UW-Eau Claire’s Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) chapter flew down to Atlanta, Georgia on Nov. 6 to attend PRSSA National Conference. PRSSA has been to National Conference before, and it is one of their most important events. There, they are able to attend helpful workshops and professional development sessions, and take public relations agency tours. This year, UW-Eau Claire’s chapter won the Star Chapter Award for the second year in a row. The Star Chapter Award is awarded to the most-deserving chapters who are intensely involved, and focus heavily on meeting the developmental goals and requirements.
UW-Eau Claire PRSSA members with Star Chapter Award
After attending National Conference, UW-Eau Claire senior and PRSSA treasurer, Alysha Stoffel, was able to answer a few questions about her experiences:
What are your biggest takeaways from National Conference?
I would say the biggest takeaways from national conference are 1) the importance of networking. It truly is all about who you know in PR after graduation. 2) PR is broad; with a degree in PR you can do anything you want, from traditional media relations, to social media, to marketing.
What is your favorite part about PRSSA?
My favorite part about PRSSA are the people involved in the organization. It’s great meeting people who love PR just as much as you do!
Why did you join PRSSA?
I joined PRSSA because I wanted to jump start my PR career through the workshops and networking opportunities the organization provides.
Dr. Evan Perrault, a CJ professor and PRSSA faculty adviser, was also able to answer a few questions regarding PRSSA and its benefits for UW-Eau Claire students:
Why is being involved in PRSSA beneficial for students?
PRSSA is one of those organizations that really strives to provide practical, real-world, working knowledge to its members. However, in order to get the most out of your membership, you really have to be proactive and be willing to get involved – just attending meetings (while beneficial) won’t offer you the greatest return on investment. To succeed in the PR world today, students need to have a lot of experience before even applying to jobs. While we as professors try to get students as much material as possible to go into portfolios, there is no substitute for out-of-class experiences that can lead to those real-world experiences employers are seeking in new hires. A great part of PRSSA is that it has a blog where you can actually get pieces published. It has an agency (Protege) where you can take-on real clients and produce public relations materials for them. It has an organizational structure where you can either be elected or appointed to various positions to build leadership experiences. There are too many benefits to PRSSA to fit in just one blog post.
Is PRSSA only beneficial for students with PR majors?
No way! The best thing about PRSSA is that all the skills that you will learn as an active member are directly transferable to any career where communication plays a key role. Learning how to effectively write a press release or a blog post helps you practice your general communication skills – skills that are needed in every industry. While a student might major or get a degree in public relations, the job opportunities are endless. Each semester I have my students in my Writing for Public Relations class interview PR alumni in “What’s Your CJ Story?” (http://www.uwec.edu/CJ/news/alumni.htm) and the vast majority have gone onto careers outside of public relations, but use the skills they learned as a PR major, and in PRSSA, every day.
What has PRSSA done to help the university?
A strong PRSSA on-campus will lead to strong communicators, who will go out into society and tell their friends and colleagues about the value of a UW-Eau Claire education, which benefits the university. Students in PRSSA also generally have jobs on-campus in various communication functions (whether it’s writing for the CJ blog, or doing social media for athletics) – and the skills they learn in PRSSA can be directly applied to their jobs on-campus, which again directly benefits the university.
What skills are learned by students in PRSSA?
I think some of the most valuable skills learned by students in PRSSA are the practical skills necessary to succeed after graduation. Students learn the importance of seeking internships, how to apply for jobs, and how to craft the most effective resumes and cover letters. Students also are provided the opportunity to tour PR agencies in Wisconsin and Minnesota, and get a behind-the-scene look at what life in the PR world is really like. The organization also brings in lots of guest speakers and industry professionals, which also helps students understand the PR world. Finally, membership in PRSSA allows students access to a host of online resources provided by the national PRSSA that can help students become more effective PR practitioners.
Find more information about PRSSA National Conference here: