The Return on Investment of National Conference

In 45 days, approximately 1,000 PRSSA members from across the country will gather to attend the PRSSA 2009 National Conference in San Diego. Even though it’s my third Conference, I know this will be a valuable experience and such a great opportunity for me to grow as a young professional.

It’s not always easy to fund a trip in the middle of the semester when we all have other expenses and responsibilities. I’ve had to miss a couple of classes and had to save up months in advance to make sure I could pay for the trip. Even so, the past two Conferences have been worth every cent, and this year will be no different.

Think of Conference as an investment, much like when you purchase stock. Do you see huge returns right after buying a lot of stock? Probably not. In the long run, however, you’ll see positive returns if you make the right choices.

Here are ways Conference can provide ROI to you:

  • Companies, agencies and organizations looking for future employees will be at the Career Exhibition. If you make a solid impression with them and properly follow up, it is very possible you can land a job or internship because of your participation at Conference.
  • There are other career opportunities and sessions to help you prepare for interviews, build your portfolio and perfect your resume. Having a new and experienced set of eyes look over your materials can help spot mistakes.
  • If you haven’t been able to explore all of your career opportunities through classes and internships, you will be able to check out public relations practices from more than 15 different industries. Whether you’re interested in public affairs, health care or environmental communications, you can find your niche and progress in your career path.
  • Where else do you have access to 1,000 fellow students and even more professionals? Conference provides many networking opportunities for you to meet the people you will most likely be working for and with when you graduate. A strong network will help you down the line in seeking employment and new business opportunities.
  • To tie in the above points, Conference is also a chance for you to focus on your career plan. If you ask questions during sessions, meet new professionals and keep in touch with your new network, you will have a solid foundation to move forward with your career. You’ll also have a network to guide you toward accreditation, higher education and a successful career.

It’s not easy to put a monetary value on what you can learn from Conference, mostly because it’s hard to put a value on your network, knowledge and relationships. I’ve met fellow students who have become close friends and soon enough, some will be my trusted colleagues. I am always learning from them and they are always pushing me in the right direction. To me, that’s priceless.

If you have been to Conference before, what did you get out of it? For those of you who will be attending for the first time, what are you most looking forward to? Are there any questions we can answer about Conference?

7 thoughts on “The Return on Investment of National Conference

    • […] National Conference is so important.. […]

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      I have never been to this conference, but in out last PRSSA chapter meeting it was brought up briefly. What are some things you do there that makes it a beneficial trip since it is far away. Are you taking classes or are you just walking around with your resume networking with different people and companies? would you say the conference in San Diego is the most beneficial if you are looking for a job in the PR field? I would love to know from some people who went what are some daily activities that they did and what they got out of it because it sounds really beneficial, but I would like to know what people who have been to the conferences already think of it.

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      Attending conference is truly a rewarding experience. I attended PRSSA National Conference in Detroit last year, and it was an eye-opening experience. Not only will you be surrounded with several students with your same passion for public relations, but the PRSA (our parent organization) conference is going on simultaneously. Therefore, you will also be surrounded with several successful practitioners. (FYI: have several resumes and business cards handy just in case you strike up a conversation with a professional.)

      Besides all that, it’s a great way to further explore the field of public relations. The workshops and seminars often touch on subjects that your classes and professors tend to skip. My advice is to find the workshops that most interest you, and then attend them and be attentive. That is your week to learn more about PR, but also more about yourself, what you love, and what you see yourself doing in the future.

      In the end, I completely agree with the blog post, you will definitely get your return on investment. It’s worth the money, because it’s an experience of a lifetime.

    • Author gravatar

      Hi Meghan–

      Jasmine said it better than I could, and I just want to echo her sentiment. I’ve attended the past two Conferences and find that each national event is truly unique.

      If you check out the Conference program (, you’ll find there are plenty of sessions and networking opportunities. And if you are looking for a job in the public relations industry, there will be a career exhibition for you to meet potential employers. Additionally, PRSA holds their International Conference during the same weekend — talk about opportunity to meet professionals.

      I hope to see you there!

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      It’s been 20 years since I attended a PRSSA national conference. And while I’m sure the content and format of the conference have changed, I imagine the benefits for a student attending have not. In 1987 I flew from Madison to LA for the national conference and it changed my life. I saw thousands of PR professionals discussing trends in PR/communications. I met hundreds of other students from around the country discussing their education, career goals and local PRSSA activities. And at night we partied.

      That trip convinced to pursue a career in PR and to become more active in PRSSA. Two years later I was the national president of PRSSA, leading the national conference in Cincy. I’ve spent the next 20 years working in PR agencies, corporate marketing and communications. I met my wife through PRSSA. And several of the people I partied with in LA are still among my friends and confidantes.

      Anyone considering PR as a career will benefit from attending the conference. If you’ve found your local PRSSA chapter of interest, attending the national conference will be eye-opening and rewarding.

      Sean Essex
      1988-89 National PRSSA President
      University of Wisconsin

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      Thanks so much for sharing your experiences. And though the conference content and format has changed, stories like this have not. Hopefully the 1,000 people attending this year will be just as motivated as you were!

    • Author gravatar

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