By: Nikki Mikolon
Hundreds of students across the country, and even some from Peru paid a visit to Indianapolis at the end of October for the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) National Conference.
The energy in the city over the five days of National Conference was high as PR students from all over dressed their best to meet and mingle with fellow students and PR professionals in the field.
A national-level event in the society is different from events held at Chapter levels; even regional conferences don’t quite match up to the precedent that the National Conference sets for the society.
A reoccurring theme this year that was mentioned countless times at agency tours and workshops, and was reiterated at National Conference, was the idea of uniqueness. According to Dictionary.com, to be unique is “having no like or equal; unparalleled; or incomparable.”
We as a Chapter do not quite do things exactly like the society as a whole or other Chapters, and this is due to the fact that we are unique.
This type of uniqueness does not mean that we cannot compare. The Eleanor Wright EMU PRSSA Chapter operates in different ways and has a significantly smaller Chapter than many that we encountered at National Conference; this is not to say that we don’t have something different to bring to the table.
Myself and two other members of EMU PRSSA had the pleasure of presenting a Chapter development session on the first day of the conference. We were pleased to learn that many of the topics we discussed intrigued many other Chapters, as they wanted to take back our ideas to their Chapters and implement our processes. This brings me to my next point.
EMU PRSSA is different than other Chapters, as we as individuals are distinct from one another. Sure we are learning similar course material, general procedures, and skills needed to succeed in the PR field. But the biggest takeaway from National Conference is that as we are reaching near the end of our education, there is no right or wrong way to go. There is no cookie cutter key to success to do well in this business. Of course, there are the several skills repeated to us over and over again, such as being good writers, staying curious and networking with people. These are all skills that are going to get us far in our careers, but the greatest thing about PR is that we are allowed to be unique.
Being unique is what will set us apart from all those who believe they live and breath PR. The nature of PR is unpredictable. We need those unique people and unique perspectives that will bring new ideas to the table. We need those crazy ideas that someone may go with and say, “That just might work!”
In the realm of PR, it always seems like there is a checklist of things that aspiring practitioners need to be “successful.” But on the flip side, the idea of uniqueness has been changing my own perspective on the topic.
The uniqueness of PR is the reason why it is so hard to define. It is also the reason why I fell in love with it. We are individuals with contrasting likes, dislikes and passions. There is no one way to be successful in PR. There are so many branches of the field and something for everyone, no matter who you are. As long as you have the right mindset, you are destined to go far in the field wherever you may fit in.
In closing, as students or practicing practitioners, don’t try too hard to fit in. Find what fits you best and make it your own.
Nikki Mikolon is a senior majoring in public relations and minoring in marketing. As a Detroit native, she hopes to spend her beginning years working for the city and being a part of its renaissance. Connect with Nikki on Twitter @nikkimikolon.