Read about how PRSSA has been preparing for THON 2017!
THIS EDITION Ask An Alum
Worried about your future in PR? Look no further! We’ve got advice from PSU alum on how to break into communications.
Your Guide to Interviews Are you nervous for upcoming interviews? Check out our guide on what to bring, what to ask, and what to do afterwards.
Regional Conference Recap Read about one member’s experience at our regional conference, Passport to PR.
WHAT IS THON? Penn State’s Dance Marathon, better known as THON, is the world’s largest run student philanthropy. THON is committeed to enhancing the lives of children and families affected by childhood cancer. The mission of THON is “to provide emotional and financial support, spread awareness and ensure funding for critical research - all in a pursuit for a cure”. The yearlong efforts of the students involved culminate in a 46 hour no-sitting, no-sleeping dance marathon. Since its inception in 1977, THON has raised more than $136 million. Read more about PRSSA THON on Page 2
PENN STATE PRSSA PENNSTATEPRSSA.COM
THON 2017 PREVIEW by: Lindsay Edling
T he most wonderful time of the year is fast approaching for the
Penn State community and PRSSA committee members are utilizing their courage, wisdom, honesty and strength to make the most of this fundraising year while continuing to support their beloved Four Diamonds child, Emily Whitehead. The THON committee members, led by chairs Carolyn Cushwa, Rachel Tasker, Morisa Young and Mora Fetterolf, worked together to implement creative fundraisers with Panda Express, DP Dough, Five Guys and Yankee Candle. Additionally, the committee held its annual ornament sale at the HUB and scooped ice cream for donations at Cold Stone Creamery. Their fundraising efforts even flourish during their weekly meetings, where they complete and send Thonvelopes (which provided the majority of their donations last year), plan canning and canvassing trips and participate in a tradition known as “Happy Quarters,” which starts as a THON-based discussion and ends in a donation collection. As THON weekend advances, committee members create mail for their Four Diamonds family to open, stay up to date with the Whitehead Foundation’s events, participate in last-minute canvassing trips and review their “THON survival guide” to prepare for the tough weekend ahead. The members also recently mailed the Whiteheads a “Happy 12 Days ‘Til THON” package to get them excited and motivated. On Feb. 2, 2017, PRSSA attended the second annual Take Down Cancer event, a public wrestling match at Philipsburg-Osceola High School, which raised $13,533.91 for the Emily Whitehead Foundation. The members certainly do everything they can to prove that “Cancer Cannot.” To learn more about Emily’s story of inspiration and courage, or about her foundation, visit http://emilywhiteheadfoundation.org/.
This year, Carolyn Cushwa and Morisa Young have been chosen to represent the Penn State PRSSA chapter as they stay on their feet for 46 hours to support Emily. Both dancers are excited to spend time with Emily and are preparing accordingly as they limit visits to Starbucks and plan more dates with the gym and their beds. “My goal to survive the weekend is to actually keep dancing and make sure I’m moving at all times,” Cushwa said. “It’s when you stand still that hurts the most.” Cushwa is proud to be a leader in the THON community because she enjoys the ability to “make differences in ways [she doesn’t] even know.” Cushwa’s position is called the family relations chair, so she sets up visits and Kiwi frozen yogurt dates with Emily and her family. Cushwa is moved every day by Emily’s strength and understands the importance of continuing to support her hero, who is now four years cancer-free. Morisa Young works as the alternative fundraiser chair, where she organizes and leads the fundraisers for the year. She understands the importance of being proactive in her fundraising efforts and appreciates the committee’s openness to new ideas and willingness to ask questions. “Something as simple as seeing a kid having a water gun fight with other members makes me so happy,” Young said. “It’s all about taking the kids’ pain away for the day.” Young’s and Cushwa’s dancer wishes are to take pictures on the BJC stage; Young with her older sister, who is a Penn State aluma, and Cushwa with Emily. Be sure to look out for the PRSSA members in the stands; you can’t miss them wearing their mint green sweatshirts (Emily’s favorite color), big purple letters and cow signs!
EXEC BOARD SPOTLIGHTS by: Will Barrett
Senior Emily Pirt serves as PRSSA’s Director of Regional Conference. Pirt has been with PRSSA since her freshman year. She got her start on the Communications/Digital Strategy committee then moved on to help with the regional conference during her sophomore year. She would go on to be the National Committee Liaison, and has since moved into her current position. Outside of PRSSA, Pirt has been a part of many clubs and organizations here on campus, most notably serving as the public relations director for the Clown Nose Club and executive director at Happy Valley Communications. Pirt figured out her future in the public relations field before leaving high school to come to Penn State. “I always knew I wanted to go into communications, but I didn’t necessarily know where,” Pirt said. While trying to decide what she wanted to pursue, Pirt was introduced to a family friend who started her own public relations firm. After looking into the field, she knew public relations was the right path. Pirt served as a Campus Fellow for GenFKD, a group dedicated to teaching millennials the basics of personal finance, as well as a Sports Information Director for the Penn State Fencing Team. She also worked for the Organizing for Action fellowship and Tom Wolf’s governor campaign. During the summer after her sophomore year, she worked as a publicity intern for Discovery Communication. The biggest piece of advice Pirt has to offer the underclassmen is to reach out and connect with PRSSA executive members. “They have so much they can teach you, and all they want to do is teach it to you,” she said. “I found older members I could confide in, and that really helped me grow as a professional.” Pirt also urges underclassmen to stay involved with PRSSA. “The overwhelming majority of college students find out about PRSSA their junior and senior year, which is almost too late,” she said. “If you are a younger member, make sure you drag your friends to the meetings. Our network within PRSSA is honestly legendary. Take advantage of it and don’t waste a second.” With internships, Pirt advises current students not to settle. “Don’t be afraid to go after the big dogs. Penn State’s name and PRSSA, specifically, hold a lot of weight on a resume. Be sure not to bury it; make it stand out!” Pirt hopes to move on to work in one of the three areas she has experience in: politics, sports or television. “I would advise people not to waste their time at Penn State as there’s so much you can do,” Pirt added. “My mantra is ‘There’s nothing you can’t accomplish without coffee and determination.’ It’s been an awesome ride.”
by: Katie Hagar
Senior Ashley Hansen, Director of Chapter Development for Penn State’s chapter of PRSSA, is a public relations major. While Hansen did not always know she wanted to be in communications, she was guided to the major because of her interest in event planning. Hansen is now a peer mentor for the College of Communications and an active member of PRSSA since her junior year.. “The word I kept hearing associated with PRSSA was opportunities, and I wanted to experience that for myself rather than just hear about it,” Hansen said. She did just that when she completed a non-profit PR internship this past summer and a sports PR internship this fall. She says she not only learned skills from these experiences, but she also more about herself. Recently, Hansen helped plan this year’s regional conference, Passport to PR, which was one of her favorite communications and PRSSA events.. “It was incredible to see a concept literally start from just a title and turn out into an event with 130 attendees from 16 PRSSA chapters,” Hansen said. One of her first memories of PRSSA was listening to a speaker from KIND and she felt that she had come full circle after reaching out to KIND as a sponsor for the regional conference. Hansen thought that Passport to PR really demonstrated one of the things she found surprising about communications, which is the wide scope of jobs that it includes. She acknowledges that, while a communications degree can take you many places, it is a competitive arena. “Grow from rejection,” Hansen said. “It’s okay to be upset, but don’t let it defeat you. That rejection will make you more prepared for the position that you ultimately get.” Hansen has also learned from her interview experience and advises not only to talk about your personality strengths, but use those traits during the interview. She finds interviews to be more stressful when she doesn’t utilize what has led her to success in her work. As Hansen prepares to graduate this year, she feels proud of the dynamic among all of the executive board and chair members and all that they have accomplished. Before her time is over on the executive board, she hopes to continue encouraging students to join PRSSA earlier in their college careers rather than as upperclassmen. As for post-graduation plans, Hansen sees herself possibly escaping Pennsylvania winters by moving to the south and going into entertainment PR, an interest which stems from her life-long love of Disney. “PR is so much about storytelling. My favorite stories growing up were often Disney princess fairytales, and I loved trying to put myself in those stories. Now, I want to join a company’s story and share it with others.” LION’S PRIDE
ASK AN ALUM
by: Katherine Warrington
How do you get started in PR? Remember that when you enter the workforce, the only constant you will see is change. Whether its the industry you work in, the way you format a media list, or your actual role, change is inevitable. It is important to embrace it and look at change as an exciting adventure. Embracing this idea will help you be to be prepared for anything that comes your way in the industry!
REBECCA SHAPIRO Class of 2015
My best advice for getting started in the PR industry is to immerse yourself into the media. Read a variety of publications and learn about a range of topics, thus expanding your knowledge base while gaining a better understanding of how stories are told by journalists. You never know what you’ll need to know in PR.
ZACH DUGAN Class of 2013
My best advice for someone starting their career in PR is to take chances. Apply for positions that might not seem perfect, or your “dream job”. But any good experience you can get will help you work toward your dream role one day. And you never know, you will probably find that you are totally interested in something you’d never have thought.
ERICA WALSH Class of 2016
My best advice for starting in PR is to engage yourself in as many different scenarios as possible. The best PR practitioners have learned from their own experiences. Lastly, always remember to be honest, sometimes the truth will hurt, but it’s always the best approach.
JENNIFER BULLANO Class of 2003
YOUR GUIDE TO PROFESSIONAL INTERVIEWS by: Alexa Turkovich and Elissa Hill
WHAT TO BRING WHAT TO ASK Perhaps the most stressful aspects of interviews are deciding what to wear and what to bring. Unless you’re instructed otherwise, always wear business professiona -- even if it’s not what those actually working at the company usually wear. In your bag or padfolio, make sure you have extra copies of any materials you’ve submitted to the company. This means any cover letters or resumes you’ve given them as part of your application. Some interviewers will have copies on hand, but you don’t want to be caught without them if you ask. When you’re asking and answering questions, it’s helpful to have a notepad to jot down parts of a long question or to take notes on answers your interviewer gives. If you have business cards, you should also bring these and exchange cards with your interviewers before you leave. Finally, if you can, try to pack breath mints and any other essentials, like tissues. You never know what you might need! LION’S PRIDE
Often times students prepare by looking at the history of the company and rehearse some questions they’ll likely be asked. While these are both great habits to get into practicing, another important thing to consider is the questions you will ask your interviewer. It’s always a good idea to ask what your day-to-day activities with the company might look like. This will give you an idea whether the company is even the right fit for you personally. As the interviewee, you will get to see if this opportunity will be a good use of your time, and if it will benefit you in the future. Another great question to ask is what the person who is interviewing you does at the office day-to-day. This will give you an idea about how the company is run, organized and what matters most to them. The best thing to do before an interview is to prepare -- when someone is prepared, they appear to be more confident.
AFTERWARDS After the interview, try to write down some feelings, reactions and thoughts that you had while speaking to your interview. This will be helpful if you have multiple offers and are unsure of which one to take. You should also always send a thank-you email and sometimes even a card to your interviewer. Although human resources may be the person’s job, you will often be interviewed by someone in the department you’re seeking a position in, as well. These people are taking time out of their normal work activities to meet with you, so it’s important to show your appreciation. Most interviews will end with instructions in how to continue pursuing the position. After your thank-you, don’t follow up if it’s still within the time frame your interviewer explained to you. If the time frame passes and you still haven’t heard anything from the company, it’s then acceptable to follow up with your interviewer and ask about your status in the selection process.
PASSPORT TO PR: REGIONAL CONFERENCE RECAP by: Daniela Chism Having just joined PRSSA don’t completely know your path us to ask ourselves: “Why am I betlast semester, and having never at first. Set backs are normal. Her ter?” He also shared his secret that been to a conference, I didn’t really best advice was to the ladies in the including puppies in your emails know what to expect from Passport room, telling us to never apologize. will get more people to read them. to PR. I walked into the Days Inn And also to write! I feel that I gained a lot listening lobby, not knowing where to go, For the first breakout sesto him speak, as he gave us a lot who to talk t, or how to talk to any- sion, I was torn over where to go. It of advice that will come in handy one. What helped ease me into it was a similar feeling to being at a when we’re interns and actual emwas being approached by a strang- music festival and not being able to ployees. er, who kindly introduced himself choose between two of your favor- I didn’t realize how badly I needand seemed genuinely interested in ite artists playing ed the etiquette I didn’t realize how luncheon until I talking to me. This set the tone for at the same time. the rest of the weekend. I had too many badly I needed the was there. While The weekend kicked off good opportunimany of the rules etiquette luncheon Friday night at the Days Inn with ties, but I had to seemed silly, I’m a delightful welcome ceremony. choose. glad I was learning until I was there.” While the food was definitely one I endthem, because the of the best parts of the night, I was ed up going to see Zainab Javed, “silly rules” were the ones I nevlucky enough to be surrounded by who spoke on digital strategy. I’m er would have thought about if I good company. Our tables were fascinated by digital, and it’s a path hadn’t attended this luncheon. I’ve assigned, so you were forced to I’ve considered before. I loved never had an interview over a meal, sit with people you didn’t know, how down to earth and relatable but now I feel prepared if the time which was exactly the push I need- she was, and easy to talk to as well. comes. ed. Despite not winning the pitch She discussed how she does so The last speaker I saw was competition, I bonded with a group cial media for PA Democrats, and Ellyn Fisher, Senior Vice President of girls I may have been too nerfor only being 24 years old that’s of Public Relations and Social vous to approach otherwise. I went pretty impressive. She emphasized Media at Ad Council. She was a home that night, for the first time the importance of writing, telling part of the “Love Has No Labels” ever actually feeling excited to be us that we should start a blog and campaign that went viral in 2015. somewhere at 8 a.m. take journalism or creative writing Ellyn is a Penn State alumna who Saturday classes, because you can’t changed her major a few times, but Coffee was my survive in PR without this eventually found her place in pubmorning started early, but as lic relations. This was good to hear, saving grace.” skill. usual, coffee The next speaker I because that is exactly what hapwas my saving grace. I felt more at saw was Zach Dugan, media spepened to me. I loved listening to ease walking into the hotel lobby, cialist at Ketchum, who was very Ellyn speak, because she was very always finding someone to talk to. different from Zainab. He was not a sweet and relatable, and taught us a Listening to the keynote fan of doing digital and social melot. Her biggest lesson was that you speaker Christina Cassotis, CEO of dia, and spoke about how he enjoys can’t predict a viral hit. It’s importAllegheny County Airport Aumedia relations more. He taught us ant to just give a campaign everythority, was empowering. It was how to properly create a pitch, and thing you have and hope it strikes a interesting hearing how when she then shared that pitching to a client chord with people. was my age she had (temporaris the same as pitching yourself to a The best part of this conily) dropped out of college, and possible employer. ference was that I was able to see a was working as a waitress. It was His biggest advice was the wide variety of speakers -- people comforting to know that you can importance of standing out from working in all different walks of still end up as CEO, even if you other people in the industry, telling the industry.
COMMITTEE UPDATES PRSSA’s Communications/ Digital Strategy Committee meets each week, working to compose original content for our chapter’s blog and newsletter. Committee chairs Sara Salter and Elissa Hill provide a focused lesson that emphasizes personal branding and networking skills that will be beneficial to each member in the future.
Communications and digital strategy by: Alexa Turkovich
Members of the committee experience an inclusive environment, often bouncing ideas off of one another throughout the meetings. The overall goal of the committee is to work together and expand PRSSA’s blog and newsletter and provide members with professional writing experiences. “We’re incredibly excited for this semester on our committee,” Hill said. “The best part of this committee is the learning environment we all share and the fun (but professional) experiences we get to have writing together.” With digital trends evolving the ways of all business, especially public relations, this committee provides relevant material that will make members have an edge in the work force. This semester, the committee hopes to hold more workshops to expand the skillsets of members in areas like InDesign and writing, providing at least basic knowledge in a subject.
The Event Planning Committee wasted no time kicking off the new year with bigger and better events! The committee has already solidified one event for Feb. 28, where they will hold a booth at PRSSA’s Success in the City Workshop from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. in 73 Willard. “This semester we are going to run a station at the Success in the city workshop,” committee chair Collette Pickering said. “We plan on teaching individuals the difference between business causal and business professional. Anyone interested can bring a photo of what they plan to wear and we will critique it.”
Event Planning by: Sara Salter
The committee will have a booth focused on fashion tips and various other professional tips for communications students attending Success in the City on April 7. Members also hope to have a student from the Penn State Fashion Society at the booth to provide expert opinion on business professional wear, hairstyles and makeup appropriate for the event. Later this semester, the committee hopes to host a yoga night for PRSSA members in collaboration with the Penn State Yoga Club.
Sophomore Holly Rubin and junior Maddie Woodrow have taken over the Strategic Planning Committee for the spring semester. Rubin was a member of the committee last semester and is excited to move up to a leadership position. Woodrow is excited as well, but is still nervous. “I didn’t know what they had been doing when I came in,” Woodrow said, as she was not a member of the committee this fall.
Strategic planning by: Morisa Young
Within their first three weeks, Rubin and Woodrow held a resume, cover letter and LinkedIn workshop. In future meetings, they plan to have workshops for online portfolios and interviews. They are also starting to plan fundraisers for the semester. “We are still trying to get ideas from want our members want to do,” Rubin said. With their membership consisting of freshmen and sophomores (some undecided about their majors), Rubin and Woodrow aim to describe what public relations is and what to do with it. They want to explain different directions their members could go in and the different fields PR has to offer. “We’re making people into academic and professional superstars,” Rubin joked.
SPECIAL THANKS TO Editors In Chief Elissa Hill Sara Salter
CONNECT WITH US
Featured in this edition Emily Pirt Ashley Hansen Erica Walsh Rebecca Shapiro Zach Dugan Erica Walsh Jennifer Bullano
Featured Writers Lindsay Edling Will Barrett Katie Hagar Kate Warrington Alexa Turkovich Daniela Chism Morisa Young
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