by Andrew Cummings | multimedia editor
April 7, 2022
Pittsburgh’s Public Relations Society of America (PRSSA) hosted its annual conference at Duquesne and Point Park Universities on Friday and Saturday. The title of the conference was “Get to the Point,” and focused on teaching college and high school students skills for navigating careers in public relations.
One of the prominent themes throughout the conference was the importance of networking.
Steve Radick, senior vice president at Burson Cohn & Wolfe (BCW), at the networking event for young professionals, said “For students and young professionals, networking is your door into everything that you’re going to do in your career. These people that you’re meeting here at college campus events like this, or at professional networking events, are those people that you’re going to reach out to…the power of networking is it gives you that entry into so many different other worlds that otherwise you wouldn’t have.”
The event began on Friday afternoon with Pittsburgh advertising agency tours of BCW, Red Havas, Highmark and Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership.
Braylyn Bruno, the treasurer of PRSSA, commented on what it was like to see the Pittsburgh agencies.
“I think it’s been really cool. I’ve never been on an agency tour before and we did two of those earlier in the day. So that was really cool to talk to professionals and see their working space,” Bruno said.
The tours were followed by a keynote address on Friday evening, in the Power Center Ballroom, where Pittsburgh-based public relations specialist Deanna Tomaselli discussed her experience in the influencer marketing industry.
Tomaselli shared tips about succeeding as an influencer. Among her tips were being consistent, knowing your audience and being authentic. She also emphasized the importance of passion in her line of work, noting that “if the passion is there you are going to succeed.”
After Tomaselli’s keynote address, participants attended a networking session where they had the opportunity to mingle with each other and Tomaselli.
Tomaselli stressed the importance of networking during her address, saying that “even 15 years into your career you need to network.”
Caitlin Jefferson, a member of PRSSA that worked as the sponsorship coordinator for the conference, said that she was happy with the turnout.
“I think it’s going very well so far. It’s exceeded all of our expectations. We’ve met our goals for sponsorships, had some great speakers. And we had a really good turnout today for the agency tours and for the conference in general,” Jefferson said.
The remainder of the event on Saturday was hosted at Point Park. Starting at 10 a.m. and continuing throughout the rest of the day, there was a variety of public relations-focused keynote addresses, breakout sessions and panels. They addressed topics like remote work, building a personal brand and diversity in public relations.
The events on Saturday included:
Keynote addresses titled “Mission-Driven: How AHN’s PR and Social Media Teams Navigated the Covid-19 Pandemic” by Candace Herrington from Allegheny Health Network, and Megan Emmons and Catherine Clements from Highmark Health and “Networking. It’s Awkward, Unnatural and 100% Essential” by Dan Ayer from Oyster Creative.
Breakout sessions titled “Agency & Corporate vs Nonprofit Jobs. What’s the difference?” by Hollie Geitner from Duquesne Light and Ananda Miles from Giffords; “Lessons Learned After Graduation” by Robin Rectenwald from BCW; “Taking the Show on the Road: An IMC Approach to Restarting the Arts in Pittsburgh” by Jeanna Lo Castro from Oyster Creative; “Tik Tok Success at the Red Cross” by Jessica Buckholtz from Red Cross National; and “Embedding and Elevating Diversity & Inclusion in Your PR Storytelling” by Angelica Perry from DICK’S Sporting Goods.
A panel of young professionals made up of Sydney Bauer from the Pittsburgh Penguins, Courtney List from The Terminal, Emily Stock from Matter Communications and Anton D. Johnson II from Oyster Creative
Camille Downing, a faculty advisor of PRSSA at Point Park University, said in a press release, “The public relations community in Pittsburgh is very strong. They really support students and their efforts to enter the field. Having that time to meet face to face is invaluable.”