National Conference for both PRSSA and PRSA were held this year in our Nations Capitol, Washington D.C. Seven out of eight GV PRSSA E-board members went, along with two general members, and were among the thousands of motivated, excited young PR students at the Conference. Four of your E-Board members even presented during the Chapter Development session on the first day, which went swimmingly well. Each day there included fascinating speakers, workshops, and panel discussions that left us all with some lessons to take home.

For more details about #PRSSANC (Which was trending Nation-wide each day of the conference), read on:

Around the World and Back: International Public Relations By Brooke Femat

Pictured Above: Liselle Yorke, Grameen Foundation; Laura Rusu, Oxfam America; Amber Khan, Women for Women International.

During National Conference students were able to choose from a variety of different professional development sessions. I love traveling, so naturally I chose to attend the international public relations session on our first full day. Living in a global economy today means that it is important for the next generation of professionals to be able to adapt to diverse settings and backgrounds.

Laura Rusu said that in order to do well in international public relations professionals need to be culturally aware of what is going on in the country that they are working within. She also mentioned the importance of being “hungry” to learn. In order to grow as a professional it is vital to continue to learn everyday and not just focus on the big news, but also the hard news or the news that can be uncomfortable. It is also important to be able to write clearly. Professionals must be able to understand how to write for different cultures and know what is acceptable.

Amber discussed the importance of travel. In order to do well in international public relations professionals must be willing to travel. Look for opportunities to get out into the world and explore all that you can. She suggested that students apply for internships in different states in order to get a feel for different perspectives.

If you are interested in learn more about international public relations check out the link below and explore what you can do internationally.



Be a Mathematician, Not a Lucky Magician By Joan Giffels


Washington Monument: Photo Credit to a fellow GV PRSSA member, I wish I had taken this though! Speaker: Mike Buck, VP of Global Communications for Facebook.

Originally posted on Joan’s personal blog, which can be found at

           I was recently in D.C. with my PRSSA (Public Relations Student Society of America) chapter for our 2014 National Conference. We stayed at the Omni Shoreham hotel, a historic and gigantic structure overlooking Rock Creek National Park, and went to multiple speakers, workshops, and panel discussions all throughout the 5 days we were there. We tried fabulous restaurants, stopped in quaint cafes, and hit all of the major monuments, but during this trip to D.C., we learned abundant amounts of valuable PR wisdom instead of U.S. history. (Sorry George Washington).

            A speaker I was particularly fond of goes by the name of Mike Buck and works for a fairly well-known company. Ever heard of Facebook?

            Mike is the Vice President of Global Communications for the world’s largest open-source company and spoke during the PRSA (Public Relations Society of America, for grown-up’s) General Assembly meeting happening across the street at the Marriott. So on the second to last day of the conference, a few fellow GV PRSSA students joined me in attending this speaker because. Why would we not?

            Was I tempted to speak up and ask him if they had internships available? Maybe. Was I waiting for him to talk about what it’s like hanging out with Mark Zuckerburg? Perhaps. Of course these silly questions were swirling about in my mind walking to the conference on that gloomy humid morning.

But when he began talking my questions turned to a dropped jaw.

            Data is everything. Big big data that spans over the course of months and measures engagement and usage and overall positivity of you or your clients social networks is gold in public relations. Pure, solid gold. Strive to track everything you put out into cyberspace. See what content helps you. See what hurts you. Mike said it so perfectly I had chills: “You can’t manage you don’t measure.”

Don’t be lazy and rely on your memory to remind you of high-leveraging content that worked in the past. Monitor data. Watch it every day. We live in a world where in some cases, data is so precise and all-encompassing, that companies (like Facebook) can predict what will happen before they do something drastic like execute a new campaign or make a new business venture.

            Now of course tracking and measuring is not easy. See if your company or agency offers any kind of tracking services or is willing to invest in some. Sprout Social, a paid service similar to Hoot Suite that I use at my internship, offers a fairly in-depth look into demographics reached and engaged with in real-time. Also, pay close attention to the weekly emails sent to you by Facebook and Twitter letting you know which posts performed well and which didn’t. The numbers say it all. If all else fails? “Get to coffee with someone in IT in your company. Take him out to lunch. The numbers they collect and help you decipher will help you more than you know.”

            Knowing what helps and what doesn’t do as much when it comes to social media is crucial. Mike himself sai, “Data is power, intelligence gives us the ability to advise.” How did Facebook know that their reputation wouldn’t take a hit from purchasing Instagram (maybe you have heard of the multi-trillion dollar company/app?)? Data. How does Facebook know that the “Take a Look Back” campaign was the most successful, engaging campaign they have ever executed? Data. Numbers are your friend.

Don’t just spit things you like onto social media. Track what you do and consciously decide what reaches your key publics best. Interpreting can be difficult for us non-mathematic people but give it a valiant effort. Being a mediocre magician at a birthday party who sometimes gets a magic trick right is not the role you should play in neither social media nor PR in general. Do your research. Our field no longer is a game of luck and praying that your content or ideas make it big. It’s a game of numbers.            

PRSSANC Student-Run Firm Session By Daltyn Little

At this year’s PRSSA National Conference, I was able to meet about 50 of my closest, long-distance friends – all the other student-run firm CEOs and Directors and Managers! We bonded over similar stress levels, client horror stories, and of course, how rewarding it is to be a part of a student-run firm. PRSSA National Committee’s Vice President of Professional Development, Dea Pennington, hosted a student-run firm leaders workshop at PRSSANC so we could discuss common issues, tips, and tricks to help improve experiences for ourselves and our firm’s members.

I especially enjoyed this workshop because it was encouraging! It was encouraging to hear that all of these firms struggle with the same issues GrandPR does – and even worse! Many of these firm leaders were looking to me for answers because GrandPR is considered to be one of the more established student-run firms in the nation. That, my friends, is encouraging!

Overall, PRSSANC made me appreciate my dedicated, hard-working staff even more than I already do! It gave me a refreshing look at GrandPR and ways we can improve to make it even better. As we open applications for next semester in the next few weeks, I am excited to see what new things we can accomplish!

Washington D.C. National Conference By Alaina Korreck

The 2014 PRSSA National Conference was an exceptional experience. It is inspiring to be surrounded by like-minded individuals who share a passion for public relations. The five days seemed to fly by filled with keynote speakers, networking events, and D.C. sightseeing. While it’s impossible to sum up the entire experience, here are some of my most memorable experiences from this year’s PRSSA National Conference:

Seeing the official conference hashtag trend nation wide on Twitter.

This happened on more than one occasion and just goes to show that when you challenge 500+ PR students to live-tweet the conference sessions, they’ll really do it.

Watching a room full of students and professionals tear up at the #imenough video

Amy Robach of Good Morning America was my favorite presenter of the entire conference. Not because she was the most qualified, or had the most insights to offer public relations students and professionals, but because she embraces the concept of #girlpower and encourages women and girls to become leaders. It’s no secret that PR is a female dominated profession, but seeing women and men moved by encouragement to women was seriously powerful stuff.

If you haven’t seen the video, watch it here:

Having a hiring manager tell me she wouldn’t give me a job because I’m from Michigan. She was kidding, I hope. But to her credit, Michigan had just beat Penn State the night before and she happened to be a Penn State graduate…

The PRSSA National Conference consisted of countless other memorable experiences, but beyond those experiences I took with me the following pieces of wisdom from other PR professionals:

·      Once you get your first job, there are immediately going to be three other people trying to get it. (Stay hungry)

·      If you’re searching for connections: consult LinkedIn and Happy Hour

·      You will have a fabulous career, if you decide that it is what you want

·      When you start a new job, write up the resume you hope to have when your work there is done

·      Anytime you go to a newsstand, pick up something you’ve never read before

·      Don’t let your connections end, you never know when you might need them 

Leadership By Kelsey Manas


Straub had us list all the qualities of a good leader as he populated the list on the projector.

Leadership is not innate, it is a learned skill.

                T.R. Straub, Director at Heyman Associates led this year’s Chapter President’s Leadership Workshop. Straub recruits executives from all over the world to work for small to large corporations. He has seen what it takes to be a good leader and how these people present themselves. Straub discussed the difference between “Management” and “Leadership.” As a manager, you are at the top of the organizational hierarchy, task oriented and expected to send orders down the chain of command. Many people in this manager position fail as leaders. Leaders are people who are able to create a vision, articulate steps to accomplish a goal, corse correct when times get tough and most importantly, “sell” this vision to team members or coworkers. Leaders are able to explain how they made something better, while managers describe how they maintained current status. As chapter presidents, Straub asked us to pick which one we were; managers or leaders. He asked us how we have made an impact, juggled other leaders and if and when we took constructive criticism. This caused me to reflect on my own leadership/management style and skills.

                Prior to this workshop, I thought my efforts to “stay friends” with the Executive Board and general members while still getting stuff done were doomed. One brave member of Straub’s audience asked it best, “I like to have fun and I’m close friends with most of the members on my E-Board. But sometimes I really need them to get some work done. They tend to just laugh me off or put it on the back burner. How do I remain friends with my members but have them take me and their responsibilities seriously?” This was the perfect application of Leader vs. Manager. A manager would be concerned that they weren’t taken seriously, but a leader would be concerned that the Executive Board members weren’t being heard, challenged or were overwhelmed. Working with all of the Executive Board members and juggling multiple personalities has proven to be much more difficult than I had imagined. I took away a lot of valuable insight from this workshop about how I should lead instead of manage and encourage the Executive Board to do the same.

#BeBrave By Lisa Debone

We’ve all heard the cynics, the doubters and Debbie downers: A hashtag can’t change the world. Using social media doesn’t make you an activist.

And that may be true. A hashtag doesn’t feed starving children in third-world countries, and “likes” on Facebook certainly won’t help doctors successfully perform life-saving surgery.

But an idea, or a thought, can change a person’s entire perspective.

Amy Robach of ABC’s Good Morning America has certainly played her part in changing the perspective of viewers everywhere. For those of you who have not heard the story, on October 1, 2013, Robach agreed to have a mammogram on live television in the middle of Times Square. The segment was intended to promote proactive health care for women as part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Little did Robach know, her part in this awareness initiative would end up saving her life.

Six weeks after the segment, Robach was informed that she indeed had breast cancer and was to undergo chemotherapy. Throughout all of her eight treatments, Robach opted to continue working. The only time she took off work was to have a double mastectomy.

Robach’s inspirational story of defeating breast cancer is not a cookie-cutter, have-a-positive-attitude-and-you-will-find-success tale. She admits to experiencing times that were unbearably exhausting. She admits to being overwhelmed with fear. Robach allowed ABC to cover her journey, and her choice to share her story ultimately saved the lives of others.

At the PRSA National Conference, Robach shared with the audience that during her experience with breast cancer, social media allowed her to not only inspire her audience, but be inspired by her audience. She was touched by messages of encouragement and reassurance.

Though Robach did not want her time in chemo appointments covered by the news, her and her husband documented the treatments to be shared with others in this photo:

@arobach via twitter

Amy Robach was able to reach thousands with her story. At PRSA National Conference, she shared with us that eight women contacted her to tell her that they went in for screening and caught their own breast cancer earlier than they would have had they not heard her story. And that’s only the women who contacted her.

Now, I’m not arguing that social media can change lives or change the world. Hashtags are not magical, and they do not fix problems. The magic is in the story, in the experiences of others, and the sharing of ideas. And I do believe that social media is a powerful tool to communicate those stories, experiences, and ideas. 

#LivingLegends By Olivia Mashak

PRSSA’s National Conference hosted a variety of speakers, who each covered a different PR related topic.  Each speaker brought something different to the conference, and provided priceless information to the attendees.  One notable presentation was the Living Legends Keynote Address. 

The living legends were Thomas W. Hoag- Hill+Knowlton Strategies and Maril Gagen MacDonald-Gagen MacDonald.  These two speakers offered not only wisdom and advice, but also encouragement and inspiration.  Here, is a summary of my four favorite pieces of information from the legends.

1.      “It is impossible to make a mistake before thirty.”  This was Mr. Hoag’s way of saying, “go for it”.  Before thirty, you are still learning and finding your niche in the public relations field, so test the waters.  If something doesn’t work out, it isn’t necessarily a mistake, just a lesson learned. 

2.      3 bone theory.  Every public relations professional must have three bones: a funny bone, a backbone, and a wishbone.  Here, Mr. Hoag was describing what it takes to be successful in public relations.  You have to have a sense of humor.  You must also have a backbone so that you do not get walked all over, and so that you can stand tall and do these ethically.  You must also have a wishbone, a little luck and a dream. You have to have something to strive for, a goal you want to accomplish. 

3.      “Once you get a job, write down what you want to get out of that job and work towards it.”  Ms. Gagen MacDonald offered the idea of creating a new resume as soon as you land a new job.  Write down the skills or projects that you want to work on before you even start.  This will help you to stay focused. 

4.      “If you’re not happy in your job, you will not be happy in your life.”  I am a firm believer in this final statement.  You will spend AT LEAST 40 hours a week at your job.  If you don’t count time spent sleeping, that is more time than you spend at home with family.  You can’t spend 40 hours a week doing something you hate, and expect it not to spill over into your personal life.  Find something you love. 

These speakers make me feel confident in my decision to study public relations, and provided me the encouragement and motivation I need as I prepare to go into the job market in April.  

GVSU PRSSA Chapter Travels to Washington D.C. for National Conference By Stephanie Kotschevar

Original post can be found on the GVSU School of Communication blog:

From October 9th through the 14th nine GVSU Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) members traveled to Washington D.C. for the annual PRSSA National Conference. This year’s conference had the theme of Intersections: The Meeting Place of Communications and Culture.

The conference was held in the Omni Shoreham Hotel. The large space accommodated the numerous students that traveled from across the country to attend the conference.

There were many sessions scheduled that students could select to attend. The sessions ranged from specific areas of the major; some examples include international PR, entertainment PR, and restaurant PR. Other sessions were more general; these included a resume building workshop, a lecture on how to survive your first job, and a session on video production. Brooke Femat (Ad/PR) commented on how the events were beneficial to her.

“From these sessions and the conference as a whole, I’ve learned to stay curious and never stop learning, the best thing you can do for yourself is to lead with your passion for PR,” said Femat. “Be the first one in the office and last one to leave.”

While the PRSSA National Conference took place, the International Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) conference was also happening in Washington D.C. PRSSA members were invited to attend a few PRSA lectures including a talk about data with Facebook Global Business Communications worker Mike Buckley and a lecture on journalism and “girl power” with ABC Good Morning America anchor Amy RobachKelsey Juergens (Ad/PR) learned important lessons from the PRSA sessions.

“Attending the PRSA sessions taught me how to work on everyday professional problems,” said Juergens. “Mike Buckley talked about how public relations professionals can benefit from understanding data analytics. Although math has never been my favorite subject, it’s important to understand data at several different levels. PR is much more than just communication relationships, it’s vastly growing into other areas of expertise.”

Femat also explained how attending the conference would help her future in Public Relations.

“Attending PRSSA national conference gave me a new insight on the future of this profession, I had the opportunity to learn along side of students from all over America who are pursuing a career in PR,” said Femat. “During this conference I was about to experience all of the options PR has to offer, from corporate to non-profit PR I was able to get a feel for where I belong.”

Next year’s conference location has been announced, and it will take place in Portland, Oregon. More information on next year’s conference will be available at soon.