The Comeback Chapter: How Engagement and Strategy Revitalized Appalachian State University’s PRSSA Chapter

Our PRSSA Chapter at Appalachian State University has experienced remarkable growth after nearly falling apart two years ago. By focusing on key strategies and engaging activities, we were able to revive the Chapter while doubling our membership.

As the president, one of the first steps in our Chapter’s turnaround was creating a sense of community. We rescheduled our meetings from 6:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., which led to an increase in attendance. Additionally, by incorporating fun activities like PR-themed Kahoot! games and pizza bashes, we created a welcoming atmosphere that encouraged participation.

Through targeted outreach to communication and public relations majors, we increased our paid membership from 16 in February 2023 to 35 in March 2024, marking a 118% increase. This growth was driven by attending club fairs to engage with new students, creating a GroupMe to improve communication, and a refreshed social media strategy, including a new Instagram presence and the creation of a LinkedIn profile to connect with students and professionals.

Re-establishing connections with our PRSA Sponsor Chapter, Western Carolina PRSA, played a crucial role in our growth. A fall mixer drew about 30 students, compared to none the previous year, and helped strengthen relationships with PR professionals and creating mentorship opportunities.

To keep the momentum going, we expanded our activities from 8 meetings in the previous academic year to 12 events for this year. These events included professional development workshops, guest speakers, and fundraising initiatives like our Valentine’s Day-themed event.

To improve our administrative efficiency, we introduced Venmo for collecting membership dues and established online banking for easier transactions. These changes made it simpler for our members to participate and contributed to our Chapter’s growth.

Our PR efforts saw a significant boost as well. We organized Instagram content into distinct categories, launched a “Senior Sunday Spotlight” series, and actively shared relevant content with other accounts. This led to a dramatic increase in our social media engagement, further strengthening our Chapter’s reach.

The journey from a struggling Chapter to a thriving one has been challenging but incredibly rewarding. We are excited about our future and are dedicated to sharing our success with other Chapters and professionals in the field.

As we continue to grow, our leadership team is committed to maintaining our focus on innovation, community, and professional development. With a strong foundation in place, we’re poised for continued success in the years to come.

Autumn Dagenhardt is a spring 2024 graduate from Appalachian State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Relations. She is currently gaining valuable experience as the marketing intern at Blumenthal Arts in Charlotte, NC. During her time at Appalachian State, she served as the Chapter president of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) and worked as a marketing and communication assistant at the College of Arts and Sciences. Autumn has a solid foundation in strategic communication, PR writing and visual content creation, complemented by her roles as a lead brand ambassador for Boston Beer Company, promoting Truly Hard Seltzer and Twisted Tea. She also completed a rewarding internship at Blue Ridge Energy, focusing on community and public relations. Outside of her academic and professional pursuits, Autumn has a passion for acting in commercials and films. She is excited to apply her diverse skill set and continue her journey in the field of public relations.

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