Following the Leaders: Six Takeaways from the PRSSA 2013 Leadership Rally

Photo by Hannah Giles

The stage is now set for the incoming and continuing leaders of PRSSA to lead their Chapters with opportunities and excitement galore. As approximately 80 students retreated to Chaparral Suites from May 31-June 2 in Scottsdale, Ariz., for a weekend of knowledge and community spirit—and I, a Scottsdale native, just drove up the street—we gained priceless life lessons. Cliché, yes. But in this welcoming environment of students and professionals aiming to help his or her fellow PRSSA ally, we walked away from this rally more informed, more understanding and more confident. Here were six takeaways from attending the PRSSA 2013 Leadership Rally:

Participate in group discussions. The breakout sessions served as a place for attendees to share anecdotes about Chapter challenges and offer solutions to those problems based on their experiences. Many of us came out of those sessions with newfound inspiration and assurance in handling both fiscal-related and personality-related conflicts.

Chat with the featured speakers. Our keynote address by Gary McCormick, APR, Fellow PRSA, director of partnership development for HGTV, granted students the chance to learn professional skills from a qualified, highly-passionate individual in the entertainment industry. Those of us who spoke with him one-on-one after the presentation benefited from having our questions answered in more depth. At national events, making the effort to talk with speakers can help one gain a connection – both figuratively and literally.

Step out of your comfort zone when developing relationships. These settings allow students to mix and mingle with others from all across the United States, but sometimes nerves take over. Nevertheless, the structured elements of meals and meetings made it easy for students of varying backgrounds to become acquainted with one another. Everyone can feel shy at times, but sometimes a question as simple as “where are you from?” can prompt a lasting conversation and perhaps a friendship.

Strategically share contact information. Some presidents opted for passing phones around a table to connect on Facebook or Twitter. Others swapped business cards. Often these exchanges can lead to sustaining relationships long past an event. The most effective ones, however, may spawn from finding commonality and putting thought into that message. As McCormick said, never send a generic LinkedIn request. Provide a reason for why one should remain in touch past an event or initial meeting.

Take advantage of PRSSA resources. As Immediate Past President Lauren Gray and National President Brian Price said, the National Committee and the official PRSSA website offer tools to help presidents lead their Chapters. All National Committee members are willing to answer questions via Twitter, email or other platforms because a member’s success is also theirs.

Have good fun. Simple. Though events such as Leadership Rally aim to educate and integrate people for more professional purposes, attendees should always remember to enjoy the moment and create memories of their experiences.

#PRSSALR attendees, what did you gain most from your experience? Any lingering quotes or moments that will keep you moving forward with pride? Share your feedback and anecdotes.

Brett Nachman attends Arizona State University Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and Barrett, The Honors College. He serves as president of his PRSSA Chapter, majoring in journalism and minoring in psychology. His passions include writing, reading, traveling, public speaking and Disney. Engage with Brett on Twitter @bnachmanreports.

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