2019 International Conference Part 1

This is the first of two blog posts sharing the experience at the PRSSA 2019 International Conference in San Diego, California, taking place October 18–22, 2019. Read the second post here.

“Let’s take a journey,” PRSSA National President Nicholas Goebel sang to 700 students while kicking off the Chapter roll call alongside the National Committee at the 2019 International Conference in San Diego, California. A journey indeed; the Conference’s first full day of events has already involved a number of opportunities for members to enhance their education, broaden their network and launch their careers.

Students spent Friday morning on careers tours across the birthplace of California, including the San Diego Convention Center and Olive Creative Strategies. Riva Goldberg, who serves as director of Syracuse University’s Nationally Affiliated Student-run Firm, visited J Public Relations.


Joe Dunay, PRSSA 2019–2020 vice president of professional development, then led a workshop for firms like Goldberg’s Hill Communications. Attendees learned about the various aspects of running a Student-run Firm. Michelle Olson, APR and Robert “Pritch” Pritchard, APR, Fellow PRSA, who serve as PRSA Board Liaisons to PRSSA, shared their advice.

Will Collie speaking with Conference attendees.

Will Collie of Edelman’s Southern California office inspired attendees with a presentation that led with a slide titled, “I couldn’t think of a clever title, so this is it…” Charity Monroe of Brigham Young University’s Chapter tweeted her appreciation for the “golden rule” that Collie shared with the audience: “We all mess up. And you will too.” Look out for full coverage of this session on Progressions.

Student leadership was fostered next, with four Chapter development sessions hosted by the PRSSA Chapters at Waynesburg University, DePaul University and Stockton University, as well as a collaborative effort between the Latin American Chapters at Universidad de San Martín de Porres in Peru and Universidad Argentina de la Empresa in Argentina. These Chapters shared tips on relationship building, networking and professional development.

The Publications Committee’s Zach Ferenchak spoke with Emmanuel Tanap, a member of the California State University, Long Beach Chapter who attended Stockton University’s session. “Being open to networking and having the LinkedIn activity [was great,] having everyone being open to connecting,” Tanap shared, referring to the Chapter’s convincing attendees to utilize LinkedIn’s “find nearby” functionality to connect with one another.

Ferenchak also spoke with Western Carolina University’s Ruth Dahl after the Latin American Chapters’ presentation. Titled “How To Stay Connected Internationally,” the Peruvian and Argentinian students aimed to build attendees’ ability to relate not only to our international Chapters but to one another. Dahl definitely felt this, saying that, “learning about getting to know people from different Chapters and working with other Chapters helps you get new ideas of what to do for yours.”

Chapter presidents had the honor of hearing from Cheryl I. Procter-Rogers, APR, PCC, Fellow PRSA, MBA, MA. Middle Tennessee State University Chapter President Anthony Czelusniak appreciated the session, believing that, “You can’t be a good leader if you don’t recognize what makes you a good and bad leader.”

Saturday morning started with an energetic address from Dr. Kaye Sweetser, APR+M, Fellow PRSA, a professor at San Diego State University. Speaking about the state of the public relations industry and how students like us are the future, she shared her belief that, “creativity is fundamental to how we do our job.” She began her address pointing out the electricity in the room stemming from our Conference-inspired energy and her words supercharged that energy. Sitting at the head table, I personally saw people perk up as Dr. Sweetser motivated students to do their best and take initiative.

Star Chapters, National Gold Key and President’s Citation recipients were recognized following the speech. Chapter roll call, led by the National Committee’s PR-themed cover of Katy Perry’s “California Gurls,” gave attendees a chance to show their school spirit and channel their excitement for the weekend.

The morning session ended with an announcement about the newly created PRSSA Leadership Assembly, merging the two national events previously hosted in the spring — National Assembly and Leadership Rally.

Mohammad “MZ” Mirzan of California State University, Fresno, shared with Ferenchak one benefit of Conference attendance fairly simply. “The best part of this event so far has been seeing all the other Chapters and how they lead their Chapters.”

Read the second post covering the later parts of the International Conference, as well as a number of posts covering individual sessions more in-depth. Also, keep up with the conversation by following PRSSA National (@PRSSANational) and the International Conference Committee (@prssaic) and using the hashtag #PRSSAIC.


photo of Terrell F. MerrittTerrell F. Merritt is the PRSSA 2019–2020 vice president of brand engagement and serves as the editor in chief of Progressions. They are a senior studying advertising and public relations at City College of New York’s Department of Media and Communication Arts. Follow them on Twitter @terrellfmerritt and connect with them on LinkedIn.

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