The Little Chapter That Could: URI PRSSA District Conference Recap

Written by Cat Kalogeros

For the first time in the chapter’s history, University of Rhode Island PRSSA was able to host a district conference.

This virtual conference titled Next Gen: Smashing PRecedents took place on Friday, March 12 and Saturday, March 13 via Zoom. With about 40 participants spanning the two days, the conference was able to achieve its goal of empowering the next generation of public relations practitioners while also helping them see their worth, prioritize their values, and expand their network.

The conference consisted of fourteen speakers from various disciplines of the public relations realm, from content creation at HBO to non-profit public relations at the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Attendees were able to attend the breakout sessions that most appealed to their desired PR track.

The young professionals panel on March 13 was the perfect way to combine the lessons learned throughout the course of the conference while allowing attendees to expand their knowledge by asking specific questions. Opening keynote speakers Shelley Spector and Brandi Boatner were the stars of the show that left all attendees with a sense of hope for the future.

Public relations icon Shelley Spector, founder of The Museum of Public Relations and Spector PR, kicked off the conference on Friday, March 12. Her session “Going Beyond Our Limits” provided the perfect overview as to what public relations used to be versus what it has evolved into.

“If you got this far, you succeeded in a year unlike any in human history

Shelley Spector

Spector touched on topics ranging from public relations for social causes, the female pioneers of the once male-dominated industry, and the opportunities in store for the rising generation of professionals. Spector believes that the coming generation of professionals is going to be well prepared for future challenges due to the adaptability and creativity that the generation has portrayed in light of the pandemic.

“This year provided an unbelievable opportunity to pivot,” said Spector.

Brandi Boatner, Manager, Digital & Advocacy Communications at IBM, and adoringly known as the Beyonce of the Business World, further inspired the coming generation by acknowledging the challenges they have overcome in the past year.

Her session “Falters, Filters, and Failure: Freeing and Being Your Authentic Self in the Workplace (and everywhere else)” demonstrated the importance of authenticity, values, and confidence in the workplace. Boatner also smashed stereotypes surrounding society’s least favorite f-word: failure. “Failure needs to be your best friend; you cannot succeed at anything unless you fail,” stated Boatner. “The path to success has failure on it.” Boatner left all attendees with a rejuvenated sense of self-worth and excitement for the impact this next generation will have on the industry.

Overall, Next Gen: Smashing PRecedents was a successful district conference that connected PRSSA students across the country with high brow professionals as well as other passionate students. It was truly an honor for URI PRSSA to host Next Gen: Smashing PRecedents and they look forward to the success of the district conferences to come.

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