PRSSA at LSU allowed aspiring public relations practitioners to walk down the red carpet March 21–23 when the Chapter hosted a Regional Conference entitled Hollywood Under the Oaks. The conference was held “under the oaks” of LSU’s campus with a theme inspired by the booming entertainment industry in Louisiana.
Friday night all attendees were welcomed with a truly southern dinner: red beans and rice, crawfish Lacombe pasta, salad and dessert. The meal was the first of many aspects that showed off Louisiana’s unique culture and opportunities.
Saturday’s breakout sessions consisted of speakers that currently work in grassroots public relations, fashion public relations, entertainment public relations and more. The sessions gave attendees the chance to hear from professionals including the social media manager for the New Orleans Saints and a publicist from CBS evening news.
For lunch, attendees were served tacos from Taco de Paco, a local food truck. The owner and founder of Taco de Paco, John Snow, shared with attendees how he used public relations to begin and grow his business into the successful restaurant-on-wheels it is today. It was a fun, casual presentation we enjoyed while eating, and it was a cool reflection of the way Taco de Paco does business. Snow said Taco de Paco tries to not take itself “too seriously.” The business (and serving tacos) for them is all about having fun, and you can see that mission shine through on their social media sites.
Sunday kicked off with the long-awaited Intern Queen, Lauren Berger. She shared her success story of how she accomplished her dream job of helping others obtain internships in college. She reminded the attendees that rejection is inevitable in life, and to keep following their dreams no matter how many times he or she is told no.
Berger also advised students about the power of networking, which she writes a lot about on her blog and in her new book, Welcome to the Real World. For example, she landed her first college internship as a freshman because she followed up the same day she was advised to reach out. Berger also demands students to keep in touch with their connections three times a year, not just when they are looking for an internship.
The conference ended with a case-study competition in which the participants put their public relations knowledge into practice. A PRSA professional and LSU professors presented the case, “Too Fat to Fly,” about a man who was kicked off of a Southwest Airlines plane because of his weight. He took to Twitter with some serious backlash for the airline company. The attendees’ jobs were to present a public relations plan on behalf of Southwest Airlines.
Keeping stewardship in mind, the Chapter donated more than $600 of their earnings from Hollywood Under the Oaks to a local nonprofit, Community Fund for the Arts (CFA). The organization is a dedicated supporter of arts programs in Baton Rouge. By making a monetary donation, Hollywood Under the Oaks was able to help more than 15 local organizations. These included a public radio station, art and science museum, plantation reserve, and ballet and performing arts theatres.
Hollywood Under the Oaks confirmed that the possibilities are endless in the field of public relations. A common theme throughout the conference was to not sell yourself short and always strive to accomplish your goals. After attending I feel much more confident in my future career. I am looking forward to attending more PRSSA events to expand my knowledge of the industry.
Kelsey King is a junior at Louisiana State University majoring in public relations with a double minor in business administration and leadership development. She is currently a member of the social media department of PRSSA at LSU’s student-run firm, ImPRint Communications. She will serve as the 2014-2015 public relations director for PRSSA at LSU. Follow her on Twitter @KelseyKing0.