Chapter Development Session [National Conference Recap]

Photo courtesy of Shannon Jack, Ohio Northern University

Session: Eastern Michigan University: How to Grow your Chapter on a Non-Traditional Campus

Presenters: Abby Cousineau, Hope Salyer, Josie Bobeck and Madison Harmon

Recap: In this session we learned how to maintain and grow a strong PRSSA Chapter on a non-traditional campus. What is a non-traditional campus? A non-traditional campus is a commuter school, a trade school or a community college. During the session we learned four tips to help grow your PRSSA Chapter on your nontraditional campus.

Utilize local professionals and alumni.

To do this, make sure to maintain alumni relationships. This can be done through inviting professionals to speak at your Chapter meetings, as well as networking opportunities for your members to connect with your speakers.

Craft your meetings.

The two main strategies with this tip are timing and membership feedback. When planning your meetings, be sure to keep the time consistent and consider the travel time and personal lives of your members that will be commuting to campus. If your members can’t attend your meetings, feel free to tweet or provide recap blogs.

The second strategy is Membership Feedback. At the beginning of each semester, conduct research on what your members want to learn. This will help you better cater your meetings and events towards the needs of your members which in return can result in higher attendance at such events!

Create a community.

The key to growing your Chapter is to maintain relationships with every member. Whether you do this through social events or just being present on campus, by making yourselves accessible you are encouraging members to reach out to you.

 Offer incentives.

The three main incentives that Eastern Michigan University provides its members are food, extra credit in PR classes and networking. Because non-traditional campuses can be made up of a lot of commuter students, consider offering food at your meetings to entice those members to stay and eat while attending your meeting. In terms of extra credit, work with your university to determine whether or not this may be feasible for your members.


By following the four tips above, a nontraditional campus can maintain and grow their Chapter in more than one way.

Session: DePaul University: Interns and the City

Presenters: Brooke Beatty, Andrew Willett, Lauren Polito, Kate Hohenstatt and Dalia Awdi

Recap: This session provided helpful tips and tricks for making the most out of a city internship. The main discussion theme revolved around relationships. With that being said, it’s important to remember that the relationships you build are the ones that will lead to your success in the PR world. And we, PRSSA, are each other’s greatest connections.

Build your network.

Whether it’s through National Conference, Chapter Meetings, site visits or local events, by attending and participating in these activities will allow you to grow and enhance your network. When building your network make sure to be assertive and research what professionals will be in attendance so that you can make the most out of their experience.

 Elevator pitch.

The key to the elevator pitch is to practice it in advance! Make sure it includes the following:

  • Introduce yourself
  • Outline your career goals
  • Focus on your achievements and school activities
  • Tell them where you’re headed

Marketing materials.

Keep your resume shorter rather than longer and watch your word choice. By incorporating adjectives and keywords, your resume has the potential to stand out more against the rest of the competition.


When connecting or interviewing with professionals, make sure to write out your questions and think out your response ahead of time. You’ll seem more prepared which can go a long way in establishing a good relationship. Upon meeting with that professional, be sure to follow up whether it is through an email or hand-written thank you card.


Open Communication is key when connecting and establishing relationships with people in a city

  • Highlight your skills
  • Discuss your expectations with your potential employer
  • Relationships shouldn’t be monogamous
  • Network outside your department

Emma Ingram is a junior studying public relations and strategic communication at American University in Washington DC. This year she is serving as the president of her school’s PRSSA Chapter. She was previously the Chapter’s vice president. Follow her on Twitter @emmaaingramm or connect with her on Linkedin.

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