With some finagling of funds and last minute planning, three members of The University of Iowa's Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) chapter went to Philadelphia on Oct. 19 to "Ring in 40 Years of Success" for the 2007 PRSSA National Convention. Along with seminars and informational sessions, the representatives were privy to career exhibitors and special lectures.
After funding was secured from The University of Iowa Student Government and the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Jennifer Ferm (senior, Lemont, Ill.), Kelly Warren (senior, Clinton, Iowa) and Brittany Korb (senior, Fond du Lac, Wis.) represented the UI at this conference for the first time in over four years. The convention offered many opportunities for the individual attendees for future careers, but it was also beneficial for chapter development.
"One of the biggest reasons I wanted to attend this conference was to take the knowledge I gained and bring it back to our chapter,"Warren, finance director, said.
The conference showed how PRSSA chapters used their talents in different ways. Some PRSSA chapters form public relations agencies for businesses and non-profits, such as Colleges Against Cancer and the American Cancer Society. Other chapters bring in professional speakers to talk to members, and most fund raise for chapter-sponsored events. Friday's sessions were devoted to showing chapter strengths and weaknesses, in order to strengthen PRSSA as a whole.
UI chapter members attended a session that focused on what other PRSSA chapters do to promote active public relations within the organization, fund raise, and plan for special events. This allowed them to see what their peers were doing, and how they could bring back the information in order to share it and strengthen their own chapter.
Korb said this showed her that networking was an intricate part of the PR field, which can help in all aspects from increasing knowledge to increasing fundraising.
"The best thing I have to bring back to the chapter from the convention would be meeting other chapters to see what they do for financial support." Warren said. "As financial director, that is always a challenge, and things can get monotonous when done year after year. This session generated new ideas, and raised a new outlook on fund raising."
Other sessions attended were varied, reaching from specific public relations topics like travel PR, to general speakers like Mia Farrow. Speakers like Farrow, who spoke on a range of topics from human rights to life in the news, added interest to the overall program and variety of sessions.
Other PRSSA activities this semester included two fundraisers: one where PRSSA members worked at Coldstone Creamery serving ice cream, and one where PRSSA members haunted a corn maze for Halloween. They also sponsored PR Day on November 14, where various speakers were brought in to speak on PR topics, free to anyone who wanted to attend.
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