Coke, Chik-fil-A HQ among stops at upcoming PR trip

Robby Poffenberger | Assistant News Editor | @robby_poff
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Despite meeting only four times, 16 students working toward Communication degrees with an emphasis in public relations took on a full class curriculum to prepare for the PRSSA annual conference, which will be held in Atlanta, Ga., Nov. 5-10.

Among the assignments was to do full comprehensive research on each keynote speaker, exhibitor and major company represented at the conference, including preparing potential questions to ask should they meet them in Atlanta—a task one student reported filling 90 typed pages with. They were also required to create and update a blog regularly and read the New York Times daily. On the trip, they’ll be required to update their blog daily and post “meaningful Tweets” and will create a written and video report upon arriving home.

One student, Micah Jensen, said the preparation was worthwhile despite the intensive workload.

“It’s kind of strange because in the moment you’re thinking, ‘This is so overdoing it,’ and it’s draining because you have so many other classes. But when your done, it’s indescribable,” Jensen said.

Included in the trip’s itinerary are trips visits to Coca-Cola, Chik-fil-A and CNN world headquarters, as well as presentations by representatives from the Red Cross, General Motors, the Atlanta Braves and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, among many others.

Stephen Whyte, coordinator of the PR program and organizer of the trip, said each student did an excellent job preparing for the conference and will find the time spent in Atlanta worthwhile.

“I’m excited for every day of this trip. … Every day there is a standout, incredible opportunity,” Whyte said.

He added that the annual conference is significant because it’s the largest gathering of PR professionals in the world.

“Every national conference is excellent. … The very best of the best in the whole world come to this conference and present,” he said. “([Students will)] meet with internal PR teams and be able to learn from them and also network, and help open doors of opportunity for the future—possibly even with internships and, down the road, jobs in these organizations.”

Jensen said he’s most looking forward to learning from seasoned professionals about a job field he is preparing to enter.

“Picking minds of the people in the industry will be nice, to be able to know what they’re focusing on and what I need to focus on,” he said.

Another student, Brooke Jorgensen, said she’s particularly excited to visit with reps from Chik-fil-A.

“They’re such a renowned company and they’re in the news a lot,” she said, “so I want to know what their feelings are on crisis management and see what I can learn from them.”

Students paid $650 apiece for trip costs, aside from transportation and food. An engaged learning grant was also provided by Dean David Yells and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, which helped subsidize costs for students

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