Article by Katelyn Pecorelli | esPResso Committee Member and Regional Conference Coordinator
The Marist College Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) hosted its first Regional Conference, “Developing a Well-Rounded Professional,” on campus February 27-28, 2015. Sixty-eight students and professors representing five colleges – Marist, Marywood University, Hofstra University, St. John Fisher College and Quinnipiac University — attended the event, learning from top industry professionals about different facets of the public relations industry.
Each of the morning breakout sessions focused on a different niche of the public relations industry. For example, students attending the sports-focused session with Dr. Keith Strudler learned that public relations professionals must be clear with their messaging before going on-air. Tim Massie, senior vice president for public affairs and government relations at HealthQuest, discussed the importance of critical thinking, having a global mindset, being collaborative and brave in his career planning session. Ketchum Partner Michael O’Brien spoke about public relations at the speed of light and how one should use storytelling to establish an identity and craft great ideas. During the food public relations workshop, Gita McCutcheon of the Gita Group talked about the need for strategic planning and a wide range of creative tactics that target specific demographics.
After the morning breakout sessions there was a keynote address by Michael O’Looney of Elliott Management who encouraged students to take opportunities and not to let fear stop them. The afternoon panel, “Finding Your Niche in the Public Relations Industry,” featured Michael O’Brien along with Kelsey Donohue, press aide to the First Lady, and Justin Meise, founder and president of Buttonwood Communication Group. The panel was moderated by Marist PRSSA faculty adviser and professional lecturer Jennie Donohue. The top lesson that all of the panel members shared was to put yourselves in the shoes of the audience you are trying to reach in order to better understand their needs.
The Marist College PRSSA Regional Conference was a success, and the committee and I could not have wished for more support or a better end-result. Thank you to all who helped make this conference possible.