Takeaways from National Conference

Jessica Lawlor is president of Temple University’s PRSSA Chapter. When Jessica graduates from Temple in spring 2010, she would like to work in health care public relations or for a publishing company. In her free time, she enjoys writing and would like to one day publish a novel. Find her on Twitter and check out her blog.

Last week, I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the PRSSA 2009 National Conference in sunny San Diego. I was a bit nervous, as this was my first National Conference and my first time on the West Coast. I prepared by making sure I ordered business cards, packed a notebook and pen for note taking during sessions, and practiced my best networking smile and handshake. After four fun-filled days of public relations, networking and connecting, I came back to the East Coast with three key takeaways.

1. Read, Read, Read; Write, Write, Write.

As I’m sure most of you already know, reading and writing are very important in the public relations field. It’s been drilled into our heads in classes and the speakers at PRSSA National Conference had the same advice as many of our professors. As communicators, we must be able to write with clarity.
As well as writing, read everything you can, whether it is a newspaper, magazine or blog post. Reading has been proven to improve a person’s writing, so make sure you create time to read.

2. Public relations is a 24/7 job.

After attending sessions on health care public relations, agency public relations and entertainment public relations, one thing all the speakers said in common is that public relations is a 24/7 job.

Ron Culp of Culpwrit said, “There is no such thing as work/life balance in an entry-level position.” Later, in the health care public relations session, Richard Buck of Bayada Nurses took us through a day in his position from “sunrise to sunset.” At the another session, a speaker said working in entertainment public relations “is not a job, it’s a lifestyle.”

If a client has a problem in the middle of the night, it’s a public relations person’s job to make sure that the issue is resolved. The standard 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. work hours often do not apply to a public relations professional.

3. It’s all about social media.

As Gen Yers, we spend a huge chunk of our day online updating our Facebook pages, Twitter accounts or blogs. These sites we enjoy browsing and updating may help us land our dream jobs.

Public relations firms and corporations are increasingly looking to expand their media reach to include social media sites. Some professionals don’t know how to use these sites. Where are they looking for new employees who can make their client or company visible online? Colleges and universities. This means us!

Clean up your online image, make sure you are easily found in a Google search and be a valuable person to follow on Twitter or friend on Facebook. During a Chapter Development Session, Indiana University taught us about creating an e-portfolio to showcase your resume and work online.

What public relations takeaways did you bring back to your PRSSA Chapters after the National Conference?

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