Category Archives: PRSSA

6 Things Incoming PR Majors Should Know

By Heather Pruitt

At the beginning of 2017, I was given the opportunity to become a Group Leader as a part of Eastern Michigan University’s Orientation program. As someone who loves interacting with people, and has a passion for Eastern, working this job has become one of my favorite things to do.

However, my favorite part about being an Orientation Group Leader is getting to know the incoming students. I am excited for them to find their place at Eastern, just as I have found mine, and to start writing their own story while they’re at college.

I enjoy talking with all students at FastTrack (the segment of orientation where students register for classes) but nothing gets me more excited than meeting a future PR major. Even though I have only encountered a handful, I am incredibly excited for everything that they are about to experience when they start PR at EMU.

While I am excited to see the students start their journey at Eastern, there is nothing that I want to do more than to tell them everything I wish I had known when I started. But with one short day, it can be a little intense for incoming students to register for classes, get their first taste of college, and be bombarded with advice about their program all in one day. So I decided to create a list of the six things I wish I knew about PR as an incoming freshman.

Learn to love writing.

When I started the program, I expected to exclusively be planning events, posting on social media, and standing up in front of my class giving presentations about the future of Facebook. While these aspects are apart of the Public Relations program, I was in the dark about how important writing is in the world of PR. Press releases, feature articles, crafting newsletters, and blog posts, are all incredibly important parts of PR. So learn to love writing, learn to love your writing, because it will become an important part of your life.

Start networking from the beginning

Within the first few weeks of starting my freshman year, I decided to join PRSSA. I’ll be honest- joining PRSSA freaked me out because I had to learn to network and get acclimated to college life. How was I, an 18-year-old, who was stressed about finding new friends, supposed to network with professionals for a career that was years away? I found that having someone in the program who I felt comfortable asking questions to, and getting help from, was reassuring. They can help ease any worries you have about entering the world of PR. Additionally, the earlier your start networking, the more people you come in contact with, which can benefit you in the long run.

Join PRSSA

Joining PRSSA is great way to start networking and to learn about PR. It allows you to learn how to network, as well as give you information about subjects that are relevant to the PR world. Joining PRSSA also gives you the chance for great leadership opportunities in and out of the organization.

Invest in a ‘professional outfit’

When I started college, I had no idea what clothes would identify as ‘business casual’. I didn’t even know when or why I would need them! I found that it is important to invest in clothing that is appropriate for the occasion. While it may not be frequent when you start college, there will be occasions that require you to dress in business casual and possibly business professional. Make sure that you are prepared and have outfits that fit criteria. Having the wrong outfit can leave the wrong impression! However, if you are unsure about what outfits are business casual or business professional, there are lots of ideas on Pinterest!

Make time to do a little PR everyday.

Make an investment to look at a PR blog a few times a week to stay updated with the ever changing world of PR. There are some professors who like to use current events as teaching points for their classes. When you are up to date, it gives you an advantage to speak up in class, and really helps fuel class discussions. Additionally, if you don’t have a lot of time I recommend subscribing to Help A Reporter Out (HARO). HARO is an online database that helps journalists with upcoming stories. They send you emails several times a day with topics that are relevant. This is a great way to stay updated on current trends.

Set out a timeline of how you want things to go.

It is one thing to know that there are goals you want to accomplish in college, however, it is another thing to achieve those goals. Create a timeline of what you want to do in your college career, and set dates to accomplish those goals by.

Heather Pruitt is a junior majoring in Public Relations. This is her first year serving as VP of Member Relations.

Why you should write for PRSSA

By: Josie Bobeck

why you should write for prssa

Image created by Josie Bobeck using Canva

The PRSSA blog features a wide array of topics, from recaps of events to current events to what’s new in the world of social media and PR. Did you know you can be featured on the PRSSA blog, too? It’s super easy, so why wouldn’t you? Here are the top three reasons why you should write for the PRSSA blog:

  1. It gives you practice writing. The more you write, the better you become at it. Figuring out a topic and writing about it, and potentially rewriting it until you’re happy with it, only improves your writing skills. Writing is a huge part of PR, so it’s best to start now.
  2. It gives you a taste of what a part of PR is. Not sure what you want to do? Maybe you’re thinking of media relations or social media strategy, but chances are you might have to write a blog post at some point in your career. The more blogs you write, the more comfortable you are with AP style, formatting and brainstorming, so why not?
  3. You’ll get to say you’re published. Yep, we’re official! Writing for our blog is an awesome resume builder, and it can help you build your writing portfolio for when you apply for jobs.

Are you interested in writing for the PRSSA blog? Send your post and graphic, plus a 75-word bio to our VP of Public Relations to be featured! Posts should be anything PR, social media, communications, journalism, business, and professional development related.

Josie Bobeck is a junior majoring in communications with a minor in marketing. This is her first year serving on PRSSA E-Board as VP of Member Relations. Josie likes music, writing, traveling and people.

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.

Dear PRSSA: Thank you!

By: Andrea Mellendorf

Dear PRSSA,

I’m not sure how to properly thank or say goodbye to an organization that’s given me so much in four years, but here we go.

Thank you for the years or professional development. For the professionals you have introduced me to who have contributed so much to my public relations success. Thank you for the agency tours, the workshops, the conferences, and more. For all of the things that have helped me grow in the profession outside of the classroom.

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Thank you for the mentorship. For introducing me to the people who are some of my most impactful mentors now. For providing relationships that will last a lifetime. For creating a support system to help me navigate this crazy college life and the PR career that will eventually follow.

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Thank you for the countless adventures. From Atlanta to Indianapolis to Austin to Seattle, this has been an adventure even greater than I could have imagined when I first came to a meeting four years ago. I’ve learned so much about myself just through fully immersing myself in this society in all corners of the country.

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Thank you for the challenges. I’ve learned the true art of resiliency and mastered the art of problem solving thanks to you. These have been some of the greatest life lessons and I wouldn’t trade any of the challenges for the world.

Thank you for the scholarship opportunities. Seriously, college is so expensive, so enough said here.

Thank you for the leadership opportunities. Serving this society as Chapter President for the past year+ has been one of my greatest honors. Working with some of the most brilliant student leaders I know has helped me to become a stronger leader, better collaborator, and all around team player.

Thank you for the friendships. For the lifelong PRSSbAes who I know will always be there for me no matter where I go. I can’t wait to watch them thrive in this field and change the world through strategic communication. I know they will do incredible things.

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Thank you for being such a major part of my four years at Eastern Michigan University. For helping me to grow into a better person, stronger leader, and more prepared member of the public relations profession. My PRSSA career may be coming to an end, but I’ll forever and always be a PRSSbAE in my heart.

Sincerely,

Andrea

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!

 

What a great ride it’s been!

By: Jordan Ross

Coming into college, I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do with my life.

I started college as a computer engineering technology major, before switching to computer science, and then making the drastic leap over to journalism. If that sounded like a whirlwind reading, I can assure you that’s what it felt like living it as well. There were aspects of all of those majors that I really enjoyed, but none of them seemed to have that “it” factor.

Stuck and not knowing exactly what to do, I went to McKenny Hall to talk to an advisor at the University Advising and Career Development Center. While in the lobby waiting for my appointment, I noticed a rack of small handouts that had information about what career paths you could take with different majors. Next to the handout for journalism was a handout for public relations.

At the time, I had only heard sparingly what public relations actually was, but going into the meeting I knew I wanted to learn more about it. That conversation ended up changing my life, and here I am today getting ready to get my degree in public relations.

Four years ago, if you would have told me that I would be graduating college with a degree in public relations, the first thing I would’ve asked was “what the heck is public relations?” But now, I feel like the education I’ve received has prepared me for my next chapter in life.

That education not only applies to within the classroom, thanks to the professors who I could tell truly cared about my education, but also outside of the classroom, thanks to experiences like being in PRSSA.

From being a member who couldn’t even make it to all the meetings due to having a busy work schedule, to being elected the vice president of professional development, my college experience has shown me that anything is possible.

I’ll be continuing my education this upcoming fall semester as a graduate student at Eastern Michigan University, and I can truly say that everything I’ve learned and experienced during my time as an undergrad has prepared me for all that is to come next in my journey.

As you may have heard people say, college isn’t easy. There may be some days where you feel like you can’t do it anymore and you just want to give up. But take my advice: DON’T. My parents once told me before I started my first day of classes, that college is a marathon, not a race. Over the years, I couldn’t help but to remember that advice and understand how true those words are.

There’s been a lot of twists and turns along the way to get to where I am now. There’s been great times, and there’s been not so great times. But no matter what, I wouldn’t go back and change a single thing. Everything that we go through shapes us to become the people we are, and after looking back, it truly has been a great ride.

Thank you PRSSA, and to those I’ve had the opportunity to meet due to being in it. It’s an experience that I will never forget for the rest of my life.

Jordan PRSSA

Source: EMU PRSSA Facebook

Jordan Ross is a senior at Eastern Michigan University majoring in public relations and minoring in communications. Jordan is in his first semester serving as the vice president of professional development for EMU’s Eleanor Wright Chapter of PRSSA. Jordan is also a member of EMU’s Honors College and serves as the president of the EMU Student Center Student Employee Advisory Committee. You can find Jordan on Twitter @_JJRoss

 

                                                                                               

 

Things I gained from PRSSA E-Board

By: Andrea Mellendorf

The past four years have been a wild ride. Four years of college have been busy and filled with classes, jobs, homework, fun, and of course, PRSSA. Serving on the PRSSA E-Board for three years has given me countless opportunities to build my portfolio and resume, and network with students and professionals from around the world. With E-Board elections next week, I thought I would share a few things I’ve gained from serving on E-Board:

  1. Connections

Being on E-Board has connected me with student leaders on campus, as well as professionals from the area and from the public relations industry, and universities around the world. These connections have helped connect me to opportunities in the field and mentors who truly care about my professional growth and experiences.

  1. Leadership experience.

Yeah, it might be a cliche, but E-Board has taught me how to serve as a leader in a productive and respectable way. Working as a team for a common goal is a very valuable aspect of public relations, and something that I experienced and enhanced as a member of E-Board.

  1. Conference experience.

Being on E-Board has opened up opportunities to travel to conferences all over the country. From regional conferences here in the state to national events in Atlanta,  Austin, Texas and coming up in Seattle, becoming more involved with PRSSA has provided opportunities that I never thought were possible.

  1. Lifelong friends.

PRSSbAes, enough said.

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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!

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!