By Kate Hohenstatt
This year, the PRSSA National Conference was held in Boston from October 6-10 at the Boston Park Plaza. Six executive board members were able to attend and represent DePaul University. It was a fun and busy few days for all who went. Read on to learn more about the events for each day.
Friday, October 6
DePaul was one of the schools selected to lead a Chapter Development Session. This year, our session was called Interns and the City. Andrew, Brooke, Jessalyn, and Lauren acted as Sex and the City characters while providing helpful tips for young professionals to use when networking, writing resumes, and conducting informational interviews. PRSSA members from all over the country came to watch the funny and educational take-off the iconic HBO show. DePaul’s session was recorded via Facebook live and can be viewed on the DePaul PRSSA Facebook page.
Later that evening there was a “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” opening night celebration for all of the chapters to get together and socialize. The DePaul exec board represented Chicago with our Cubs gear and learned a lot from speaking with other members.
Saturday, October 7
This was definitely the the most eventful day of the conference. It began with a keynote address from Jon Iwata, Senior Vice President, Marketing, Communications and Citizenship from IBM. Following the address, awards were presented to different chapters. DePaul won a Star Chapter award and was chosen to host a Regional Conference! Mark your calendars for March 2-3 for our sports-themed conference: Going PRo. After awards, each college is fiven 15 seconds to perform a cheer or chant about their school. During our roll call, we threw t-shirts and buttons with the conference logo to get the word out! The rest of the day consisted of breakout sessions that had a variety of speakers and different focuses. Some highlights include: Visual Storytelling presented by Ian Cohen from Weber Shandwick, Beyond the PR Stunt: Creativity in PR jobs presented by Michael DiSalvo from Ogilvy, and Inbound Marketing: Bringing the Customer to You presented by Meghan Keaney Anderson from Hubspot. All of the events were live tweeted using the #PRSSANC hashtag.
Sunday, October 8
The weekend continued with amazing speakers and opportunities to learn more about the public relations industry. Jonathan Yohanna, the director of PR for Panera Bread, provided insight on what it is like to work in-house. A common trend throughout the conference was the importance of technology and digital marketing/communications. The PRSA International Conference was also occurring at the same time as the PRSSA conference, so we were able check out their guests too. Morgan Spurlock was one of the keynote speakers and his topic was on storytelling. Spurlock focused on the theme of disruption and how to constantly think of new and innovative ways to share a story with audiences.
Monday, October 9
DePaul’s final day at the conference was filled with more speakers and networking. We were able to hear first-hand accounts regarding the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing from a panel of communications specialists who planned the marathon and worked at the Spaulding Medical Center. The panel also had founder of the Heather Abbott Foundation and Boston Marathon bombing survivor, Heather Abbott, talk about her experiences. The session focused on how a community was built from tragedy. Next, a Career Development Exhibition was set up for students to learn about different employers and graduation school programs. DePaul was there to represent the Public Relations graduate program along with University of Alabama, Boston University, and many others. The last event for Monday was the “Happy 50th Anniversary PRSSA” awards ceremony and dinner. Scholarships and awards were given to individual students and faculty advisers. The dinner was the final large celebration at the conference.Next year’s PRSSA national conference will be held in Austin, Texas.