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Why now is the time to #joinPRSSA

PRSSA logo-updated 2019
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The Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) provides many opportunities for upcoming communication professionals to expand their network, learn from their peers and benefit from the opportunities that the national organization provides.

Our chapter, the Sammie Lynn Puett Chapter, is gearing up for another spectacular year of programming and opportunities. New and returning members alike will benefit from an update in the membership process and from a wide array of speakers, strategically arranged to bring the most pertinent information needed before graduation.

The key change in PRSSA this semester is the ability to join and pay dues online. This is a game changer, as returning members may remember the hassle of bringing a check or cash with a completed information form to our Ad/PR office.

Now, you can head to joinprssa.org to join and to pay your dues! Make sure to select the University of Tennessee, Knoxville as your chapter, and you will be added to our roster. Dues are $65 and can be paid online until September 30, 2019.

How does a membership with PRSSA benefit you? A small portion of dues go toward our chapter. This means providing food at meetings, recruiting top-notch guest speakers and other member-exclusive benefits. The remaining balance of dues secures a spot in the national PRSSA network. This is beneficial because of the connection to more than 10,000 students and advisers organized into 300 Chapters in the United States, Argentina, Colombia and Peru. PRSSA also bridges the gap into the professional world through a rich history of support from our parent organization, the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), which offers professional development, networking opportunities and news. Furthermore, our graduating PRSSA members receive a steep discount on dues to join PRSA upon graduating— meaning it’s never too late to join!

Being involved in a national organization is a beneficial addition to the college experience. PRSSA can enhance your education, broaden your network and launch your career. One of the executive team’s favorite advantages is the internship center on prssa.org. It features member-only access to job and internship postings to ensure you’re getting the most out of your time with our organization. The ability to list PRSSA as an official involvement on your resume is perhaps the most popular benefit of joining PRSSA, and we are glad to know this has resulted in countless professional positions and connections.

We are so enthusiastic about this time in our chapter’s development, and we can’t wait to see everyone #joinPRSSA! If you have any questions about the process, feel free to contact us.

Corporate Communication with Discovery

PRSSA invited Nicki Collett from Discovery Inc. to come speak at our first meeting this semester, September 10. We hope the below synopsis of Collett’s presentation will benefit our members in retaining her valuable messages.

Collett began by discussing her professional history. Her first job was in advertising sales working for a newspaper. Shortly after she started, she realized that advertising sales was not the right job for her. Her passion for writing kept her in advertising sales where she offered to do additional writing for free. Through this extra effort, she earned the opportunity to fly to the Olympics as a production manager to write for Snow Magazine. Today, she works in internal communication for Discovery Inc. in Knoxville, TN. Discovery is a media conglomerate that owns many big-name brands including Food Network, Animal Planet and HGTV. Collett loves the collaborative atmosphere at Discovery, both locally and globally.

Collett spoke with PRSSA about external and internal communication. According to Collett, external communication is the exchange of information outside of the organization while internal communication is the exchange of communication within the organization.

External communication covers all content that originates inside a company that is intended for those outside the company. Internal communication plays a role in helping employees understand the values and priorities of the organization as well as helping employees be in the know about how to do their jobs better and stay connected within the organization.

Collett also discussed the goals of communication, which she summed up as to inform, engage and excite audiences, both internally and externally. She discussed specific examples that Discovery executed in three major events for the company.

SHARK WEEK

Externally, Discovery had community events, news coverage, programming, cross network promotions and beach cleanups. Internally, Discovery had signage, screenings, fin-fest events, branded merchandise and contests among those in the Discovery offices.

A VERY BRADY RENOVATION

HGTV bought the house used to shoot external shots of The Brady Brunchhouse. “A Very Brady Renovation” took the house and renovated the inside to match the set The Brady Bunch filmed on. The show is now airing on HGTV. Externally, there was press coverage, cross network promotions and even a red shag carpet on the opening premier of “A Very Brady Renovation.” Internally, there was signage, a custom menu in the office cafeteria, contests and photo opportunities.

TOKYO 2020

Externally, there is countdown coverage, social media, live coverage, and crisis communication preparation. Internally, there is an employee ambassador program, screenings, signage and internal social media in preparation of the upcoming Olympics. Euro sport works closely with Discovery because they are the source of Olympic coverage everywhere outside of the United States!

Collett revealed much valuable information. She informed us that it is not just internal and just external communication. Communications and her job is all external and all internal all the time, it is corporate communications, working to make sure employees are excited because it’s a chain reaction of excitement when it starts from within. It is all about informing and knowing your audience and getting them excited about what you are doing.

“Communication is one tiny piece of the huge puzzle, but when it all comes together it is simply amazing, and communication is at the heart of it all!” – Nicki Collett

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PRSSA/Ad Club Social Photo Gallery

On Sept. 3, the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), Sammie Lynn Puett Chapter and UT Ad Club hosted their annual social to welcome new and returning members back to campus for the fall semester. We were excited to meet interested potential members and to soon welcome them into our amazing organizations.

Meet Your 2019-2020 Officers

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Jordan Carlson, Vice President

Originally from Atlanta, Georgia, I am a senior studying public relations with a minor in business administration. I am currently a domestic distribution intern at Discovery, Inc. I am very excited to serve as this year’s Vice President. I am looking forward to expanding our chapter here at the University of Tennessee so that we can create the best experiences possible for our members.

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Loren Gilbert, President

Loren is the president of PRSSA this year and is so excited for all the opportunities coming this semester. She is also a member of the Chancellor’s Honors Program and curates her own fashion and lifestyle blog to practice her writing skills. When she’s not in class or interning at Moxley Carmichael, Loren can be found at Capybara Coffee with a good book!

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Hannah James, Treasurer

Meet our treasurer! Hannah is a senior public relations major and a political science and business administration minor. On campus, Hannah is involved in Campus Events Board, Alpha Chi Omega, and Public Relations Society of America. She is obsessed with The Beatles, The Grateful Dead, and John Mayer and has traveled to over 35 different countries!

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Victoria Johnson, Vice President of Membership

Victoria Johnson is a senior who loves public relations, building relationships with people and Broadway. Victoria has had three internships throughout her college career including a public relations firm in Sydney, Australia, a nonprofit in Chattanooga, Tennessee and her current corporate internship with Dollywood. She is excited to serve as the VP of Membership Development for PRSSA this year!

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Katie Matthews, Public Relations Director

Katie is a senior PR major and communication intern for the College of Architecture and Design. She’s ready to make an impact in a student organization that has been so important in her PR career. Through meetings and professional development opportunities, PRSSA has provided her and others so many opportunities to build a network and to prepare students for future careers in communications. Katie is extremely excited for the opportunity to represent PRSSA and can’t wait for even more exciting opportunities coming this year.

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Emma Thurston, Secretary

Hi! My name is Emma Thurston and I am the Secretary for PRSSA this upcoming school year! I am studying Public Relations in hopes to have a career in ministry! I currently am a children’s intern at Sevier Heights Baptist Church here in Knoxville! I love children and the Vols! I am so excited to see what the Lord does in this organization and in the lives of its members! GO VOLS!

Summer 2019 Intern Instagram Takeovers

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During summer 2019, some of our members took over our Instagram account (@utkprssa) to show us a day-in-the-life of a communications intern. From public relations firms in Knoxville to global entertainment agencies, our members have been gaining some pretty amazing experience this summer. Here’s what you missed, if you didn’t catch it on Instagram. You can also see all our takeovers on our Instagram highlights.

Loren Gilbert: UT System Office of Communications and Marketing

Loren took us to UT Martin for a communicators conference as part of her internship with the UT System Office of Communications and Marketing.

“The past seven months of interning with the UT System have allowed me to apply the valuable information I have learned in my CCI courses to the real world. I am looking forward to beginning a new journey with Moxley Carmichael as their fall public relations intern.”

Jacob Teetzmann: Moxley Carmichael

Jacob gave us a glimpse into agency life at this fast-paced agency located in downtown Knoxville. He spent much of his summer writing, pitching stories, curating content for social media, researching and contributing to marketing strategy and business development.

“The most valuable experience was working for a U.S. based public relations agency and to see the cultural differences and similarities in the work processes and approaches.”

During 2019-2020, Jacob will continue with his graduate studies and assistantship at UT and will be the communications manager for the UT EcoCar Mobility Challenge Team.

Victoria Johnson: Dollywood

Victoria brought us to Water Safety Day at Dollywood’s Splash County to show a special event that Dollywood has hosted for 10 years. She has grown exponentially professionally and shares some of her advice for those still looking for experience:

“Make and build connections, especially with the professors at UT. They really want to help us and help us all grow. I heard about this internship from Dr. Childers, and she recommended that I apply, and here I am!”

Sarah Rindermann: Grapevine Communications

Sarah let us have some fun in the sun with her in Sarasota, Florida with her internship at Grapevine Communications. Sarah assisted in running reports, contributing to strategic planning, researching social media ideas and catching up on industry trends.

“Grapevine took me in as one of their own and were always working to make sure I was experiencing multiple aspects of the firm and feeling like I mattered more than an intern. For anyone looking for an internship, don’t be afraid to stretch your boundaries on where you’re comfortable! I expected to hate agency life and ended up loving it, so don’t be afraid to try new things!”

Catherine Johnson: Choice Media and Communications

Catherine joined us from Nashville as she took us along on her day as a publicity intern for Choice Communications.

“It’s been an awesome experience for me because I’ve been able to see national media coverage in the New York Times. I’ve been blessed by this experience.”

Amy Nelson: Discovery

Amy showed us what it’s like working at Discovery during its Shark Week festivities. She also gave us a tour of Discovery Knoxville’s facilities.

“It’s super cool to be able to put some scenario-based planning to work in order to creatively work around last minute hiccups.”

Hannah James: Transitions Online

Hannah took us the farthest from home to Prague, Czech Republic for her internship with the nonprofit Transitions Online.

“One of the most important things I’ve learned with this internship and that I’ll be able to apply to not only my classes but the real public relations world is the theory of human-centered design.”

Track Your Progress

How to prepare yourself now for those tricky interview questions later.

Have you ever been in an interview, and the interviewer asks the question, “Describe a specific example of a time you…?” Suddenly, you can’t remember a single thing you have ever done in your life. Completely blanking on a specific situation and giving a more general answer is a sure way to hurt your confidence during an interview. I’ve been there, and I’m here to help make sure this doesn’t happen to you again.

There is a way to prevent this common occurrence from happening. The answer is to track your progress. If you are currently in an internship and know you will be seeking another job in the future, try tracking your progress now to benefit yourself later.

What does tracking your progress look like? For me, I turn in a time sheet every two weeks at my current internship. Printing two copies and writing a few key points of what I did those two weeks on the copy I keep for myself helps me collect specific instances to use later in a job interview. This way, I can remember the time I was given an Instagram Story campaign project with only one hour to research and brainstorm, write copy, create graphics and post. This instance is perfect for the question, “Can you describe a specific time you were under pressure and performed well?” Writing down and remembering a handful of specific examples can help build confidence before, during and after the interview.

Another benefit of tracking progress is the ability to place specific data on a resume to snag an interview. Compiling monthly reports of quantitative data such as social media analytics or event participation offers opportunity for listing specific analytics and results. Instead of stating that you “maintained all social media platforms,” your resume will stand out by stating a quantifiable result like, “Increased social media engagements by 327 percent during my first month.”

Lastly, don’t be afraid to grab a copy of something you wrote or worked on in an internship. Did you write a small article in the company newsletter one month? Take a few copies to include as a writing sample. Holding an actual piece of work and not just a previous class assignment can make your skills seem more tangible.

Hopefully these tips inspire you to track your progress. I was amazed by how the tiny tasks I have done all year added up to a large set of skills by the end of the summer. Please reach out to me by email, lgilber7@vols.utk.edu, if you have any questions!

Loren Gilbert

2019-2020 PRSSA President

Sammie Lynn Puett Chapter

We are UT PRSSA

PRSSA University of Tennessee, Knoxville UTK Logo

Welcome to the University of Tennessee Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) blog! We’re ecstatic to start a new personalized blog, featuring our officers and guest contributors in the PR community.

We’re here to talk about our experiences in public relations, share tips and tricks for PR students, give advice for graduating students, influence our PR community and support the mission of PRSSA. (PRSSA’s Mission: To provide exceptional service to our members by enhancing their education, broadening their professional network and helping launch their careers after graduation.)

We strive to embody PRSSA’s strategic plan goals of membership, leadership and service. We encourage incoming students to join our chapter of PRSSA to increase and enrich our chapter’s membership. We exhibit leadership in the PR academic community through our participation in courses, dedication to the field, professional development outside the classroom and genuine passion for public relations and communications.

We build strong ambassadors for our field and our organization as many of our former members become members of PRSA and lead in their new public relations roles after graduation.

We are dedicated to serving our public relations community through informative and useful guest speakers, referrals to top-notch internships and opportunities for professional development near and far. We also connect with the local community through engaging with local professionals and organizations like Dollywood, local agencies and more.

In addition, we provide ample opportunities for our members to interact with professionals, build their networks and succeed after graduation. After all, our best successes are our graduates. Our grads nurture our current students who then become graduates who mentor and build current students and over again in a constant cycle, continually making us all better public relations practitioners and communicators.

We are a community of PR professionals. We are leaders in our field. We are dedicated, driven students. We are volunteers. We are UT PRSSA.

Katie Matthews

Public Relations Director 2019