By Colin Wylie
While thousands of students were celebrating Spring Break on the beaches of Miami last weekend, a select group of public relations students were holed up in a hotel basement, making crucial decisions for the future of a growing organization.
Each year, the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) holds its National Assembly in different cities across the country. The purpose of this gathering is for chapter delegates to gather in a quorum and vote over changes to be made within the international society, including electing a national committee. Much of the experience is spent in formal meetings, but every student returns home feeling inspired and intimately connected to the society as a whole.
Between keynote addresses, breakout sessions and the experience itself, there were several key takeaways that are relevant for public relations professionals.
Be a leader, regardless
In the closing session, Patrick Ford, a senior advisor for Burson-Marsteller and board member for The Plank Center, said very pointedly, “you don’t need a title to be a leader.” Interestingly enough, this concept came up several times through the weekend. Leadership is a value that all should aspire to. For an organization or team to be successful, professionals need to build each other up and be selfless team players. We should seek to inspire, motivate and build up the people around us.
Know who you are talking to
During a breakout session, national faculty adviser Alisa Agozzino, Ph.D., APR, brought up the importance of understanding how your audience communicates on a personal level. We discussed personality types and how different types of people receive messages. For example, a dominant personality is competitive and may connect with a logical approach, while a compliant audience may want a more creative approach. By understanding your audience, you can convey more personable messages.
Developing relationships—just because
This might go without saying, but success can only be built off strong relationships. This is true in any profession, but especially in the communications realm. One of the best aspects of large conferences like this is having time to network one-on-one with people of all backgrounds and thought patterns. We learn from each other and build connections that can last through your career. Tina Elmowitz, Executive Vice President & Partner of RBB Communications spoke to the importance of networking with genuine desires. She suggested that, “Networking is not about meeting someone and finding out what they can do for you; it is about finding out what you can do for them.”
Thankfully we have Twitter to keep us in the know. Follow #PRSSANA for highlights from Assembly, including the announcement of the new national committee. Here are a few personal favorites quotes from the weekend:
Colin Wylie is an undergraduate student at Brigham Young University, studying Public Relations and Nonprofit Management. He is the VP of Publications for BYU PRSSA and manages his own blog, The Sharp Student, to assist pre-professionals in their journey to the workforce.