Each fall, the Public Relations Student Society of America at the University of Delaware (PRSSA-UD) hosts the Night With the Pros (NWTP) event. As this year’s program director for PRSSA-UD, it was my responsibility to plan Night With the Pros on Thursday, November 15, which includes a panel of professionals working in public relations with a question & answer session followed by a “networking cocktail hour.” I’ve assisted in the planning of events on campus in the past but the responsibility has never solely fallen on my lap. The entire experience from reserving a room to inviting professional to ordering catering and to the event itself was a valuable and educational one that I’m grateful for. Here are my five lessons learned from my first Night With the Pros.
1. There’s no business like show business
I’ve come to realize that event planning and public relations in general are a lot like a performance. In high school, I was involved in the musical theatre program. My feelings on Thursday leading up to the event at 7 p.m. closely resembled those that I felt on performance days. A lot of excitement with a hint of anxiety. Public relations involves carefully orchestrated plans carried out to communicate a message. Whether a thoroughly rehearsed musical or a strategically planned networking event, I live for the thrill of a performance.
2. Don’t be afraid of a little interpersonal communication
With technology today, I’m so used to being able to communicate online by submitting a form, sending an email or something of that nature. I hate to admit it, but I often dread picking up the phone and actually using my voice to communicate something. However, I learned that making a phone call often gets the job done a lot faster and, shocker, isn’t as awful as it seems! Making those phone calls to the catering company and University Printing really expedited my planning process.
3. Be curious
Guest speaker, Anna Cramer, social media specialist for Alex’s Lemonade Stand suggested to students that they “be curious.” Always seek out new opportunities, be willing to learn and be enthusiastic about what you’re doing.
4. Be passionate about what you do
Nancy Rawdin D’Argenio, public relations specialist for Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, said when she sees a child in the hospital, she realizes what she does and why she does it. As a PR person, you are a salesperson and must, therefore, believe in what you’re telling a story for and be passionate about what you do.
5. Be versatile and get your foot in the door
Our third guest speaker, Karen Galanaugh of Galanaugh & Company LLC, said to go with your passions and get your foot in the door. Karen told the story of how her ability to pitch a softball jump-started her career. She auditioned for the role of a softball player in a movie and from there, her career grew. She also emphasized the importance of rounding out experiences beyond communication courses to know a little bit about everything. Karen enjoyed riding horses which ultimately led to her representing Olympic athletes and horses.
We were fortunate enough to have three wonderful speakers to make the event such a success. They had valuable advice and led great discussion that our members enjoyed. Planning the event wasn’t an easy task but it was certainly an exciting challenge. I realized that these types of things take dedication and time management skills. Next up: PRSSA-UD field trip!