On March 8, thirteen members of Illinois State University’s PRSSA Chapter attended “The Loop: A 360° Approach to Public Relations,” a 2014 PRSSA Regional Conference hosted by Columbia College Chicago PRSSA Chapter. ISU PRSSA members sure got a taste of Chicago after a full day of keynote speakers, sessions, lunch and of course multiple Starbucks runs!
The Conference offered a 360° approach to public relations in Chicago by offering tours of several agencies located in the city on Friday, followed by a day of professional public relations speakers on Saturday. All attendees started the morning with hearing from keynote speaker Derek Cuculich, The Onion’s director of public relations and internal communications. In Cuculich’s keynote speech, “Five Essential PR Practices to Get You Noticed and Advance Your Career,” he laid out five tips that can boost your professional career. In order to ensure that you will get noticed and advance in your career, you must be available, network, follow up, form relationships and leave your ego at the door. Hearing from Cuculich was very motivating and set the tone for the rest of the day. Everyone was eager to dive into their day of professional development.
Each breakout session had an option of two sessions students were assigned to attend, with a total of six different breakout sessions. One of the first sessions was with Caleb Gardner, the current director of social media and content for Organizing for Action, who oversees President Barack Obama’s Twitter account. Gardener’s session, “How to Get and Avoid Press through Social Media,” was filled with helpful information, real-life stories and great feedback during his Q-and-A. Gardner left attendees with helpful tips when writing for social media, which included: write early because it takes time to create effective communication, slow down because less is more and that social media is a conversation. Gardner ended his session enforcing the importance of reading because the best writers are the best readers! The other session was with Kevin Saghy, the manager of communication for the Chicago Cubs, who was accompanied by previous intern Ellie Lange. The two guests hosted an open forum that was moderated by PRSSA National president Brian Price.
After a great lunch with new friends, the Conference resumed right back to business and began with the afternoon sessions. The second breakout sessions were hosted by speakers Rolland Cailles and Ashley Lavore. Cailles, the social media director at SuperFly, spoke about facing the obstacles as a millennial, and gave everyone an insight on the stereotypes millennials have to face in the workplace and how to overcome those obstacles. Cailles left us with a few tips: find your niche, discover experiences, get made, master your 30-second elevator speech and earn it. Cailles believes that it is important to do everything you can to stay creative; it will set you apart and show your individuality. Lavore talked about how to make money in non-profit and how to raise money for your non-profit foundation.
The last breakout session was with Tressa Robbins and John Bistolfo. Robbins is the vice president of implementation at BurrellesLuce. Her session, “Media Relations: Traditional, Digital, Social,” showed the different types of media relations and how to create the most effective communication. Robbins spoke that the most successful way to navigate the changing media landscape is to be where the audiences are, participating and directing the whole organization and that messages should work in tandem. She also spoke about the “K.I.S.S.” model and how keeping it short and simple will always create the most effective communication. Bistolfo, the founder and design strategist of Bark Design hosted the “Graphic Design 101” session where he spoke about the importance of graphic design and how public relations professionals can communicate through messages and images.
Lastly, the closing keynote speakers were Ryan Beshel and Kate Jacobsen, whose session, “Runway to Reality: A Backstage Look into the World of Fashion PR,” was on how the fashion public relations industry works in Chicago and New York. This session offered information that applies to the dynamic public relations industry. This session was a great way to end the Conference because it was a fun and humorous way to tell the cold, hard truth of what public relations really entails, especially in the fashion PR industry.
The closing address speaker, PRSSA National President Brian Price, wrapped up the Conference speaking about public relations in Chicago with the help of a video created by Edelman Chicago. This type of opportunity that PRSSA offers its Chapters not only are informative and help build professional experience, but also allows time for Chapters to cultivate relationships within, network with other national Chapters and professionals. For ISU PRSSA’s Chapter attendees of “The Loop” PRSSA 2014 Regional Conference, it is safe to say all had a wonderful day in the Loop of the Windy City with the opportunity to experience a day revolved around public relations and its growing field in Chicago.
By Ali Geary
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.