Imagine this: You walk out of a room of young professionals discussing the best practices for recruitment in student run firms, only to be greeted by an enormous manatee floating in a canal adjacent to your hotel.
Through PRSSA’s National Assembly in Miami, I don't have to close my eyes and imagine what on earth this would look like because as Louisiana State University’s delegate to Assembly, this was my reality for four days as I represented my school with around 150 other delegates from across the United States and South America. National Assembly, much like National Conference, is an opportunity to network with other young pre-professionals and attend sessions led by public relations experts to hone your craft with the main purpose of electing the new National Committee members in a day-long session.
Upon arriving, I assumed I would essentially be attending assembly then going on a solo-vacation of sorts in my spare time. I should've known better— there’s no such thing as a shy PR delegate. At assembly you meet equally dedicated PRSSA executive board and student firm members eager to share the secrets of their chapter’s success, recruitment strategies, and discuss organizational structuring to help improve the quality of you and your chapter’s PRSSA experience. On my first day I made two friends in the lobby who quickly became my go-to buddies for exploring the city and debriefing newfound strategies to bring back to my firm at the end of the day as we sat on the shores of South Beach. By the end of the week, I felt as though I had made 15 new like-minded best friends from across the country who I not only plan on visiting and keeping in touch with, but who share my motivation and inspire me to be a more driven professional and a better friend. We have a group snap so, yeah, its pretty serious.
Focused sessions based on the position you hold in your chapter helped me collaborate with other student firm leaders in a group discussion on ways to improve from conflict management, to client relations, to pointers on being taken seriously as a college student when you pitch real businesses prices for your services. Delegation wide sessions on ways to deliver savvier pitches on sensitive subjects such as asking for funding and more interpersonal topics like reaching out to professionals and faculty members for mentorship gave way to advice on how to get the most out of being an executive board member with personal accountability to your organization. Equally as constructive were the guest speakers from multiple facets of the PR Industry and Miami-based agencies who gave sage advice on sensitive topics such as crisis-management and resolution, areas that interest me but with which I had no personal experience or background prior.
The personal accountability that weighed most heavily on all of us was our duty of carefully reviewing and electing new officers to National Committee, compromising all presidential and vice-presidential offices. While definitely the most arduous and long day of the conference, it was necessary to see the legislative backbone and inner-workings of our organization during the voting process to fully understand the meticulous planning our organization carries out and in extension the legal an logistic aspects of the PR Industry on the whole. Between multiple qualified candidates for each position, several motions to attend Q & A sessions in order to garner more information to make the difficult choice of picking a candidate, and dashes outside to finally stretch our legs and experience a brief taste of freedom before resuming deliberation I certainly have a newfound respect for past and future delegates as well as the preparation and achievements of every candidate who ran for office. Voting was done electronically, but make no mistake, there was still room for surprises and even some shocks in-person on the assembly floor. Each candidate choses was highly qualified and I look forward to seeing the new benefits and innovation the 2018 National Committee will bring to the table.
From Miami’s flourishing arts district, to a brief foray to the northernmost Florida Key for lunch, and the countless LinkedIn requests from new friends over Cubano sandwiches downtown I can truly say PRSSA gave me opportunities I wouldn't have been able to pursue on my own. I’m so eager to bring all the new ideas assembly gave me back to my chapter and firm
over the next two years of my college journey. My only complaint? Apparently you cant take a manatee home with you on an airplane as a checked bag.