me. In the past when I’ve heard this quote, it is usually stated, “It’s not about what you know, it’s who you know.” Now, Nichole told us it isn’t only about who you know, but those people have to know you are currently looking for a job/internship. If you are lucky enough to have someone in your network that works in the field you are interested in, talk to them! Make it known that you are currently looking for a job/internship, so that when opportunities arise, you are fresh in their mind. People love helping people they know, so reminding them you are actively looking will let them know you are interested and prepared.

Tip #2: Your existing network is bigger than you think.

Nichole explained the “Law of 250,” which states that every person knows at least 250 people. Each of your those 250 people, (your contacts), knows at least 250 other people. So, that is 62,500 people at your second level. Each of your second level contacts knows 250 people — which makes your network grow to over 15,000,000! Your network includes your friends’ friends, extended family and their families, your classmate’s families, friends, and co-workers, alumni and their friends, and professors/supervisors and their connections. My network is definitely bigger than I thought it was after learning this!

Tip #3: Your social media platforms are vital to your career.

The top 3 platforms used by employers are LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Especially in this field, having a professional online presence is so important. Besides just having a presence, it’s essential your presence is professional, relevant, and always updated so that employers know what you are capable of and can see your past experiences. You should be proud of what is on your social platforms, so if you have any work samples or projects you’re proud of, post them!

Tip #4: Informational Interviews and “30-Second Commercials”

An informational interview is not a job interview. It is just an informal meeting with someone who works in an area of interest to you. It is a great way to get information about the career field you are interested in. The best information and advice comes from people who are actually working in that field. Most people are happy to talk about their career and professional life, and how they got to where they are. To prepare for this meeting, Nichole taught us how to construct our own “30-second commercials,” which is really just a quick way to introduce yourself and highlight the best and most relevant things about yourself! We did a fun activity where we came up with our “30-second commercial” and then shared it with different people around the room. It was a great way to practice presenting ourselves and was helpful getting to hear what other people included in their “commercial” that you might have not thought about!

Tip #5: The Importance of LinkedIn

After speaking just about networking, Nichole then focused on LinkedIn, which is becoming the most important professional platform. It allows us to now have a direct connection with professionals around the world, or with people who we aspire to work with in the future. Nichole led us through some basic tips on how to improve our profiles, which were including a professional headshot, a headline, highlighting your talents, posting work samples, and updating your recent work or volunteer experience. She then walked us through the importance of sending an introductory message on LinkedIn when forming a connection, or sending a follow-up message/thank-you message after meeting or speaking with someone.

Tip #6: Networking is a two-way street.

Finally, some last reminders Nichole gave were to always have good eye contact, give a strong handshake, and have a big smile. People like to help and give advice, so don’t be afraid to reach out and ask questions! Networking is a two-way street, so you also have to do your part to keep the relationship alive and always follow-up with people you have reached out to. Stay in contact and always be appreciative.

Through this presentation, I have gained valuableIMG_6617.jpg skills I will take with me through the rest of my personal and professional life. Thank you, Nichole, for giving a very important and informative presentation! This Skill Slam definitely helped us all! I now feel more prepared going into the next chapter of my life!


PRSSA National Conference: Austin, TX


Last week, I had the amazing opportunity of traveling halfway across the country with three of my fellow PRSSA-UD Executive Board members to Austin, TX to attend PRSSA National Conference – and to say it was one of the most valuable pre-professional experiences of our college careers would be an understatement. Not only did we have the rare opportunity of exploring one of the United State’s most unique cities, but we earned a wealth of knowledge from industry professionals, networked with peers and mentors, and learned of innovative ways to make our chapter better.

The weekend was full of insightful career advice and tales of storytelling success, but one of the most captivating speeches of the weekend – a tale of triumph and a true testament to the power of public relations – was a speech given by two of the students behind the March For Our Lives movement following the tragic events that occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL. The two explained how they framed their cause to be seen as a need not just for legislative change, but for social change. They detailed how they channeled their grief into activism and through unimaginable tragedy, they purveyed the importance of tailoring a story to fit the needs of their audience – one of the backbones of successful PR.  

Furthermore, PRSSA National Conference overlaps with PRSA National conference, which meant that we were able to attend their opening general session. Seeing that the PRSSA/ PRSA community extends far beyond college years was an exciting moment, because it shows how close knit the Public Relations field truly is. Not only that, but to know that PRSSA members have access to hundreds of professional mentors is truly one of the most impactful aspects of PRSSA membership.

The three most meaningful lessons I took away from my time at PRSSANC are as follows:

  • Learning is a journey that should never stop, even once you have entered the professional world.
  • Networking truly is key. Walking away from PRSSANC with numerous new contacts could also mean numerous potential opportunities.
  • When it comes to creative thinking, do not be afraid to push the limits. This is how remarkable stories get told and how brands gain a voice.

Attending PRSSA National Conference is a must for aspiring PR professionals, and is another reason why membership in PRSSA is one of the best decisions an aspiring young professional can make.



#Interns101: Turning an Informational Interview into an Internship


Throughout my past two years of involvement in PRSSA, I’ve been prepped by a community of professionals and mentors to sharpen my knowledge on the public relations industry. While learning from these experts, I have been able to polish up on resume building, networking, job searching, and everything in between. For me personally, the skill that I have found to be most useful has tied all of these topics together; informational interviews. The purpose of an informational interview is to seek career advice from an established professional, specifically someone who holds a position you aspire to step into one day. By putting these lessons into practice, I was not only able to earn the summer internship of my dreams, but also re-assess the importance of facilitating connections. The key to nailing an informational interview can be explained in one word: Preparation.

Picture this: You’ve connected with a professional on LinkedIn that’s employed at a company you admire, or you’ve met someone at a networking event with holds interests similar to yours. You’ve reached out to them as an enthusiastic college student who would love to learn more about their position and career path. (In my experience, the employee I reached out to lived close enough to me to arrange a meetup for coffee, but keep in mind that video calls are just as effective!) The date is set… Now what?

First, do your research. Study that person’s LinkedIn, their past positions, and what they’ve accomplished. This alone can help you form questions such as “How did your previous experience at XX prepare you for the position you hold now?” or “I saw that you started off working in X industry, but then switched to Y. What changed your interests? What were the major differences between these two jobs?” Coming up with a list of questions you wish you ask prior to the interview can help alleviate any nerves you have, and ensure the conversation doesn’t come to an awkward pause as you organize your thoughts.

Another way you can help this interaction run as smoothly as possible is by brushing up on your PR vocabulary. Most people who have been working in the industry for at least a few years will forget that we, as college students, are still navigating the many terms that are bounced around the workplace. And how can you benefit from an informational interview if half of the conversation goes right over your head? If phrases like press clippings or lead time seem like foreign concepts, consider searching a few PR Glossaries so that you can be fully receptive- but also don’t be afraid to ask for elaboration on something if needed!

Lastly, don’t forget that a conversation involves two people. Despite the word interview, this isn’t meant to be a structured process, but one that flows naturally. If an opportunity arises for the conversation to go in a different direction, go with it! The most important thing is that you walk away with more knowledge of your goals and/or job expectations. You shouldn’t enter into this thinking an internship will be handed over to you by the time it’s over. Be sure to follow-up to thank the person for their time and advice. If potential internships weren’t brought up during your interview, reiterate your eagerness and initiative in follow-up by stating that you would love to be considered for any available opportunities in the future.


How You Can Find a Job on Twitter: A Chat with Erica Nardello of Digitas Health 


“You’re never going to get a job looking on Twitter,” Erica Nardello’s father told her while she was searching for her first opportunity after graduating from UD with a B.S. in Marketing in 2009. However, the now Senior Manager of Social Strategy for Digitas Health laughs that she found, applied, and accepted a position at the company after seeing a job posting on their Twitter. This past Monday, our PRSSA-UD members had the honor of hearing Erica’s advice about interviewing and then succeeding in future careers.

For those who may not know, Digitas Health specializes in purposeful healthcare and pharmaceutical marketing that works, along with its mission, to help and not sell and create deeper connections between consumers and professional customers. Digitas Health is a member of the world’s largest healthcare communications network, Publicis Healthcare Communications Group, making it an even greater honor to learn from the best.

Her valuable knowledge (and hilarious use of gifs) kept us engaged and motivated for our futures in the industry. Below are her tips for successful interviewing and excelling in the job:

1. Do the research: Know your facts about the company, including their mission and client work, by reading up on their website and social media (and maybe you’ll find an opportunity on their Twitter like Erica did)! Part of doing the research involves preparing for potential interview questions and coming up with your own questions to ask the interviewer and show your interest.
2. Demonstrate your work ethic: Talk about how you put in the work to get things done, instead of just listing off your accomplishments. Speak to your values and how they related to the projects you worked on!
3. Back it up with data: Of course, it’s super effective to prove your success with numbers, but you also need to illustrate why they were important to making a difference in previous positions. If you have a copy of the analytical information from social media posts you made, for example, that would make an impact in your interview.
Excelling at the job:
4. Sign up for more responsibilities: Say yes to all the opportunities at your internship to make a difference, grow, and learn more about an area of public relations you haven’t explored yet (corporate/internal communications, account management, etc)!
5. Try a side hustle: Explore opportunities that fuel your passions, like freelancing or volunteering. The experiences will help you build your skill set in more ways than you know!
6. Find mentors: Erica says that she would not be where she is today without her mentors who guided her along her career journey and advocated for you. Sign up for our Mentor-Mentee program when you see the email to have this experience in PRSSA-UD!
7. Use your skills to give back: Whether this is volunteering for a non-profit or using your work to make a difference in the world (such as working on healthcare clients like Erica), it’s so rewarding to give back and help others.
Currently, Erica hosts CreativeMornings Philadelphia (, a monthly breakfast series for creative types, while working at Digitas and serving as a UD Career Acceleration Network Advisor (UD CAN). Sign up for to connect with Erica for even more advice on career paths in advertising and marketing, plus résumé feedback! And thank you Erica for all of your fantastic advice and for sharing your experiences with us.