Jump Into the Digital Age With PR Advanced [PRSSA 2014 Regional Conference]

Embrace your fear … You are the only people who get to tell your story … Borders don’t exist.

Photo courtesy of PRAdvanced.

Photo courtesy of PRAdvanced.

All of these words came from C.C. Chapman’s keynote address at the PR Advanced Regional Conference held on Feb. 15 by Boston University. The theme of this year’s conference was “Fuel the Future,” aimed at examining and finding how our generation of new public relations professionals could inspire and change the industry. Many of the breakout sessions focused on the increasingly digital world we live in, and how our generation is uniquely pepared to navigate this world.

C.C. Chapman, described as a “storyteller” by Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore, opened the day with an energizing speech, which had me ready to jump up and get my career in public relations started. The most resonating point from C.C. Chapman’s opening address to us was his challenge to “embrace your fear.” He wanted us to realize that our professional lives are always going to be a little bit scary, but we shouldn’t let that get in the way of actually functioning. Rather, we should let that fear in and know that we don’t really need to conquer it. Acknowledging that fear gives us control over the fear. If life wasn’t scary, would it really be worth living? In our future as public relations professionals, we need to fuel it with a combination of fear, passion and commitment, and then we will be unstoppable.

The speakers in the breakout sessions all had a common point: that our generation is ready. We are ready for the digital age because we grew up in it. We are already equipped with the tools to navigate and adapt in this ever-changing and globalized world of communications. Director of Communications for the American Red Cross Donna Morrissey discussed crisis communication and stressed that one of the most important things in a crisis is being able to adapt. In a constantly changing world, we are always forced to adapt at a consistent rate. Josh Gee, on the topic of political communication, talked about how the political sphere is going digital. All of this strengthened the fire of inspiration in me, and I came out of both of those sessions sure of one thing — I had the power to affect change through my actions as a communicator.

This was my first time at a Regional Conference, and it was fantastic experience. Admittedly, I was nervous, as it was my first time being involved in a professional development setting with a lot of people I didn’t know that well. Yet what I began to realize as the day progressed was that all students who currently study public relations have one thing in common — fire.

Cassidy Bissell is a junior at Boston University studying public relations and political science. She currently serves as the alumni relations coordinator for the Boston University Chapter of PRSSA and also writes and edits for the Chapter blog. She is a little bit of a politics junkie and her dream job is either working for the International Olympic Committee or becoming press secretary in the White House. 

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