‘PR–The Chicago Way’ Conference Offers Job Tips


DePaul PRSSA organizers of successful regional conference in Chicago
On February 14-15, DePaul University PRSSA hosted “PR–The Chicago Way,” a conference dedicated to the PR industry in Chicago. More than 100 students from schools across the Midwest attended agency interacted with local professionals in agency visits, seminars and a career fair. The speakers provided an “inside look” at different aspects of the industry and advice for breaking into the business.  

Kevin Saghy, manager of communication for the Chicago Cubs, was the first speaker of the conference. In his position at the Cubs, Saghy has increased the Cubs’ audience engagement through strong a social media presence and serves as the club’s spokesperson.  

Saghy’s “9 Innings” of advice went beyond sports PR, addressing how to pursue your dream job and succeed in the business. The key to success is networking, or as Saghy reminded students, it pays to get personal. Following up with professionals and showing interest in their work are easy ways to begin cultivating a relationship. Many a job has been obtained or story covered because of preexisting relationships. 

Saghy also stressed the importance of measurement when enacting a PR campaign. Quantifying results provides concrete evidence of the success of a communication endeavor. His measurement results of Cubs’ campaigns have allowed him to gain the confidence of senior management and expand the Cubs’ communications efforts.           

Day two of DePaul PRSSA’s Regional Conference brought an array of speakers from the industry. While the stories and experiences shared were all unique in their own way there was a common themed message throughout the day of the need to be bold, unique and even daring to make your mark in the PR world.  

The Conference Committee was honored to have Fred Cook, the CEO of GolinHarris, as the keynote speaker. As Cook’s career path has been anything but ordinary, he shared how his unique experiences made all the difference to getting to where he is today. From a job as a bellhop at the Biltmore to being the Executive Producer of a record, Cook really brought a new meaning to the importance of “reinventing yourself.” While most young PR pros have a set idea that the number of internships you have can set you apart from the pack, the GolinHarris CEO challenged students to get out of their comfort zone and find that trait or quality that would make you a unique asset to a company. There is no golden path to success, don’t be afraid to be a little daring and try something different.  As Fred Cook closed with, “If I can become a CEO so can you.”  

After hearing from Cook, Heather Oldani, Senior Director of Communications at McDonald’s USA, participated in the second session of speakers. Having worked for the Golden Arches for more than 10 years, she spoke to the unique experiences McDonald’s has provided. From attending the Olympics to helping launch the iconic slogan of “I’m Lovin’ It,” Oldani has had a hand in working on many aspects of the brand. As landing a job for the world’s largest fast food chain is no easy task, the Senior Director of Communications provided many great ideas and tips for students to be bold and standout when applying for jobs. She recalled how one intern candidate thought beyond her resume and created a booklet on why she’s the “Big Mac of PR” which left a lasting impression. And of course once you’re in the door you have to want it everyday, and stay hungry to learn more. Hold the idea to do 1 percent better than you did yesterday. 

DePaul PRSSA is extremely thankful to all the speakers and professionals who helped make “PR–The Chicago Way” possible. With their cooperation, we were able to present an in-depth, multi-faceted look at the PR industry in Chicago. 

This article was co-written by two DePaul University PRSSA members, senior Lisa Rodriguez and junior Maureen Ray. Lisa is Public Relations and Sociology. She is a Chicago native currently interning at GolinHarris on the corporate team. Maureen is majoring in Public Relations/Advertising and Economics. The self-described Cincinnati native turned Chicagoan”, Maureen enjoys writing, exploring the Windy City and, of course, tweeting @moeray5.

One thought on “‘PR–The Chicago Way’ Conference Offers Job Tips

  1. Sounds like a terrific couple of days, congratulations!

    I’ve always been amazed at how well the PR community gets along in Chicago. The “big guns” at agencies have always been accessible; the moment a shoot-out is done, staff from difference shops are again colleagues–perhaps a well earned reprieve from the city’s sports rivalries….

    To those so committed to the career, kudos for participating in the DePaul program. You’ll be well armed and ready to contribute as soon as you get that snapshot of you w/mortarboard and loved ones!

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