Professional development is essential for students looking to increase their knowledge and skills in a field that is undergoing an aggressive transformation. One of the opportunities PRSSA students have to invest in their professional development is through Regional Activities. By taking the time to attend these events, students are able to invest in their future and build relationships with experts in the field. DePaul University held “Transforming Traditional Into Digital: The New Ways of PR” in the Windy City of Chicago. The event, coordinated by Jamie Harris, was interactive, relevant and comprehensive. Let’s take a look at what the new ways of public relations had to offer:
Relationship Building: Start now. Wait, I said the new ways of public relations, right? This one is at the foundation of public relations and though you may use outlets, such as Twitter, to find professionals today, the bottom line is the need to connect with them! A Young Professionals panel taught students the importance of informational interviews. Alyssa Bronikowski shared her story of connecting with employees at GolinHarris beginning in her sophomore year. By the time she applied for their internship program two years later, she had already developed relationships with their staff. Whether you’re a freshman in college or a senior looking to graduate, find public relations professionals who work in a field you are interested in and set up informational interviews with them or their human resources department.
Exude Fearlessness: The new ways of public relations cannot be explored unless risks are taken. Edelman Chicago President Rick Murray presented the keynote address and said five years ago public relations was simply “pitch and pray.” That is no longer the case. Never stop learning and never be afraid of the change happening in the public relations profession as the shift to digital changes the face of the industry.
Digital Technology Equals Instant Engagement: Tanya Shaye Silverstein of Burns Entertainment & Sports Marking and Joe Curry, social media manger of global Web communications at McDonald’s recognized that the new ways of public relations call for a different form of immediacy when it comes to social media. Curry’s framework for social media is a four-step process: listen, plan, engage and measure. Silverstein’s focus on celebrities revealed how stars capitalize on social media’s instant and easy engagement. For example, celebrities can be payed up to $10,000 for tweeting about a brand! Though tweeting may be instant, immediate and short communication, it is still important to tell your brand’s story. Consider the story you tell about yourself through your tweets.
As a student at Drexel University in Philadelphia, DePaul’s regional activity was well worth the trip. The event concluded with a career fair where employers provided resume feedback, distributed business cards and offered advice about their career path. In addition, the event illustrated that while emerging technologies and the dynamics of relationship building are changing the field, the foundation and qualities needed to succeed in public relations have not changed: be a great writer, detail-oriented, organized, flexible and a risk-taker.
Stephanie Takach is the PRSSA Chapter President at Drexel University. She can be contacted on Twitter @stephtakach.
Did you attend DePaul University’s event? What information interested you? What new information did you learn that benefits you as a pre-professional public relations student?