PRSSA Speaker Re-Cap: Rachel Bryson

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By: Kelly Nolan

On Nov. 15, Rachel Bryson, director of communications for the American Trauma Society, presented “Trauma Prevention Through Communications” to PRSSA members. Bryson’s presentation detailed her daily tasks as a director of communications, what it is like to work in nonprofit public relations and her advice for all future communications professionals.

Bryson earned her Master’s Degree in Communications Studies and Strategic Communication at Shippensburg University. She has worked for more than seven years in the public relations and communications field.

“If you want to work in nonprofit, you will have to do a lot with very little,” said Bryson. She explained the challenges she faces working for nonprofits, such as a lack of funding, staff and resources. However, her passion and energy about the benefits outshined these obstacles.

“There’s no greater feeling than that, to see that your work did affect somebody else,” said Bryson. She explained the primary difference between corporate public relations and nonprofit public relations, as the difference in goals. Corporate public relations is about selling a product, whereas nonprofit organizations focus on changing behavior.

Bryson also explained the flexibility in nonprofits, because there is generally only one communications person. “You may have to go in and almost create your own position,” said Bryson. She discussed her various tasks as the director of communications, joking that her list of over 20 tasks is really “not that much.”

Bryson attributed some of her success at the American Trauma Society to her knowledge in video. She creates concepts for, films, edits and distributes educational videos. Bryson also builds and develops apps and online games, writes feature articles, maintains social media, manages webinars, pitches and participates in media interviews among many other tasks. She suggested that students learn as much as they can outside of public relations, like video. The more skills that you have, the more you can do, the more marketable you become,” said Bryson.

Bryson shared her advice with aspiring public relations professionals saying, “Anytime you have an opportunity to connect with someone who is working in the field, don’t waste that opportunity.” Bryson also encouraged students to never stop learning and to challenge the status quo.

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