District Conference Preview: IMC Connect! (University of Mississippi 2024)

Join the University of Mississippi PRSSA Chapter during the 2024 District Conference, “IMC Connect!” on March 25-27 in Oxford, Mississippi. 

How did you arrive at your conference theme and what can members expect to see at this conference?

The idea behind IMC Connect! was born three years ago. Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) is one of the majors that students can select at The School of Journalism and New Media. The major is not offered at many universities which makes “IMC” special. 

To understand IMC and what it stands for, it means “the process used to unify marketing communication elements, such as public relations, social media, audience analytics, business development principles and advertising, into a brand identity that remains consistent across distinct media channels.” (What is IMC?, 2022) 

The sessions and panels during the conference will touch on various aspects of connecting. 

  • Connecting is not only about introducing students to industry professionals but also professionals networking with each other throughout various industries.
  • Connecting research and practice, which is why we invite both researchers and industry leaders. 
  • Connecting with your calling, which is the University’s common read this year and a major theme of our sessions. 
  • Connecting organizations with key stakeholders via trust – trust was proposed at this year’s IMC Connect! In the age of viral misinformation and user-generated content on social media, it is becoming harder for organizations to build and maintain trust with key stakeholders. Many of our sessions will address this topic.

Is your conference virtual or in person? If it’s virtual, what are some of the platforms being used? If it’s in person, where will it take place?

The conference will be held in person at The University of Mississippi in Oxford, Miss. PRSSA Members can expect to see workshops, panel sessions about trends in IMC, meals, breaks and more. 

We welcome senior communication leaders from well-known organizations including Boeing, C Spire, Toyota of Mississippi, The Las Vegas Raiders, Carnival Cruise Line, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, FedEx and CVS Health Corporation. 

Additionally, we have academics from the University of Florida, The Pennsylvania State University, California State University of North Ridge, University of South Carolina. Sankalp Sharma, the PRSSA National President, will be attending and leading a discussion as well. 

They will provide critical insights related to crisis communication, branding and visual communication, internal communications, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Diversity, Equity, Inclusion (DEI) and navigating a new landscape with artificial intelligence, deepfakes and more. 

Tell me about the speaker/session that excites you the most. Why should members tune in for this?

One of the sessions that I am looking forward to is “The Playbook for Success in Sports Communication” which will be held in the club area of the university’s football stadium, Vaught-Hemingway. Sports is an industry that never stops, with 24/7 news and social media updates that ensure the quickest way to get the word out about any team, player, coach and more. 

Another session that intrigues me is “The Power of Trust: Unleashing AI in Modern PR Tactics.” It will be interesting to know how AI will develop in the workforce and in the classroom. ChatGPT, Photoshop Beta, and other AI platforms are still new, and even though they can be very useful, they need to have rules and regulations.

Do you have any planned networking events? How will your conference allow members to connect?

We have planned networking events for PRSSA members, students and our invited professionals. We will have a high school outreach session, a tour around the “Most Beautiful Campus,” a crisis communication workshop, a resume review session, a career preparation tips session and a “networking break.” PRSSA members will have multiple opportunities to sit down with each other in hands-on workshops and enjoy exploring Oxford, Miss. together. 

How can members make the most of their conference experience?

To make the most out of the experience, keep in mind the invited professionals are there to connect with students and with each other. Students can connect with each other as peers and as upcoming professionals. The opportunity is there, you just have to take the steps. 

While approaching a new person can be intimidating, one piece of advice would be to have a card or a QR code ready with your LinkedIn profile. It will be a conversation starter and a way to make new connections in the industry. 

Outside of the IMC Connect! Scheduled events, take advantage of exploring a place that you have never been before. Oxford is a historic town and has much to offer. 

Attendees are encouraged to follow our social media @olemiss_prssa on Instagram and the University of Mississippi PRSSA on LinkedIn. Check out our website to stay updated on the latest conference news. To register, click here (the early bird rate expires on March 1), and to reserve your hotel room at the conference venue, The Inn at Ole Miss, click here. We will also be utilizing the Whova app for the event, so be sure to find us on this digital platform!

Carleigh Holt Harbin is a second-year IMC graduate student. She serves as the University of Mississippi Chapter President and is a graphic design lead and event photographer.

She has been recognized with the PRSSA National Gold Key Award, a testament to her outstanding achievements and dedication to PRSSA. 

Carleigh is pursuing a career in branding and marketing after receiving her master’s degree in IMC in May. She wants to find a job that lets her show both her creative and business side. 

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