Whenever you talk about the Public Relations Student Society of America National Conference, it always seems so far away, in the distant future. Even as recently as yesterday, I assumed I had a few more weeks until conference.
BUT WAIT. It's this weekend. As in, 5 days from right now, you and I might be at the same seminar or workshop, in our nations capital, Washington, D.C. With conference coming up so soon, a million little things I needed to do came rushing into my brain, keeping me up later than I wanted to be, as I fretted about each minute detail. Here are some of the most important ones:
1. SOCIAL MEDIA. It's 2014, and the name of the game is social media. Or maybe just Twitter. Regardless, connecting with people on social media is now just as important as actual face-to-face networking. In fact, I've found that meeting someone in-person, and then waiting a day or two to connect via Twitter and LinkedIn, is a good way to stay in touch. To prepare for conference, think about some important people/groups to follow on Twitter. Think about other members from your PRSSA chapter, consider following PRSSA chapters from another school. Not biased or anything, but Temple's PRSSA chapter is definitely worth following, same goes for our PR-firm, PRowl Public Relations.
2. Business attire. Everyone's heard the age-old adage, 'Look good, feel good.' Well, let me add another part to that: 'Do good.' Plan to dress up for conference, wear a tie, wear a jacket. Ladies: wear whatever the female equivalent is. The more professional you look, the more seriously other's will treat you. Don't expect to show up in a polo and shorts and get a job.
3. Networking. I mentioned it earlier under social media, but networking is one the primary reasons for attending conference, and the activity that'll likely help you down the road. PR is, after all, about who you know. Get business cards of your own, and be ready to get a lot from people you meet. Don't be afraid to walk up to a group of strangers, stick out your hand, and introduce yourself. You'll probably be doing what they all wish they were doing. Introduce yourself, find something to connect on - ask what specific field of PR are they interested in, or what they are studying or if they are interning somewhere. Offer your business card after a few minutes, and then it's on to the next one!
4. Money. Figure out all your financials, as well as your group's financials, ahead of time! No one wants to take a long trip, only to find out that they don't actually have a hotel room, or aren't really registered for conference. Double check all your confirmations, from conference to hotel to travel arrangements, and keep printed copies for yourself! Make sure to take more money than you think'll need; you never know what might happen.
There are many more, smaller details that go into making your trip to national conference a successful one, but I think that these are the most important ones, and that they cover most of what you'll need. I look forward to my own early-morning bus ride to D.C. because I know that meeting and hearing from some of the PR industry's pros and other student organizations will all be worth it.
Think I missed anything essential to going to conference? Comment it below, we'd love to hear from you!