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SPRING 2012 | VOLUME 44, ISSUE 3 | The Publication of the Public Relations Student Society of America

NETWORKING FOR SUCCESS BY Jessica Noonan 2011-2012 Vice President of Professional Development Networking is a critical component to a successful public relations career. It can be hard to keep up with everyone you network with, and while each situation is based on the individual connection, use this timeline to stay in timely contact with your acquaintances. Once you reach the end, you’ll have successfully established and strengthened a professional relationship. Don’t forget to continue to grow the relationship over time. THAT DAY Exchange business cards THAT MONTH Connect with contact on social media

2 MONTHS LATER Connect over a common article or current event you find interesting

4 MONTHS LATER Ask contact for professional advice on internships or portfolio pieces

* THAT WEEK Follow up through email

NEXT MONTH #FollowFriday new connection if you are both active on Twitter

by Kelsey Kotnik Ball State University

HOLIDAYS Send a holiday card thanking the professional for his or her wisdom

6 MONTHS LATER Meet in person to reconnect

Informational interviews facilitate career exploration By Sonja Popp-Stahly, APR PRSSA National Professional Adviser

Talking with professionals is one of the best ways to find out what it is really like to work in a particular industry, organization or city. This can be best accomplished through informational interviews. While a traditional interview is focused on a prospective employer asking you questions, in an informational interview, the tables are turned — you are in charge of asking the questions. Usually there isn’t a job opening being discussed. Think of an informational interview as an information gathering session. You may not have the time or opportunity to do an internship in every area or industry you are interested in, but you can tackle even more through informational interviews. You can use informational interviews in many ways, all focused on learning and career development: • To learn how public relations

works in different industries, such as technology, health care, government, businessto-business or nonprofits. • To learn about a particular organization. • To learn about different work settings, including agency and in-house. • To learn about the public relations market in a certain geographical area. • To obtain career advice, including suggestions on how to gain experience in your interest areas. • To have your résumé and portfolio critiqued. • To build a network of contacts, including getting referrals to other professionals. Make the informational interview as convenient for the professional as possible. When you request an informational interview, ask for only 30 minutes of the professional’s time. If you are going to meet in person, offer to go to his or her office. Informational interviews also can be done by phone or via Skype. Remember, in an informational interview, you take the


SAMPLE INFORMATIONAL INTERVIEW QUESTIONS • What is your educational and professional background? How did you get where you are today? • What is your role within the organization? • How is the public relations department structured? How many people work in communications here and what are their roles and responsibilities? • How does public relations fit within the organizational structure? Does it report directly to the CEO or does it report to marketing or another function? • How does public relations collaborate with other functions within the organization? • What qualifications are needed to be successful in this industry, organization or job? • What are the most rewarding aspects of your job? • What are the most challenging aspects of your job? • Can you suggest other professionals I could talk to? lead in asking the questions. It is okay to share with the professional your background and your career interests. That information will help the professional provide you with more targeted advice and suggestions for other networking contacts. Be sure to send a thank you note to express your appreciation for the professional’s

Follow these tips from a young professional to ease your transition to the real world after graduation.

Public relations and its role in the bottom line


time and the information he or she shared. Sonja Popp-Stahly, APR, is the PRSSA National Professional Adviser. She also serves on the PRSA Health Academy Executive Committee and the PRSA Hoosier Chapter Board of Directors. She is communications manager for Lilly Bio-Medicines at Eli Lilly and Company in Indianapolis. Learn highlights from the PRSSA 2012 National Assembly and ways to improve your Chapter.

“If this business was split up, I would give you the land, bricks and mortar, and I would take the brands and trademarks,” John Stuart, former chairman of Quaker Oats Company, once said. “And I would fare better than you.” Why would Stuart want to take the brand instead of the tangible pieces? Perhaps because it is estimated that between 30 to 70 percent of a brand’s value is from intangible aspects, rooted in reputation and public trust, according to Bloomberg. Arthur Yann, vice president of public relations for PRSA, said corporations are finally realizing this. “The difference between asset value and book value is corporate goodwill,” Yann said. “The public has to agree and support you for you to exist as a company.” The public relations industry is responsible for this corporate goodwill. It is vital that public relations practitioners understand what this means: that public relations plays a large role in contributing to the bottom line of businesses. To help practitioners and organizations understand, PRSA launched The Business Case for Public Relations™. This campaign provides information SEE BUSINESS CASE, PAGE 2

key resources for industry news @PRSSANational @PRSA @PRDailyNews @PRSAtactics @APStyleBook


Spring 2012 | Volume 44, Issue 3 |


CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 to professionals about the value of public relations. It is PRSA’s hope that by helping our industry thoroughly understand this value, we can better explain the message to others. “There’s a startling lack of understanding about what we do,” Yann said. “We changed ideas about smoking and obesity, and provide services pro bono for those that can’t afford them.” Our message begins with an accurate and understandable definition of public relations. Because of the diverse nature of the industry, it is difficult to explain exactly what we do. For example, public relations for a financial organization may be a different process than public relations for governmental or travel organizations. It is also important for professionals and students to advocate for the industry. One way to remain an advocate is to continue reading industry news and trends. To start, follow key public relations organizations and news outlets online. It is a public relations professional’s responsibility to communicate relevant issues and trends to coworkers, peers and friends. PRSA’s Business Case for Public Relations initiative is currently advancing the industry by helping the business world understand the contribution of public relations to the bottom line. With PRSA’s groundbreaking initiative, young professionals are responsible for increasing awareness and understandingoftheimportanceofpublic relations.

FORUM® STAFF 2011-2012 Editor in Chief Amy Bishop Design Editor Sarah Thacker Copy Editor Kristina Hunter Photography Editor Autumn Scaglione Web Editor Alisa Wiersema FORUM® is published three times a year for PRSSA members. The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the Society or staff. The Editor in Chief reserves the right to refuse all copy. Article submissions, comments and suggestions may be made via email to the FORUM® Editor in Chief at FORUM® is produced by students at Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind.

OPTIMIZING YOUR JOB SEARCH BY lauren gray 2011-2012 Vice President of Public Relations during the job search, DIVIDE UP YouR TIME


10% 35%

tips and tactics

• Design your own website and online portfolio to showcase yourself. • Tailor each résumé you send to the specific responsibilities and skills listed in the job posting. • Use a blended strategy of social networking for professional outreach with LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.



25% Job type


Job industry


Researching companies

Job category

City, State

Applying to positions Searching for positions online Working with a recruiter


79 percent of employers now conduct


an online search of applicants.

• Directly connect with recruit ers through Twitter, email and other personal social network ing sites. • Directly connect with companies through phone calls instead of emails that could be ignored. • Directly connect with profes sionals through informational interviews.

300 jobseekers on average apply to any given job posting online.


percent of Fortune 100 companies send emails to applicants when the position is full.


percent of jobs are gained through personal referrals or networking connections. Source | career change challenge


Now & then Public relations lessons, interest passed from grandfather to grandson By Samantha Adams Union University

In 1994, an explosion in Edison, N.J., lit up the August sky, creating what onlookers described as a “fireball” visible from New York City — more than 30 miles away. An 80-foot length of natural gas pipeline had ruptured, tearing a massive hole in the ground. A nearby apartment complex was severely damaged by fire and debris. Many were injured and more than 2,000 people were displaced. In the weeks that followed, the gas company responsible for the pipeline provided hotel rooms, living expenses and compensation for the apartment residents. After negotiations with local government officials, the company began rebuilding the pipeline. The company gained respect in the community for its compassion and willingness to work within extra-cautious guidelines. Dominic DeSimone was four years old at the time of the disaster. DeSimone was SEE NOW, PAGE 4

You’re about to graduate. Now what? By Nick Lucido PRSSA Liaison, PRSA New Professionals Section, 2011-2012 Immediate Past President

Completing your college education and making the transition to the real world is one of the most exciting times of your life. You might be considering moving to a new city, starting a new job or moving into a new apartment. During periods of many changes, it’s essential to have something to depend on. Joining PRSA as an Associate Member before you graduate is an easy way to stay ahead of the curve, continue professional development and have stability during a time of rapid change. While you might be focused on your first job and transitioning to a new lifestyle, maintaining a consistent focus on professional development will help you succeed in your first job and set you up for success in your career.


By using the tools on the PRSA JobCenter and PRSSA’s Internship Center, you will be able to prepare for interviews, learn how to develop a portfolio and have the opportunity to scan job listings. During the job searching process, highlighting experience and leadership in PRSSA and now PRSA can help separate you from the field.

continue your education

It’s true that you won’t have 8 a.m. classes or history exams after college, but it’s important for new professionals to strive to learn new skills. Taking advantage of PRSA’s membersonly webinars and local Chapter events will help keep your skills sharp as the industry continues to evolve.

build your network before you need it

When you join and become active in PRSA, you are also eligible to join the New Professionals Section, which is composed of many other professionals who are in your

courtesy photo | lauren essner

Members from the Southeast Missouri State University Chapter celebrate at their 2011 graduation. As graduation comes closer, remember to take full advantage of all the benefits PRSA offers new professionals.

shoes. Taking advantage of this Section is a way to make the student-to-professional transition as smooth as possible. Members have access to a nationwide network of new professionals and obtain access to knowledge and skills necessary to succeed. Although the days of classes, PRSSA meetings and internships are coming to a close, be-

ginning a public relations career at one of the most exciting times for our industry is upon you. While making the transition from student to professional seems daunting, leveraging PRSA’s member benefits can help serve as a tour guide through the process. Join PRSA as an Associate Member today at www. and start your career on the right path.



Spring 2012 | Volume 44, Issue 3 |

Hit a homerun with local media Media relations advice from both sides of the fence By Alicia Whitecavage Liberty University

Getting to First Base: Building the Relationship

courtesy photo | andy meng/ craig huey photography

Chapter members celebrate the PRSSA 2011 National Conference at the annual Awards Dinner. Attending professional development events with PRSA and PRSSA, diversifying your portfolio and following international news will put you miles ahead of other job candidates.

Be ahead of the game with professional development By Kate Ryan University of Toledo

With the public relations industry evolving more rapidly than ever, it’s become far more important for job seekers to develop a variety of skills throughout their undergraduate education. Everyone wants their “dream job” right out of college, but chances are it may not happen immediately. More and more students are learning early on that professional development is the golden ticket to landing a job faster. There are plenty of opportunities to get where you want quicker, and those who take

them are the ones who will succeed. Follow these steps and you may be surprised at how far you can get.

Learn, learn, learn!

Prepare for a career in public relations by going the extra mile to learn as much as you possibly can. Perhaps you are a fantastic writer and really social media savvy but have dropped the ball in the graphic design and creative areas. Don’t panic. Spend some time playing around with programs like InDesign and Illustrator. Anything you can do to give your portfolio variety will benefit you in the long run.

Understand business functions

Students must acknowledge the role of public relations in the integrated marketing communications field. Divisions within integrated marketing agencies work closely together to achieve the needs of clients. Business to business and business to consumer relationships are essential for any public relations team.

be UP-to-date on world news

With the international marketplace merging more rapidly than ever, it is vital to truly understand international business and news in today’s global economy. Developing

as a student with internship experiences in a wide variety of these industries, accompanied by strong attention to business details, will truly show during the job search process and interview. Use all resources offered during your undergraduate education and start early. Prep beyond belief – professional development does not need to be an overwhelming semester-before-graduation panic attack. Breathe, network and follow up consistently; you will begin to reap professional benefits sooner than most would believe!

One of the first things public relations professionals should do when starting a job is introduce themselves to the local media, suggested Bruce Kirk, a professor at Liberty University with decades of experience in broadcast journalism. What to find out from your visit • Outlet’s deadlines • Best communication method • What kind of information the journalist wants • Who would be your best contact at that media outlet • How to make life easier for the reporters Kirk still remembers Brian Knopp, the regional sales manager at Wingate by Wyndham in Lynchburg, Va., and a contact from years ago because of Knopp’s great media relations techniques. “People like to do business with those they like,” Knopp said.

Rounding Second Base: Writing the News Release

Joe Stinnett, managing editor for News and Advance, a Virginia-based newspaper, advises to put yourself in the role of the reporter when writing a news release. Think about what readers need to know or want to see in the newspaper. SEE HOMERUN, PAGE 5

PRSSA 2012 National Conference October 12-16 San Francisco @PRSSANC


CONTINUED FROM PAGE 2 familiar with one of the faces on the TV — the face of his grandfather, James W. Hart Jr., who was then vice president of public affairs for Panhandle Eastern Corporation, parent company to the pipeline provider. Hart, a member of PRSA for the last 20 years, managed relief efforts and negotiations with government officials during the crisis in New Jersey. As a result of the communications effort, Hart received a PRSA Silver Anvil in the “Crisis Management” category in 1995 and his management of the crisis response has made its way

Spring 2012 | Volume 44, Issue 3 |

into public relations textbooks his grandson DeSimone would one day read. “I knew he was a businessman, but I was still at an age where I did not quite understand what he did,” DeSimone said. “I always looked up to him as a role model. We have a great relationship, so I’ve had many occasions to talk with him (about his career).” As DeSimone grew, he began to better understand the breadth and influence of his grandfather’s career. Hart held senior positions at Gulf Oil Corporation, Duke Energy and Hill+Knowlton Strategies. In 1995, Hart retired from the U.S. Air Force Reserve as Brigadier General who had served as director of public af-

fairs for the Secretary of the U.S. Air Force. Hart’s career was a diverse mixture of public relations and public affairs, built off business administration and law degrees. DeSimone became interested in government and law and joined PRSSA as an undergraduate at the University of Alabama Birmingham. He earned his degree in public relations and political science in December 2011. Hart said learning from the past is the means by which to prepare for the future. “The best preparation for dealing with crisis is case study and having a well-prepared and fully-rehearsed crisis communication plan for your organization that covers the most likely

scenario,” Hart said. Hart said principles applied during the Edison, N.J., crisis remain crucial for young practitioners today. “Get it all out as quickly and completely as possible,” Hart said. “Show concern for the victims, have a response plan, maintain good relations with all media outlets and always be accessible.” Like many public relations professionals, Hart said mentors are important. He should know. His list of mentors includes Edward L. Bernays, recognized by many as the father of public relations. Though young professionals may no longer have the chance to meet and be personally mentored by the profession’s

FORUM founders, Hart said everyone starting in the profession would benefit from reading what early public relations leaders have written. Hart recommends young professionals read books by Robert L. Dilenschneider about communication, public policy and public relations leadership. Dilenschneider was CEO of Hill+Knowlton Strategies when Hart was senior vice president and general manager. As much as Hart values learning from the past, he also suggests looking to the future. “Master the latest in technology and use it to your advantage,” Hart said. “Communication technology is the most powerful ‘force multiplier’ available.”

DO YOU NEED AN MBA? How public relations pros can benefit from a degree outside their normal realm of study

by Keri Cook Liberty University

An MBA-wielding public relations pro isn’t someone you come across every day. To some, a Master of Business Administration (MBA) contributes to successful public relations practice; others claim it unnecessary in an industry where the necessary skill set of networking, writing and event planning is best learned through communications courses or firsthand experience. Others even argue that an MBA, with its inclusion of corporate speak and analytical structure, can damage the creativity and original thinking needed to practice public relations. Yet many professionals and educators are starting to rethink this position.

Enhanced Employability

Bruce Bell is a man who understands public relations’ role in the business world. Bell has served in communications roles for the Pentagon, the U.S. Army in Panama, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point (where he was instrumental in winning a PRSA Silver Anvil) and dean of the School of Business at Liberty University. “Everybody admires the MBA,” Bell said. “It’s an easy positive discriminator for companies. They’re not only impressed by the skills you pick up by achieving an MBA, but also by the character qualities that come with it. Companies believe that if you can see something of that caliber through to completion, it bodes well for their ability to retain you as an employee and advance you through the

company. When you do start advancing, you’ll need those skills your MBA brought you.” Gina Barker, a professor of communication at Coastal Carolina University, agreed. “Without the associated skills and knowledge that an MBA drives home, a public relations practitioner will likely find himself lacking decisionmaking power and respect from his peers,” she said. Another perk Barker noted was starting at a higher pay scale, to which Canada-native Jackson Wightman can attest. Having earned an executive MBA from Concordia University, Wightman boasts an extensive background in event marketing and has worked for the Prime Minister of Canada’s issue management team. Wightman said in his own experiences, salary potential rose after earning the degree.

Better Business Smarts

Another industry-specific merit of the MBA is its role in enforcing public relations as a management function. “Public relations is not simply the domain of these creative folks who sit around and think of fun ideas and slogans,” Bell said. “As a management function, nothing is more valuable than thinking strategically. That’s what an MBA will help someone in public relations to do. As we become more global and interconnected, that strategic thinking becomes even more valuable.” While leadership and management skills are quickly picked up through experience, SEE MBA, PAGE 5

courtesy photo | erica brown

PRSSA 2012 National Assembly delegates Reganie Smith-Love, Melanie Tap and Lauren Rosenbaum had the opportunity to work on real-world cases, attend interactive workshops and elect the 2012-2013 National Committee.

Preparing leaders, establishing connections at the PRSSA 2012 National Assembly By Lauren Rosenbaum University of Houston

Each year, the PRSSA National Assembly gathers to make influential, long-term decisions about the future of the Society and elect a new National Committee In addition, those who attend engage in leadership training and networking. On March 15-18, 2012, more than 220 attendees gained the opportunity to engage in real world scenarios and learn from peers at the PRSSA 2012 National Assembly in Charlotte, N.C.


This year’s Day-of Competition client was Duke Energy. Duke tasked participants with creating an awareness campaign for reporting issues with public lighting. The perception that more street lights were not working than the actual number, along with fewer reported

outages, raised the need for a communications plan. Participants were divided into teams and had one hour to create a campaign, which included a timeline, key messages and tactics to increase awareness of the importance of public lighting reporting. Each team then made a short presentation and participated in a question and answer period. This year’s winners incorporated a “Walk in the Park” event into their plan. Each member of the winning team received $50 and a plaque.

Leadership Training Sessions

At Assembly, interactive workshops provided Chapter leaders with a better understanding of PRSSA national programs and enhanced their leadership skills. Some of the key takeaways students learned in the sessions included: 1. PRSSA is not a club, but the largest pre-professional orga-

nization for students interested in public relations and communications with more than 10,000 members. 2. PRSSA scholarships and awards can help individuals and Chapters cover costs for school and attending events, such as the PRSSA National Conference. 3. Diversify your membership by recruiting outside the public relations and communications departments. 4. The PRSSA Internship Center features advice for salaries, networking, resumes, portfolios, interviews and cover letters, as well as a host of internship opportunities. 5. Student-run firms can become Nationally Affiliated with PRSSA by meeting national standards and applying for Affiliation. 6. When challenged with ethical issues, members can apply SEE ASSEMBLY, PAGE 5


Getting to know the PRSSA 2012-2013 National Committee BY Amy Bishop FORUM Editor in Chief

The new PRSSA National Committee, who takes office on June 1, are eager to begin their work for the Society. Get to know the Committee a little better and learn what their goals are for the next year. Lauren Gray National President @laurenkgray

Kate Ryan Vice President of Member Services @kryan2013

Goal: Make PRSSA benefits and National Initiatives more understandable and obtainable for members. Fun Fact: Food that moves terrifies me, and I love sprinkles.

Goal: Promote and encourage members to apply for all PRSSA scholarships and awards Fun Fact: I’m a HUGE hockey fan. Go Wings!

Adam Aisner Immediate Past President @adamj0seph

Danielle Stewart Vice President of Professional Development @ds_lynne

Goal: Make PRSA Associate membership a priority among members. Fun Fact: I practice classical voice singing and kung fu.

Zane Riley Vice President of Advocacy @zaneriley Goal: Educate members on cultural differences within public relations. Fun Fact: I own too many vinyl records and will never pass up an opportunity to do something scary. Brian Price Vice President of Chapter Development @briandprice Goal: Develop strong leaders at the local level. Fun Fact: I love Jimmy Buffett and have been to four of his concerts.

Hilary Jurinak Vice President of Internships and Job Services @HilaryJurinak Goal: Recruit more internship center employers and educate more members on using the center. Fun Fact: I love the Cubs and have worked at the Haunted Mansion in Walt Disney World.

Goal: Strengthen the PRSSA/PRSA relationship on the Chapter level and increase awareness of student-run firms. Fun Fact: I was adopted at three days old in a closed adoption and a year ago found my birth parents. Lauren Rosenbaum Vice President of Public Relations @lrose1988 Goal: Increase member interaction within current networks. Fun Fact: I’m superstitious, and anything with human-like characteristics that is not human terrifies me. Karissa Urry Vice President of Regional Conferences @karissaeurry Goal: Increase number of Regional Conference bid submissions from Chapters of all sizes. Fun Fact: I’m a kid at heart, I love fruit snacks and my head feels best with a baseball cap on it. Ashley Mauder Editor in Chief, FORUM @ashmauder Goal: Engage members in PRSSA publications and keep the content fascinating and relevant to readers. Fun Fact: I do everything left-handed except for play basketball, and I’m obsessed with baseball.

was dedicated to electing the 2012-2013 National Committee. See the infographic above for more information. Assembly ended with an inspirational keynote address from Mary Tribble, chief of events for the Democratic National Convention Host Committee. Tribble reminded attendees to

not “sabotage your own bliss.” She also spoke about struggles in her career and how she overcame them. She reminded the young professionals in the audience that sometimes the best reaction to have in a moment is to “just breathe.” The Assembly ended with a presentation from the National

Conference Committee, revealing a sneak peek into the PRSSA 2012 National Conference, which will be held in San Francisco from Oct. 12-16. For more information about the Conference, visit prssa. org/Conference and follow the Conference Twitter account, @PRSSANC.


critical goal of contributing to the corporation’s bottom line,” Barker said.

public relations pros can become better equipped with the more technical business tools an MBA offers. “An MBA not only helps an emerging public relations practitioner understand the discipline’s role in a business setting, but also things like the importance of ROI metrics and the

Real Rewards

of the business world to face tomorrow’s issues. PRSA plans to incorporate a carefully selected set of courses, developed by Paul Argenti of Dartmouth College’s Turk School of Business, into the MBA programs of a handful of charter schools during the fall 2012 semester. The initiative is set to launch nationwide in 2013. While an MBA may not be appropriate for every public relations professional, those who

earn it may reap rewards in terms of enhanced credibility, new career opportunities and an improved understanding of their clients’ or companies’ bigpicture business goals. Ultimately for many, the decision to obtain an MBA makes a positive contribution to one’s commitment to lifelong learning, on both a personal and professional level, and that is an invaluable reward in itself.


CONTINUED FROM PAGE 4 the PRSA and PRSSA Code of Ethics to work through the situation. PRSSA National Assembly is also a time of selecting the Society’s new leadership. Saturday



Spring 2012 | Volume 44, Issue 3 |

Understanding the degree’s value, PRSA has created an MBA Initiative that will incorporate core public relations competencies into MBA programs. An increased emphasis on skills like crisis communications and reputation management, for instance, will equip future leaders


CONTINUED FROM PAGE 3 How to write a good release News releases should contain news values, such as conflict, impact, prominence, timeliness or anything unusual. Unique angles and hooks can catch the eyes of readers. Stinnett said one of the most overlooked parts of a news release is the subject line on the email. For a publication such as News and Advance, local is key when describing what emails he opens when going through the hundreds that come in each day. If the subject does not tell how it applies to the local area, Stinnett likely does not even open the email. Stinnett prefers to receive a very brief description of the event or story including who, what, when, where and why. Many editors and reporters prefer bulleted factoids to quickly review the release. However, for some journalists, it is helpful to include the actual news release with an optional article as an attachment.

Third Base: Distributing the Information

Stinnett, Kirk and Knopp agreed that public relations specialists should develop a connection with a primary editor at each outlet included in their outreach and send news releases mainly to that contact. News releases should be sent no more than once a week, Stinnett said. Do not forget to include contact information, especially a phone number. For big events, send a release two weeks before and follow up with a phone call or an in-person meeting to discuss event details, parking and any questions your media contact might have.

Reaching Home Plate: Follow Up

Media relations professionals walk a fine line between pestering and being persistent. Stinnett suggests calling no more than once a day when following up. On the other side, sometimes journalists will follow up with you – Knopp suggests always being available for reporters whenever they call, for the good and the bad. Key advice to the novice “Do anything you can to make the reporter’s job easier,” Knopp said.


Spring 2012 | Volume 44, Issue 3 |



courtesy photo | andy meng/ craig huey photography

Recipients of the PRSSA Gold Key Award receive their awards at the PRSSA 2011 National Conference along with National President Adam Aisner (third from the right) and National Faculty Adviser Robert “Pritch” Pritchard, APR, Fellow PRSA (right). PRSSA scholarships and awards recognize leaders for their accomplishments and achievements in PRSSA.

Earn opportunities, recognition with PRSSA scholarships Vanessa perkins 2011-2012 Vice President of Member Services

In an organization of more than 10,000 students, it might seem scholarships would be a benefit all members jump to utilize. However, the truth is that few members apply for scholarships — bypassing a major opportunity to receive muchneeded financial support and recognition among peers and professionals. PRSSA offers more than $20,000 in scholarships. Stu-

dents might not apply because they do not qualify or the application process may seemintimidating. Follow these tips and words of encouragement to get started on the scholarship application process.

Review available scholarships

By visiting the individual scholarships page on the PRSSA website, members can find a list of all the current scholarships offered. Members should review the

list and apply for all the scholarships for which they qualify.

Inform your advisers

Next, members should let their Faculty and Professional Advisers know they are applying for scholarships. These professionals can provide assistance with the overall application process and can supply letters of recommendation.

Complete required materials

Most of the applications require an essay. Take this op-

portunity to brush up on your writing skills. In addition to letters of recommendation from your adviser, you can also reach out to employers, professors and internship supervisors. With enough notice, these should be plentiful. You may also need to supply a résumé. Be sure to update it with your latest achievements. There are many scholarship deadlines coming up in June, so now is the time to start applying. Don’t procrastinate – factor in the time it will take to mail your application to PRSSA Headquarters.


• Betsy Plank/PRSSA Scholarships • Lawrence G. Foster Award • National President’s Citation • National Gold Key Award • Star Chapter Award • Stephen D. Pisinski Memorial Scholarship • Teahan National Chapter Awards For more information visit


How diversity enhances teamwork, motivation in members We often hear people refer to the importance of diversity. We hear the definitions and the mission statements. The question remains, however: how do we apply these principles to public relations practice, or in this case, leadership? Below are a few practical applications of diversity I have learned through my leadership journey and how you can use them to effectively communicate with and lead a team.

Different Personalities

Personalities differ from person to person. Some are energetic while others are laid back. People can be shy or very outgoing. I have learned that by under-

standing individuals’ personality traits, I can interact with them in ways that make them comfortable and more receptive. As leaders, we should be constantly aware of how we interact with team members. You would be surprised how far this tip can go when trying to motivate others; know their differences, and mold your coaching to it.

You may even have team members that don’t need any additional instruction; whatever the case, to effectively lead your team, you need to find out how to coach in a way your team will understand. Find out their style of learning and work with it, not against it.

quialisms, understand language differences and know what might connect with or offend them. As leaders, we must work to effectively break cultural barriers down by learning how to interact with our members on a day-to-day basis.

People Learn in Different Ways

Differences in Cultural Communication

Attending school in Hawaii gave me exposure to students from more than 100 countries. In an international destination, every team experience is a diverse one. But how do you breakdown cultural barriers? The key is to understand cultural differences. Familiarize yourself with collo-

This is the fun part. Figure out what makes your team work hard. As leaders, we have to delegate and oversee many tasks while driving success. Learn your team members’ motivations and use them to your advantage. Does your team like awards and public recognition? Perhaps they are motivated internally by feeling a sense

Some people understand an idea or project right away; others may take time to catch on. Discover how each person learns. Some people need long explanations, while others may need to experience something first-hand to fully understand it.

What is Your Motivation?

Adam aisner PRSSA 2011-2012 National President

of self-satisfaction. Are they motivated by challenging work or a competitive atmosphere? Figure out their motivations and you can keep them going throughout the year (or project). Learning to connect with internal motivations is key for optimum productivity. Knowing the definition of diversity isn’t enough in real-life situations. By learning to apply these principles to leadership practice, you can develop an effective leadership style.


How to address common Chapter bylaw issues The PRSSA National Committee is consistently busy reviewing new Chapter charter applications. In the course of those reviews, I’ve seen shortcomings in several areas. One of the areas either missing or ill-defined in some of these recent charter applications is the definition of a quorum. The bylaws template (available on the PRSSA website at defines a quorum as “one-third of the dues-paying membership of the Chapter.” The template goes on to elaborate that “a simple majority vote of the quorum is required for election to office.” Failing to define a quorum can cause many problems for the members in terms of electing officers. Which leads me to the second common mistake made in writing Chapter bylaws: defining exactly which officers are elected. The PRSSA bylaw template specifies the positions of “president, vice-president, secretary, public relations director, historian and treasurer” must be elected. What many Chapters fail to realize is that the office of secretary and treasurer may be combined. This can be particularly helpful to smaller Chapters. Though not listed in the template, the trend today is to include both the National Assembly delegate and alternate delegate as elected positions with the notation that these positions may be held concurrently with one of the other elected positions. I

Bob “Pritch” Pritchard, APR, Fellow PRSA PRSSA National Faculty Adviser

think this is an excellent trend as it emphasizes and focuses attention on Chapter representation to the governing body of PRSSA. Finally, we continue to see bylaws that fail to outline the duties and responsibilities of the Faculty Adviser and Professional Adviser, as well as the process for electing these positions. This language provides several advantages for Chapter members. First, faculty and practitioners with a clear understanding of what is expected of them can do a better job on behalf of the members. Second, to be clear that this organization is “for the students, by the students,” it is necessary to include in the bylaws that these are elected positions (or at least affirmed by a vote of the members) with a finite term of office. Finally, the members can leverage such language to ensure they get the most qualified professionals helping with their professional development. On the surface, bylaws are an uninspired subject. But if not complete, this set of legal rules for the operation of the Chapter can have many negative consequences for members. If your Chapter has questions about your charter, contact PRSSA Headquarters at

Spring 2012 | Volume 44, Issue 3 |



Differentiate yourself from the mob The Chicago Cubs recently pulled down a job posting for a full-time public relations assistant after being swamped with 1,850 resumes in less than two weeks. Ketchum received 667 applications for a recent assistant account executive position, and other agencies have reported receiving several hundred resumes for internship openings. Don’t let this depress or dishearten you. Coveted entry-level public relations jobs remain hard to find and even harder to land; however, job prospects can be far more promising if you prepare for a post-graduation job search while still in college. The bottom line is: there are jobs. You simply have to differentiate yourself from the masses to land one of them. Flash mobs and job searches have a lot in common. Both rely on the Internet and the sheer numbers make it hard for any one person to stand out. So, the question becomes, how do you separate yourself from the “flash mob” of job seekers? The answer — identify and build points of differentiation that can set you apart from the mob. Here are five areas for differentiation:

1. Build a compelling résumé.

It’s not just about good design; it’s all about content and real-life experiences such as internships, student organizations, PRSSA, volunteer activ-

ities and other career-relevant experiences. Always include measurable results when possible.

2. Become digitally savvy.

Despite common assumptions, many students are not always as digitally literate as necessary for the increasing demand for social media talent. While growth of other communication jobs has remained flat, job boards like AdExhanger report that digital jobs have nearly doubled in the past year. Social media agencies such as ComBlu and Zocalo Group didn’t exist a few years ago, but they are now growing faster than traditional agencies.

3. Build and maintain your network … now.

Yes, the old adage is still true: “It’s who you know.” Start building your network with family and friends. Employers increasingly rely on LinkedIn, so be sure to present yourself effectively in social media. Clean up your social media presence by eliminating anything you wouldn’t want to show a prospective employer.

4. Consider non-traditional public relations jobs.

Too many people rule out the former stepchild of public relations — employee communications — but this area of the profession is growing rapidly. Boutique agencies such as Gagen MacDonald, the Gross-

RON Culp Professional Director of Graduate PR & Advertising, DePaul University

man Group, Insidedge and others are doing work that changes the way corporations view and motivate employees. Also consider other positions within major companies that might give you important experience and knowledge of the company and its products.

5. Present yourself well.

The one-minute elevator speech is yesterday’s measure of first impressions. Today you have 30 seconds. New Yorkbased public relations recruiter Bill Heyman says his team seriously weighs intangibles like looking people straight in the eye, a firm handshake, being well-dressed and the important “thank you” note. The can-do spirit of today’s public relations majors impresses me. Superstars will emerge from those who don’t let the “flash mob” numbers intimidate them. Instead, they’re motivated to differentiate themselves by broadening their base of skills and experiences that ultimately build attentiongetting résumés and networks. Ron Culp is a veteran corporate and agency executive who now consults and teaches. He blogs on public relations careers at


Adding rhyme and reason to the job hunt Last spring, my column made the case as to why agency life is the model avenue for many recent graduates to start a career versus a job in the corporate sector. With so many agencies to choose from, it’s imperative to approach a job search with a fortified game plan. The plan I’ve described below is the method I recommend to students reaching out for professional mentoring and networking.


Before researching agencies, list every city/region where you could see yourself living. Consider population, local entertainment (sports, art, music, etc.), proximity to family, cost of living and every other factor that will help you determine where to call home. To me, choosing a city was just as important, if not

more, than where I would collect a paycheck. Tier the list to help yourself prioritize. If at all possible, visit those cities during school breaks and three-day weekends to get a better feel.


For each city on your list, create an index of agencies with an office in that city. Use every resource available to ensure you’re starting your job search with a comprehensive list. The PRSA Find a Firm directory is a great place to start.

Deep Dive

This next step will be the most challenging and time intensive. Using your index of agencies, begin populating available information about each organization into a database. You can use this table to compare your options by

each agency’s focus of business, revenue, size, reputation, client roster, existing contacts and presences in other cities. Information for larger agencies may be more readily available, but populating a complete list will be difficult using the web alone.

Informational Sessions

Once you have completed an initial round of research, tier your list of agencies with red, yellow and green indicators — green being a perfect fit and red representing the opposite. Starting with green, schedule informational interviews with executives from those agencies. If possible, I recommend speaking with a young professional who would be able to provide top line information about the company but also accurately describe the culture of the office.

RYAN MCSHANE Account Executive Taylor Global Inc.

Leverage the research you’ve already done to make a positive impression on the executive. Keep in touch throughout your senior year, and when you’re ready to apply, make sure to name drop in your cover letter. An existing contact within the agency will serve as a benefit during the interviewing process. Ryan McShane is a senior account executive at Taylor and works from the agency’s Charlotte office. He served as FORUM Editor in Chief in 20072008 and provides advice to public relations students and young professionals through his blog,

PRSSA 2012 Leadership Rally June 1-3 Chaparral Suites Scottsdale Scottsdale, Ariz.

Thinking about graduate school? Meet Claire. Claire Berlin 2011 WVU IMC graduate PR and Publications Coordinator Baltimore Symphony Orchestra

me to start my career while also getting my master’s degree. In my job, I do everything from producing press releases and interacting with media, to updating our website and producing content for print publications. I apply the skills that I learned in the IMC program to my job every single day.

The online WVU IMC program allowed

Watch Claire’s video story by scanning the QR code. Consider a Master of Science in Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC). West Virginia University’s online IMC program will give you the practical skills needed to build, implement and measure integrated communication programs in today’s dynamic digital environment – and it can be completed from anywhere in the world. Learn more about our dynamic curriculum and how it can enhance your career path at

FORUM Spring 2012  

The Public Relations Student Society of America's spring 2012 issue of FORUM.

FORUM Spring 2012  

The Public Relations Student Society of America's spring 2012 issue of FORUM.