Jessica Bedore is a journalism student at the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh and a public relations intern at Weidert Group, Inc., a full-service marketing agency in Appleton, WI. Visit her blog to read about the latest in public relations, social media and how it all relates to the life of a public relations intern.
By Jessica Bedore
Each year, hundreds of public relations students gather at the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) National Assembly. PRSSA is the largest organization for students interested in public relations and communications. With more than 10,000 students nationwide, they seek to advance the public relations profession by nurturing generations of future professionals.
This year, I was lucky enough to attend the National Assembly that was held in Seattle, Wa. Unlike PRSSA’s most popular event, National Conference, which focuses on professional and chapter development, National Assembly is the official “business” meeting of the society.
During the assembly, I was an official delegate and was able to vote on bylaw amendments and elect the new national committee members.
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that. Elections. While I was in Seattle, I ran for a position on PRSSA’s national committee, which is a board made up of 10 students from across the country who run and organize the entire society. It’s a pretty big deal.
Prior to arriving in Seattle, I spent a solid two months training with my adviser, preparing a platform of ideas and practicing my speech. The hardest part of everything was trying to prepare myself to speak in front of hundreds of people, which is something that I had never done. So when I arrived in the rainy city, I was beyond nervous — and though I was in a beautiful location, all that I could think about was election day.
In the days preceding the election, I spent my time at leadership development sessions, at sessions for national committee candidates and at awesome tourist locations like the Space Needle and the first Starbucks, which is located in the Pike Place Market. During one of the nights, we had a special networking session with Edelman. One of Edelman’s clients is Microsoft, so they had a few Xbox Kinects set up for us to try, along with drinks and hors d’oeuvres.
The networking event was a great opportunity to get into contact with influential public relations professionals, faculty advisers and other public relations students. I always think it is beneficial to speak with others in the industry to get their perspectives on trends and influencers.
Once election day rolled around, there was a lot that I needed to do to get ready. I woke up to an excellent continental breakfast at our hotel, showered and got ready and then headed down to the conference room. It was going to be a long day. Typically, elections for all of the positions last from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., since each candidate gives a five-minute speech and then goes through a 15-minute question-and-answer session.
According to the PRSSA constitution, the question-and-answer session can be extended if someone moves to do so and another seconds the movement. Of course, my session was extended to 30 minutes. That is just my luck. At the end of the day, all of the winners were announced and we were given the night off. Unfortunately, I didn’t get elected, but I have no regrets about going!
Running for the PRSSA National Committee pulled me out of my comfort zone in so many ways. I traveled across the country by myself, I roomed with total strangers and I spoke in front of a ton of people. If you ever get the chance to do something similar, I would highly recommend it. You may be scared at first, but the experience is priceless and it will help your future career in so many ways.