Category Archives: Conferences

Beer, crisis and design: Regional Conference part three

By: Abby Cousineau

A recap of the last few sessions of PRSSA’s Regional Conference.

Being on the executive board of PRSSA has been a great experience this year. I have learned so much, gained lifelong friends and have gotten the chance to network with many professionals. However, as the end of my first year on E-Board was nearing, I realized I hadn’t attended any conferences, something I had wanted to do since initially joining PRSSA. Luckily for me, our Regional Conference was coming up in Grand Rapids and I decided there was no reason not to attend.

If you have kept up with our blog, you already read about Friday’s events from Hope Salyer, and the first part of Saturday from Nicole Raymond. The last few sessions of Saturday covered beer, crisis communications, and the importance of visual design in PR. So let’s jump in!

The first session after lunch was all about beer, and since we were in Beer City, USA (aka Grand Rapids) this was such an appropriate topic. We got to hear from marketing representatives from Founders (Grand Rapids’ OG brewery), Perrin and Brewery Vivant. Each marketer was coming from a different place, with Founders being a national brand, and Perrin and Brewery Vivant being fairly new to the game. Here are some of the takeaways:

  • Marketing beer is different than promoting other products because it’s a more personal relationship. Craft beer companies aim to provide an individual experience for each customer.
  • Marketers focus on beer reviews, social media influencers, one-on-one conversations with customers, samplings, beer festivals, and local media engagement to garner attention for their brands and products.

During the second session, we heard from local healthcare professionals from Mercy Health, Mary Free Bed and Spectrum Health about how to handle crisis situations. One thing our PR professors tell us over and over again is that it’s not whether a crisis will happen, but when one will happen. In other words, we must prepare for a crisis to happen. Some crisis communication tips the speakers mentioned were:

  • Having relationships with the media prior to a crisis is extremely helpful.
  • Be prepared in advance: have standby statements crafted, which can be used when information is being gathered. Have a crisis communication plan prepared in advance.
  • Utilize intranet systems to notify employees when a crisis occurs. Use texts, emails, printed materials, overhead intercom systems…whatever will get the word out the fastest.
  • Have a cellphone charger handy! In a crisis, things happen fast while the media, employees, and higher-ups are blowing up your phone looking for answers.

During the last session of the day, we got to hear from creative directors and designers from 834 Integrated Communications, BoxBoom Creative, and Visualhero Design Company about the importance of visual design in PR. The speakers discussed the creative process, overcoming creative block, and creative advice for PR students. This is what I took away from the conversation:

  • One of the most important parts of the creative process is research. Learn everything you can about your client, customers, and the message the client wants to convey.
  • Some of the best ways to get out of a creative rut are to: change your physical surroundings; don’t force yourself to be creative, just take a break and come back to the project; seclude yourself so you can focus; create a journey map and reference it frequently; use your team, bring in other people to brainstorm and get opinions; and look at many different visuals to get inspiration.
  • Some creative advice to PR students is to be curious, don’t be afraid to ask questions, and suspend judgement.

Attending Regional Conference was a great experience, and I would definitely recommend everyone go to at least one before graduating college!

Abby Cousineau is a junior at EMU majoring in public relations and minoring in graphic design and marketing. Abby is currently serving her first year on EMU PRSSA E-Board as social media director. She was drawn to social media because it allows her to merge her passions of writing and design. You can usually find her outside any time the weather is nice, or exploring the Ann Arbor restaurant scene. Connect with Abby on Twitter @abcattt.

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#PRinGR: Generation Grand Friday recap

By: Hope Salyer

You hear it all the time, “You need to network.” As college students juggling about one million and two things at a time, networking isn’t always at the top of our list. We think we’re “too busy” or we just don’t know where to start. Well, I’m here to let you know that your PRSSA Regional Conference is a great place to start.

I attended the Grand Rapids PRSSA Regional Conference this year with two of my fellow EMU PRSSA E-board members. We’ve decided to do a three-part series as a recap of the event, and I’m here to share my experience at the conference on Friday.

Hope and Nicole

Courtesy Photo

Friday morning started out with a road trip to Grand Rapids with Nicole. PRSSA conferences are a great way to connect with your fellow PRSSA members, and it all starts with the traveling experience. Just another reason to join your local PRSSA Chapter.

Once we arrived at the DeVos Center, we headed straight to our first stop on our tour of Grand Rapids: Wolverine Worldwide. When we got to Wolverine, we were greeted by friendly staff members, and taken to a large conference room where we had the chance to hear from Corporate Communications Manager Ainslee Neitzel.

Speaker 1

Courtesy Photo

Neitzel talked to the group about her perspective on corporate communications. One of the biggest questions PR majors have to face as they near graduation is what type of PR they want to go into. Typically, the top three choices are agency, corporate or nonprofit. Most PR students, however, focus on the differences between agency and corporate and this group was no different.

After Neitzel gave a brief background on herself and what her day-to-day job looks like (hint: no two days are the same), Neitzel offered to do a question and answer session. It’s no surprise then that most of the questions focused on what corporate communication is like.

Most students typically go on agency tours and learn a lot about what agency life is like, but the corporate side is kind of like that shadowy area in the Lion King: it’s just unknown and off limits.

Lion King Meme

Created using IMGflip

Following the Q&A at Wolverine Worldwide, the group traveled down the street to Seyforth PR. The agency gave us an interactive tour of the facility and allowed us to see the projects the teams are working on. There was also a brief presentation on the team’s work with McDonald’s, which of course included some free T-shirts and coupons!

The night ended with a networking mixer at Lambert Edwards & Associate’s Grand Rapids office.

For more information on Saturday’s events and sessions, check out Nicole and Abby’s posts on our blog!

Hope Salyer is a junior public relations major and journalism and communication double minor. Hope is serving as the Chief Financial Officer of EMU PRSSA. This is Hope’s first semester serving for the PRSSA E-Board. A Michigan native, she hopes to start her career working for an agency in the Detroit area. Her dream is to become the public relations coordinator for the Detroit Tigers. Contact Hope on Twitter @hsalyer01 or by email hsalyer@emich.edu.

#PRinGR: Doing the right thing

By: Nicole Raymond

Conferences are a great way to build a network in your related field, but they also provide information to help you succeed and better yourself as a professional in your career. The Generation Grand Regional Public Relations Student Society of America Conference was full of networking and learning opportunities for students from across the region. The weekend-long event consisted of tours, networking opportunities, sessions, and panels on several different facets of public relations.

While there were several sessions with amazing learning opportunities throughout the weekend, I decided to focus on the Saturday morning sessions, which were titled “PR for the Earth: Green Thinking” and “PR for a Better World: Corporate Responsibility.”

panel

Photo Credit: GVSU Twitter

“PR for the Earth: Green Thinking” was moderated by Adam Russo from COM 161 and was filled with professionals from organizations that were serious about sustainability. This session focused on how organizations can make an impact in their community and in their world by rooting the idea of sustainability in their business culture and the effects of sustainable practices on an organization’s bottom line. Sharon Darby from Cascade Engineering stated that if you do what is good for the environment and the people, it will be good for business. However, another panelist Josh Leffingwell from Well Design Studio says that it is no longer newsworthy when organizations do good, rather it is a baseline that an organization must go above and beyond to be recognized by the media. People want sustainable products made by sustainable companies and many consumers will search for these sustainable practices and buy from organizations that have a sustainable commitment. When it comes to sustainability, there is always more that can be done and there is always room for improvement. Sustainability is becoming increasingly important in a society that votes with their money on the most sustainable organizations and products. When an organization commits to a culture of sustainable practices it will bring in customers and build a business.

panel 2

Courtesy Photo

The second session was “PR for a Better World: Corporate Responsibility” moderated by Dino Baskovic from Vincena and was paneled by Stacie Behler from Meijer, Michelle Meulendyk from Amway, Audra Hartges from Steelcase, and Kelley Freridge from Wolverine World Wide. This session outlined why corporate responsibility is important for organizations and how those organizations can choose the corporate responsibility initiative that is right for them and the communities in which they reside. Community development is the footprint that is left behind. One of the first questions was “Why should corporate social responsibility be a priority of organizations?” Meulendyk answered by stating if we don’t, then who will?

Another ‘why’ factor of corporate responsibility is it’s the right thing and organizations should always be willing to do what is right. Consumers are creating a culture where corporate responsibility matters and not just talking, but doing and seeing the impact through the bottom line, social and feedback. Each community is different and Behler explained the importance of doing good in the community by matching community needs to the acts of service or donations provided to the community by businesses. Panelists were also asked how to help employees think of corporate social responsibility and the desire to make the community a better place by their employees. They explained that it was important to instill a culture of service within the work community and hire those who already have that culture instilled in them.

The earth and the community are important to our society and can play an important role in the money making ability of an organization. As more consumers care about how their products were made, it has become more important for businesses to practice green thinking and corporate responsibility.

Nicole Raymond is senior majoring in public relations and double minoring in marketing and communications. This is her first year serving on EMU PRSSA’s E-Board as VP of External Relations. Nicole is a wife, aunt, daughter, sister and friend. Connect with her on Twitter and Instagram @nicoleraymond74.

3 reasons why you should attend Regional Conference

By: Andrea Mellendorf

emu-prssa-at-regional-conference

Image courtesy of EMU PRSSA on Facebook (EMU PRSSA at Regional Conference last year, hosted by Wayne State University).

Regional Conference is just around the corner! What is Regional Conference, you might be wondering? Regional Conference is an opportunity to hear from speakers and panelists from the public relations industry, network with your peers and professionals, and travel to a new place!

Regional Conferences take place all over the United States—you can check all of them out here. The Regional Conference closest to us this year is in April, hosted by Grand Valley State University and Ferris State University. Having a hard time deciding whether you should attend? Here are three reasons why attending a Regional Conference is a great idea:

  1. Networking

Regional Conferences are an awesome opportunity to start to get to know people in your field. Use this opportunity to strengthen your relationship with your fellow Chapter members, get to know public relations peers from around the country, and even network with professionals in the industry.

  1. Educational value.

Enhance your experience in the classroom by supplementing your coursework with a day at a professional conference. You will hear first-hand about some of the challenges, successes, failures and joys that professionals in the industry have experienced. Learn from their mistakes and what they wish they would have known, and apply that knowledge to your own PR journey!

  1. Travel

Regional Conferences are held all over the country, so attending one is your opportunity to see a new place! For example, the Generation Grand: PR in GR conference is held in Grand Rapids, Mich., which happens to be one of the greatest cities on Earth, and my hometown.

Overall, Regional Conferences are the perfect opportunity for you to continue to grow as a student and as a public relations professional. Be sure to check out all of the Regional Conference opportunities available to you, and pick one to attend!

Andrea Mellendorf is a senior and serves as the Chapter President for EMU PRSSA. She previously has served as the Chief Financial Officer and Vice President of Special Events and Programs for EMU PRSSA, and as an intern for the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum. Andrea currently is the Social Media Operator for The Honors College where she manages their Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and for the College of Arts and Sciences, where she manages their Facebook and Twitter. Connect with Andrea on Twitter – @AndreaMell!

PRSSA Regional Conference in April! Learn more here!

There will be a PRSSA Regional Conference on April 7 through April 9 in Grand Rapids, Mich. Grand Valley State University and Ferris State University are hosting the conference, “Generation Grand: Experience PR in GR.” According to the event’s website, guests will hear about a variety of topics, including corporate responsibility, green thinking, place and space making, keeping talent in the Midwest, maintaining a creative community, and much more.

The conference’s schedule and registration details can be found here.

All Access Digital Conference on April 15!

Central Michigan University’s PRSSA chapter will be hosting the All Access Digital Conference Friday, April 15 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. According to the Eventbrite page, “This conference will feature digital experts from Edelman, Cars.com, General Motors and others” (source).

Tickets for the event can be purchased here. More information, including a schedule of the day, speaker bios, and registration information, can be found here.

PRSSA Regional Conference in March! Learn more here!

There will be a PRSSA Regional Conference on March 18 and 19 in Detroit. Michigan State University and Wayne State University are hosting the conference, “The Tale of Our City: PR’s Role in Detroit’s Revitalization.” According to the event’s website, “MSU and WSU PRSSA Chapters’ goal is to educate students and professionals on how to change an entity’s image on a macro level and the opportunities Detroit has to offer them in the professional world” (source).

A mixer will be held March 18 and the conference will be held March 19. Admission for the mixer is $10. PRSSA member conference admission is $30, and $35 for non-members.

The conference’s schedule can be found here. Information on admission and the link to buy tickets can be found here.