InsPiRation: Looking Ahead to the Future of Public Relations (PRSSA 2014 Regional Conference)

Photo courtesy of Kayla Belcher
Photo courtesy of Kayla Belcher

On April 12, the Ohio State University PRSSA Chapter welcomed 150 communication students and professionals to the 2014 Regional PaRtners Conference. The attendees welcomed two keynotes: breakfast keynote Dan Guitteau, executive director/executive vice president at Golin Harris, and lunch keynote Victoria Trapp, global transition manager at Nike.

The first half of the conference consisted of four breakout sessions. Tips on pursuing a career in journalism and creating a great pitch were hot topics discussed in the “Trends in News and Publishing” session led by Walker Evans, founder of Columbus Underground, and Ben Marrison, editor at The Columbus Dispatch. The president of MediaSource, Lisa Arledge-Powell, discussed brand management and its influence on the future of public relations during the “Content Marketing: Thinking Outside of the Marketing Box” breakout session.

The other breakout sessions did not disappoint, as two inspirational women and incredible professionals presented on relevant topics. Suzanne Fanning, president of the Word Of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA), spoke about word-of-mouth marketing and the power of the spoken word. Fanning emphasized the importance of connecting with brand’s fans on social media, saying that “knowing your fans is key.” Julie Russo Exner, senior vice president at Fahlgren Mortine, led the “Navigating the Unknown Waters of International PR” breakout session. Exner encouraged aspiring international public relations professionals to “Learn another language to show politeness. The people of that country will respect your efforts.”

After the lunch keynote, Victoria Trapp, finished a fantastic presentation on transitions in the industry, we welcomed our two panels! Panel one, “PR and Entrepreneurship: What It Takes to Start Your Own Firm,” consisted of MJ Clark, the owner and president of MJ Clark Communications; Stephanie Krol, the founder of Stephanie Krol PR; and Allison Lehman, a blogger and business owner at The Wonder Jam. These three professionals answered questions and gave advice on starting your own business. While MJ reminded us that being particular when choosing clients is acceptable; , Stephanie reinforced the importance of deadlines, stating, “people are always relying on me; you have to be strict on deadlines in PR!”

Carlo LoParo, the vice president of public relations at Strategic Public Partners; Lindsay Bowe, a client partner at Facebook; and Heather Baxter, the director of marketing and community relations for the PGA Memorial Tournament, spoke during the second panel, “Unexpected PResences: Underneath the PR Umbrella.” They were particularly good at giving advice to students unsure of their professional direction. The panel suggested gaining new experiences through volunteer opportunities; and internships will guide you to truly understanding what you want from your career. Don’t be afraid to take your time and test different industries and careers.

By participating and attending the Partner’s Conference, I was able to gain a vast amount of knowledge in such a short time period. I was given the opportunity to interact with successful professionals, receiving their feedback on job searching, the public relations industry and the skills needed to succeed. Meeting these bright and driven experts helped confirm my love for the communication field and made me enthusiastic about my future endeavors. The experience was more than rewarding; it was informational and inspirational.

 What was your favorite experience while attending a Regional Conference? Share in the comments below.

Kayla Belcher is a senior at the Ohio State University, majoring in communications, and a member of the Ohio State PRSSA Chapter. She is extremely interested in pursuing a career in either public relations or broadcast journalism. She looks forward to gaining all the knowledge and experience that she possibly can, and is eager to see where this field takes her.

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