Students connected with PR and Communications experts at Student Day on Oct. 21, 2022.
PRSA Student Day – a networking event full of collaborative communications with public relations professionals to help students gain insight into their careers – took place from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Oct. 21, 2022, at Eaton’s corporate campus in Beachwood. This $10 event welcomed 70 attendees, 25 of them Communications and PR professionals and the rest students from Ohio colleges like Kent State, John Caroll, Baldwin Wallace, Cleveland State and more.
A team of seven students making up CSU’s COM 447 class, a promotional production class taught by Beth Thomas, professor of communications, began planning Student Day at the beginning of the semester. According to Chelsea Penfield, a Journalism and Promotional Communications student and member of COM 447, they used class time to brainstorm, promote, and prepare the event.
“I think going into it, it’s always a concern if you’re going to be over-prepared or not prepared, but I think it turned out just right,” Penfield told The Cauldron after the event. “I was a little concerned about the Halloween theme initially, but I think it’s a great idea. It’s a fun way to market an event that seems pretty standard and cut and dry.”
Around 9 a.m., a series of five professionals with diverse job descriptions gave 30-minute presentations on different aspects of Communications and PR. Students were able to talk with an expert at their table throughout the day.
The first presentation came from Izzy Esler, volunteer and adoption coordinator at City Dogs Cleveland, and Sydney Stone, a City Dog volunteer, PRSA president-elect, and the communications advisor for the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. They discussed the impact their social media presence has in connecting dogs with their forever homes and reaching volunteers.
Joy Smith, a CSU alumna and senior equity and inclusion manager at Marcus Thomas, touched on the three things for a brand to consider – stay in your lane, take risks, and own your brand’s DNA– and discussed existing examples.
Andrea Pacetti, director of public and media relations at the Cleveland Clinic, explored the different types of PR careers at the Clinic, the importance of communications in health care, and the impact of the pandemic on her department. She also advised students to “be kind, work hard and have a positive attitude.”
Austin Controulis, assistant director of communications for the Cleveland Guardians, spoke of the different career options in sports, a typical in-season workday, and the skill sets needed in his career. He encouraged students to intern as much as possible.
Students were inspired by the diverse group of speakers, opening their eyes to the relevance of PR and communications in every field.
“It’s very insightful, getting perspectives from each speaker,” Jenna May, who studies marketing at CSU, said about the presentations. “They are all very diverse. Just being able to get different perspectives when it comes to PR and communications kind of really opens my mind to seeing how many different jobs are out there and so I don’t feel like I’m stuck in one place anymore.”
After the presentations, Heidi Modarelli-Frank and Kendra Davis, PRSA board members, spoke on the importance of student day in allowing students to network and get insight into different job opportunities.
During lunch, Davis Young, a communications professional, and author, walked attendees through an interactive crisis communication scenario, driving home the importance of crisis communication.
The day ended with “trick-or-treat” speed networking, where students could connect with professionals one-on-one.
“I think the most important thing about Student Day is that it’s an opportunity to be able to connect with professionals,” Andrew Christopher, senior marketing specialist at Progressive Insurance and PRSA board member said. “Students are able to chat with them about how they made it in their career, how they got to where they are, and are able to apply that to what they are doing as a graduating senior. I think student day ultimately provides the ability to allow students to refine what they’re looking for, make the connections, and help them get there.”