Your Future, Today

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A class field trip to a an all day conference can sometimes only mean one thing to a student, boredom. However, finding myself at the Alabama Power Corporate Headquarters for the PRSSA Summit event turned out to be pleasant, encouraging and informative surprise. Everything from touring the location’s facilities, to hurdling questions towards a panel of PR pros filled the eventful day. The most valuable things I walked away with however, were the tips and tidbits that I learned from professionals.

Even for students of the technical advanced day and age a lot has changed. Its not just students using Facebook and Twitter to connect and gossip, but successful companies that have realized the usefulness of this technology in the business world.

I was surprised with the knowledgeability of this speakers on their topics, whereas original I thought that their ideas might be too old fashioned.

Ike Pigott took us through the fundamentals of how society has changed. We were once a group of people whose status was based on “what you know”, then it changed to “what you could find”, now with power search engines like Google it has become “what your network finds for you.”

This is actually a transformation that is beneficial to us, Ike advises to “cultivate the network that makes you smarter.”

As a student in the broadcast concentration and PR following second, I’ve been skeptical about the reliability and honesty of getting a job working PR. To my delight, Julie Senter gave a seminar on “why should you get paid to do social media?”

A world full of digital technology can open a lot of doors for young student minds but also can be dangerous grounds. A panel of executives gave tips for making your Facebook, Twitter and other social media connections, clean and professional. This kinda of look comes down not just to the pictures you show or comments you post, but also the people you follow.

The day ended with resume do’s and don’ts and a personal resume review from area professionals. With my purse full of goodies, I left feeling extremely satisfied with the presentations and eager to sharpen up my PR skills. Truly, the conference lead up to its slogan, your future, today.

Leslie Graf

your future, #TODAY #PRSSA

PRSA Student Summit

The PRSA Student Summit was full of good information that included social media and a resume review.

The session on Social Media was done by Ike Pigott, Scott Thornberg, and Julie Senter.

They had five tips for Social Media:

  1. The basics of PR still apply. You should still be working under your PR principles.
  2. It’s not about you. You have move outside yourself.
  3. Understand the Why. You have to be understand why things work the way that they do.
  4. Test and Track. You have to be calculate the data on some things
  5. Always be learning. You have keep moving forward.

Ike Pigott, Scott Thornberg, and Julie Senter suggested sites like Mashable, This Week in Tech, All Things Digital, and Social Media Explorer .


The Resume Review presentation was done by Brandon Wilson.

He had 6 Do’s and Don’t of Resumes:

  1. Do use all your resume real estate wisely
  2. Do be active on paper
  3. Do focus on impact, not just experience
  4. Don’t use overly clever email addresses
  5. Don’t include references
  6. Don’t lie or overstate accomplishments

Some of important things that we talked about at my table during the resume review were:

  • Make sure it’s well written-be specific
  • Say what you did and what the results were
  • Avoid the greeting all together, if necessary
  • Use related things first, like projects
  • Be descriptive
  • Be objective, especially when you’re starting out
  • Always, always, always include a cover letter and it should be tailored to whatever company you are sending your resume to
  • Make sure you have correct grammar and spelling
  • Have an elevator speech
  • After you have an interview call within 2-7 days and write personal thank-you notes
  • Have a digital copy of your portfolio
  • Know as much as possible about the company you are applying to work for
  • Once you know what you want, settle in and go for it.
  • Make it your own.


The PRSA Summit was a great experience and was good refresher course for things that I need to be keeping in mind as I graduate.

Alabama PRSA Student Summit

The Alabama PRSA Student Summit was recently held on February 12 at the Alabama Power headquarters in Birmingham. The summit brought together PR practitioners from throughout the state and PR students from colleges in Alabama and Mississippi. Events for the day included discussions on social media, resume building, and finding a job. Participants were also able to take a tour of the PR department at Alabama Power.

One of the most significant takeaways from my time at the summit was how prepared I felt during the sessions. For example, the first session on social media discussed the importance of using social media and looked at new and innovative techniques for reaching customers and audiences. All of these tips were extremely important, and almost all of these tips were previously discussed in my JMC classes. Throughout the day, the examples that were given and the ideas presented were all a part of my curriculum at Samford. I left the summit feeling more confident in the education I have received in the JMC department and at Samford.

The summit’s keynote speaker was Julia Hood, who works with Haymarket Media. Hood talked about the importance of seizing opportunities in the public relations field. More specifically, her advice for PR practitioners was to:

  • Follow your passion. Whatever it is, there is a need for communications.
  • Don’t fear the off-road, or the U-turn.
  • Embrace your public life in communications.
  • Mentor, and be mentored.
  • Travel everywhere.
  • Build relationships, not contacts.

Each of these pieces of advice was important in its own way, and Hood’s presentation was a beneficial part of the summit. She provided advice for real world public relations that is applicable both today and in the future.

Overall, the PRSA Student Summit was a day well spent. I had the opportunity to learn more about PR, meet professional PR practitioners, and meet other PR students from other colleges in the Southeast. The day provided a unique look into the life of real world PR.

Take-aways from PRSA Student Summit and Real World Conference

On February 12th, 2013 I attended the PRSA Student Summit in Birmingham, Alabama. I approached this day with zero expectations alongside my classmates who were soon to be separated from my side when we were placed at assigned tables for the day. However, I soon made friends at the table and we then proceeded to listen to multiple sessions learning on topics ranging from social media to advice from professionals. All information was insightful, yet, it seemed to be information I’ve heard at least once before. Though I know it never hurts to hear it more than once, I left craving a more and wished I had more opportunities to meet professionals and ask them personal questions. However, I was able to leave knowing that I already had signed up for the Atlanta PRSA Real World Conference, and  felt hopeful that this day would provide with a little more to take away.

So, though it was not required for class, I decided to attend the Real World PR Conference on February 22, 2013 in hopes that I could make some connections in my hometown.  I have not officially made up my mind as to if I want to be in Birmingham or Atlanta, but I was excited to see some of the differences between the two cities and see if my heart was led in a specific direction.  Immediately entering Real World, I knew that the day was going to have a lot to offer, seeing as if Atlanta stepped it up a couple of notches compared to Birmingham. Being in a bigger city, I expected this but I had no idea the expertise which I would soon encounter.  In addition to the expertise and professionals who attended the conference, I was amazed by the amount of students and recent graduates who were there to share experiences and recommendations. I believe Real World did a great job of preparing interactive seminars which focused on building up our PR skills, but also helping us with personal branding and professional development which could help us land the job. They had a great understanding of the position we are in, and wanted to help build us up in a manner which would celebrate the skills we have but also open us up  to what more there is to learn. I personally enjoyed the sessions which helped me to create a story for my life and form a sustainable personal brand for myself. As PR students, we focus on learning about the client’s brand but often overlook our own. I know now, that being confident in my own brand will only lead to greater career satisfaction.

I could probably talk for hours about the take-aways from this conference. I was constantly taking notes and asking questions. This may be due in part to the fact that ‘Real World’ gave us the opportunity to choose our own break-out sessions, therefore allowing us to pick topics which would interest us the most. For example, for my first session I choose “Corporate World, Agency Life, or Nonprofit” instead of learning “Media Relations 101”, since I was interested in hearing the differences between the three fields of PR and learn how to help determine which path is a better fit for my working style.  My favorite breakout session was “Secrets from the HR Gatekeepers: Get the Interview. Land A Job” and with all of the information I got from that session, I could write a completely new blog on what I need to do to get a job now.

The rest of the day continued to be insightful as we continued to choose breakout sessions, then sit through a fantastic luncheon with one of the best speakers I’ve heard in a while. Mickey Nall (the National PRSA Chair & CEO and Managing Director of Ogilvy Public Relations in Atlanta) spoke on “Navigating the Multi-Generational Workplace Lessons from the Public Relations Front”. This topic is not one I have thought much about myself, but I know now that it is important to note the diversity of generations in the work place. Mr. Nall was able to give a great perspective on the different values, attitudes, expectations of each of the different generations and how we can work to integrate together for the better of our clients.

After lunch, we broke into resume critiques (which we also did in Birmingham). It is always interesting for me to see how people react to my resume, and it amazes me how much personal preference plays a role. I have now had 3 different experts review my resume, and though some had the same opinion, most had something completely different to say. Yet, I think I know now how to made changes.  After the resume critiques, we entered the career fair which was lined with multiple professionals from Atlanta seeking to make connections with students wanting internships and jobs. I was so thankful for this opportunity to network and handoff my calling card and resume. Even if I do not receive a call, I loved making connections and practicing talking with professionals. Networking is something we need to do everyday, but its not often we get the opportunity to do this in such a fast pace, pressured environment. It was exciting and I loved seeing all of the opportunities that Atlanta has to offer.

Overall, I had a great experience in Atlanta. I left with a new perspective on Public Relations and was excited to take the necessary steps to start to find that job. The Student Summit also had its high moments, and I know that in upcoming years, as Birmingham continues to grow, it could eventually be as big as Real World has become. I know in the future though, I would recommend Samford students to make the trip to Atlanta and experience this conference if they have the opportunity. And, if anyone has any questions I would love to answer them. I obviously have a lot to say about what I learned and would love to even share some of the tips I learned with the class.