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Spring 2013 Issue Regional Conference...2-3 THON...4-5 Exec Board Spotlights...6-7 Alumni Spotlights...7-8 Event Planning...9 A Year In Review...10 Acknowledgements...11
Regional Conference Goes Global at Penn State Regional Conference Overview By Emily Grabowski
On Feb. 8-9, the Penn State chapter of PRSSA hosted the PRSSA Regional conference: “Gone Global: PRofessionals Around the World.” PRSSA members from chapters throughout the region traveled to State College and joined Penn State students in a vast array of activities including a networking dinner, various informative speakers, an etiquette lunch, and an internship and career panel. The conference commenced on Friday night with a social event at Levels Night Club in downtown State College, where students from Penn State and other regional chapters were able to meet and network over a dinner catered by Outback Steakhouse. On Feb. 9, attendees gathered for a brief breakfast before listening to keynote speaker Adam Kmiec, the global director of digital and social media at Campbell’s Soup Company. Kmiec’s lively presentation put into perspective how employers view current students’ generation, and how social media and technology is playing an increasingly crucial role in the PR and marketing profession. At noon, guests participated in an etiquette luncheon at the Days Inn, where professional event planner and etiquette instructor Diana Zeisky coached students on dining in a business setting. Throughout the day, students were able to attend the lectures of various eminent speakers. Greg St. Claire, executive vice president of corporate issues management at Edelman, spoke to guests about his experiences working in a PR agency. Rob Boulware, stakeholder relations manager at Seneca Resources Corporation, spoke to guests about how to effectively communicate during a crisis. Keith Hejna, communications officer at Little Kids Rock, spoke to guests about working for non-profits. Last, Abraham Amoros, Pennsylvania legislative director at the Laborers’ International Union, who spoke to guests about his experiences in public affairs. Concluding the event, students searching for internships attended an internship and career panel. The panel consisted of representatives from Cabot Oil and Gas Company, Ogilvy, and Simon Public Relations. Students had the opportunity to ask questions, hand out resumes and network with potential employers.
Regional Conference Goes Global at Penn State Speaker Spotlight: Abraham Amoros By Andrew Patterson
One of the featured speakers of the PRSSA Regional Conference was Abraham Amoros, who shared experiences and advice about his career working in public affairs. Amoros is a Penn State alumnus who currently serves as the Pennsylvania legislative director at the Laborers’ International Union in Harrisburg, Pa. Amoros explained that his interest in politics started at a young age, driving him to become heavily involved with student government at Penn State. Amoros recommended that any kind of political experience including working, interning or volunteering for a political campaign can be very beneficial for anyone interested in working in public affairs or public relations. “Whether it’s Democratic, Republican or Independent – that is very good experience for you as a communicator for two reasons,” Amoros said. “First, you have to learn to become a political communicator in the strictest sense of the word politics, which is partisan. The second thing you need to understand is that when you win you have to become an effective communicator as a state employee, a federal employee or local government employee. These are two separate disciplines.” Amoros has a vast array of public affairs experience, including work with Congressman Bob Mellow, senior deputy press secretary for Governor Ed Rendell, and spokesman of the Democratic Party of Pennsylvania. Amoros described public affairs as a fast-moving industry with lots of job changes. “I’m talking about a lot of job changes, because you need to understand that these opportunities come very quickly. You need to be alert and always looking for ways to better yourself with opportunities,” Amoros said. In addition to the several job changes, Amoros explained that working in politics is an exhausting and intense profession but also rewarding. Amoros encourages those who are up for the challenge to pursue the profession, but concluded by saying that you must get involved with something that aligns with your own principles and ideals. “You got to stand up for what you believe in… You cannot – and should not – go to bat for something you truly don’t believe in… If you don’t believe it, don’t even try to sell it. That’s wrong.”
THON in Review By Natasha Bailey
The Bryce Jordan Center erupted in screams and applause after the total of $12,374,034.46 for THON 2013 was revealed. After a long year of fundraising, Penn State students finally saw their hard work pay off. Dancers, overalls, captains, committee members, students, families and others visiting THON rejoiced when they saw $12.3 million was raised for the kids and their families. The funds raised for THON 2013 surpassed last yearâ€™s total of $10,686,924.83 and broke the $100 million mark donated to the Four Diamonds Fund. Despite long lines and the Bryce Jordan Center reaching capacity, THON weekend was a success. The months of planning and hard work paid off. THON volunteers worked diligently to make sure everyone was safe and enjoyed their weekend. Thousands of students stood in the stands with brightly colored t-shirts and signs, representing their clubs or Greek organizations. They sang, danced and kept the stands filled to support the dancers. Children and their families explored the Bryce Jordan Center, shooting water guns, blowing bubbles and playing games with all the students. Special guests included Charles Millard, the founder of the Four Diamonds Fund, Coach Bill Oâ€™Brien and Coach Pat Chambers, who graced the stage and motivated dancers to continue on. Performers Go Go Gadjet, My Hero Zero, Total Whiteout and others kept the crowd entertained and pumped up. At the end of the weekend, families spoke during family hour and reminded everyone why they were there, as the stories they told sparked inspiration to continue the fight against cancer. It was a great end to the weekend and the preparations for THON 2014 have already begun!
THON Spotlight: PRSSA Dancers and THON families By Emily Grabowski
I recently had the opportunity to speak with Angela Mancuso, Family Relations Captain and PRSSA Philanthropy Chair for Penn State’s Dance Marathon, lovingly nicknamed THON. What I learned from her made me want to get up and start dancing myself! When asked who was chosen to represent PRSSA as THON 2013 dancers, Mancuso excitedly replied, “Chelsea Slavin and Devin Schiaffino!” We all know that dancing for 46 hours without sitting or sleeping is one challenging task, but these girls seemed more then ready to take on this amazing task. “Our dancers were chosen after a vigorous application/interview process. These are two of the most selfless, genuine, compassionate girls I have ever met. I have no doubt in my mind that they will make our families and PRSSA beyond proud when they stand up to cancer for 46 straight hours THON weekend. Chelsea and Devin are a perfect example of a strong PRSSA THON dancer. First, they have had their own personal journeys with the absolute pain that cancer can cause for a family. Second, they have strong connections with PRSSA as an organization. They are truly proud to represent us, and I am so excited for them to show us their honesty, courage, wisdom, and strength on the dance floor,” said Mancuso. Next, as if Chelsea and Devin didn’t have enough reasons to dance for THON, I asked Mancuso about our PRSSA THON families. “PRSSA is paired with the Emily Whitehead family and the Colleen Scott family as part of THON’s Adopt-A-Family Program.” Emily is a eight-year-old bubbly, silly, happy girl. She was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in May 2010. She relapsed in October 2011 and again in February 2012. She received an experimental T-cell therapy in April 2012, to which she had a life-threatening reaction. As she was fighting, PRSSA THON worked to spread her story like wildfire. We wanted as many people as possible praying for Emily. In classic Emily fashion, she made a miraculous turnaround and has been in remission since May 2012. Colleen is a 14-year-old genius! She was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) at the age of four and entered into remission shortly after she turned five. She and her family have been enjoying their cancer-free lives for nine years. Colleen attends annual check-ups to ensure that she is in no danger of relapse. At her most recent appointment, she was told the she will only need to come every five years. This is a huge step in the Scotts journey and we are so excited to celebrate it THON weekend.” They are the reasons why we dance and what experience for everyone!
makes THON such a breathtaking
Executive Board Spotlight: Carolyn Harpster By Marissa Miller
In her first year at Penn State, Carolyn Harpster began with the intention of studying broadcast journalism. But shortly after she began, she realized public relations suited her better. With a vast new landscape to discover, she needed some direction on where to begin! That’s where Kelly Newburg, PRSSA president, came into the picture and expressed that she felt PRSSA would be the best place to start. It didn’t take Harpster long to make PRSSA a staple in her life. She is currently the director of public relations, and she works weekly on running social media, updating websites, and effectively keeping everyone in the loop. Not only does she make sure everyone is aware of what our club is doing, but also with what is happening in the global world of PR. Harpster cannot express how much she loves what she does for PRSSA. She insists the very best part about PRSSA is the amazing executive board she has the privilege to work with, the incredible advice they can offer and the opportunities they undoubtedly have for the future. “They inspire me to work harder and go after things I wouldn’t normally go after,” said Harpster. In the fall, our PRSSA chapter took a trip to San Francisco for the National PRSSA Conference. Harpster found the experience to be one of her most memorable yet! “The best thing that came from this trip was the experience I got with social media – especially Twitter. I was able to connect with so many schools via Twitter and was live-tweeting awesome quotes from our speakers which people from everywhere were retweeting. We gained close to 100 new followers on this trip and I think this made me realize how amazing and useful social media can be,” said Harpster. When asked about her dream job she didn’t have to hesitate. Noting that her crisis communications class with Steve Manuel has inspired her, she would like to work as a crisis communications director for a huge corporation someday! If that wouldn’t work out, she would like to work as a buyer for a large retail store and constantly being around clothes, shoes, and accessories. She says the job would have to be in New York City, she would have to adore her co-workers and of course dogs must be allowed in the office! Until then, Harpster plans to get a PR internship at a corporation in New York this summer. There’s no doubt Harpster will bring a whole new set of successes to whichever company is lucky enough to hire her!
Executive Board Spotlight: Zach Dugan By Kayla Sredni
Zach Dugan, originally from Niagara Falls N.Y., is Penn State PRSSA’s director of creative production. Dugan is in his junior year at Penn State, but will be graduating a semester early in December 2013 with a degree in public relations and a minor in history. As the director of creative production for PRSSA, Dugan is in charge of creating all the promotional materials for the chapter to feature its events and accomplishments. In addition to producing the promotional materials, Dugan also helps the PRSSA committees with any video or creative materials needed for their activities or events. His position was created this year, and Dugan could not be more pleased with how it has turned out. One of Dugan’s most recent projects was creating the promotional video for Regional Conference. Additionally, he has used his talents to work on videos for National Conference and for the PRSSA THON committee. During his years at Penn State, Dugan credits Comm 471 as the course that has helped him the most. He explained that this class has been most useful because it is nice to make sure all of the formats of my written materials are on point and the strategy is sound. Aside from working with PRSSA, Dugan is also the current executive director of Happy Valley Communications, Penn State's student-run communications firm. He is also the studentliaison for the AD/PR Alumni Board. Additionally, Dugan recently accepted an internship offer from Dow Chemical, which will be his second internship with the company.
Alumni Spotlight: Jennifer Johnson By Emily Grabowski
Jennifer Johnson graduated from Penn State in May 2012. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations and Advertising. After graduation, she landed a position at a radio station as an account executive. She then realized advertising was not meant for her, so she applied to numerous marketing positions and was soon hired at Comcast Spotlight in West Chester, Pa. At Comcast, Johnson is an affiliate traffic coordinator, which means she is responsible for ensuring and scheduling commercial advertisements that air on cable networks per a client’s contract. Her clientele consists of Comcast’s subsidiary companies, such as Cox Cable and Time Warner Cable. Johnson raved about how much she misses Penn State but loves her new career. “What I love about Comcast is that there’s room for growth. I hope to work for the public relations and marking department at the Comcast Center in Philadelphia someday,” said Johnson. PRSSA helped Johnson a great deal during her interview process as well as creating a perfect resume to attract recruiters. “I can't stress enough how important it is to be yourself in an interview; be relaxed and let your personality shine through. It may just give you the edge over someone who has more experience than you!” said Johnson. Johnson has come a long way since her days working with the PRSSA Communications Committee, and we look forward to her bright future in public relations!
Alumni Spotlight: Cait Gossert By Kayla Sredni
Cait Gossert is living her life to the fullest since her graduation from Penn State in May 2012. Originally, she is from York, Pa., but now she currently resides in Hoboken, N.J. and works in New York City. Gossert began her career at a public relations firm called Tierney. She reaped many benefits as a result of working in a firm straight out of college. These benefits included, great experience with a variety of clients, chances to hone one’s skill set and opportunities to find your industry niche. Gossert was very grateful for the experience and opportunity to be a part of Tierney upon her graduation, but she always yearned to join an innovative, new company. Therefore, Gossert recently made a bold and exciting career move by accepting an offer to become the public relations and social media manager at a media technology start-up company called Shodogg. “Shodogg's ScreenDirect technology provides content management solutions and seamless, wireless content sharing capabilities from any mobile device to any other web enabled screen,” said Gossert. In a typical day, Gossert wears many hats, and her days are always different. Working at a startup has led her to function as the HR manager, office manager, and anything-that-comes-up-that-day manager. Every day it is her job to keep everything running smoothly and to ensure the company’s messages are appropriate for the public. Gossert’s main project is forming Shodogg’s social media strategy. She plans to utilize LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Vimeo, CrunchBase and Google + to reach the public. Research, research, research! Cait Gossert insists research on your target customers and interest groups is the key to any great social media strategy. Additionally, ensuring your content is interactive while still maintaining the voice of the company is crucial. Gossert is constantly doing research to ensure Shodogg’s public relations materials and strategies are up-to-par for their future campaigns. She tends to focus her research on the tech media sector to identify the journalists who are most interested in a company like Shodogg. Gossert would not be where she is today without her positive experience in PRSSA. PRSSA has not only given her some of her best friends and memories, but also the many resources and opportunities that have brought her success. She recommends taking advantage of every opportunity and attending regional conference. “Have you ever heard of that person who proactively took advantage of everything that was offered to them and got nowhere in life? Yeah me either...because people who actively participate stand out in a crowd! Be that person,” said Gossert. Gossert encourages you to reach out to her at firstname.lastname@example.org, @CaitGossert on Twitter and on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/caitgossert for any public relations, media relations or social media advice!
A Young Professional’s Guide to Success By Andrew Patterson
The PRSSA Event Planning committee hosted “The Young Professional’s Guide to Success” on April 15, 2013. Open to all students in the College of Communications, the event was designed to bring in successful entreprenuers, business professionals, and Penn State professors from a variety of backgrounds that included sports, crisis communications, university affairs, and more. The event featured three speakers and a moderated panel discussion, allowing attendees the unique opportunity to ask any question. Event Planning Committee Chair Paige Blawas believed the event was a good way for students to learn from professors and professionals. “It was a way for students to get a better grasp on public relations for those who are younger, but for those who are older it’s a great opportunity for them to network with individuals and to ask them questions about upcoming graduation and any burning questions they may have,” Blawas said. According to Blawas, the biggest challenge for organizing any of these events is the lack of funds that comes with being a student-run organization, but this also allows for additional learning experiences for the committee. “Ever since I started with PRSSA, we haven’t really had a big budget to work with, and that has been difficult. But it’s also really helped our members, because it has forced them to really think outside the box – ‘How do I get this donated? How do I advertise this for free?’ Although it is a hindrance, it’s really good for our members, because they get to put their ideas to work, scramble around, and try to figure things out,” Blawas said. Furthermore, Blawas believes this kind of experience is very beneficial for students interested in event planning or public relations. “It’s your ideas you are bringing to the table, and it’s your event ideas. And once you plan it and plan it for months, and once you actually see it come to fruition, it’s really rewarding, because you know that successful event was because of your hard work – your hard work that you weren’t getting paid for, that you weren’t getting college credit for. It was your event; your baby,” Blawas said.
A Year in Review By Kelly Newburg
It's such a bittersweet feeling to write this article. While I'm excited to graduate and a new chapter of my life to begin, it is definitely difficult for me to transition out of my leadership roles, especially as president of PRSSA. From the start of my sophomore year, PRSSA has been prominent in my life, both professionally and social. I have utilized PRSSA as a way to grow myself as a public relations student and professional while meeting some of my closest friends. I have had the ability to grow within the society, starting as a member, serving as director of membership my junior year and my current role as president. I have watched the society grow and continue to provide the same experiences for many of its members. While it's somewhat hard to pass the torch, I am extremely excited for our newly selected president, Carolyn Harpster, to continue forward with our chapter next year. Carolyn has many wonderful ideas and visions on ways to better our chapter and I look forward to seeing the new heights she takes PRSSA to. Most importantly I look forward to watching her to continue to mentor and encourage each of our members to better themselves both professionally and personally. At this time, I have not solidified my plans for after graduation, but hope to work at a non-profit organization of a business that incorporates giving into its business model. I feel very prepared entering into the work force and am looking forward to finding my niche in the real world. For the younger and new members of PRSSA, I would encourage you to always take advantage of your peers! It's incredible what a great resource the people you see each day can be. In addition, I encourage all members to recognize that it's never too early to get involved or put yourself out there. Apply for a position within your orgs or for your dream internship. The sooner you put yourself out there, the sooner you'll reach your dreams! I thank you for allowing me to serve as this years president! It has been a wonderful experience for me and something I will treasure for years to come! Please don't be strangers and feel free to reach out to me at any time!
Acknowledgments: Editors in Chief:
Ed Wons Sarah Kurz
A note from the editors: It has been such an amazing ride this year as the chairs for the Penn State PRSSA Communications Committee. We have been so privledged to have a dedicated and enthusiastic committee. Witnessing the growth of our peers in both their writing and interest in PRSSA has been so rewarding. We are thrilled to leave our position in the hands of Andrew Patterson and Emily Grabowski, and we know they will take this committee and PRSSA to new heights! Have an amazing summer! Cheers, Ed Wons email@example.com Sarah Kurz firstname.lastname@example.org
Andrew Patterson Natasha Bailey Marissa Miller Kayla Sredni Kelly Newburg
The Spring edition of the Penn State PRSSA Newsletter.