For a nationally recognized Chapter seeking to constantly evolve, no bit of advice stands overlooked or underestimated in progressing opportunities for DePaul PRSSA. This past fall, we were honored to send a handful of our members to the PRSSA National Conference in Washington, D.C. to do just that – advance, expand and ignite a spark to bring back home to help us grow.
Though over 40 professional and career development sessions were offered, three in particular have helped us work towards one Chapter goal: strengthening our organization’s foundation to pave the road for the future. By the time our members boarded the plane to head back to Chicago, the amount of pages of notes that we collectively (and mentally) took could have equated a novel. The challenge: how were we to implement such a considerable volume of expertise? We challenged ourselves to rework many of our internal and external operations in two months’ time prior to the new year.
Just as this year’s Conference theme stated, “The Capitol Connection” for DePaul’s division of a national organization leads us to consider how to view many small components that make up the big picture of success. Typically, a vision does not come full circle without tactics of expansion, embracement, and creation.
Jim Margolis of GMMB, a political strategy firm focused on changing the world for the better, served as the keynote speaker this year. Margolis and his team were in charge of the political strategy behind the Presidential campaign of Barack Obama in 2008.
Margolis outlined why the Obama campaign was so successful in a few short phrases; first, Obama knew why he was running, had a clear vision of what he wanted for the country, and he understood that he had to dominantly include social networking and online media. By expanding the electorate, embracing technology, and creating a movement, the challenge ended in a win. These tactics don’t just pertain to politics, however. Our Chapter similarly considered these strategies to make specific changes within our organization. We started thinking of ways to reach potential members by visiting every freshman class, being visible at involvement fairs, and engaging our members in an interactive outreach video. Twitter is no longer an information feed to us, but a channel to listen and converse with members and other Chapters. By pursuing the vision of involving both members and leaders of DePaul PRSSA to enhance a professional public relations experience, we learned to utilize all these elements in creating a vision of success.
In a field that relies heavily on social media evolution and usage, elements of the digital sphere are overlooked more times than you can say, “Retweet.” Alan D. Kelly, CEO and founder of Playmaker Systems, LLC pushed attendees to step outside the “frame” and “press” tweets that consume most participant attraction and instead create a long-lasting social media strategy. By creating a “play” (think football here), precise movements build on each other ending in a winning score. Like the domino effect, precision matters. As young professionals, we are expected to become experts in the digital aspect of public relations. Our Chapter chose to think of social media as replacing the idea of place by allowing any two people to engage in a conversation – professional or otherwise. This can only be accomplished effectively with a specific strategy. Our Chapter took this idea and began developing a series of social media strategems, including creating forums on our website, linking tips and events to Twitter and Facebook simultaneously, and even utilizing video techniques to showcase our Chapter’s opportunities.
What if that system fails unexpectedly? Without potential pitfalls, success on a large scale is difficult to achieve. A communications crisis can occur in any capacity, across a broad range of organizations – even our own Chapter. Richard Levick, President and CEO of Levick Strategic Communications, illustrated the importance of understanding a problem first, then being understood. Without first developing a working understanding of the problem and its implications, it becomes incredibly difficult to provide the best and most accurate information to those who need it most. For example, when one of our agency visits unexpectedly got canceled on the spot, it was critical to understand the error that caused confusion, relay the information in a sensible and calm manner to our members, and create a plan to replace our original one. Not only did we run into a few social media conversations that were inaccurate as a result, we took a corrective stance and maintained our mission to communicate the facts and intervene when necessary.
To any Chapter vowing to “accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative” for a New Year’s resolution, think simply. Create the vision, make a plan, and carry on with confidence. Here’s to building your victory.
DePaul PRSSA Contributors:
Katie Wilkes is a senior at DePaul majoring in public relations & advertising as well as communications and media. She serves as the Vice President of Chapter Development for DePaul PRSSA and works to provide and oversee local and national opportunities of all scales for the Chapter.
Kellyn Wieland is a senior at DePaul majoring in public relations & advertising with a minor in applied psychology. She serves as the Vice President of Professional Development and arranges meetings, agency visits, and maintains communication with our professional network.
Sarah Keep is a senior at DePaul studying political science and public relations & advertising at DePaul. She serves as the Vice President of Chapter History and Alumni Relations and keeps the past and future of the Chapter organized and accessible.
Sonal Moraes is a junior at DePaul majoring in public relations & advertising. She serves on the Public Relations Committee for the Chapter and focuses on recruitment, outreach and public communication maintenance for DePaul PRSSA.
Hana Yi is a senior at DePaul and majoring in public relations & advertising. She serves as the President of DePaul PRSSA and oversees all Chapter initiatives and activities.