Regional Conferences: Feeling Empowered With Real-World Experiences

With less than two weeks until the deadline to submit a bid, it is a perfect time to dive into the world of Regional Conferences! For those of you that may be unfamiliar, a Regional Conference is an event hosted by one or more PRSSA Chapters that successfully receive endorsement and advisement from PRSSA National through the bidding process, which as hinted at, ends on September 10, 2018. These events are tailored to a regional audience and are encouraged to highlight the attributes that make your university or community unique.

For example, my home Chapter at North Carolina State University and the Chapter at University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill co-hosted the 2018 STEMulate PR Regional Conference, focused on highlighting opportunities within public relations in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields. Our decision came from the profound success of the Research Triangle Park, a not-for-profit venture to encourage economic development in the Raleigh-Durham area. The namesake for the region’s nickname, the Triangle, has led to immense job creation and prospective corporate campuses for Apple and Amazon.

This platform allowed our coordination teams to develop a program that included touring four major companies in the Triangle. These companies included N.C. State alumni-founded data analytics giant, SAS, headquartered in Cary, North Carolina and public relations firm French/West/Vaughan, headquartered in downtown Raleigh. Attendees also had the option of touring Ketchum, a global public relations firm with an office in Raleigh and Cisco, the networking hardware company with an office in the region’s Research Triangle Park.

In addition to these excursions, STEMulate PR received sponsorship from Ketchum, APCO Worldwide, the North Carolina Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (NC PRSA) and the West Virginia University Reed College of Media Graduate Programs. Among networking and many notable speaker sessions, the event also implemented a philanthropic component benefitting Camp Kesem, a non-profit which supports children whose parents have cancer, as mentioned by Emma Finkbeiner in her February 2018 Progressions article.

Our Chapter was able to establish a name for itself within the Carolinas, increase communications with nearby Chapters and create long-standing relationships with a variety of leaders and professionals. Our attendees such as the Immediate Past President of the University of Florida Chapter, Nicole Graney, had an incredible experience that even resulted in a summer internship:

“I’ve been to seven PRSSA National events, but STEMulate PR was special. It was my first connecting point with APCO Worldwide, where I ended up interning this summer in their Washington, D.C. headquarters because of a connection I made at the conference! The passionate speakers and focus on STEM communication taught me about opportunities in public relations that I didn’t know existed.”

Although I believe this program was a success per the 70+ attendees from over 14 universities as far as West Virginia to Florida, it’s important to note that this all came from the minds and drive of student leaders that helped in its coordination. The event was made possible with the guidance and help of mentors and advisers that empowered students to take ownership of hosting a Regional Conference. Special thanks to Dr. Nicole Lee from N.C. State University, Dr. Lois Boyntonfrom UNC-Chapel Hill and Caitlin Cyphert, the professional adviser for both PRSSA Chapters.

If you are even remotely interested in hosting a 2019 Regional Conference, I highly recommend taking the chance of submitting a bid. The task may appear to be daunting and impossible but with time and strategic development of your program, it can be a profound opportunity to grow and learn through real-world event planning experience.

Here is the2019 Bid Form but feel free to reach out for additional information via email at ryanwill.prssa@gmail.com.

Courtesy of Ryan Will.

Ryan Will is the 2018-2019 Vice President of Events and Fundraising.

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