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WINTER 2012 | VOLUME 45, ISSUE 2 | The Publication of the Public Relations Student Society of America

learning from national conference Members share advice from the PRSSA 2012 National Conference in San Francisco BY Melinda Biegen Fashion Institute of Technology More than 1,000 PRSSA members from across the country came together for the PRSSA 2012 National Conference in San Francisco from October 12-16, planned and hosted by the Sacramento State PRSSA Chapter. Attendees developed professional skills, networked with students and professionals and enhanced their knowledge of the public relations industry. Throughout the PRSSA National Conference, members attended Chapter development sessions, officer discussions, a

career development exhibition, keynote addresses and General Sessions at the PRSA 2012 International Conference. Conference featured sessions hosted by public relations and communications professionals. The sessions focused on a variety of sectors ranging from sports, travel and tourism, entertainment, fashion, crisis communications, event planning, social media, personal branding and many more. Members received valuable advice for establishing successful careers. PRSSA National Conference is a memorable event for many members. Students left San Francisco with a growing

passion for the public relations industry and useful tips for the Society’s members. Attending Conference allowed members to better understand emerging trends and gain insight into the industry from outside the classroom. Students discovered how traveling and working abroad can lead to greater career and networking opportunities. “It’s important to step out of the classroom and learn from industry professionals,” Monique Moreno, PRSA Liaison of the St. Edwards University Chapter, said. “My favorite session was ‘How To Travel The World With Your PR Career’ led by Morgan McLintic, exec-

utive vice president, US, Lewis PR and Shabnam Asthana, director, Empowered Solutions. I’m interested in the traveling aspect of the industry and it was inspiring to hear just how easy it can be to gain an international perspective. (It was helpful to) attend sessions that you have an interest in so you an gain helpful tips to create a successful future.” One popular session at Conference was “Creativity: Innovative Ideas Create Unforgettable Experiences,” with Jeffrey Ory APR, ABC, President, il Stratega. Students got their creative juices flowSEE CONFERENCE, PAGE 3

Chapters join forces with California hospital to send greeting cards to young patients By Brian Price Vice President of Chapter Development Each year during the PRSSA National Conference, members have the chance to give back to the host city by participating in the Community Service Initiative. During this Conference, the Society created homemade cards to lift the spirits of pediatric and adult patients at University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Benioff Children’s Hospital and Medical Center. Participating Chapters had the option of making cards on campus and bringing them to San Francisco or to visit the card-making station set up onsite during registration. “We wanted to make a positive impact and localize our efforts,” National President Lauren Gray said. “We also wanted to create something our members would feel good about participating in and be a part of something special.” Many members used their creative brainpower to come

up with inspirational and uplifting messages along with helping patients celebrate Halloween and holidays to come. The end result was too many cards to even count. Volunteers delivered two huge boxes full of cards to the hospital patients. UCSF was impressed by the volume and quality of the cards. PRSSA and UCSF were grateful to everyone who particpated in the community service initiative. Some Chapters turned this initiative into a mini-competition, making challenges to see who could create the most cards. Several members from different Chapters know each other from past events, and they took to social media to challenge other Chapters to attempt to make more cards than their Chapter. PRSSA also donated the remaining card-making supplies from the on-site station including markers, crayons, stickers and craft scissors to SEE COMMUNITY, PAGE 3



Preparing for National Assembly Essential information on Assembly in Albuquerque, New Mexico by Lauren Gray National President National Assembly is one of my favorite PRSSA events. Current and future leaders in PRSSA attend and are selected to lead for the next school year.

the details

The PRSSA 2013 National Assembly is in “The Balloon Capital of the World,” Albuquerque, New Mexico from April 4-7. I selected this location because we have never held a National event there and it will be a new experience. While more than 1,000 students attend National Conference, the spring event in New Mexico will draw approximately 250 people. It’s a much more intimate event with often just a few leaders from each Chapter in attendance. Each Chapter should send one delegate to represent their Chapter, vote and bring back ideas from other leaders. Ideally, this delegate should be the next PRSSA Chapter President or another Chapter leader that will be attending your school next year. In addition to the official delegate, Chapters are encouraged to send other aspiring leaders to attend the event as non-delegates. With Assembly very focused on leadership, SEE ASSEMBLY, PAGE 4

key resources for industry news courtesy photo | brian price

Members hand-deliver greeting cards to young patients at the University of California, San Francisco Benioff Children’s Hospital.

Learn how to perfect your personal brand and exude professionalism while networking.


Explore creative ways to build your Chapter’s relationship with your sponsor PRSA Chapter.

@PRSSANational @PRSANewPros @PRDailyNews @APStyleBook @PRSAtactics @PRWeekUS @PRSA



Winter 2012 | Volume 45, Issue 2 |

What is a personal brand? IN PERSON

Your personal brand is how you market yourself

Why is a personal brand important?


• Builds your network • Establishes credibility

Share interesting, relevant content



Prepare an elevator speech

Dress for the job you want to have

• Benefits your professional life

How to build your personal brand? 1. Seek guidance from professional mentors

Post professional photos

2. Gain public relations experience by seeking new opportunities

“Stalk” professionals


Speak unprofessionally or with poor grammar


Dominate the conversation

3. Educate yourself about trends in public relations and marketing 4. Network with professionals from industries that interest you

Post anything you wouldn’t want your boss to view

By ryan collins & Christine Morgan Kent State University infographic by kaitlin bondra

FORUM® STAFF 2012-2013

Editor in Chief Ashley Mauder Design Editor Kaitlin Bondra Copy Editor Jeni Kmic Managing Editor Lauren Stahl Advertising Manager Lauren Tennet Blog/ Staff Assistant Kelsi Rupersburg Publication Adviser Amy Bishop 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® team at forum@ FORUM® is produced by students at Ohio Northern University in Ada, Ohio.

Research vital in IMC campaigns Students learn fundamental public relations principles during real-life campaign to prevent binge drinking By Jessica Colburn & Sam Nathews University of Alabama Today’s public relations environment is incredibly fast paced and, sometimes, this leads students to overlook and even leave out two of the most important steps of the fourstep public relations process: research and evaluation. The reason this omission can be so damaging is because these two

steps are arguably the most crucial to the success of a public relations campaign. We discovered the impactful difference pre- and posttest research makes in a campaign during LessThanUThink (, an anti-binge drinking campaign created by students in the advertising and public relations department at the University of Alabama to prevent binge drinking among college students on campus.

pre-test research

Beginning the campaign for LessThanUThink, we knew we wanted to reach college students between the ages of 18 and 24, and we knew we wanted to alter their drinking habits toward more safe and moderate levels. However, the team wasn’t certain on the best angle to ensure that message was well received among college students. The team gathered research,

which showed that only seven percent of students surveyed could identify the correct definition of the term “binge drinking,” which is consuming more than four to five drinks in a two-hour period. This was huge. How could we ask students not to binge drink if they didn’t even know what binge drinking really was? This immediately became SEE RESEARCH, PAGE 4


prssa progressions

prsa blogs

connect more

Jan. 29, 9 p.m. EST

Look for new blog content weekly. Writing for Progressions is a great way to enhance your portfolio.

Blogs, podcasts and webinars from PRSA can broaden your knowledge of trends in the industry.

Share your own PRSSA news by using #PRSSA in your tweets. You can also join the conversation on LinkedIn and Facebook.

Follow PRSSA National Assembly news and updates with #PRSSANA.



Winter 2012 | Volume 45, Issue 2 |





ing by dancing to Lady Gaga and examining creativity success stories that benefitted the planning process for Chapter events and fundraisers. “A standout session for me was the creativity workshop,” Andrew Mitchell, Western Kentucky University PRSSA Chapter president said. “As young public relations pros, we’re expected to be creative everyday. Ory reminded us that no idea should be overlooked because of how crazy or unattainable it might seem.” As soon as PRSSA members arrived in San Francisco, networking was highly encouraged. The Sac State National Conference Committee hosted an opening night social, “A Day in the Bay,” to welcome members and to provide a fun environment to share ideas. “It was fun to network with peers in a relaxed setting at the social,” Tyler Mulvey of Rowan University PRSSA said. “Everyone was there with a common motive: learn more about public relations. Being able to take off our ties (and high heels) made it natural to inter-

the hospital. The UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital and Medical Center is recognized throughout the world as a leader in health care innovation, specializing in a variety of conditions such as cancer, neurological disorders and women’s health. They are also ranked as a nation-leading hospital according to U.S. News & World Report. courtesy photo | Patrick Doorman

At the PRSSA 2012 National Conference in San Francisco, students attended sessions and networked with professionals to learn about the variety of communication careers available across different industries.

act and exchange stories about our Chapters.” During a keynote presentation with Timothy Jordan, senior developer advocate at Google, Mulvey learned that connections are vital. Mulvey learned that telling stories and connecting people with your brand allows communication to be timeless. Mulvey also enjoyed the PRSA General Sessions with Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter and Tim Westergren, founder and chief strategy officer of Pandora. “The sessions

were enlightening and they broke down their success in an easy to understand way: work hard. Conference was an experience of a lifetime, and I think every aspiring public relations professional should attend,” Mulvey said. During the PRSA International Conference, Westergren said there is no substitute for in-person communication. “He encouraged us to look for humanity in every space of our work,” Rachel Hunsell, Southeast Missouri State University PRSSA Chapter president said.

“National Conference reminded me that we should always strive to make connections, connect others to brands and tell our client’s stories.” National Conference is an opportunity for students to discover what area of public relations they’re interested in while making new friends from all over the country. The PRSSA 2013 National Conference will be held in Philadelphia from Oct. 25-29, and will be hosted by the Drexel University PRSSA Chapter. Save the date!

courtesy photo | brian price

Members decorated cards for children at the University of California, San Francisco Benioff Children’s Hospital.


CONTINUED FROM PAGE 2 the campaign’s awareness objective, the first of the two communication objectives. After determining the awareness objective, the team needed to establish the best way to challenge students to actually make a change in their drinking habits. We needed to educate them to not only realize that they may be engaging in the act of binge drinking, but also to persuade them to modify their alcohol consumption to a moderate, safe pace. Again, the team relied on the pre-campaign research in order to ultimately decide


CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 future leaders of the Society should attend if possible.

assembly procedures

One of the most important responsibilities of delegates attending National Assembly is preparation. There are several important documents that will help prepare delegates for Assembly, and it is absolutely imperative delegates read over them before arriving in Albuquerque. These documents drive conversation and guide the entire process for selecting the National Committee.

Winter 2012 | Volume 45, Issue 2 |

r.p.i.e. • • • •

research plan implement evaluate

on the best approach to take regarding this attitude objective. The research showed that the main fear college students were afraid of when drinking wasn’t the increased possibility of physical consequences that could lead to bodily harm, and even death, but that they were most afraid of suffering from the negative social con-

sequences — actions that lead to embarrassment. Research showed that our audience would be more likely to alter their drinking habits after being made aware that they could become the joke of the party, the latest campus internet meme or just “that” guy or “that” girl from the bar than they would be if you showed they could wind up in a devastating, life-ending accident. Relying on highlighting the negative social consequences rather than using scare tactics became the approach for achieving the attitude goal and even became the foundation of our campaign. It never would have been possible without pre-campaign research.

Ultimately two statistics from post-campaign research proved we made a significant mark on students. The first was that we increased the number of students who could identify the correct definition of binge drinking from that original seven percent to 29.5 percent. The second telling statistic was that 41.6 percent of students surveyed said they were more likely to think about the negative social consequences while they were out drinking as a direct result of the LessThanUThink campaign. And, our qualitative evaluation research showed that a significant amount of students

thought about the campaign’s slogans and posters while consuming alcohol and said they would consider changing their drinking habits because of the impact of the campaign.

remember the basics

There’s a reason teachers and mentors have drilled the “Research, Plan, Implement, Evaluate” public relations model into us: because, when used completely, it is effective. Our pre-campaign research for LessThanUThink made all the difference during planning, but we would not have known what kind of difference the campaign made without posttest evaluation research.

Social Media and the Hospitality industry Sports Bar?


Fine Dining?

Fast Food?


3 vital national

assembly documents • official election guidelines • assembly procedure manual • assembly frequently asked questions

national committee

If you are considering running for a National Committee position, read over the National Committee Job Descriptions and Candidate Nomination Form documents on the PRSSA website. After reading the documents, reach out to the current Committee person to discuss responsibilites and how to prepare for elections. Though this PRSSA event may seem formal, it is a lot of fun and I always learn so much from Chapter leaders across the country. The registration deadline for the PRSSA 2013 National Assembly is Feb. 25. If you have questions about National Assembly, election procedures or running for National Committee, contact a member of the PRSSA National Committee or PRSSA Headquarters.

post-test research


“Are you choosing your favorite place or is your favorite place choosing you?” infographic by kaitlin bondra

By Matt Hunnel University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Advancing social technologies are a catalyst in the expansion of public relations. The American economy is a highly consumer-driven machine and now, more than ever, businesses are forced to hold themselves accountable for their actions. With a newfound voice, consumers expect the market to move toward connectivity, transparency and reliability, and the hospitality industry is utilizing public relations to roll with this massive movement. I have been working in restaurants for only four short years, but I have experienced nearly every position from host, to dishwasher, to my current position as a management and marketing intern at a golf course and restaurant. Combined with my educational emphasis in hospitality at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, I have been immersed in new trends and techniques that are rapidly appearing in the industry. In just a few years, I have watched guest services evolve from snail-speed comment cards and suggestion boxes to customers rating their experiences on Yelp as they’re having them in the restaurant. While user-reviews aren’t exactly new, connective social channels like Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare are allowing consumers to get personal with their experiences. In addition to sharing these experiences with friends, family and consumers around the world, pictures and comments are being linked directly to the business’ public profile as well as visually mapping the location. As these networks allow consumers to become more personal, the hospitality industry

is leveraging new initiatives to cultivate positive brand growth and avoid potential disaster. Not only are public relations professionals bounding industry marketing to social platforms, restaurants and bars around the country are also being urged to take efforts one step further. Tech-savvy employees are creating virtual personalities in order to communicate and build connections with their demographics. For example, local sports bars now tweet about dirt-cheap drink specials, weekend events and cheering on game day, as if the bar itself is a student and a sports fan. Alternatively, finer eateries are posting content such as chef-inspired features, carefully crafted cocktails or the arrival of a new vintage added to the wine list. In the same way that consumers search for recommendations or comment about their likes and dislikes, businesses are evaluating searches, reading comments and viewing pictures in order to create a pleasing environment to their valued guests. Companies are heeding this feedback to improve the customer experience. The question is, are you choosing your favorite place or is your favorite place choosing you? The ever-changing social world is reconstructing the average dining experience. Eateries and drinkeries are no longer built solely around the products and the environment within their walls, but the personality they release on a social scale. The next time you check-in to your favorite spot, say what you think, ask for something new or tell them thanks — chances are, someone is listening.



Winter 2012 | Volume 45, Issue 2 |

Generalists vs. Specialists: A Hiring Showdown BY Eva McKnight Anderson University When public relations firms or departments plan to hire a new employee, they do not simply place a “Help Wanted” sign outside of their office and hope to receive some resumes. On the contrary, the hiring process often begins with a carefully crafted job description and an established idea of the perfect candidate. As employers consider future hires, they must determine what skills they hope the employee will contribute to their team. At the core of every candidate’s work style, are generally one of two primary employee types, generalists or specialists. While both are

important contributors to the public relations profession, it’s important that employers know which type they seek to hire. On the flip side, it’s good for young professionals to know which style they resemble so they can look for jobs matching their strengths.

THE CONTENDERS Generalists Their signature style: Generalists tend to be more wellrounded employees of the two work types. If you are a generalist, you are able to accomplish many different types of tasks. One day, you might dabble in social media, then find yourself crafting a news release the next day.




ally defined skill set. Additionally, they run the risk of their specific strength becoming obsolete or unnecessary to their agency or department. As young professionals, we most likely will begin our careers as generalists and slowly determine our personal strengths in the way of becoming a specialist. Internships are a very valuable way to gauge what aspects of public relations you enjoy more than others. However, you won’t conceptualize your personal work style until you start building your resume with internships and PRSSA Chapter involvement. It’s time to consider your style and marketing your talents to future employers.

Specialists Their signature style: Whereas generalists have basic experience in several different public relations skills, specialists excel in one area of the field. For example, a public relations department might have an employee who exclusively handles the social media efforts for clients. Where they excel: “There are certain fields of public relations where specialists are appropriate. Corporate communications and investor relations are fields where people need a very defined skill set to be successful,” said Lucas. The weak spot: Specialists may be unable to contribute to other areas of their department because of their person-

CanDidates style

Well Rounded Employees Accomplish Many Different Types of Tasks


Excel at Early Entry Level Positions



“Generalist roles are great for early, entry-level positions or smaller agencies/companies,” said Chris Lucas, vice president of business development for Formstack, a marketing technology company. “Generalists are usually preferred when hiring interns. Even if an internship focuses on a specific aspect of public relations, it’s good to get someone who can take on multiple projects and assignments.” The weak spot: Generalists probably have more diverse projects to manage than specialists, so employers run the risk of uncompleted work. Additionally, generalists might turn down work that requires a particularly honed skill set that they do not have.

May Turn Down Work That Requires A Specific Skill Set WEAK SPOT

Run the Risk of Uncompleted Work Excel in One Area of the Field

Ideal for Niche Fields, Such as Investor Relations


May Struggle to Contribute to Other Areas of the Department WEAK SPOT

Run the Risk of Specific Strengths Becoming Obsolete infographic by kaitlin bondra


Winter 2012 | Volume 45, Issue 2 |



Leadership that is more than just a title I’m going to depart from my usual practice of providing advice on advisers and tackle a topic near and dear to my heart… that leadership is more than just a title! Leadership scholars Bennis and Nanus, through their extensive research, identified and then debunked five commonly believed myths surrounding leadership. With credit to Bennis, Nanus and Sadler1, here are some myths and the truths about leadership.

Myth number one: Leadership is a rare skill.

Response: Untrue. Great leaders may be rare, but everyone has the potential for leadership. In fact, people may be leaders in one organization or situation and have ordinary roles in another. Opportunities for leadership are plentiful and within reach of every one of us.

Myth number two: Leaders are born, not made.

Response: Not so. The great news is that major capacities and competencies of leadership can be learned and if we have the will to learn, we all have the capacity to do so.

Myth number three: Leaders are charismatic.

Response: Some are, but most are not.

Myth number four: Leadership exists only at the top of the organization.

Response: This is one of my favorite myths. The truth is that everyone in the organization can be a leader without regard


Building the relationship

Bob “Pritch” Pritchard, APR, Fellow PRSA PRSSA National Faculty Adviser to title or position. The larger the organization, the more leadership opportunities there are likely to be.

Jeannette Conklin Michigan State University

The members of the Ned S. Hubbell PRSSA Chapter at Michigan State University know their sponsor Chapter — Central Michigan PRSA — directly influences their own success. As such, the PRSSA Chapter works to strengthen their relationship all year long in a variety of ways. Here are some best practices that you can implement with your sponsor Chapter:

1 2 3 4 5

Myth number five: Leaders control and direct

Response: This is one of my favorite responses. Again, not so! “Leadership is not so much the exercise of power as the empowerment of others. Leaders lead by inspiring rather than ordering – by enabling people to use their own initiative and experiences.”2 As Sadler indicates, “once these myths are cleared away, the question becomes not one of how to become a leader, but rather how to improve one’s effectiveness at leadership.”3 Leadership is so much more than a title and lording one’s position over others. It is the conscientious application of empathy, empowerment and service that helps create the motivation and enthusiasm of others to join the leader on the journey. I pray that every student in PRSSA gets a chance to experience the pure joy of inspiring others to his or her cause. 1. Sadler, P. (2003) Leadership, 2e, p. 8. Sterling, VA: Kogan Page Limited. 2. Ibid. 3. Ibid.


Send as many of your members as possible to events you are invited to, like monthly luncheons. If they do not have student tickets, see if you can attend at a member price. MSU sends at least five students to PRSA monthly luncheons. Invite members of the PRSA Chapter to speak at meetings or to join panel discussions. PRSA members know first-hand what the industry is like in your community and can give insightful advice. It’s also a great networking opportunity for the members of your Chapter. If they allow, send a member to your PRSA Chapter’s board meeting to give student Chapter updates. Their meetings are a good opportunity to learn how you can help your sponsor PRSA Chapter and hear their advice on your Chapter.

Volunteer! Offer help and enlist members to volunteer at PRSA events. It provides an opportunity to learn event planning and network with professionals. Your sponsor Chapter will appreciate this much-needed help and often remember your dedication when future opportunities arise. Meet an active PRSA member for coffee. Many members of CMPRSA are MSU and PRSSA alumni, and they often hire our members as interns. They are interested in what our Chapter does. Build one-on-one relationships and seek their input on Chapter initiatives and activities.

All PRSA and PRSSA Chapters are different, but all have some form of a relationship. It is important to recognize if you want the benefits of a strong sponsor Chapter — networking, internship opportunities and more — you need to work for it. By implementing some of these practices and working on helping and learning from your Chapter, you can develop a strong beneficial relationship with your parent Chapter.


Capstone Agency danielle stewart Vice President of Professional Development

PRSSA 2013 National Assembly Albuquerque, New Mexico

April 4-7, 2013

Capstone Agency is associated with the University of Alabama PRSSA Chapter and is one of the most recent Studentrun Firm to receive National Affiliation. With 35 members, Capstone Agency has a strong and diverse client base. Their largest ongoing project is the LessThanUThink Campaign to decrease binge drinking on

campus. The project has already received $75,000 from The Century Council to run the campaign and accumulated more than $124,000 in publicity. The firm successfully practices ethical, innovative, effective, and creative communication planning. They are eager make a positive impression in the professional world.

Share Your Student-Run Firm Story FORUM wants to publish your firm’s accomplishments. Gain national recognition for your student-run firm. Contact Vice President of Professional Development Danielle Stewart at to share your story.



Winter 2012 | Volume 45, Issue 2 |


Back to the basics:

Developing your professional network with Alyssa Bronikowski of GolinHarris trick. For attention grabbers, focus on how you can connect yourself to the professional through a mutual relationship or something you have in common – but make sure you do this in a very organic way.


Alyssa Bronikowski is a media manager in the consumer marketing group at GolinHarris. Bronikowski shared her expertise to help students take the next steps in their careers.

Hilary Jurinak Vice President of Internships/ Job Services Alyssa Bronikowski is a 2010 graduate of DePaul University and is currently a media manager (senior account executive) in the consumer marketing group at GolinHarris in Chicago. Prior to GolinHarris, Bronikowski interned at Ruder Finn and Edelman. During her undergraduate education at DePaul, Bronikowski served as the PRSSA Chapter president, exponentially boosting the Chapter’s membership and leading the Chapter to win the “Outstanding Website” Dr. F. H. Teahan Chapter Award in 2010. Bronikowski had 20+ informational interviews her senior year of college.


What is the best way for a young professional to introduce himself or herself to a professional? What should a student mention that would grab the attention of the professional?


Students should introduce themselves in whatever way makes them feel the most comfortable! There isn’t a right way or a wrong way to introduce yourself, but I would focus on what are the most important messages you’re trying to get it across – in the shortest way possible. For example, your name, school, level of education (e.g. freshman/senior) and what you’re studying should do the

What is the best way to reach out to a professional when inquiring about an informational interview?


It’s very simple- just ask! I found sending emails was much easier because it gave the professional time to look into his or her schedule and get back to you. You are more than welcome to call a professional but sometimes you can catch them off guard – especially if you don’t know them. Also, keep in mind you should give a professional about two weeks before following up.


How often should one follow up with their professional contacts throughout the year?


It depends on your relationship with the contact. If you are very close, it can be once a month to once every

three months. If it’s someone you’ve established a relationship with but could be senior management you might want to check in every six months to once a year. Another good way to maintain a relationship is through social media. Follow your contacts’ social media channels and respond to some of their postings. That will keep your name at the top of their minds, but you’re interacting freely rather than sending an email.


What is the best way to keep in touch with those in your professional network?


Don’t be too pushy – keep in touch, but have a purpose. Now as a professional, it’s great to hear from students I’ve met with but only if there is a reason. Keep tabs on the accounts your contact works on and reach out to congratulate them on a recent campaign or when you see a placement come through featuring the work. Anything that can show you’ve been proactively learning about their work means you’ve put in the effort to maintain the relationship.


4 common public relations agency myths RYAN MCSHANE Senior Account Executive, Taylor

I have had many opportunities to work with PRSSA members from across the country as part of my industry service. During mentor sessions, students often describe their job hunting progress and feelings toward different areas of public relations. It is evident that many myths are still looming across campuses, and I’m here to teach from my experience.

myth: An agency is always the best

career starter

I have several arguments why most students should to start their careers with an agency. Agencies allow young professionals to discover their talents, broaden their knowledge and

develop relationships across the industry. That said, several of my friends and colleagues have started their careers in-house and have achieved great success in doing so. At the end of the day, agency public relations should be on your radar, but evaluate each job opportunity independently to find the right fit for you and your growth.

myth: Any agency will do Again, I’ll concede that having agency experience on your resume may help you gain future employment. As an internship director, it’s comforting to find candidates with prior agency internships, because it shows these folks likely have experienced (and survived) the fast-paced environment that faced them. Pace aside, some agencies may not observe ethics and best practices, and some of those flaws may fol-

low you in the form of bad habits or a “what not to do” case study. Don’t be that case study.

myth: Agencies are short-term jobs This is a myth that I often hear when working with students and young professionals. It’s true that agency turnover is generally more volatile than in-house. Because of some of the things I mentioned above, agency practitioners often find opportunities that allow them to specialize in particular fields of interest. However, many practitioners are cut out for a long-term career in agency public relations. Senior management often rewards this loyalty, as it sends a positive message to clients and the rest of the staff. A long-term agency path also allows you to maintain the fast-paced environment and diversified workload that many practitioners need to remain professionally hungry.

myth: Serving multiple clients will broaden my skills Benefits of working on multiple client accounts include learning different sectors and honing time management skills. Conversely, young professionals who are staffed across too many accounts may be unable to completely immerse themselves into their clients’ business and needs. Many agencies lose great young talent because they limited their professional development. However, other agencies recognize the importance of challenging their staff on a daily basis — limiting their accounts may play a big part of that vision. Ryan McShane served on the 2007-08 National Committee as FORUM Editor-in-Chief. He continues to mentor young professionals. He blogs on career topics and public relations at


What is the most important piece of advice that you would give students trying to network and establish professional connections?


Building and maintaining relationships takes work and it doesn’t stop when you’ve reached your goal – whether it’s getting an internship, job or interview. It continues throughout your career. Keep in touch with your contacts and reach out every so often to check in.


Are there any tools you would recommend when organizing and keeping up with your professional network contacts?


Just like you would in pitching media – create your own media list, or in this case, a contact list. Keep notes on your outreach efforts (e.g. when you last spoke, what you discussed, etc.). Continue adding to your list throughout your career and make sure to keep tabs on contacts’ professional changes; it’s a great way to shoot them an email after they’ve changed jobs to congratulate and ask what their new role will entail.

ONLINE ONLY PRSSA INTERNSHIP CENTER Browse internship listings, post your resumé and find public relations career resources.

SCHOLARSHIPS Jan. 28 Deadline • Gary Yoshimura Scholarship

Feb. 1 Deadline • Daniel J. Edelman/PRSSA Award

June 8 Deadline • Betsy Plank/PRSSA Scholarship • Lawrence G. Foster Award • Stephen D. Pisinski Memorial Scholarship

For more information visit

FORUM Winter 2013  
FORUM Winter 2013  

The Public Relations Student Society of America's winter 2013 issue of FORUM.