PRSSA Nationals 2017: Member Hot Takes



Four members from PRSSA La Salle attended the 2017 PRSSA National Conference in Boston from Friday, October 6- Monday, October 9. President Ryan Wall (’18), Vice President Alyssa McFadden (’18), Secretary Rissa Delpuerto (’19), and Treasurer Zach Raczka (’19) attended different sessions, explored the city, and got to meet other PRSSA members from around the country. They each learned a lot and would be happy to elaborate more about their experiences. Here are some of the lessons that resonated with them from the sessions they attended. Each attendee’s initials are included at the end of the sessions they went to, so be sure to ask them for more about the topic!


Day 1
Chapter Development sessions:

  •  Seemingly Im(Possible): Chapter Growth on a Non-Traditional Campus with DePaul University: Be consistent with meetings, Tweet during events so members feel engaged,  consider doing a  professional speed dating event (Like partnering with AWC) [ZR, RD]
  • Interns and the City: DePaul PRSSA Edition: This was a really funny skit! Great tip: develop a list of 6-9 companies you’d want to work for and find professors who know about them, then research them. In interview, what you should be saying is: “this is what I’ve done, this is what I can do, this is what I can do for you.” [ZR, RD]
  • Success in digital media: Improve your online presence as a PRSSA Chapter with Universidad de San Martin de Porres: Know your different audiences, pay attention to your stats, and get constant feedback, pay attention to keywords, trends, and good design [RW, AM]
  • PR Week Defeated: How to Host a Revolutionary Event with Waynesburg University: Plan! Plan! Plan! Communicating with a committee is key. Always have every possible situation anticipated and make professionals feel welcome: offer water, pens/notes, etc. [RW, AM]
  • How to be an Effective Leader 

Opening session mixer: This was a fun way to mingle with the whole society, dance, hang out, and have food. Also, freebies are great [RW, AM, ZR, RD]

Day 2

  • Welcome, Awards, Keynote Address with Jon Iwata, and Chapter Roll Call: “The few influence the many, and the many influence the many more.” AI is an inevitable part of the industry, as it will help with cognitive social comms and copywriting. 4 Ingredients for an effective PR System: Content, People, Spending/Investment, Analytics. [RW, AM, ZR, RD]
    • Roll Call: Was awkward but fun to hear all of the other schools!


  • Sports Public Relations, Nikki Barjon, The Barjon Group: Sports PR is high stakes and fast paced. It’s incredibly competetive and you should always be prepared to go on the fly [ZR]
  • Heartbeat Heard ‘round the World: PR is Nonprofits Lifeline, Mary Klemenok, LSU Manship School of Mass Communication, Lori Steele, Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency, Kirsten Heintz, Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency: Take advantage of the spontaneous positive opportunities to promote your organization. Look for the right stories and the right times. “Failing to plan is planning to fail” [RW, AM]
  • Message in Motion: Visual Storytelling, Ian Cohen, Weber Shandwick: Power has moved from publishers to platforms. The pace of change will never be slow again [RD]


  • Inbound Marketing: Bringing the Customer to You, Meghan Keaney Anderson, HubSpot: Mainly about SEO information.70% of all internet traffic is from old content- so be inventive and make it relevant. Don’t bombard people with marketing and be consistent with content [ZR, AM]
  • Navigating Fake News, Thomas Fiedler, College of Communication, Boston University; Moderated by: Professor John Carroll, Boston University: Media literacy is bedrock of govt. Be critical consumers of news: ask questions, ask about sources, intent of story, etc. Remember beliefs will often trump facts for many consumers, so don’t force people into their silos. Similar messenger for best response. Be open-minded and actively listen to others! [RW]
  • Tips from New Professionals, Hosted by the New Professionals Section, Andrea Gils, University of Kentucky International Center, Veronica Mingrone, Canvas Blue, Chad Furst, Booz Allen Hamilton
    Moderated by: Laura Fooks, Lockheed Martin: I learned a lot! We spoke about salaries, and I learned to a mindset of  my salary, but still negotiate. You should look for opportunities in PRSSA/PRSA community because they’ll go far [RD]


  • Beyond the PR Stunt: Creativity in PR Jobs You Didn’t Know Existed, Michael DiSalvo, Ogilvy Public Relations: Find the right fit for your career. Connect with your company. “Experience gets you in the door, personality gets you the job.” Great PR comes from the intersection of Cultural Tension (What is trending) and the Brand’s best self….this equals the “Big IdeaL: Brand X believes the world would be better if…” Passion + Knowledge + PR muscle= Expertise; roles are dictated by expertise [RW, AM]
  • The Path to Public Relations: How to Land A Career in PR, Aaron Pickering, Cone Communications, Whitney Gray Bailer, Communications Consultant, and Alexa Manocchio, Fidelity Investments; Moderated by: Professor Larry Parnell, Program Director, Strategic Public Relations, The George Washington University: take advantage of alumni network, establish your personal brand, tell story about you [ZR, RD]


  • Celebrity Focused Public Relations, Rita Tateel, The Celebrity Source: Get in the celeb’s mindset and be empathetic, efficient, and establish trust early on [RW]
  • Surviving Year One: The Realities of Joining the World of PR, Laura Vellidis, Nebo Agency: time will make you a good PR professional, be open and interested in field [AM]

Day 3

  • Keynote Address: Meet the Living Legends of Public Relations, Nick Ashooh, APCO Worldwide, Patrice Tanaka, Joyful Planet LLC: Find your purpose- the single most efficient thing to increase joy and be successful. “Find your joy, be mindful of it, and spread it with others.” Philosophy classes are great for broadening your perspectives and forcing you to think. All PR is storytelling. Analytics are great, but never lose your sense of intuition. Mentorship is one person sharing experience with another that this person doesn’t have- no age attached. “Stress happens when you don’t like something or you don’t like someone.” Books to read: George Washington biography, Never Eat Alone, The Purpose Economy [RW, AM, ZR, RD]
  • How to Get a Mentor
  • Legacies from Legends in Public Relations 
  • Sticking to the Brand, Jonathan Yohannan, Panera Bread: Revamping the health industry on a base level- it benefits the company but it’s also great PR. Talking about customer satisfaction and managing customer experience [RD, AM]
  • Capital of Communication: Mastering Political Public Relations, Elizabeth Guyton, Massachusetts Governors Office, Michael DeFilippis, Direct Impact: Take risks when you’re young and stay hungry. We lose trust between what we say and what we do. Know your client/politician’s voice and thought process. Invest in the grunt work [RW, ZR]
  • PRSA General Session, Morgan SpurlockSuper cool! Had a speech from PRSA president Jane Dvorak, APR with some awards: “If you want to rule the world, you have to dominate public relations” Followed by great speech from Morgan Spurlock:
    • Be ready and willing to take criticism
    • You need people who believe in you and your vision
    • Have persistence of vision
    • You can’t plan for change- plan for impact and how you hope to affect change
    • Own your own creative space
    • Everyone wants to be 1st to be 2nd
    • If you can make someone laugh, you can make them listen [RW, AM, ZR, RD]
  • Officer Discussions: (President, Vice President, Treasurer, Secretary) There was a scheduling miscommunication, so we created our own session with some members from schools in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Colorado. We spoke for almost 45 minutes and exchanged some great ideas, contact information, and creative solutions to shared problems! [RW, AM, RD, ZR]

Day 4

  • PRSA General Session with Executive Development Coach AmyK HutchensWe arrived halfway through (due to hotel checkout) and heard the second half of the keynote…Be sure to ask the bigger, bolder, and badder questions of your team. Five questions to ask self/team:
  1. “How might we define a ‘healthy’ company culture?”: Define company buzzwords, have thought diversity
  2. “How might we judge ‘great’ leadership?”: #1 job as leader is to make everyone else successful. Service leadership
  3. “How might we define a ‘great’ team?” Create a “515” document: 15 min to prep night before meeting, 5 minutes to read–> will increase communication by laying it out 
  4. “How might be judge an ‘ideal’ client relationship?” Does everyone agree?
  5. “How might be define great performance/productivity?” Come up with rubric/ expectations together
  • Community from Tragedy: The Story of the Boston Marathon Bombing, T.K. Skenderian, Boston Athletic Association, Heather Abbott, Marathon Survivor. Moderated by: Tim Sullivan, Spaulding Rehabilitation Center: Sometimes no response is best response (Ex: if you communicate that 12 people are safe, it might be assumed that those not mentioned are not safe. Best to stay quiet). Don’t get swept up and remain a source of truth. Media are stressed too, so don’t cave to their pressure. Anything can become public, so be consistent with messages. Exude tranquility under stress because it will go a long way. [RW, AM, ZR, RD]


This wraps up just some of what we learned at the Conference! If you check  #PRSSANC, you’ll see thousands of tweets with more great takes from members across the country. Each evening, we explored Boston and hung out with each other, which was a really cool bonding experience. Next year, National Conference is in Austin, Texas, so hopefully some of you will be able to experience this for yourself!