By Carlyn Johnson
Photo by Laura Dachel
It feels like just yesterday I was driving to Eau Claire for my first year at a new college with my family with exuberance and excitement.
It feels like I just moved in and everything is still a mess. I don’t know where anything goes in my room, nor does anything have a proper spot. Things are just thrown in random places. It feels like I’ve had barely anytime to get settled in.
The days are just flying by. I’ve been here almost three months, yet it feels like a week. It’s already almost Thanksgiving break. Then three weeks after that, its Winter break. I’m already almost 3/8 done with my college semesters and my friends are almost halfway through their freshmen year of college. Where has the time gone and what have I been spending it on?
It’s incredible how long a day can seem, how time can move so slow, but when you put it into perspective of a week, or a month, or even a year, it all just went by within a blink of an eye.
One minute you’re a senior in high school, with a narrow view of how life is, then the summer rolls by and before you know it, your exploring a whole new place and meeting new people while broadening your mind to new experiences. You go through all these ups and downs, where you’re homesick and then you’re not because you’re having an amazing time with friends. Then the next minute you’re stressed about an exam or homework. Time just slips away while you’re preoccupied with all these tasks that before you finally can catch a breath, you’re home for Winter break. Where everything falls back into place with the life you left behind. You can finally relax.
Surprisingly, you look back then and are amazed that a semester flew by and you have no idea what you did.
You had to stop and think about all the exploring you did, whether it was in a class, or in your dorm, with a friend or by yourself, you’re just stuck trying to remember. You oddly know you accomplished so much within such a small amount of time, but recalling what you did, is a task in itself. It’s crazy thinking about, but it excites you because you get to go back and do it again seven more times.
Even right now, writing this blog, I have no idea what I’ve done this semester as a sophomore transfer student. I’m in my third semester of college. I graduated high school almost two years ago. I have changed so much and have experienced so much within just two years, let alone in my 20 years of life.
It’s funny to look back at things, and how much change can occur just from going from high school and the mentality that high school students carry to the mentality of being in a college and being a college student, on your own and doing your own thing.
I like to think of time in just that way, the amount of change that occurs from the amount of experiences someone takes to develop and grow, and be successful because there is so much more to life than just days on a calendar or hours on a clock.
By Anna Moegenburg
This question raced through my mind the entire trip to Philadelphia. Sure, I learned a lot about the public relations industry and could go on for hours and chat about it. But I think the most important lessons I learned at the conference were about what I want in life.
Philadelphia isn’t for me. Everyone else seemed to be basking in the greatness of the city of brotherly love while I was crossing it off of my potential places to live in life. It’s a phenomenal tourist city with a rich history, but there are so many other places that appeal more to me. Second, my future employers should value my work-life fit. “Work-life fit” means that work and life shouldn’t be two separate entities, and that they should work together to form who you are. It’s the newest term for work-life balance. If an employer doesn’t care about striving for a healthy lifestyle outside of work, then it’s difficult to maintain one in the office. I vow to be healthy in and out of work.
Being healthy means stepping away from technology. At conference, so many people were on their phones. All. The. Time. I found myself snooping through Twitter and texting people in Eau Claire at times, I’ll admit it. But the people that were always connected were never able to fully experience a new/revisited culture. Maybe you’ve seen the Film’s For Action video on constant phone interaction. That’s what conference felt like at times. Maintaining an online presence during the conference was crucial to connecting with people, but so many attendees missed out on face-to-face interaction.
Learning what you don’t want in life is as important as focusing on what you do want.
By Hillary Crusan
While the official theme for the 2013 PRSSA National Conference was “Foundation for Innovation,” I found that many speakers had a more important, more life-encompassing message to deliver. It was uttered multiple times throughout the five days of the conference during presentations, but more likely during the Q&A’s afterward. The question was usually a variation of, “How did you deal with all of the obstacles you faced to find the success you have today?” The answer was always the same.
The only obstacles that get in your way are the ones you allow.
Mary Beth West, APR was asked during the “A Conversation with Living Legends” keynote address how she had overcome the male-dominated culture of business ownership to form her 100 percent woman-owned public relations firm, Mary Beth West Communications. Her response was simple.
Don’t think of yourself as a woman, think of yourself as a professional. Break down the barriers and let nothing hold you back
Perhaps the best embodiment of this message was Vernice “FlyGirl” Armour. This woman, officially a speaker at the PRSA International Conference being held across the street, had been through every obstacle imaginable as she rose through the ranks in the United States Marine Corps to become the first female, African American combat pilot. FlyGirl faced a whole new set of obstacles after her two tours in Iraq as she launched a successful company and career as a keynote speaker. She built on West’s message, making it more all encompassing.
Acknowledge the obstacles, do not give them power.
She recounted her experience while empowering us with the idea that if she could do it, we could do it. I left that room feeling incredibly motivated.
I began to understand why many of the speakers seemed almost alarmed when they were asked the inevitable overcoming obstacles question. The conference attendees were a people obsessed with how to overcome problems they had not even faced yet. The speakers could tell we needed to hear that worrying about imaginary future obstacles would only weaken our ability to deal with them.
After letting their messages soak in I stopped letting arbitrary, unchangeable facts get the best of me. As a result, I finally feel like I am prepared to face and overcome whatever gets in my way.
By Neely Droessler
On the Sunday afternoon of October 27, two friends and myself attended the matinee showing of Les Miserable at the State Theatre in downtown Eau Claire.
My co-worker and one of Visit Eau Claire’s Fun Finders, Katherine was casted in the musical and enjoying the show was the perfect way to support her hard work. This would be my first time seeing a production at the State Theatre, one of Eau Claire’s artistic treasures.
I’ve always loved attending the theatre as well as performing in local productions during high school. I’ve seen Mary Poppins on Broadway, Wicked in Chicago and Cats in Madison among others. I’m by no means an expert in the inner workings of a production, but I do have experience in performing and a deep appreciation for the art.
I didn’t anticipate my experience at the State Theatre to be as professional and pleasant as it was. As we entered I was struck by the aged beauty of the theatre with its vaulted ceilings and carved wooden walls in the lobby. The theatre’s first performance was held in 1926, and I could feel the historic charm in everything from the chandeliers to the carpet.
In the lobby I noticed a crowd of middle-aged patrons waiting in line trying desperately to buy tickets. Other ticketholders walked around and mingled before the two and half hour show began. The employees seemed to remain as calm and friendly as possible while the crowd around them ensued.
The State Theatre, also known as the Eau Claire Regional Arts Center, is a beautiful facility. It holds 1,098 seats for local and national touring shows. The Les Miserable matinee was so popular that our ticket vouchers landed us seats in the way back of the room. It also provides a gallery space for local artists and sees about 100,000 patrons each year.
The lights dimmed and we knew the two and a half-hour musical was about to begin. Early on we noticed that all of the dialogue between characters was sung. I was impressed with how the actors moved and interacted with one another while singing the beautiful (high-pitched Opera) score.
My friends and I agreed the lead characters, especially Gina Cruciani who played the adult Cosette, were amazing on stage. Their powerful voices were accompanied with a symphony orchestra in the pit and multiple set changes.
The entire performance was engaging. During the “Master of the House” scene, which included most of the cast, the audience got to see cool costumes, dancing and drinking from 1823 France. The townswomen, including Visit Eau Claire’s Katherine Rapacz, were boisterous and fun.
All in all, Les Miserable was a phenomenal performance. The State Theatre provided a beautiful backdrop for the professional production. The actors truly molded into their roles and brought this tragic story to life. Brava to the cast and crew, you created a wonderful Sunday outing.
By Nate Ejuwa
“Whats your name, lets connect!” is a phrase i heard and used countless times at the PRSSA National Conference in Philadelphia. We all know that networking is a key part of our profession. Connecting and having a strong network around you is often times the deciding factor in the success of a PR professionals career. We’ve all heard the phrase;
“it’s not what you know, but who you know.”
However this last week at my first PRSSA National Conference i met some great people, and moved closing to understanding why the phrase should go;
“It’s not who you know, but who knows you.”
First of all, let me explain to you what this conference was all about. On the surface, it is a group of motivated students who see an opportunity to gain a stronger position in their future profession, gathering together everyday to attend speakers, workshops, and meet professionals in the field of Public Relations. However, the structured events and speakers were really only half of the experience. Over the five days spent i would conjecture that i was handed at minimum 100 to 150 business cards in 4 and a half days of conference. This is my point of contention. Is this informal mode of connecting really an acceptable way to establish a connection with someone? Does the use of a business card as a disposable flyer really end up in meaningful relationships? I believe the answer is often times no, but i also believe that sometimes, it can be.
I think its important that we address this issue. I learned alot about networking at conference but this one really stood out to me. Maybe we can even save a few trees along the way.
Here are the do’s and don’ts in business card exchange.
1. Do: Have your business card with you at all times. First impressions are everything, and in our field of work there really is no excuse. You never know who you’re going to meet so be sure to have at least one with you.
2. Don’t: Just because you cross paths with that big name account executive, in passing or even in the elevator does not mean you should whip out your card. Try to establish a situation where they are asking you for it.
3. Do: You should absolutely have your Email & Twitter on your card, these are powerful tools of connection and seem to be the most preferred mediums in which to connect initially with new people.
4. Don’t: Put your personal cell phone number on your card. If you work for a company put the companys number where they can reach you on it. Some people believe there is nothing wrong with putting your personal cell phone number on a card however in my personal opinion it’s not something that should be a requirement. Once you establish a connection over social media or through email, the cell phone number can be exchanged then.
5 Do: Include a personal touch on your card. Instead of the simple “name & contact” format, you should add your own personal touch on your card. Things like a picture, a quote, or a short message or the shape of your card can make it stand out. Find a way to make your company or your “brand” apparent and you will surely succeed.
6 Don’t: Be too plain. In contrast to the above “do” if your are too plain you will blend into the walls. When i’m going through business cards, all the same size, all rectangles i’m likely to forget who gave which to me. Okay sure, your name is on it, but if i have to look you up then chances are i won’t get that far. The ones that are remembered will come first.
7 Do: File your business cards right away. If someone gives you their card they may be expecting to hear from you. Be sure to save the contact in your device immediately.
8 Don’t: Ask every single person you meet for their card. You will be overwhelmed with small pieces of paper and will undoubtedly confuse them. Pick and choose whose card you ask for and who you give your card to. Remember that by handing your card over you are extending yourself, indicating your desire to open up a line of communication is something that should be considered beforehand.
It really is simple but often times these things are forgotten. Going to this conference brought me to an understanding of how important these things can be. Through them, i hope you understand why i believe the phrase should be:
“It’s not who you know, but who knows you.”
Because a business card, without any real connection, is often times just another face in the crowd.
Lets stand out.
By Alison Burdick-Evenson
At PRSSA National Conference the two meetings I found most beneficial were the Secrets of Media Pitching with Michael Smart and the fashion seminar with Rakia Reynolds, founder of Skai PR Agency and Kristin Detterline, editor and chief of Philadelphia Style magazine.
Let’s recap what I learned:
Media pitching is not what it used to be. In order to engage the public, there are various platforms to master across traditional media and social media. That means the media contacts you have are getting emails, tweets and Facebook comments with story ideas all the time. Now more than ever, we have to make our email stand out with a pitch that the media knows the public will care about. That’s earned media and it sets us apart from paid advertising.
Michael Smart made the statement “you need to know how to take something that looks boring and recreate it according to what is popular.” This is the most practical advice I’ve been given thus far. Smart makes the point that in order to make what you are promoting relevant, it is best to tie it into a trend that people already care about. Use a celebrity, use a fad or use an upcoming event – but make it matter.
Fashion is everywhere. It’s a lifestyle – much like public relations. According to Rekia Reynolds, you must always know what is seasonal, topical and relevant in the fashion industry. That means doing your homework. These days it is not enough to be fashionable yourself or to know what current trends are happening. Be ahead of the game. Reynolds says that it’s about predicting the future trends and then understanding how to present them to the public on behalf of your client.
“You must be a constant fashion resource,” Reynolds said. “Make people think you’re right all of the time.” Although this comment is specifically tailored to the fashion world, you can apply this idea to every platform you go into. Research is imperative. You are invaluable if you consistently know more than other people – stay ahead.
PRSSANC was a blast; I learned more than I can share in one blog post. So, If you want to learn more, visit the PRSSANC webpage where they will soon post podcasts and information from national conference.
By Hanna Johnson
Philadelphia is a city where history and modern beauty meet. The historic landmarks and modern skyscrapers create a captivating view that six of our members were fortunate enough to experience.
The term “brotherly love” is an accurate description of the people we met along the way. From the moment we stepped on the train until the moment we left the Loews hotel, we were continuously impressed by the amiability of the people in Philadelphia.
One of my favorite experiences was at the Eastern State Penitentiary. This historic prison was the first to be established in the United States and every October, it transforms into Terror Behind the Walls: the #1 most haunted attraction in America. Hillary and I had the last two tickets for 7:30 so we arrived before the others. After signing a waiver, we had the option to wear a glow stick around our neck, which would allow the actors to touch us and separate us from our group. It’s easy to say that it was not a difficult decision for Hillary and I to make. After being marked with blood, we anxiously waited in line (glow stick-free) where guards terrorized the guests. With our hands clasped tightly together, Hillary and I made it through the most terrifying yet exciting haunted house we had ever been to.
Once we “escaped” the prison, we celebrated our success (and relief) with a giant hug and laughter. When the other three girls arrived, we shared our scariest moments until we were interrupted by a flash mob of several guards. They quickly began pulling people in to dance with them while everyone else was frantically trying to capture it on their phones. Rachel and Alison were lucky enough to steal a quick dance from one of the guards!
Another memorable experience was our trip to see the Liberty Bell. This was a big item on our list because of its historic symbolism. The liberty bell is housed in a small building at Independence National Park, which is across the street from the Graff house where Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence. It felt incredible to be surrounded by so much history.
The hop-on-hop-off Philadelphia bus tour was another great sight-seeing adventure for us. The ride took us everywhere from the Love Park and the famous Rocky Steps outside the Art Museum, to South Street and Independence Hall. Our tour guide was knowledgeable about the history of the city and never failed to entertain us with a good joke. Although it was quite chilly sitting on the roof of the bus, it was a great way to take in the highlights of Philadelphia.
All in all, Philadelphia was a remarkable place. Some of the best moments were the times when we got lost and ended up wandering around and enjoying the city’s beauty. I strongly encourage everyone to take a visit to this city of brotherly love and sisterly affection. I’m quite positive you won’t be disappointed.
By Rachel Vick
National Conference was one of the best trips of my life. I could write a novel on all the things I loved about it. However, I’d like to focus on one overall theme: helping the world. PRSSA stressed how important it is to use our talents for good – to create something new in the world, to help those who don’t have talents or tools like us, and to be a change.
Geno Church, inspiration officer at Brains on Fire, gave a talk called “The Passion Conversation: Be an Explorer of Your Passions.” He started out by explaining how lucky we are to be in this job. Marketing is like matchmaking: we connect businesses with audiences and consumers and help them fall in love. We do this by constructing campaigns, engaging on social platforms, and creating lasting relationships. How awesome is that?
John Wood left Microsoft because he had something inside him telling him to create something more. After a trip abroad, he realized he wanted to help people in developing countries to improve literacy rates. He created an organization called Room to Read in which he has now helped millions of children and schools. He’s also helped authors in these countries publish children’s books.
The main takeaway from these presentations was that you must work in your area of passion. If you don’t work there, you won’t be happy. You may be content, but not happy. I don’t know about you, but I have no desire to work for a CEO who’s making 9 billion a year and saving it for his/herself, working for no kind of cause or purpose. I believe we should use our talents to make a real impact, even if it’s a small one. How great would it feel walking away knowing you changed even just one person’s life?
What do you feel passionate about? A few suggestions to find where your passions lie:
- Have an open mind
- Listen to everyone
We are some of the few people that know how to effectively communicate and send mass messages to the world. How will you use your talents to help the world?
“If you’re not making someone else’s life better, then you’re wasting your time.” – Will Smith.
Halloween is by far one of my favorite holidays. I love feeling scared and all things scary so naturally I get pretty excited for Halloween. I plan my costume, I tell myself I’m going to participate in all these Halloween events, I’m going to decorate and get into the spirit of things. I get super into the idea of Halloween, yet I epically fail every year at doing the things I want to do.
When I was younger my family and I used to decorate our house, putting up spider webs and graveyard headstones as lawn ornaments. We would all go to the pumpkin patch and pick out huge pumpkins and enjoy going on hayrides as we sipped hot apple cider. I would go to Valley-scare with my friends or Scream Town, which is Minnesota’s #1 Haunted Attraction.
We’d watch a Halloween related movies or special. My family and I would take a night to carve pumpkins and roast pumpkin seeds while watching It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown. We would prepare ourselves for trick-or-treaters and just have fun with this creative holiday.
These past few years though, I have been lazy. I end up getting swamped with school projects or homework, or I completely space on Halloween activities going on. I try and catch every Halloween movie on TV by marking it on my phone and calendar, but I still miss them. Then I sporadically put together costumes last minute. I get so mad at myself because I thoroughly love all aspects of Halloween.
Luckily, I felt a little more on top of things this year, I had my costume planned ahead of time, I participated in the Haunted 5k here on campus, I watched Pretty Little Liars Halloween special and tonight is Hocus Pocus. Just in time to kick off Halloween week. ☺
I hope everyone has mentally prepared for Halloween this Thursday and has a great week!
By Carlyn Johnson
Being new to a school is always a little scary. You get used to life at your old school, you meet people, and experience new things and starting over creates a bit of anxiety. Who you’re going to sit with at lunch, who you’re going to do things with are only a few of the many things that repeatedly race through your mind. You fear that everyone will be unaccepting and exclusive, that you won’t meet people, so you start getting worked up.
You think about classes, and walking into a room and seeing people look at you while you nervously try to decide where you’re going to sit. In the back, you don’t really care, in the front you’re too anxious, so you choose somewhere in between. All your fears of being new are constantly in the back of your mind. The transfer life is more difficult than I ever expected. As a freshmen it’s easy to bond with other freshmen about all the fears and excitements they’re experiencing. They make friends that will hopefully last them the rest of their lives.
As a freshmen in a school, one gets comfortable and familiar with the schools traditions and ways of life. One learns what to do, when to do it and where to go. You learn how to work your schools system whether it’s technical or academic or even the campus. You learn the traditions and school songs and chants that you will use for the next four years. With this being said, as freshmen, it’s important to choose a school you can see yourself being at for four years. Unfortunately that wasn’t me.
I’m a sophomore transfer student from Iowa State. Yes, I’ve had many people question why I would ever transfer from there. The academics were great, they had NCAA athletics in the Big 12, and it’s a beautiful campus. Sadly, it just wasn’t for me, but being a transfer hasn’t been easy. Coming to a new school as a transfer combined with tons of new freshmen has been complicated. I often get associated with freshmen and meeting other sophomores has been nearly impossible since I assume many live off campus. Also, as sophomores you’ve already been on campus for a year. You’re accustomed to the campus and have already established friend groups to live with and do things with. This scared me into thinking I wouldn’t make friends and be accepted by anyone since everyone has created their bonds with people.
The other problem is that I live in the dorms on an all freshmen girls floor, which adds to the freshmen association and creates a separation. It’s one sophomore who doesn’t know anything, to 30 freshmen who travel in gangs and are just as lost. Plus, Eau Claire’s campus life is different then Iowa States. First of all, Iowa State is much bigger with a much larger student body so you never saw the same people except for in your classes. Iowa State was a college town, so they were much more laid back with their rules and security, so coming to Eau Claire where they care if you don’t come to class, and they have security at the doors in the dorms, has been difficult to get used to.
The social aspect of transferring and meeting people as well as adjusting to campus life has been tricky. Although taking it one day at a time has progressively made it a lot better. Oddly my classes have been some of the best parts. They’re interesting and full of new material, which makes classes much more intriguing. They also force me to be social with project and discussions. Because of this and other random occurrences, I’m meeting and talking to someone new everyday.
I was given an amazing opportunity to get involved and do what I love doing, which is being on PRSSA and being apart of the PR Committee, which I was able to do at Iowa State. I’m slowly getting to know more sophomores as well as other transfers. I’m slowly figuring everything out and each day its becoming better.