OSU Regional Activity 2011 Recap by Molly Murray
Last Thursday, eight GVSU PRSSA members headed to Columbus, OH for Regional Activity at Ohio State University. The weekend was filled with tours, networking, speakers, panels and lots of lessons to bring home to Grand Rapids.
We began Friday morning at SBC Advertising, a fully integrated agency that works with clients such as Elmer’s Glue and Bed, Bath & Beyond. We toured its creative, interactive and public relations departments and then sat down with the PR team, who did an excellent job answering our never-ending questions.
Tip from SBC: If you want a job in another city, don’t just send out your resume. Tell them WHY you want to work in that specific city.
After a quick lunch we were off to Paul Werth Associates. Also an integrated firm, Paul Werth works with a variety of clients, most notably in public affairs. We sat down with some of the Paul Werth team and learned more life lessons to help us succeed as young professionals.
Tip from Paul Werth: Always take the meeting. Explore every opportunity, even if it isn’t the best fit for you right now. You never know what connections you’ll make.
Last but not least, we went out to Easton to visit Fahlgren Mortine, yet another integrated agency with an impressive reputation. Fahlgren works with clients in a variety of industries from consumer to healthcare to automotive. Most well known by Michiganders: McDonald’s and Kroger. After a tour, we sat down with the Fahlgren PR team to learn more about the world of agency PR. They were an awesome group and we could see how much they loved their jobs and how important teamwork is in an agency.
Tip from Fahlgren: Never underestimate the power of networking. Even if it doesn’t work out the first time around, making the connections is what matters. Keep in touch and don’t be afraid to take someone out for coffee.
After an afternoon of superb shopping, GVSU PRSSA was off to Dave & Buster’s for dinner, networking and fun with local professionals and fellow conference attendees. It was a great event, we caught up with a few of our new friends from Fahlgren and met many more (and I blew everyone out of the water when it came to arcade games… just sayin’).
Saturday was another early morning, this time at Ohio State University for breakfast and a day full of speakers, networking and problem-solving. Everyone (minus our beloved Sarah Myles) stayed loyal to the Mitten State and upheld the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry (respectfully, of course).
Enough about the Buckeyes. Breakfast was followed by our first session with Brandi Hann of SBC Advertising (we were lucky enough to see her again) who spoke to us about interoffice dynamics. Brandi’s presentation was especially helpful to those of us about to start our first job.
Tip: Refill the coffee. Don’t know how to do it? It’s called Google… or use that college brain of yours. You’ll figure it out.
Next we participated in a crisis communications exercise with fellow PRSSA members. The crisis involved a local ice cream shop that had a chemical leak while the owner was away and had to recall weeks worth of product. Serious business. GVSU PRSSA was more than prepared to react: identifying key publics and a spokesperson, communicating with employees and alerting the media, all with poise and transparency.
A quick lunch break followed where we heard from our good friend Nick Lucido, National PRSSA President and recent Michigan State University graduate. Nick had great advice, as always, but lost points with GVSU when he threw Michigan under the bus and sided with the Buckeyes. We’ll forgive him, eventually.
Lastly, we attended two young professional panels: one “recent young professionals” and one “veteran young professionals.” They provided us with tons of tips and shared their experiences as “newbies” in the PR world.
Tips: Ask questions. Be confident. Enjoy the experience of job-hunting. Don’t feel ashamed when you cry upon receiving your first loan bill.
Here is what the rest of the group had to say about Columbus:
“I enjoyed hearing from the recent grads who have successfully started their careers. They gave me more confidence to go out and get a position after school. I really learned a lot from all their tips and suggestions and hearing their stories. I also found myself critically thinking and examining myself, my resume, and how I am branding myself, all of which, I believe, will help me move forward into my career.” – Alex Page
“I enjoyed touring different agencies outside of Michigan to see how their daily operations may differ from what we typically see. The ability to network with professionals and peers was an absolute plus.” – Kristina Green
“I learned the value of a phone call. HR people receive endless amounts of emails and sometimes it is best to just pick up the phone and ask when they are hiring and if you can set up an informational interview. It’s best to call in the early morning or at the end of the agency day. If applying for a position it’s always best to follow up 2-3 days after.” – Sarah Myles
“I really enjoyed connecting with other young professionals while hearing how PR is being taught and used by them.” – Kevin Virant
“I was excited that our chapter had the most members attending the Regional Conference. Our chapter is growing and becoming more involved in national initiatives and this proved to our region that we are involved and will participate in networking opportunities with other PRSSA members.” – Stacey Nardozzi
“I liked the networking and real life examples offered by the professionals. It was helpful to hear from Brandi Haan from SBC Advertising regarding what employers are looking for in a new hire. I learned that experience is key and who you know can be very beneficial since the majority of professionals we heard from had obtained their job through someone in their network… I also learned that GVSU PRSSA has got it goin’ on and we know a LOT compared to other schools… AKA our competition. It was a blast and I met a ton of new people that I plan on keeping in touch with.” - Adrienne Rehm
We had a great weekend and I’m sure the whole group will be more than willing to let you in on some more insider secrets.
With graduation right around the corner (TWELVE DAYS), Sarah, Stephanie, Adrienne and I were constantly reminded of how much we have benefited from PRSSA and our last big event was a great send-off. We encourage all of the underclassmen to take advantage of these opportunities next year and cannot stress enough the value of networking, both with professionals and your peers.
For more updates on the conference, check out the hashtag #PRCapital on Twitter!