Red River Regional Conference: PR in the “Real World” and How to Get There [PRSSA 2014 Regional Conference]

Photo courtesy of Corrie Scaggs
Photo courtesy of Corrie Scaggs

Syrup in your shoes, social listening, backflips off the stage and measurement were all part of Region Three’s Red River Regional Conference. Co-hosted by PRSSA Chapters from the University of Oklahoma and the University of Texas at Austin, it was the first Regional Conference held in this region in 10 years. Held near downtown Dallas from Friday, Feb. 28 to Sunday, March 2, the conference emphasized readiness for a rich and rewarding career in public relations. Attendees enjoyed a mix of inspiration from keynote speakers and practical tips for success from the breakout sessions and professional panel. There was even a case study competition, along with a few other contests.

Actor, producer and motivational speaker Glenn Morshower opened the conference. He shared stories from his life, both sobering and hilarious, in an effort to teach us about listening to our “whispers.” His “whispers” told him to jump in a bathtub with a goldfish, call a friend who ended up becoming his wife and put syrup in his shoes before an audition, which helped him land his first acting job. He ended the evening by walking around the room and looking everyone in the eye. I don’t know about everyone else, but I went away refreshed and excited for the following day.

To help students prepare for the “real world,” the breakout sessions provided practical advice and tips from professionals in the industry. Principal of Lewis Public Relations Blake Lewis spoke on the value of measurement and where it belongs in the public relations process. Professor Dave Junker from UT-Austin presented on strategic storytelling. Jamaison Schuler, senior director of corporate communications at Dean Foods, gave excellent networking advice. Professor at UT-Austin Terry Hemeyer led a breakout session filled with outstanding advice applicable to me: job hunting. Since several members from my Chapter, University of North Texas PRSSA, are graduating soon, this was timely and useful.

After the two morning breakout sessions, we had an excellent professional panel with Linh Le from Haynes and Boone, LLP; Marley Goudge from AT&T; and Schuler. The panelists answered attendees’ questions and gave advice about finding the right avenue for you in public relations.

The third breakout session featured General Manager of Pierpont Communications Teresa Henderson, and Brittany Aguilar of PulsePoint Group, on budgeting and social listening strategies, respectively. We ended the day with tips on media relations, or what Katie Chrisman of Sunwest Communications referred to as “training a dragon,” and advice on PRSSA Chapter Development from current National PRSSA President Brian Price and PRSSA National Faculty Adviser Robert “Pritch” Pritchard.

To end the conference on a successful note, founder of McMahon Marketing Korey McMahon shared with us — sometimes through a megaphone — how to be a success and achieve our dreams. He did a backflip off the stage, even after eating a double cheeseburger with animal style fries from In-N-Out Burger, and had everyone in the audience write a letter congratulating our future selves on all goals we achieved by March of 2015. It was the perfect way to end the conference.

Corrie Scaggs is a public relations senior and marketing minor at the University of North Texas. She is also the communications intern at the Alzheimer’s Association Greater Dallas, and a Mayborn Ambassador for the Mayborn School of Journalism. She loves writing in all its different forms and wants to pursue a public relations career in nonprofit. 

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