Tarleton PR Students Connect Through Virtual Conferences

Tarleton State University PRSSA Leadership team members: (from left) Kiley Kocian, '22, PR Director, from Round Rock; Faith Branch, '22, Secretary, from Gatesville; and Angelique Romike-Duran, '22, Vice President, from Pflugerville.

STEPHENVILLE — Tarleton State PR students are attending multiple professional conferences this semester, from Boston to Chicago, without ever leaving home.

While in-person is ideal, the university’s Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) chapter sees benefit to virtual participation.

“Providing these opportunities for our students is paramount to their careers and education,” said Dr. Chris Gearhart, Department of Communication Studies head. “We’re able to send more students to more conferences in this new era of virtual meetings, and the intimate nature of a Zoom call allows students greater opportunity to interact with presenters and panelists.”

In February students attended DePaul University’s PRogress Report, which focused on how major public relations agencies pivoted during the pandemic. PR pros from multinational brands — McDonald’s, Amazon Web Services, General Motors — and executives from top agencies in Chicago such as Weber Shandwick, Golin, Ogilvy and Walker Sands were on screen to inspire and inform.

The students could network with their peers from programs across the Midwest.

“The pandemic took a turn on how PR professionals engage with their audience,” noted Tarleton PRSSA President Angelique Romike-Duran. “I learned the importance of building relationships within a company to produce the best work.

“As a member of Tarleton PRSSA you’re part of an elite group on campus. The people you meet through PRSSA could help you land your dream job in the future.”

Also in February, students attended PR Advanced: Navigating an Uncharted Future, a virtual conference hosted by Butler University’s PRSSA chapter.

“Since joining PRSSA I’ve been presented with many fun and interesting opportunities to work on my professionalism,” said Kiley Kocian, Tarleton PRSSA PR Director. “I’m looking forward to the many more opportunities that will happen once we are able to attend conferences and networking events in person.

Assistant Professor Dr. Liza Benedict, the PRSSA faculty adviser, says virtual conferences are here to stay, at least for the immediate future. “We hope that providing these opportunities for our members to connect with public relations professionals will result in lifelong lessons for their careers.”

Message Dr. Benedict at lizabenedict@tarleton.edu for meeting information.

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