After numerous rewrites, I've come to the conclusion that I can’t do the PRSSA 2014 Leadership Rally justice with a blog post, but I will try my best. The atmosphere that weekend was contagiously inspiring and energizing. I’ve never been in a room with so many talented individuals before, all of whom I’m now able to call my friends.
Our weekend kicked off Friday night with a Welcome Reception Meet and Greet. All of us presidents were able to socialize with one another before what came to be the most educational and exciting weekends I’ve had as a PRSSA member.
Saturday morning started off with keynote speaker Ron Culp, public relations consultant and director of the graduate public relations and advertising (PRAD) program at DePaul University. Culp’s personal motto, “Focus, simplify and measure,” is one of the best pieces of advice I’ve heard as an aspiring public relations professional and leader. It’s easy to get caught up in the action and lose focus of what’s at hand. As our Chapter president, I will do everything I can to make this upcoming year the best for ISU PRSSA.
Culp also provided us with PRSSA leadership advice:
· Define goals
· Increase membership
· Assign responsibilities
· Engage members
· Increase social media
· Measure and celebrate success
Afterwards, there was an interactive workshop with Culp. This session was my favorite part of the morning. As PRSSA members, we’re provided with many opportunities to hear from industry leaders. But often times we hear their speech and that’s the end of it. This workshop provided us the opportunity to digest what we heard and discuss it with one another.
Culp assigned the tables in the room by topic: increase membership, engage members, increase social media, or measure and celebrate success. I heard so many new ideas in such a short period of time, and I cannot wait to implement some of them in our Chapter this year. As Culp said, “I lost count at 150 ideas in 30 minutes.”
After lunch, our rotating breakout sessions began. My first session was “Delegating to Managing a Team,” led by “Pritch” Pritchard, National Faculty Adviser. He talked about how delegation is the most crucial part to a leader’s success. Pritchard also walked us through four ways to delegate and empower people.
Followed by Pritchard’s session, I went to “Communications for Chapter Leadership,” led by Don Egle, National Professional Adviser. The most quoted piece of advice from the weekend arose in this session: “If you can’t do your own PR, why would I hire you to do mine?” This point should sing to any aspiring public relations professional. Communication is key to this industry, and if you can’t communicate on your own behalf, no one is going to hire you to communicate for them. You need to give people a reason to listen to you.
Saturday wrapped up with an exciting presentation by two members of the National Conference Committee. Held Oct. 10-14 in Washington D.C. this year, I highly encourage every PRSSA member to attend National Conference.
To kick off Sunday, Brian Price, immediate past president, and Heather Harder, national president, led a PRSSA Report. We then heard from Kelly Davis, PRSA board liaison to PRSSA. Davis reminded us that your time with PRSSA doesn’t stop when you graduate. One benefit of your PRSSA membership is a discounted PRSA Associate Membership rate.
Following Davis’ section, we again split up for breakout sessions. My first session was “Preparing for Leadership- ethics, diversity and traits,” led by Pritchard. As he said, “the first and priceless ingredient of success is integrity.” Again, I think this advice is important for anyone entering the public relations industry. You need to be reliable and honorable, which all goes back to doing public relations for yourself.
After Pritchard’s session, I attended “Conflict Management/Resolution,” led by Egle. He talked us through five different ways that people handle conflict. You first need to understand how you handle conflict, then how those you work with handle conflict, and know that it’s important not to take conflict personally, and disagreeing is okay.
Following the breakout sessions was my favorite session of the entire weekend: “Discussions among Chapters.” We broke into small, medium or large groups, depending on your Chapter size. Having a formal opportunity to share ideas with one another truly put the icing on the cake this weekend for me.
After our smaller group discussions, the whole group came together one more time to share best practices from the weekend. After the concluding remarks, 2014 Leadership Rally officially came to a close.
It still amazes me how in such a short period of time (three days), a group of people grew so close to one another. PRSSA has that effect- it’s contagious! I couldn’t have chosen five better letters to wear in my time here at ISU. I truly encourage every PRSSA member to become as actively involved as you can. I promise you, you won’t regret it!
By Cassidy Obis, 2014-2015 president
PRecisely PR is the blog of the Illinois State University Chapter of the PRSSA. We write about Chapter events, the public relations industry, member profiles, and more.