Exec Board Reflects on National Conference

After a whirlwind weekend, part of the executive board is back home in State College reflecting on their favorite parts of PRSSA National Conference. Below, each attendee describes a part of the weekend that they particularly enjoyed (it was hard to select just one moment!).

Amelia Friedrichs

While the entire conference proved to be extremely beneficial in terms of networking and industry insight, the highlight of the 4-day conference for me personally was the presentation titled “Don’t Cry Over Ick. Laugh it Up With Clorox,” presented by Rita Gorenberg, Public Relations and Social Media Manager for The Clorox Company. The presentation covered development of campaigns such as “The Clorox Ick Awards,” The Clorox Ick-tionary,” and the “Bleachable Moments” series. Gorenberg spoke on the recent push to modernize the Clorox brand identity to better resonate with today’s moms and dads as well as Millennials in general. This proved to be very interesting. The “Bleachable Moments” series was made part of the latest season of The Bachelorette, where viewers could vote for the most “bleachable” or “erasable” moment of the show. This was a clever way to tap into the Millennial audience, and I enjoyed the presentation very much. For anyone who knows me, I love cleaning products to an outrageous extent, and had been looking forward to this presentation since we arrived in Washington D.C. Gorenberg did not disappoint, and I left the conference feeling not only informed, but excited to learn more.

Alex Yakacki

Attending a PR conference as a film/video major, I did not know exactly what to expect. I wasn’t sure if everything (or anything) would be relevant. For this reason, I was pleasantly surprised to see “Trends In Video Production” as one of the breakout sessions on the schedule. I waited all weekend for the workshop, and when it finally arrived I made sure to sit in the second row (first row seemed like a little much). Tod Plotkin of GreenBuzz Agency, a video production company in Washington DC, specializing in production, marketing and strategy, was the speaker for the event. As someone who has an interest in pursuing a career in corporate video, I was excited to hear what he had to say. He explained that because of developments in technology and equipment, the field has raised the bar on the quality and content of corporate video. Tod went into how the Internet has changed how people consume content and has made video the fastest growing ad format. Unlike in the past, today, companies see the value and return they receive from commissioning videos to be made. Speaking to production values, he suggested choosing the appropriate length for your video and keeping in mind the fact that motion keeps the audience’s attention. In the end, this workshop fueled my passion for the field and made me excited about starting my career so soon.

Becca Shapiro


One of the best parts of National Conference was getting to bond as an Exec Board. Being in D.C we had to take in the sites and embrace our inner Olivia Pope and take a few photos outside the White House. We went site seeing at the Washington Monument and then headed over to the Old Ebbitt Grill, one of the most famous restaurants in DC. It was great getting to be out of the school setting and enjoy a nice meal to celebrate the work we have accomplished this year and look forward to a successful year I am extremely proud of the Exec Board and all of PRSSA and look forward to taking what we have learned from NC and applying it to the organization this year.

Crystal Remick

My favorite part about this past weekend at PRSSA National Conference in D.C. was listening to Amy Robach, news anchor for Good Morning America speak at the PRSA International Conference General Session. The way in which she spoke to the audience was so incredible. Her personal stories about her struggles in life and breast cancer were so compelling and inspiring that there was not a dry eye in the entire room. Having said that, she also managed to somehow captivate the attention of the audience – myself included- and not make it feel as if she was addressing over 1,000 people, but every single person in the room directly and individually. She truly makes me want to better my speaking skills so that one day, I too can have that ability of such strong connectedness with an audience. She was by far the greatest speaker I have ever had the privilege of listening to. She was incredibly honest and conversational with the audience that you truly just couldn’t help but wish you could be her for one moment of any given day. Her lecture brought light to issues I was never even aware of and for that, I will now be on the lookout for future conferences that she will speak at.

Kelly Stock

My favorite part of this year’s PRSSA National Conference was listening to the session called, “Living the Life: Entertainment PR.” Priscilla Clarke, President of Clarke & Associates, LLC and Nicole Garner, CEO of The Garner Circle, began their presentation by asking attendees to get into groups of 2-3 people to brainstorm as many ways as they could to use a brick. The purpose of this exercise was to express the importance of why you need to be able to think of a subject from many different angles. In the world of entertainment publicity, it is crucial to be able to think on your feet. “Publicity is the art of stirring up interests to promote your service,” said Garner. Clarke and Garner then highlighted the importance of organization when dealing with celebrities, red carpet etiquette, and the rising significance of satellite and radio media tours. Although both Clarke and Garner have worked with high profile clients such as Beyoncé, Oprah and Denzel Washington, both speakers agreed that they feel more pride when they are able to secure publicity for their lesser known clients. A lot of hard work goes into entertainment public relations around the clock, but if you are a flexible, persistent, and organized person, this could be the perfect career path for you!

Kristina Lintz

National Conference was truly everything I thought it’d be. It united the executive board in a way that spending four days in close quarters can do to a team, and it introduced us to hundreds of new faces and ideas that we’re excited to bring back to the chapter. It was an overarching theme that was reiterated at nearly every session, and by nearly every professional I spoke to: get a job in an industry you love. If you don’t know what you love, try a few things out, go agency-side and see what fits. It was reassuring to hear, as I think I know what I want to do, but I’m not exactly sure. As a senior, I know I like to write, but do I want to go corporate in-house or at an agency and work with a lot of clients? I particularly liked hearing from Jamie Smith, Executive Vice President at Edelman in the “Welcome to the Creative Newsroom” presentation. She worked on the political side of PR for years before transitioning to agency, and was able to really convey the current state of affairs in communications.

Rachel Gluck

PRSSA National Conference was more than just a great networking event for me. It was a great weekend that really allowed me to get to know the other executive board members by bonding over mutual interests, ways to better our chapter and even just some sight seeing. This weekend allowed me to brainstorm how as Vice President I could improve membership and the relationships between our executive board and committee chairs. I was able to connect with a Penn State alum who now works for KIND, and our conversation was filled with motivation, inspiration and honest. I really enjoyed listening to her advice and maybe even finding a mentor for the future. I attended National Conference in 2012 and it was exciting that I could experience the conference again with a new confidence and outlook on my future that I have gained over the past two years. I am so thankful I was giving this opportunity.

Sarah Kurz

One of my must-see presentations at the PRSSA National Conference was “Foundational IMC Best Practices for Emerging Platforms and New Wearables” from two professors at West Virginia University, Dana Coester and Geah Pressgrove. Both women focused on the fact that digital communication is a big industry and it is important to remember the purpose of your digital strategy when communicating through different platforms or technologies with your audience.

Coester focused on the idea of relevance, resonance and reach and how these attributes were the key to success when determining platform use. Coester also explained the idea of social currency in digital communication, which is the idea of remarkable stories that are shared amongst networks that have a direct fit to your strategy. I had never heard about the term social currency, and it was interesting hearing the science behind story sharing, audience receptiveness and return on investment.

Pressgrove focused her half of the discussion on wearable tech and how it is continuing to impact our future. Pressgrove told a story about her early adoption of Google Glass and how this related to her success in the industry. She explained that when you become an early adopter to a technology or social platform you become the person of expertise in that area. You become ahead of the game, and with that privilege people will seek your skill set and knowledge among others. This part of the presentation really gave me a look into how I can make a personal brand for myself by being an early adopter.

Overall, the PRSSA National Conference provided me with a wide variety of professional development skills, but I am most excited to take what I learned about emerging platform communication and wearable tech to our chapter at Penn State!

Sean Donnelly

The PRSSA Exec Board representatives at the Awards Ceremony and Dinner.

The PRSSA Exec Board representatives at the Awards Ceremony and Dinner.

My favorite part about our trip to D.C. for PRSSA National Conference was our night out together eating dinner at Old Ebbitt Grill. After visiting some of the nations most famous monuments in our nation’s capital, we had a late night dinner at one of the cities most historic restaurants. As college students, our budgets rarely give us the opportunity to splurge. Since we were at a historic restaurant exploring a new city, it felt good to let go of those worries and just have fun. After spending the past few days in suits, networking and learning more about our future career, it was healthy to take some time off and spend some time together outside of the Omni Shoreham Hotel. We spent the entire night laughing, telling stories, trying new foods and indulging in desserts. It was a great opportunity to get to know members of the executive board a little more personally. This night will definitely be a night I won’t soon forget.

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