FORUM Winter 2017

WINTER 2017 VOL . 49 , ISSUE 2 www . prssa . prsa . org / FORUM
Why I Chose to Pursue Grad School ( even when everyone told me not to ...)



WINTER 2017 VOL . 49 , ISSUE 2 www . prssa . prsa . org / FORUM

Why I Chose to Pursue Grad School ( even when everyone told me not to ...)
Let me preface this article by saying I never thought I would attend graduate school immediately after earning my undergraduate degree .
During my senior year , I served as the PRSSA National Publications Editor in Chief . For the first few months , I was sure I had reached my ultimate goal and was ready to move into the workforce in the spring . However , a feeling that I wasn ’ t finished advancing the mission of PRSSA crept up on me during the fall , and before I knew it , I was scrambling to stay in school so I could run for National President .
That is the simple answer : I chose to go to graduate school so I would be qualified to run for National President . But a major life change like that required a lot more consideration before I could commit .
As an undergraduate , the reason I thought I would never go to graduate school was because I had heard from professionals and professors alike that it wasn ’ t necessary for a career in public relations . Tina McCorkindale , Ph . D ., APR , president and CEO of the Institute for Public Relations , both agreed and disagreed with this sentiment .
“ Graduate school is not a must to be successful in public relations ( Note : Some organizations may require a graduate degree for promotion .), but I highly recommend it ,” McCorkindale said .
McCorkindale added that most students wait a few years before going back to school in order to gain professional experience first and take a break . Obviously , I didn ’ t choose that route , and my circumstance isn ’ t the
first of its kind . Tom Isaacson , Ph . D ., was my academic adviser at Northern Michigan University and he had encountered a situation like mine before .
“ I ’ ve advised students in the past to attend graduate school because it allows them to run for the top National Committee positions in PRSSA , which can significantly enhance their professional network ,” Isaacson said . “ As a side note , I wouldn ’ t advise this unless it can be accomplished without significant financial burden to the student .”
Beyond running for National Committee positions in PRSSA , which is a very specific reason to consider graduate school , there are other reasons to choose this path .
How to Know if It ’ s Right for You
Isaacson , among others , believes professional experience remains valuable and should always be sought after in some fashion , but an exception to the “ don ’ t go to graduate school ” rule appears if a student is interested in pursuing public relations education in the future . Steve Mnich , director of communication and marketing at Accel Partners , agreed .
“ The caveat is for individuals who plan to pursue a career in education ,” Mnich said in a past FORUM article written by Isaacson . “ We desperately need educators who can educate , inform and inspire . Without these individuals , we ’ ll miss the opportunity to ignite a passion in future leaders .”
Another reason to consider graduate school is to gain a specialty or enhance your undergraduate degree value . Kelly Davis , APR , founder of Davis Public Relations and Marketing LLC , earned her undergraduate degree in English and French . When she decided to pursue a career in public relations , it made sense for her to enroll in a master ’ s program related to that industry , but it also can make sense for those with a bachelor ’ s degree in public relations .
“ For those with an undergraduate degree in public relations ,
see page 2

PRSSA , PRSA Headquarters Start the New Year in a New Space

The Public Relations Student Society of America ( PRSSA ), along with its parent organization the Public Relations Society of America ( PRSA ), recently moved its shared headquarters space in late December . PRSSA and PRSA packed up the office to move to a new space on Wall Street for the new year .
Although the new office is smaller in square footage , it is ideal for working and collaborating in teams .
“ The move will facilitate increased communication and collaboration in day-to-day office operations ,” PRSSA 2016 – 2017 National President Emma Finkbeiner said .
According to PRSSA Executive Director Jeneen Garcia , the move will not have a major impact on PRSSA Headquarters ’ operations , and since the new location is close to the current office , many of the vendors and suppliers will remain the same .
From the local level , most Chapters will be unaffected by the move . PRSSA Headquarters made several announcements on their website , through emails and other communications channels to ensure that all Chapters are aware of the new address .
“[ As National President ] I didn ’ t have to worry about all of the packing and unpacking ,” Finkbeiner said . “ However , I assisted the team at Headquarters with disseminating the announcement of the move and making sure members and Chapters are aware of the updated information .”
The new location of the office is 120 Wall Street , 21 st Floor , New York , NY 10005 . With all hands on deck , the move happened quickly and efficiently to keep productivity up and the Society moving forward .

How to Brand for the Holidays

If you attended Scott Stratten ’ s keynote session at the PRSA 2016 International Conference in Indianapolis , you likely bore witness to one of the most effective , entertaining and educational speeches on communication in the digital age that I ’ ve ever seen … and I ’ ve seen a lot !
There was so much good content in Stratten ’ s keynote , I couldn ’ t capture it all ( and would be a fool to try ). But when he talked about organizations trying to make hay when tragedies befall , it really hit home because that is one of the biggest pitfalls for brands today as they navigate the digital space .
In their eagerness to “ newsjack ” and seize the day , brands often seem to lose their common sense along with the location of the “ delete ” button on their keyboards .
As Stratten said , there are really only two appropriate things for brands to do when a tragedy or disaster occurs : Be helpful , or shut up .
This simple rule of thumb is as relevant when planning content around national holidays , major events and so on .
Can your holiday-related content provide some value to your audience , or is it a thinly veiled sales pitch ? SpaghettiOs learned this the hard way a few years ago . More recently , a couple of Virginia educators tried to get in on the Halloween fun , just days before the 2016 presidential election , and it badly misfired .
And there are countless similar examples , giving credence to the phrase , “ The more things change ,



the more they stay the same .”
On the other hand , if you have a real connection to the event coming up , by all means give it a nod , or more , if it is helpful and of value to your audience and community … or if it just fits in perfectly with your brand persona .
When it comes to sobering events — days of remembrance , for example — I strongly suggest you err on the side of caution . Nine times out of 10 it is going to do you no harm whatsoever to give your social content a bit of a breather ( I ’ m sorry to break it to you , but most people aren ’ t paying attention anyway .)
That way you can focus on creating content that is relevant and true to your brand , and release it when it can be of most use to your audience and customers . At the end of the day , isn ’ t that what ’ s most important ?



2QUALITY MENTORSHIP How finding the right mentor can help you advance your career


REGIONAL CONFERENCES Get a sneak peek of the 10 Regional Conferences happening this spring
NATIONAL COMMITTEE Why you should consider running for a National Committee position in Seattle