It’s been almost a year since I graduated from Salem State University and I still make the time to reunite with my PRSSA friends. While being a part of PRSSA (Public Relations Student Society of America), I gained some great friends that would help me on my path towards the Public Relations industry. I joined PRSSA in Spring 2014 while in college and it has been quite an adventure since. From networking events to National PRSSA Conference, Salem State’s PRSSA chapter has been a blast to be a part of.
All of my PRSSA pals are currently graduating in less than a month. It amazes me how far each one has come since their first meetup at Salem State University. They may be leaving college soon, but they pulled together one last PRSSA event before taking off on their own ways. This past weekend I attended the PRSSA Mass Chapter Meetup at Salem State University.
The Mass Chapter Meetup was a school event rounding up PRSSA members around Massachusetts to meet on Ellison Campus Building at Salem State University. Each member got together to network with other aspiring professionals, hear from professional speakers about the PR industry, tried their hands at a crisis communication activity, and even heard from SSU alumni about life after graduation (one of those people just happened to be ME!). This was the first ever Mass Chapter Meetup that was put together by the e-board members. Their first theme was ‘Battle of The Brands’, emphasizing on brands of the business world. It was a wonderful event to get PRSSA pros together in one school to gain more knowledge about our careers.
This event kicked off with our guest speaker Nicole Keiser. Nicole had a combined background of journalism and Public Relations after graduating from Emerson College in 1997. She worked in PR agencies such as CGPR and Regan Communications Group; right now she is a consultant for City of Boston (for Boston Water & Sewer Committee) and City of Gloucester’s Mayor Office for Crisis Communications.
During the presentation, Nicole discussed the key differences between working in a newsroom and in a PR agency. She mentioned that competition within the newsroom is very fierce and that it takes a lot of work for news to get out through the airwaves (FUN FACT: The BEST day/time for a ‘ribbon-cutting’ event is Tuesday at either 11:00 AM or 1:00 PM!). Having good relationships with the media is so critical in the communications world because you need to know who to call for the right information. One note that Nicole made was that a PR pro is someone who does their research in advanced, reads the day news every day, and knows what is happening in the area of their expertise. Two key points you need to know is who is your audience and what is your headline. These two questions are crucial to understanding how you will get your work done each week.
For the last slide, Nicole gave some good advice on how to succeed. One advice she had was to ‘Write, write and write some more’ (which is what I have been doing with MakeSandcastlesNotWar!). Another tip was to learn how to answer phones, have a face-to-face conversation, and how to listen. Knowing how to use social media is wonderful and all, but it’s VERY important to know how to talk to people the right way in order to conduct good business. The last tip was to ask for critiques from mentors and don’t take it personally. I know that MakeSandcastlesNotWar isn’t the #1 blog in the US and I could always use some critiques from professionals about how to make this blog bettetr. You will be critiqued on your work even after graduating college, so be prepared for some tough love when you enter the real world.
After Nicole wrapped up her performance, we grabbed some sandwiches for our lunch break. We watched some improv while stuffing ourselves with sandwiches, chips, fruits, and even some ice-cold sodas. Our next agenda was hearing from SSU alumni about life after graduation.
We all headed into the MLK room for the SSU Alumni event. I sat with Gerald, Andrew, Carrie, and Alex to talk about what life is really like after graduation. As someone who still doesn’t have their life together (STILL no set income or full-time job), I was a bit anxious about how I would address the aspiring PR pros on this topic. Dominque headlined the event by asking questions about what motivated us to get into PR, when was the best moment at Salem State University, what steps to take after graduating college, and other final pieces of advice.
Here were my answers to the questions I was asked:
#1: The event that motivated me to enter PR was the communications dinner I attended during my 1st semester at Salem State University. I was sitting at a table where I met PRSSA members Nick and Tathiana. While eating my dinner, Nick talked with me about what PR was, how versatile the major was, and how you can get into entertainment PR. That was the pinnacle moment where I wanted to shift my gears right into Public Relations.
#2: To me, the best moment was being a part of PRSSA after joining. From the chapter meetings to attending National PRSSA Conference, I learned so much more about the world of PR than I did in one semester of schooling. Meeting all of these other PR pros meant that there was a big world I could be a part of after college.
#3: One step I did constantly was a TON of networking. College may have prepared me for the work I would be doing, but not on how to going about searching for those jobs. Attending these networking events made me realize that I really needed to step outside of my comfort zone to snag my dream PR job.
#4: My one last piece of advice for the students was to network…CONSTANTLY. You may have been a big shot while at SSU, but no one knows who you are when you search for jobs in Boston. It’s crucial to get your name/face out there so that people know who you are. Another advice would be to put the phones away and really learn how to communicate with people. Social media is great and all, but you need to learn how to talk with people professionally so that they trust you more.
And that ended the panel session. We gathered back into the Ellison room for more networking. It’s been a real fun event and everyone was so enthusiastic about the PR life after graduation.
Overall, this was a wonderful event to attend! I had an amazing time meeting with some energetic PR students who are looking to make it big with their careers. PRSSA is truly an incredible activity to be a part of and I look forward to seeing what big plans they have in the future. They may be in for a rude awakening once they enter the real world, but I’m confident that they have the skills/tools necessary to survive.
A special thanks to Nikki, Dom, Rajira, Elizabeth, Amanda, and Kristen for hosting this event! I was truly blessed to be a part of this amazing PR event here at SSU. With that, I wish you all the best of luck with your journeys after college. Go get ‘em, PR pros!