By: Victoria Lane
Even though it has been one week since I touched down in the beautiful city of Portland for the 2015 PRSSA National Assembly, my head is still swimming from the great opportunities I was able to experience, timeless advice I was able to glean and the amazing people I was able to meet.
When I arrived at the hotel on Thursday afternoon, I was pleasantly surprised to be welcomed by the people of Portland who have just as much Midwestern hospitality and friendliness as I am familiar with in Indiana. Furthermore, I was glad to see that I would be joined by a Hoosier from the Indiana University PRSSA chapter in my hotel room, along with one woman from Illinois State PRSSA and another from Howard University PRSSA chapter.
Thursday night, all the delegates, non-delegates, National Committee members and PRSA advisers joined each other in the hotel for a welcome reception. Although we were all unfamiliar with one another, it was very exciting to see us all come together.
On Friday, we had several breakout sessions focused on leading our chapters to success, dealing with conflict and sharpening our leadership skills. These sessions were beneficial to me because I was able to hear from chapters of all shapes and sizes. I was able to listen to what they do successfully as well as brainstorm with different chapters as to how we can improve.
One problem that all chapters appeared to face was getting members excited to come to meetings and events. We discussed different ways we can appeal to a variety of audiences which included taking surveys, expanding outreach efforts to high school and teaming up with surrounding chapters to host events or conferences.
Following the sessions, Jenny Moede of Oregon Story Board, spoke to the delegates about her work in creating stories and impacting smaller companies around Oregon. She used Game of Thrones, Disney and Supernatural references throughout her presentation to show the importance of telling the story and finding a balance between emotional and data driven appeal for audiences.
Saturday was the big day for the National Assembly meeting. We listened to candidates and voted on the 2015-2016 National Committee. It was inspiring to listen to the young public relations professions of my generation speak. All spoke eloquently and succinctly about their goals and visions for PRSSA and the future of the profession. And after a long but focused day, all 120 (or so) present delegates selected our representatives.
By the time Sunday rolled around, many of the delegates, non-delegates and National Committee members were all acquainted. The great thing about public relations is that is it such a friendly field. Everyone wanted to get to know each other and learn from one another. So when we gathered in the dining room at the hotel for breakfast, it was a bittersweet moment.
We were fortunate to have Dr. Victoria Trapp, global transition manager at Nike, speak to us and provide us with great insight into the importance of being good change leaders for our chapters and in the future. Following Dr. Trapp’s presentation, two representatives from the University of Georgia PRSSA chapter spoke. Pumping up the crowd for PRSSA’s 2015 National Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, we were presented with a bunch of information about the event. After their presentation, the National Committee members spoke. Tears were shed and goodbyes were said.
As we all left the conference, I was reminded of something that was said early in the trip, a delegate stated that PRSSA events were addicting and you would want to go to as many as you can. This was my first national event and I can say with complete certainty that I agree. National Assembly was exciting to be a part of because we were given the opportunity to set a new foundation for our beloved profession.