The Utah Valley University Public Relations Student Society of America (UVU PRSSA) hosted their first in-person event since the beginning of the pandemic, on Oct. 5. This event brought two guest speakers to teach about journalism, marketing, event planning and media relations.
The PRSSA is a national club with more than 11,000 student members at 320 universities, including a chapter at UVU. According to their website, “The purpose of PRSSA Chapters throughout the nation is to enhance their member’s educations, broaden their networks and launch their careers.”
“[This event] focused on public relations, event planning, journalism and marketing,” said Carol Chatwin, the vice president of events for the PRSSA.
“Our main goal was to give students opportunities for application information in the field, answer questions and build connections,” said Torri Deschler, the president of the PRSSA and host of this event. Chatwin, along with the help of many others, orchestrated this event to give students resources of those working in the field. The speakers overlapped in terms of public relations. One speaker, alumnus Wade Draper from the graduating class of 2018, shared his experiences with event planning.
“It was cool because Draper came from UVU so he had a lot of really great advice for what students should and can be doing right now in college,” said Deschler. “It did feel way more relatable because [he] came from UVU. He knows what we’re all doing and what is offered here on campus so his advice was really solid,” she added.
Kevin Randall, a professional in public relations, journalism and marketing, shared his insight into those careers, as well as the steps he took to get there. “Kevin has so much experience … and has a whole story about the different fields that he went through to be able to get to the place where he is now,” said Deschler. ”This is just so inspiring because we all get out of college and we think ‘Oh, we’re just going to get into our one career,’ but Kevin talked about how it’s a whole series of careers; it’s a whole story.
“It’s not just, you get out and you’re successful and you find a career that just fits you, but it’s how all of your steps to finding a career can build you up and help you be successful,” explained Deschler.
Draper’s presentation was unique and surprising. Deshler stated, “He did talk a little about his projects and experiences, but he talked about how his internships got him there. Though his presentation was really about the skills he thinks you need for a career after college as well specifically what we can all do now to gain those skills … He had very specific suggestions that I thought were so helpful.”
Randall also shared his experience with journalism and noted just how crucial it was to have when he was going into public relations. Chatwin said, “It was nice for him to share his marketing experience too, at least for me because as a PR major, I didn’t think I needed much marketing skills. But seeing how Kevin is working his career, it is interesting to see just how much marketing he has done throughout his career.”
Deschler explained that she felt like the event was a huge success and that it really helped students consider different majors and career options. “For me, I’ve been feeling divided between event planning and PR, so this was a really good event to go to,” she shared.
“We’re in a college setting where we all have different majors and sometimes I feel like that separates us where we can’t cross into each other’s territories,” said Deschler. “But I would encourage everybody to come to these PRSSA events because the networking and connections that you make will be so helpful and incredible, even after you graduate.”
“No matter what your major is, you will be working with people and with a team … We’re all a community with different strengths … and you really never know what connections you’re going to make, who’s going to come, and what they’re going to say that’s going to help you in their career,” said Chatman. She enjoyed how much she learned and was able to relate to at the event.
PRSSA is aiming to host at least one event once per month. Their next event, an “under-pressure” PR competition for crisis management, will be held on Nov. 9 at 6 p.m. in the Student Center, room 206A. “It’s going to be super interactive and intense … and there are activities for the spectators as well,” said Chatman.
“It’s in groups of teams where everybody who signs up has a team who is trying to come up with a solution to this crisis problem and will present this idea to three judges who will choose the winner based on the criteria,” Deschler explained. “The winning team will receive a prize.”