Five members, including myself, of Illinois State University’s PRSSA Chapter travelled to East Lansing, Mich. on Feb. 7 to attend a PRSSA Regional Conference hosted by Michigan State University. The conference was titled “Electing Excellence” and had a political focus. Those of us attending had a particular interest in politics, and the conference did not disappoint.
“I got an awesome glimpse of what it is like to be a public relations professional in the political and public affairs world,” said junior Frank Hopper. “It was definitely worth the trip!”
“Since political public relations is not as common as agency or corporate, it was a great opportunity to learn more about the two fields that I love,” said senior Lisa Crocco.
Since we all really wanted to go, we took the initiative to make the nearly five-hour drive, and Shelby Ray, the Chapter’s National Liaison, booked the hotel room for us. Upon arrival, we were so happy to see that the hotel was close to the campus area where the conference was being held. After getting settled in the room, we grabbed some food and headed to the opening night of Conference, which was the “Sweet Soiree” mixer. There, an a cappella group performed, and there was a huge table full of sweets. Attendees of the conference mingled and got to know one another before the conference officially started.
“It was a great opportunity networking with PRSSA members from across the region. It gave me real insights about working in the industry, which will help me pinpoint where I want to work,” said Ray.
On the second day of the Conference, the breakout sessions began. There was a speaker from Martin Waymire, a public relations firm, who spoke about its Silver Anvil winning campaign, as well as the Blue Cross Blue Shield and the Department of Community Health for Michigan.
The keynote speaker was Sara Wurfel, the press secretary for Michigan’s governor. Wurfel spoke on how managing a person is different than managing a brand. The governor, Rick Snyder, “doesn’t change how he talks to people based on who he’s talking to,” according to Wurfel, which gives him a much more “real” image.
Karl Gude, the “master of infographics,” spoke during the last session of the day. He talked about how when he first created an infographic, it was because he saw a need that could be filled, which is what much of public relations is based upon. As public relations professionals, we are constantly trying to fill the needs of consumers and publics. It was amazing to see some of the graphics that he has created, especially because they were the first of their kind. Gude is definitely an innovator, and the workshop portion of his session taught attendees more about targeting a graphic to a specific audience.
Overall, the Conference was a great learning experience, and we had a lot of fun attending. Crocco said on the Conference, “Spending time with our PRSSA Chapter members and seeing MSU was a fun experience – so many laughs!”
ISU’s PRSSA Chapter will also be attending the Regional Conference held in Chicago hosted by Columbia University Chicago in March. It is highly encouraged for everyone to attend!
By Hailey Lanier
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.