By: Lauren Staff  (@LaurStaff)The three days of regional conference were jam-packed with panel discussions, networking opportunities, lots of caffeine, and unending #PRinGR tweets that landed the hashtag on the “trending” page almost all of Saturday! It was awesome to be surrounded by so many students who were from all over Michigan, and who have a passion for learning about public relations. So many things happened and so many things were discussed over the three days that it is impossible to even say that there was a “best part” of the whole conference. Below you will find a little bit about the sessions that I found myself most engaged in and what I learned from the speakers!

SeyferthPR Tour
I have been on various agency tours with PRSSA and I have taken knowledge away from each one, but the tour we took at SeyferthPR was AMAZING. There were various stations set up throughout the office, and we learned about what different employees do day-to-day, including which cool projects they have worked on. Talking with employees who work on things from account management, to social media, to media relations, to event planning really enforced how many different hats you can wear when working in public relations. My favorite part of the tour was when our group discussed media relations with Seyferth’s Vice President & Principal, Karen Kirchenbauer APR. During our discussion with Karen, she emphasized the importance of building a positive relationship with the public and with the media, and shared some interesting stories that have resulted from the relationships she has built throughout her time practicing PR. Check out the coverage from one of my favorite stories that Karen shared with us here!

Failure Lab
Hearing the emotional, heart breaking, and extremely unexpected stories from successful individuals was truly inspiring. Having previously heard Kim Bode and Kelly Rossman speak at other PRSSA events, and knowing how well they are doing in the PR field, I was in complete shock when they shared some of the lowest points in their lives with a room full of students. Although these stories were sad, and we did not hear what it took for them to get out of their situation and make it to where they are today, they were motivational. These stories showed us that no matter how hard life hits you, you can always make it through and find success. It was the motivation a lot of us needed with projects and exams piling up as the semester comes to a close!

PR & The Creative Process: Visual Design Impact
By no means do I consider myself an expert (or even beginner) level Photoshop or InDesign user, but like Frank Blossom said, “You’re more creative than you think are – you’re PR people.” In classes and in internships I have hit creative-block when trying to put a new twist on a social media strategy, or while trying to write a new blog or a press release. This block can be hard to overcome, but it was reassuring to hear that although professionals still hit this block, it hasn’t hindered their ability to create amazing work, or made them lose their passion for their jobs. Some of the ways to get over creative block that were shared with us include: walking around, changing work locations for the day, changing out of your comfy clothes into something more professional, or even simply changing your underwear (thanks for the tip, Frank Blossom!).

These three sessions are just a start to what I enjoyed about Generation Grand: PR in GR. It was a great experience for all students and professionals that attended, and I’m sure everyone walked away from the weekend with a new pool of PR knowledge. With graduation right around the corner, it was great to hear so many tips about entering the workforce from professionals. I have to give a big shout out to the planning committee who I know put in endless hours into making this conference happen, their hard work did not go unnoticed!

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Lauren Staff is a senior at Grand Valley State University studying advertising and public relations. She is an active member in PRSSA, and is currently an account executive for GrandPR. Lauren is also a marketing and public relations intern at Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital as well as a public relations intern at COM 616 in Grand Rapids. In Lauren’s free time, you can find her hanging out with friends, reading a book, drinking coffee, or watching reruns of Gilmore Girls.