Students at OctoPRfest last month.
Left to Right: Tori Halloran, Haley Stamats, Jordan Bahl, Bill Hitt, Kaye Taylor, and Robert Lyons
Back Row (Left to Right): Nick Hermon and Jordan Pope
On October 20, thirteen Simpson College PRSSA members had the opportunity to attend OctoPRfest Fall Institute held at Mercy General Hospital in Des Moines. This event allowed these students to connect with local public relations professionals from various local businesses and agencies as well as hear various speakers present on a variety of PR topics.
Professor Jane Murphy, Simpson PRSSA advisor said, “The opportunity for students to hear firsthand how public relations works from those out there doing it every day is one of the many benefits of Simpson’s PRSSA chapter. Networking with public relations professionals gives students a more in-depth understanding of the varied aspects of public relations, and it allows them to make connections that later may lead to internships or jobs.”
By being a member of Simpson College PRSSA, students have access to many different events much like the OctoPRfest Institute to help sharpen skills and increase networking and connections.
To kick-off the institute, the first speaker was a dynamic husband and wife duo that with a valued reputation in the PR and media relations field. Alison and Gregory Pope are media trainers and executive coaches at Pope Communications. The Pope duo spoke about how to deal when a crisis within your company goes viral.
According to both Alison and Gregory Pope, “You are never going to win anything when it comes to the media.” Simpson students are trained to develop cooperative relationships with media through coursework and internship opportunities. Through the department curriculum, students learn strengths and weaknesses of media relations as well as cooperation in group efforts.
Attendees were then directed from the tips and techniques of handling a crisis situation to learning effective ways to maximize influence and communicating with impact. Gail Calhoun, President of Calhoun Consulting Firm showed us the important aspects of communicating. As most would believe that content is key, Gail informed us a shocking statistic that voice is a large portion of how someone may be perceived.
Students later had the pleasure of hearing about a project going on within one of Des Moines’ most influential companies. Principal Financial Group has a valuable and reputable presence not only in the Des Moines area, but nationally. Principal started an employee relations campaign called Campus Blueprint that was a multi-year, multi-million dollar effort to transition the workspaces within the company.
Wrapping up the day, attendees of OctoPRfest Institute were asked to write down questions to ask the media panel. The panel spoke about the changing news formats and how they are trying to keep up with digital and mobile platforms. Simpson students utilized the panel discussion to gain more insight into their future career paths while connecting with members of the media.
PRSSA offers opportunities such as OctoPRfest to its members and interested students periodically throughout the year. Students from the group are attending the PRSA Central Iowa Luncheon: From Reporting to Pitching, this Thursday, November 19.
By Ashley Dalsing and Brittany Robb