Raymond Dempsey, Jr., VP of external affairs for BP America, said, “What we’re doing as a corporation is not just because we want you to think nice things about us,” referring to corporations’ desire to be socially responsible. Hannah Beck, director of PR for the Fresh Air Fund, spoke about the importance of smart targeting to appeal very specific audiences, even if you’re nonprofit organization. Justin Meyers, head of communications for Suffolk County, noted that “most people in government are there for the right reasons.” And David Chauvin, vice president of Zimmerman/Edelson, encouraged public relations students to “keep your options open.”
These professionals’ wise words were heard at “What’s Your Flavor?,” the third annual conference hosted by Hofstra’s Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA). The day-long event, held on Saturday, April 26, was designed to give the 75 PR students in attendance a taste of various types of public relations careers, specifically agency, corporate, government, and nonprofit PR.
The program was enhanced by 90 minutes of lunchtime networking with the event speakers and other public relations practitioners. Three PR pros–Patricia Gambale, Nina McCann and Sharyn O’Mara–represented the Public Relations Professionals of Long Island, the event’s other sponsor (Zimmerman/Edelson was the main sponsor). The other participants were Stephen Karaolis, a public relations associate at Canon USA; Jennifer Cline-Sargent, a freelance PR practitioner; and David Norman, managing director and co-owner of Kitchen Public Relations. Cline-Sargent and Norman are also adjunct assistant professors in Hofstra’s PR program. And not incidentally, Chauvin, McCann, Meyers, and Karaolis are Hofstra grads.
Events of this kind are extremely worthwhile for students and pros alike, and there were far too many words of wisdom spoken at the conference to include here. But, as always, Dave Chauvin skillfully summed up much of what the students needed to hear about the industry. “There’s a lot of grey in our industry because the media is in flux,” he noted. “But despite all the changes, public relations fundamentals stay the same.” He added, “Consume industry media! Get to know the players and how they’re playing.” Smart advice. Great event. Your thoughts?