Category Archives: PRSSA

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.

The struggle with recruiting

By: Nikki Mikolon


Photo created by Nikki Mikolon using Canva

Every organization focuses on recruiting whether it’s a school or sorority. All groups want more people to join their membership to be able to share their experiences with others. These organizations want to scream to the sky why they are the best fit for each individual.

Recently, our PRSSA Chapter attended the Winter Festival for organizations on Eastern Michigan University’s campus to recruit new members of the student body. Students, new and current, come to the event to check out the two hundred and one organizations at EMU.

Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) Chapters all over the nation struggle with recruiting new members, especially small Chapters like EMU’s. How does one convince a college student that joining a “professional development” organization is more beneficial than just for his or her resume?

The national site for PRSSA does list some ways to help with recruiting new members, but here are some reasons why joining PRSSA changed my college experience:

1. Adventure

Joining PRSSA with EMU and other Chapters across the country gives students the opportunity to explore their studies, the PR field, and even the world! Since joining PRSSA, I have been able to visit more than half a dozen pubic relations firms and other agencies. I have also been able to travel to the National Conference in Indianapolis and other members have traveled to Texas and Alabama with PRSSA.


EMU PRSSA at National Conference 2016

2. Skill builder.

As a member of PRSSA, I have had the pleasure to be on the executive board in a couple of different positions. These positions have given me endless opportunities to benefit from. Through these positions, I now have experience with blog writing, working with other professionals in the field, and even event planning. This organization has also given me the opportunity to speak at the National Conference and give a professional presentation in front of many other members in the society.

Being part of the PRSSA Bateman Competition is also a great “resume” builder. Bateman gives members like myself a chance to put together, and most importantly, execute a PR campaign for the chosen client.


EMU PRSSA at National Conference 2016

3. Lifelong connections.

One of the most important benefits one receives from joining a “professional development” organization like PRSSA is the lasting relationships fostered along the way. Being a commuter, it is hard to “fit in” or find a place at a university. It is human nature to want to be a part of something, and being in PRSSA, myself and other members have found their place with people aspiring to the same goals. Not only have I found lifelong friends through PRSSA, but I have also made professional connections that I would not have without this organization.


EMU PRSSA at Wiard’s social outing

The moral of the story is, just because an organization is meant to be professional, doesn’t mean that it isn’t fun or comes without its perks. Thank you to the society for all the opportunities to prosper and thank you to the friends made along the way that made my experiences even better.

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.

National Conference from my eyes

By: Nikki Mikolon


Photo created by Nikki Mikolon using Canva

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, 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.

Rebranding like a girl: What we can learn from Vera Bradley

By: Andrea Mellendorf



At the 2016 PRSSA National Conference, I had the awesome opportunity to attend a session about corporate rebranding, led by Holly Wagner from Vera Bradley. Now, if you’ve ever seen me around campus or been in my apartment, you’ve probably noticed that I’m a huge Vera fan, so of course I was not going to pass up the opportunity to hear from one of my favorite brands. What I expected to be a presentation that piqued my interest because of the brand itself, turned into some of the most valuable rebranding lessons ever shared with me.

In her presentation, Holly highlighted some really important key points to keep in mind when developing, redeveloping and critiquing your brand. These are things that her team discussed, discovered and took to heart during the “It’s Good to be a Girl” campaign sponsored by Vera Bradley that launched in August. Here are a few:

  • You are never just marketing to your target audience—you are marketing to everyone and hoping it reaches the target audience in an effective way.
  • Want to be relevant? Better be engaging with millennials.
  • Drive your brand visibility through multiple platforms and opportunities.
  • Engage, engage, engage! Loyal stakeholders are created through engagement.
  • Create social energy surrounding your brand.

In addition to these key tidbits, Holly mentioned more than once that “everything has a beautiful solution.” She used this phrase in reference to the problems that the rebrand was trying to address. Though they were indeed problems, Holly’s team elected to look at them as opportunities that held the potential to have a beautiful, better and fruitful solution. As an up-and-coming practitioner, this positivity during times of change or adaptation is one that I look forward to bringing to my workplace.

In the presentation, rebranding was also described as “an evolution, not a revolution.” So often, brands lose every element of their genuine selves while attempting to reinvent their product, service or social strategy, which in the end confuses, upsets or loses the attention of stakeholders. Vera Bradley viewed their rebrand as an evolution of their brand as they grow to the next big thing.

So not only is Vera Bradley a company that sells adorable and practical backpacks and accessories for me as a college student, they also provide top-notch lessons in rebranding and public relations to me as a student. I look forward to someday entering a career with an awesome Vera bag and useful knowledge of rebranding!

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!

Why I’m excited for National Conference—and you should be too

By: Josie Bobeck

This October, the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) will be holding the organization’s National Conference in Indianapolis, and I could not be more excited! The theme of the conference this year is “Crossroads of Public Relations,” which is appropriate since PR is so broad. Here are four reasons why I’m excited for this year’s conference.

 1. Traveling!

I’ve always heard so many wonderful things about Indy. I’m excited to get to experience a new city with a student organization I’m so passionate about with people that I love spending time with.

2. Conference sessions.

So many interesting presentations will be held by the best of the best in the industry, which could not be more beneficial. Sessions include nonprofit PR, the tourism industry, creating effective campaigns, entertainment PR in the Midwest, blogging, and event planning—just to name a handful!

3. Networking.

Between all of the PRSSA members and industry professionals, it’s almost impossible not to make connections with those who could be future employers or colleagues in the industry. If you don’t have business cards, now is a good time to make some!

4. Presenting!

This is the first time the EMU Eleanor Wright Chapter of PRSSA has ever presented at National Conference, and while I’m super nervous to be one of three executive board members presenting (shout out to Andrea and Nikki—we make a great team), it will be a wonderful experience. The goal is to inspire other Chapters, which will be easy breezy!

National Conference is going to be a great experience, and I could not be more fortunate to be able to attend! To learn more, visit

Josie Bobeck is a junior majoring in public relations with a double minor in electronic media and film studies, and marketing, and serves as VP of Member Relations in PRSSA. She hopes to one day work in the entertainment/pop culture industry. Josie loves her dogs, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and has freckles on her arm shaped like the little dipper. You can connect with her on Twitter at @JosieBobeckPR.

7 reasons to join PRSSA this fall

By: Andrea Mellendorf


Connecting with PRSSA members from around the country at National Assembly in Austin, Texas in March 2016. Photo source: Facebook

A new year is upon us, which means another awesome year of PRSSA is about to begin! With our kick-off meeting right around the corner, it’s time to reflect on seven of the many reasons why joining PRSSA is the right choice for you.

  1. Professional connections.

Through annual events, such as the Student Development Conference and Speed Mentoring, as well as off-campus visits to public relations agencies, your membership in PRSSA will help you gain valuable professional connections that could potentially help you as you search for jobs and internships or look to sharpen up your resume.

  1. Friendships

Join us for social events throughout the year and meet new friends who are studying similar majors as you! Your PRSSA friendships will not only be a support system to you throughout college, but will also serve as valuable connections when you eventually transition into the career field.

  1. Conferences

Every year EMU PRSSA hosts the annual Student Development Conference right here on campus, and some of our members even travel off campus throughout the year for national-level PRSSA events, such as National Conference, National Assembly or Regional Conference. These conference experiences provide an opportunity to meet PR students from around the country, gain insights from varying perspectives and make new connections.

  1. Scholarships

Scholarships are available to PRSSA members locally from our parent Chapter, PRSA Detroit, and nationally from the PRSSA headquarters. With tuition prices these days, need I say more?

  1. Monthly Workshops.

EMU PRSSA brings speakers to campus each month as part of our monthly workshop series. At these workshops you will have the opportunity to learn skills from professionals in the field and even try your hand at whatever the topic is. Previous workshop topics have included crisis communication and media relations.

  1. Internships

As a PRSSA member, you have access to the national internship database, which can be used to help you find your dream internship! Finding an internship doesn’t have to be overwhelming, and PRSSA is here to help you!

  1. Leadership opportunities.

Every year, EMU PRSSA holds elections for their next executive board. By getting involved with PRSSA you have the opportunity to gain resume-building experience as a leader on campus in our Chapter.

  1. Campaign experience.

EMU PRSSA members have an opportunity to potentially serve as a Bateman team member. The Bateman team is a group of PRSSA members who compete in a national campaign competition and complete work for a real client. If you are interested in getting hands on experience, Bateman is a unique and fulfilling opportunity for you!

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 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.