Conference Reflection – Ariana Smith

I would like to start by thanking those in the IUPUI Department of Journalism and PR who made the trip possible. I know personally that if it wasn’t for the graciousness of our department, I would not have been able to go. I hope that this trip is possible for E-Boards to follow; it was a great experience to be able to learn and network with professionals and our peers.

Many of us attended the same sessions; however, we each took away something different. The most fulfilling session for me was “Living the Life: Entertainment PR.” My PR dream is to work with a record label, but I have heard both great and horror stories from professionals in the entertainment industry. Priscilla Clarke, President of Clarke & Associates, LLC. and Nicole Garner, Chief Executive Officer of The Garner Circle, LLC., were the panelists leading the discussion. Both were genuine in the way they spoke to us and the stories they told.

My take-away was that no matter the situation, get the most out of it. Where I’m at is not my final goal, and I probably won’t reach my goal any time soon. However, the volunteering, the internships, the classes and the connections I’m involved in now are all opportunities for me to learn. Clarke says it’s important to “be in the room.” If there’s a job you want, spend time with people or activities that are relative to it. Never miss out on an opportunity to connect with someone or something that could benefit you later. Clarke stressed the importance of building a strong network that is mutually beneficial.

Clarke and Garner both said that marketing yourself at this level is critical. We are right within reach of our dream jobs, so spend the extra time to make a really nice business card and practice your “elevator pitch.” Garner says that you should always be on the lookout for opportunities that will catapult the career of you or your client.

In regards to handling a celebrity client, both said that you can’t assume they’ve had prior media training. On the red carpet, organization is key. Provide the media with tip sheets so they can properly address all stars on the cast and crew list, from the bottom to the top. Make sure your client is at the right place at the right time. If there are certain reporters that you know will spend more time with your client, make that interaction happen. Lastly, like your Miranda Rights, anything you say or do can, and will be used against you. Make sure you and your client understand that everything they say while at an event is a possible sound bite. Plan as best as you can for the unexpected.

In conclusion, I strongly recommend PRSSA National Conference to all future members. It is not only a great learning experience, but also a unique opportunity to bond with your chapter and build lifelong friendships. It was great to see my fellow E-Board members outside of classes and meetings.

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