Though we are in the midst of one of the worst economic downturns in American history, you would not have realized it in San Diego. More than 1,000 students traveled from across the country to attend the PRSSA 2009 National Conference, which exceeded the registration limit.
This speaks to the drive and determination of the future of public relations. Attending Conference is not cheap, yet the professional development value is worth so much. Here are some numbers to recap the Conference:
- 8 Chapter Development sessions hosted by students and presented to members on ways to enhance various aspects of PRSSA Chapters.
- 28 Professional Development sessions on topics ranging from green communications to health care public relations to crisis communications.
- 2 general sessions with PRSA.
- 40 high school students who were educated by PRSSA on the public relations profession.
- $2,000 worth of school supplies and donations collected for a local San Diego charity.
- 30 exhibitors reaching out to PRSSA members.
- 80 students and Chapters honored at the awards ceremony and dinner.
- 10 sponsors that helped make Conference events and socials possible.
- 133 Chapter presidents honored for their commitment to PRSSA.
In addition to the numbers above, there were several emerging themes worth noting:
Collaboration Is Key
In the public relations profession, a general trend to note is increased collaboration between agencies and companies, marketing disciplines, employees within a company and organizations. PRSSA’s Conference was based on collaboration. Not only did two schools collaborate to plan the Conference, but also in many sessions, competitions and programs, people were working together. This is a skill PRSSA members will undoubtedly need to develop in their careers.
Social Media Are Everywhere
When I first started attending National Conferences two years ago, there were “social media” sessions and other sessions that featured traditional public relations practices. This year, you couldn’t find a session that didn’t mention social media. This shows that social media is ubiquitous in today’s public relations profession, and understanding the strategic importance of these tools is critical.
Connecting the Present With the Future
The “horror stories” of bad interns and lazy millennials often paint an ugly picture of our generation, yet PRSSA guides its members to value ethical, professional behavior. With strong connections and support from professionals, the transition from PRSSA to PRSA helps create a lifelong learning experience for the public relations professional.
The Future of the Profession Is Bright
This year in particular showed that the future of public relations is bright. The energy and fresh perspective students offered during sessions and programs suggest the profession will head in a new and dynamic direction. Though we do not know yet who the next generation of leaders will be, they will be able to take the profession to newer, greater heights than ever before.
By Nick Lucido, vice president, Professional Development, PRSSA, and manager, PRSSA blog. He is a senior at Michigan State University studying advertising, public relations and political science. Connect with Nick on LinkedIn and Twitter.
For coverage of the PRSA 2009 International Conference: Delivering Value, visit our Conference blog or follow the conversation on Twitter at hashtag #prsa09.
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