A PR Life Is the Life for Me: A Guide to Becoming Successful in the Professional World

East Carolina University hosted its first PRSSA Regional Activity, “A PR Life Is the Life for Me: A Guide to Becoming Successful in the Professional World.”

The first keynote speaker was Elizabeth Schuler, a former ECU PRSSA Chapter President and an account executive at Garage Branding in Winston Salem, N.C. She described the transition from being a college student to working full-time and struggling to resist becoming a workaholic. She also told us about her struggles in searching for a new job after being laid off.

  1. Embrace being a generalist. Learn as much as you can about the business by reading everything and asking basic questions while you’re young.
  2. “It’s not as bad as you think out there, and it’s getting better.” Employers are more likely to hire younger, less experienced, recent college graduates because they are willing to work hard. Take your time finding a job because your job is your life. You do not want to be miserable, especially in your first job. Make sure you like the people you work with.
  3. “Your career is not coming to your funeral, and your friends are not paying your bills.” Do not take work stress home with you. Be careful of work addiction! Reevaluate your priorities.
  4. Don’t live in the past; let it shape your future. Life is all about adjustment.

Schuler also reminded us that honesty and over-communication are important.

The second keynote speaker was Chuck Hester, the chief connections officer at Chuck Hester Enterprises, and a LinkedIn power connector with more than 10,000 direct connections. Being an expert in media relations and personal branding, Hester gave us his social media ground rules:

  1. Be transparent. Be yourself — open and honest.
  2. Be part of the conversation; make your name known. As Hester said, “Own the room.”
  3. Be part of the community. Be an active member and get involved!
  4. Connect to the connectors. Network, network, network! Networking involves maintaining a relationship over time.
  5. The Internet is forever. The Internet is not a fad; it is here to stay, so get used to it and learn how to maximize your usage!

Roger Friedensen, president and CEO of Forge Communications, reviewed what we, as public relations practitioners, do: solve problems by thinking, analyzing, and effectively communicating, advising and counseling. It is necessary for public relations professionals to constantly adapt to the changes in the industry, such as technological advances and trends like social networking, but to keep in mind that the fundamentals of business have not changed. Logos, ethos and pathos are still effective, and the motivations of all human beings have remained the same: hope vs. fear; pleasure vs. pain; acceptance vs. rejection; and pride vs. shame. He gave us twelve tips for living up to our potential:

  1. Be a student of humans.
  2. Be a student of yourself.
  3. Be an expert on a number of things.
  4. Try on someone else’s shoes.
  5. Appeal to basic human instincts.
  6. KISS (Keep It Short and Sweet)
  7. Show you care.
  8. Show a creative spark.
  9. Follow through. Be bold, believe in yourself and trust your instincts.
  10. Know your potential employers.
  11. Choose wisely. Everything you do and say is public knowledge. Your reputation is the only thing you have.
  12. Be fun to be around.

Korey McDonald, publicist of the ECU PRSSA Chapter, said, “The event went well and will open doors for our chapter. Hopefully we can host another event in the future.” Pariss Coleman, ECU PRSSA Chapter President, hopes she inspired younger PRSSA members to aspire to do big things and follow their dreams. If you are passionate and willing to put in the work, you can make anything happen. The event was very successful and the hard work by the ECU PRSSA Chapter paid off. The speakers taught real-world public relations lessons, and connections were made between students and professionals through the speed networking event, crisis communication competition and social.

Ivona Spady is a student at East Carolina University.

Did you attend East Carolina University’s event? What information interested you? What new information did you learn that benefits you as a pre-professional public relations student?

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