TU Invitational Conference Recap: Authenticity and Accountability Wins Votes 

Among the highest and most powerful individuals in the government, there is someone in the background curating their image. They may not always be recognized but deserve the same amount of credit as the elected official.  

Temple University’s Public Relations Student Society of America hosted its TU Invitational Conference on Saturday, April 6, 2024. This year’s theme was “PRoltics,” focusing on the field of communications within government and politics and was held at Temple University’s Center City Campus in Philadelphia. Speakers from all different backgrounds enlightened attendees with their past experiences and thoughts on the current state of communication politics. 

Breakout Session Takeaways: 

Communications Director for Philadelphia City Council President Kenyatta Johnson, Vincent Thompson, noted the importance of allowing your public officials to be themselves. This allows the individual to create their own brand and following based on authenticity. In relation to crisis communications, Thompson believes it’s okay to admit fault. We all make mistakes and it’s easier to fess up than to cover up. 

Keynote Speaker Brendan McPhillips, Senior Advisor for Joe Biden’s campaign in Pennsylvania, spoke about his experiences of being a campaign manager for several public officials. He expressed the value of representing a candidate you truly believe in. He asks himself, why does a candidate want to run, and do they want to make a difference? Do they have a true platform to run on?

McPhillips vocalizes the idea of “defining your opponent before they define you.”

District Director for Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon, Lauren Cox, expressed her thoughts on the importance of media in government communication with five keys to success. Cox suggested those in positions with the media need to be careful of what is said. It is okay to wait to get the right information, compared to sharing something that is not 100% correct. 

  1. Build Relationships
  2. Work Quickly 
  3. Commit to Accuracy  
  4. Be Transparent
  5. Take Accountability

Overall Takeaways: 

  • Trusting your gut is never wrong, go with what you believe the right decision to be.  
  • You never get sued for what’s not in the newspaper: It is okay to not say anything, rather be safe than sorry. 
  • All communication tactics are important and should be valued in a campaign. 
  • The policies your candidate may want to run by are not always widely known, so find a way to sprinkle them in. 
  • One mistake can follow you for the rest of your career, be careful of what is shared  publicly. 
  • Be accurate at all costs, if not, someone will prove you wrong. 

Although this conference highlighted the importance of communication within politics, it also brought up essential topics for all those in the public relations field. Such as being vulnerable and transparent to the media, in addition to knowing your candidate’s narrative before you can frame how to tell their story. 

For more information on this year’s conference and announcements for future Temple University PRSSA conferences, follow our Instagrams @templeprolitics @templeprssa

Julia Anderson is a sophomore at Temple University, majoring in public relations with a minor in sports management. She has been involved with PRSSA since her freshman year and is currently the director of fundraising for her Chapter. Outside of PRSSA, she works for The Temple News running their social media accounts and a peer mentor for Klein College of Media Communication. Julia’s dream profession is to work in sports public relations with the ultimate goal of working for a sports network or team. You can connect with her on Linkedin

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