The Capitol Connection: People, Press and Politics

Heather WadeBy Heather Wade (@wadeh78)

The UW Oshkosh chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America has many opportunities for its members, one of those is attending the PRSSA National Conference. Every fall, our chapter attends this conference, which changes venue each year; this year it will be held in Washington D.C.

This conference, starting Oct. 15, is the largest annual meeting of public relations students in the U.S., with more than 1,000 students getting together for a weekend of networking, professional development, career preparation and leadership training.

Washington D.C. will mark my third trip to a PRSSA National Conference. I can honestly say that these conferences have allowed me to create a large network of PR friends all over the U.S., including Hawaii, Georgia, Florida, California and Texas. The National Conference is such a great way to learn about the different areas of PR.

The conference begins on a Friday and ends the following Tuesday. Friday starts off with a social titled, “Bring us something PRSSA,” where all the chapters bring memorabilia from their schools while supporting their chapter’s t-shirt and mingling with other schools. Sessions go Saturday, Sunday and Monday, and the final night brings the PRSSA Banquet, where chapters and individual members are honored for their work over the previous year.

And the best part by far is the fact that our adviser, Dr. Julie Henderson, sits on the PRSSA National Committee as the national adviser for PRSSA. It is great that our chapter is able to be there to cheer on its adviser. We will finally get to hear back on how we did this past spring on our National Campaign for Organ Donation Awareness. In the past, our PRSSA has taken home the first place plaque in 2007 and 2008, and second place in 2009.

At the conference, we will learn from professionals working in fashion, politics, crisis communication, entertainment and many other fields, helping us get one step closer to determining what aspect of public relations interests us. We will hear about some of the most exciting communications strategies, tactics and tools currently shaping the field from the people who are using them daily.

Another benefit from attending the PRSSA National Conference is that the Public Relations Society of America’s International Conference takes place at the same time. PRSA is PRSSA’s parent organization. So, as students, we also get to attend two general sessions hosted by PRSA. Past speakers include Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post; Al Roker, formerly on the NBC Today Show; and Donald Trump.

One of this year’s General Session speakers just happens to be UW Oshkosh Journalism Department alumnus, Jim VandeHei. He is the executive editor and co-founder of POLITICO, a nonpartisan media company covering national politics and Washington governance.

Along with networking and attending, the conference gives students an opportunity to travel to all over the U.S. and allots time after sessions for students to tour the host city. I am extremely excited to tour Washington D.C. mainly because I’ve never visited, and we are going a day early so that our group can see as many museums and sites as possible before we leave.

Stay tuned for my future post about the PRSSA National Conference in Washington D.C.


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