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2019 PRSSA International Conference

Members of St. John Fisher’s Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) and St. John Fisher’s Public Relations and Integrated Marketing Agency (PRIMA) attended the 2019 PRSSA International Conference in San Diego, CA. The students attended multiple sessions which were led by industry professionals and students were able to network with professionals and students from all over the world. Not only did students attend these awesome sessions, they were also able to explore and learn about the city of San Diego!The students had many key takeaways from the conference from all things Public Relations, Marketing and Communications.

Colleen Senglaub, CEO of The PRIMA Group and Treasurer of PRSSA, said that her favorite session was “The Hidden World of PR” led by Brandi Boatner. Brandi spoke heavily on personal branding, about imposter syndrome and how you should be your true self at work. Failure is also a topic she heavily spoke on. She said to embrace failure and stop striving for perfection because it is never going to happen. Another topic she told us we need to know is business literacy and to know business terminology and to also build your skills with receiving online certifications. Lastly, Brandi spoke on knowing your worth. Colleen learned was that when it comes to seeking a career, negotiate and ask what the minimum and maximum salary is for the position you are offered.

Lizzy Beach, Director of Events for The PRIMA Group and Director of Recruitment and Retention for PRSSA, really enjoyed the session called “The 9 to 5’s of PR: The Difference in corporate and agency life with Hannah Riffle and John Soriano.” Lizzy said she learned a lot about the pros and cons of working in an in-house/corporate position and working in an agency. Some of the pros of working in an agency are there is endless learning, peer leadership and interaction with like-minded individuals, there is diverse work, and you can explore your likes and dislikes. Some pros of working corporate/in-house are that you have a stronger knowledge of the business, your salary and benefits tend to be higher, and there is a better work/life balance. The cons of working in an agency are that there is lower pay, increased stress, clients often have different beliefs, and content will not always equal your passions. Lastly, some cons in corporate/in-house are that there is often only one client, there are limited promotion opportunities, and there are less like-minded people.

Samantha Foley, The Director of Marketing and Public Relations and Vice President for PRSSA, found her favorite session was “The Gen Z Era: Learning the Intricacies of Social Media” led by Erika Prime. Sam found this session very interesting for many reasons. First, Erika Prime leads strategy for all social and digital marketing at Taco Bell. This session was very interesting for Sam because Taco Bell is a large global restaurant chain with a heavy social media presence. Some things Erika spoke on included some of her social campaigns that she worked on. Some of these included the Taco Bell Emoji campaign, Taco Bell Weddings, Nacho Fries, Forever 21 x Taco Bell, and The Bell Hotel. She also spoke on influencer marketing at Taco Bell including Jeffree Star. She explained her team’s strategy was that all they did was invite Jeffree Starr to stay at the hotel and they did not require anything of him. Because of their “strategy,” Jeffree Starr posted a video that curated over eleven million views. It also was the top three on trending on YouTube. Lastly, one of the most important lessons that Sam took away was to keep your side hustle. An interesting fact she learned was Erika is an artist on the side and because of this, she was able to use her artistic capabilities to create a jacket for the Taco Bell x Forever 21 cool!

Lindsay Garrant, former CEO of The PRIMA Group, was most impressed with the session called “Disruption: How the industry can adapt to succeed” led by Kimm Lincoln. The most astonishing and awesome part of this session was that Kimm started as an intern for the Nebo Agency in 2006 and now she is the President of the company with over 90 employees. Some of the most important takeaways Lindsey learned was “don’t pitch; tell stories.” Storytelling can't be automated so you should be sure that you are an expert at storytelling. Another interesting lesson learned was that earned/owned media is becoming less effective without including paid media. Lastly, Lindsay learned that brands cannot simply sell products or services, they need to have a purpose and they need to be doing good for the world.

Aleccia Mack, the President of PRSSA, was most intrigued by one of the PRSA keynote speakers, Laura Ling. Laura is an American journalist and writer. In 2009, she was captured and detained in North Korea while working on a story. She was sentenced to 12 years of hard labor. After constant communication with her sister and with media coverage, she was pardoned after Bill Clinton met with Kim Jung-il. Some important takeaways that Aleccia took were that your message must be crafted for your audience. If Laura and her sister’s letters were not written carefully, they could have possibly offended the North Korean government, since the letters were seen by their government. Lastly, Aleccia learned the importance of relationships and networks. This was important because Bill Clinton was only able to get Laura released because of his professional relationship with Kim Jung-il. Bill had called Kim when his father passed away, and Kim never forgot that moment of sympathy from Bill Clinton, so the only person that could have Laura released was Bill Clinton.

Jeremiah Boerman, the Secretary of PRSSA, share that his favorite part of the conference was being able to see how much of an impact our work really creates in the world around us. Jeremiah stated, “Through the keynote speakers and our ability to network with other students from across the country, I was able to see how the work we do with the chapter can create opportunities for so many people.” He believes that individuals in the Public Relations industry have successfully incorporated their passion to results when it comes to marketing and awareness of the project they are working on. He was excited to be able to see the movements created by PR professionals and gain insight into what students across the globe are doing, as well.

Next year, the 2020 PRSSA International Conference will be held in Nashville, TN!!!

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