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For Students, Conference Builds Excitement around PR Profession

November 22, 2019

This fall, six St. John Fisher College students joined by Arien Rozelle, assistant professor in the Department of Media and Communication, attended the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) International Conference, held in San Diego, California.

Jeremiah Boerman, Colleen Senglaub, Samantha Foley, Lizzy Beach, Lindsay Garrant and Aleccia Mack at the PRSSA National Conference in San Diego.

PRSSA is the student affiliate of the Public Relations Society of America and more than 2,500 professionals, students, and educators attend its annual conference each year. There, students have the opportunity to learn from experienced PR professionals about the various career opportunities the field has to offer. 

“The conference helps students prepare for their work in the field by bringing to life the ideas and concepts that they learn in the classroom, and by introducing them to organizations and professionals that could lead them to their first job or inspire a career path,” said Rozelle. 

In addition to panels and workshops, students attended keynote speeches delivered by dignitaries in media and politics. This year featured Vincente Fox, the 55th president of Mexico, and his wife, Marta Sahagún de Fox, former press secretary and First Lady of Mexico. Bob Woodward, one of the Pulitzer Prize winning journalists who extensively covered the Watergate scandal and who is now the associate editor of The Washington Post; and Laura Ling, an Emmy Award winning journalist who was imprisoned in North Korea while reporting on the trafficking of North Korean women, also spoke at the conference.

Senior media management major and Honors student Colleen Senglaub said her biggest takeaways were the importance of building your personal brand, knowing how to embrace failure, and knowing your worth.

“This was the first time someone has talked to me about the ability to negotiate a salary and it was a huge eye opener,” she said, adding that the conference built excitement around the public relations profession for her. “I hope to have a job one day where I am able to travel to interesting places, meet interesting people, and help them to share their brand’s story.”

Arien Rozelle and Marta Sahagún de Fox, former press secretary and First Lady of Mexico, at the PRSA International Conference in San Diego.

Arien Rozelle and Marta Sahagún de Fox, former press secretary and First Lady of Mexico, at the PRSA International Conference in San Diego.

Elizabeth Beach, a senior media management major, said the conference exemplified the importance of networking and building relationships in PR.

“Building trust with other professionals in the industry and helping people out are essential to being successful in PR,” she said. “People are extremely enthusiastic about PR and about helping businesses of all sizes achieve their goals through ethical marketing, communications, social media, and more!”

During a poster session of the PRSA Educators Academy Super Saturday Conference, Rozelle’s poster, “Diverse Voices in the History of Public Relations,” was named as one of the top three teaching posters with a monetary award. 

During the conference, Super Saturday provides professors an opportunity to meet with and learn from their peers in academia, as well as professionals in the field. Rozelle’s pedagogical poster stemmed from an assignment given to her Introduction to PR class, based on the book, Diverse Voices: Profiles in Leadership, recently published by the Public Relations Society of America Foundation. The assignment—inspired by the book and informed by Rozelle’s own research—asked students to research women and minorities who have helped to shape the PR field, but who have been left out of textbooks historically. The poster outlined the assignment and provided instruction for other educators who may want to use it in their classroom.