I took a road trip to Columbus for my first-ever PRSSA conference Feb. 17, and where better to have it than at The Ohio State University’s Fawcett Center? Public relations professionals discussed Wendy’s entrance to the U.K. market, Buckeye’s brand voice and using simple, fun national holidays to help get clients on TV.
However, my goal for the event was not to be entertained and fed incredibly delicious cookies. I wanted to learn valuable tips I could take home to Kent and save for my future career and form meaningful connections with professionals. Although I achieved them, there were things I liked and things I could have done better to achieve them. I suggest these dos and don'ts to any first-timer when attending a PRSSA conference.
Do: wear something bright and different. It can be white, orange or multi-colored. By doing this, you’ll stick out and immediately get noticed by speakers without even trying. When I walked into the venue it was a sea of black. Make sure you don’t drown in it and wear color.
Don’t: forget a notebook. Like I said I wanted to learn things I could take home to Kent. That’s why it was nerve-racking when I’d be learning so much valuable information during presentations only to have nowhere to write it down for later use. Bring a notebook even if you think you’ll remember what they say after the presentation.
Do: think of questions to ask professionals before the conference. I asked questions that helped me form connections with professionals and got me a Wendy’s frosty magnet, but I found my mind drifting because focused too hard on what questions to ask. Think of a couple of questions before the presentation so you can enjoy it and have something ready to say on deck when the time comes.
Don’t: forget to network with other schools’ PRSSA members. A kind girl from OSU’s PRSSA group came over to chat with us and we had a nice conversation introducing ourselves. Later that day she introduced our next speaker who was the girl’s mom.
Don’t be afraid to talk to others. During lunch, a man came over and talked with us about school projects and other PR topics After being honest with him about what I plan to do with my future career, he said he works for OSU’s social media department, and we talked about how we both are interested in corporate social responsibility. They can be just as influential in careers as professional speakers.
Keep these dos and don’ts in mind the next time or the first time you take part in a PRSSA event. By following this recipe you’ll put your name out there and successfully gain and retain the knowledge these opportunities are made for.
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