Intersections: The Meeting Place of Communications and Culture

For five days, our nation’s capital buzzed with over 2,000 professionals and students from across the nation to discuss a shared passion. Each of these individuals came to D.C with hopes to make connections and discuss the profession that drew them together- public relations. On Oct. 10-14, the Public Relations Student Society of America held their annual national conference and allowed professionals and pre-professionals to coalesce and share their zeal for public relations.

This year, the conference took place in Washington, D.C and 15 students from JMU Chapter of PRSSA were able to take part in this beneficial opportunity, with 6 students as volunteers for the conference. The National Conference is an effort to bring together PRSSA members across the nation and help them develop as pre-professionals and allow them an opportunity to network with other professionals in the field. PRSA, the professional network, also held their 2014 International Conference at the same time and shared some sessions with PRSSA members.

“The knowledge obtained from the sessions, along with going to a professional conference, better prepared me for the workforce,” said Caylor Feeley, junior public relations student and member of JMU Chapter of PRSSA.

While there were some sessions dedicated to chapter development, most of the PRSSA National Conference sessions focused on professional development. Those were from “re-booting your resume” to “keeping media relations relevant.” Many of these were delivered by public relations professionals for well-known companies, such as Ketchum and The Clorox Company. Some PRSA general sessions were also opened to PRSSA members, two of which were given by Amy Robach, news anchor for Good Morning America, and Mike Buckley, Vice President of Global Business Communications for Facebook.

Networking was another benefit of attending this conference.  “Learning how to network is a huge skill that anyone should know how to do, not just a PR practitioner,” said Amy McCallister, senior public relations student and member of JMU Chapter of PRSSA, “but as an aspiring PR practitioner, it is important the one hones in on this idea, because that is how one moves up in the public relations world.” McCallister explained that, for her, the PRSSA 2014 National Conference was an opportunity to network and meet others in the field. “Everyone was handing out business cards and asking for your name to find on LinkedIn,” added McCallister, “you will never her a better networking experience than from the PRSSA National Conference, and the connections you make will last a lifetime.”

Not only was this an opportunity to develop as professionals, it also provided an opportunity to give back. Six of the JMU Chapter of PRSSA members helped out as volunteers, including Frances White, a senior public relations student. “By volunteering, I got to meet leaders from other chapters, the hosting chapter, as well as the PRSSA/PRSA staff. It allowed me to make connections with individuals who organized the event. To me, the PRSSA National Conference is networking,” said White.

The PRSSA 2014 National Conference offered students the opportunity to better their craft and help them develop into the public relations practitioner that they aspire to be. JMU Chapter of PRSSA members who attended the conference benefitted from this opportunity and look forward to a long-term application of the skills that they learned over a short five days.

Next year’s conference will be held in Atlanta, Georgia from Nov. 8-10.