In order to provide public relations majors with opportunities for success after graduation, Oklahoma Christian University’s Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) chapter attends professional events throughout the year to help students break into the steadily growing career field. This weekend, Oklahoma Christian’s chapter attended the 2018 PRSSA National Conference in Austin, TX to hear from professionals and network with those in their field.
The public relations industry does not show any signs of slowing down in the coming years, according to Forbes. Among large companies in the U.S., 46 percent engaged in public relations activities, according to Statista. Additionally, the worldwide public relations revenue is projected to grow from $14 billion generated in 2016 to approximately $19.3 billion by 2020.
Students majoring in public relations or mass communications at Oklahoma Christian have the opportunity to join the 10,000 students and advisors in PRSSA. According to their website, PRSSA was founded in 1967 and is the foremost organization for students interested in public relations and communications.
“We advocate rigorous academic standards for public relations education, the highest ethical principles and diversity in the profession,” PRSSA’s website said. “PRSSA can help you gain the experience and practical knowledge employers are seeking.”
Every year, PRSSA holds its National Conference in a different city, inviting speakers from successful public relations firms. According to the National Conference website, the theme for this year’s conference was “Art of PR,” focusing on “the multi-colored tapestry that is public relations.”
“At Conference, you can expect sessions on new media and technology that explore the revolution within our industry,” PRSSA’s website said. “While it is important to keep up on all the new trends, it is also vital for public relations success to master the traditional skills. Conference allows attendees to explore and master both the new and the traditional methods of public relations.”
Senior Shaylin Stephenson, this year’s president of Oklahoma Christian’s PRSSA chapter said because of this year’s theme, there was no question of whether she would attend the National Conference. This was the first Conference she has been able to attend, although she has been a part of PRSSA for a while.
“Once it started to get closer [to Conference], I began to get excited for the different sessions of speakers we would hear and the chance to meet other public relations students who are in the same boat as me,” Stephenson said. “I was also looking forward to meeting so many public relations professionals who were willing to give up their time to build the public relations industry with the new generation.”
The public relations professionals who spoke at the event were well known in the field and encouraged students to contact them for job opportunities or advice, Stephenson said, which went a long way for someone who is about to graduate but is not completely sure of what they want to do.
“The National Conference is the perfect place for networking,” Stephenson said. “There are around 1,000 students from around the U.S. who attend, and we were able to meet a lot of them and make connections in that way.”
According to Stephenson, she encourages underclassmen to attend Conference, as it is the biggest pool of networking a public relations major will find during their time at Oklahoma Christian.
“It’s a great opportunity to dig deeper into what path they want to take in public relations while learning from the best of the best,” Stephenson said. “I’ve learned a lot of different skills but mostly I’ve just gained confidence in knowing I’m in the right profession that fits me and my personality, which makes this whole trip worth it.”
Senior Seth Copple has been in PRSSA for four years and said he has attended four conferences during his time at Oklahoma Christian—three National Conferences and one leadership conference.
“These conferences have vastly expanded my knowledge of the field and my personal network,” Copple said. “I decided to go because I love the people I have met from all over the nation, and I wanted to see them one last time before we all graduate. Plus, the networking right before I graduate could help me get a job out of school.”
Copple said at this year’s Conference, he learned a lot about personal brand management and how truth, ethics and transparency are essential in personal branding.
“I would highly recommend that anyone who can should go to a National Conference,” Copple said. “PRSSA has a motto: ‘You get out what you put in.’ If you put forth the effort, you can expand your skills and networks.”