Baker’s blog

COMM 376 Podcast transcript

Hello everyone.

My name is Dave Baker.

Welcome to my first podcast.

Today I have decided to speak about a topic that means a lot to me…Public Relations, or more accurately, The Public Relations Student Society of America.

Before I get to that, I thought I would take a few moments to talk about how I came to be here at Fisher.

A few years back I had the good fortune to find myself taking an extra class at MCC.

I was a business major and the Intro to Communications class sounded interesting, so I thought I would give it a shot.

 Not only did the subject win me over but so did the instructor.

Some of you may be familiar with him, he is Tom Proietti, media guru, connector, Fisher adjunct professor and as of last week, public speaker on behalf of one of my group projects.

One of the great things about being in college is sometimes we get to take a class that we don’t need just to see what else is out there.

Tom’s class was a much more substantial option than my Mythology class or the one about Bigfoot and the Loch ness Monster; Great Mysteries of the Earth.

It was also a prerequisite for another of Tom’s classes Intro to PR.

It was while I was taking that class in my final semester that I had to decide where to go next.

During that semester, Tom did me one heck of a favor… he forwarded me an e-mail that ended up changing my life.

The e-mail directed me to a Fisher transfer student open house and I decided to check it out.

It wasn’t the best turnout you could have hoped for at a Fisher event.

Several tables in the Cleary family auditorium were mostly empty and mine was no exception.

There were two of us there at the Communication and Journalism department table.

The other student, who coincidentally had taken Tom’s classes as well, was planning on being part-time after washing out as a transfer to another school.

She and I were greeted after a few minutes by the department chair, Dr. Lauren Vicker.

I only remember a few things I was told that night…

She reinforced that everyone loves Tom, she talked about the Courier and the TV station and she talked about how there was a new public relations teacher starting in the fall.

The former one was moving away but thanks to him, Fisher has one unique opportunity… their own chapter of PRSSA.

They had been working really hard to get it and it will be a much better option than plain old PR club Dr. Vicker didn’t need to work very hard to get me interested in Fisher, Tom had me mostly convinced but the fact that this school had PRSSA sealed the deal.

Or it would have, if I had known then what I know now.

As I sat there I thought what the heck is a PRSSA anyway? 

She mentioned it as if I should know the term but I had no clue. 

As soon as I got home I rectified that situation thanks to a simple Google search.

 Less than 2 years later I am poised to take over as the PRSSA president and decided that I should fill in the blanks for those that remain unaware.

To start with PRSSA stands for The Public Relations Student Society of America and it is quite the honor for Fisher to have the first Chapter in Rochester.

PRSSA’s mission is to serve our members by enhancing their knowledge of public relations and by providing access to professional development opportunities.

It also exists to serve the public relations profession by helping to develop highly qualified, well-prepared professionals.

For those who think that it is just the PR Club, let me throw out my favorite facts about my organization—We have over 10,000 members in almost 300 universities.

Putting that into perspective, I belong to an International Society that has four times as many members as St. John Fisher College has students.

So I bet you’re thinking what does that mean to me?

Actually, I bet you’re thinking how much longer is this podcast.

Anyway, as we all know public relations is about building relationships.

My experiences through PRSSA have enabled me to do just that.

All it took was showing up at a meeting and wanting to get involved.

A few more meetings and I heard about our national conference in Philadelphia and I knew I was going.

That first conference was a strange thing.

I’m not sure I can explain it, but I think I can put it into perspective.

Here in Western NY, we have the Buffalo Bills and therefore we have Bills fans.

Imagine being a Bills fan and spending three or four days with Bills fans.

You may think you like the Bills but then you meet that guy or that girl and you are blown away by how much better a fan you could be.

Now change the Bills fans to public relations students and you have a national conference. 

It’s a big party for public relations students and along the way you attend some sessions that give you greater insight to the profession that you have chosen.

When we got back I was hooked and thanks to an advisor attempting to make my first semester an easy one, I had the free time to find out more.

One of the things I learned was that there is a spring meeting but the spring meeting’s a little different.

In the spring, PRSSA holds the national assembly meeting, where each Chapter can send a delegate to vote in the new national committee members.

I learned a valuable lesson thanks to that first conference.

I learned that I had to make the choice about whether I am driving the bus or just another passenger.

I knew I didn’t want a repeat of the Philadelphia conference, where I followed the group around and that helped me make my decision.

As the driver of my bus, I was going to be that delegate. 

The meeting just happened to be in San Diego and that wasn’t the worst place to have to go in March either.

What I didn’t know then was that I shouldn’t have just been a delegate; I should have run for office.

As each candidate came to the podium to state their case for why they deserved the job I realized that I could do that job myself and with a few exceptions, I may have actually won a national position.

The other realization I came to is that we sell ourselves short at St. John Fisher College.

We think that because we are small we can’t compete, but I would put many Fisher students right there with the most impressive that PRSSA has to offer and we could easily hold our own.

I came home from my San Diego trip with a renewed passion for my career path and some great new friends from around the country.

I think I finally got it after that.

St. John Fisher College has an opportunity that not many students get; we can be connected with a national network just by showing up to a few meetings and paying our dues.

We can travel around the country and meet students and professionals who are certain to influence our lives in some manner.

At that point I knew that I had to run for a position on the executive board of our local Chapter for my senior year.

If only one student could come away next year with the same feeling I had then I will have done my part.

Less than one week after returning from San Diego I was signed up to go to Detroit for the National Conference and about a month later, I was the vice president elect at my own Chapter.

Another great thing happened to PRSSA in the spring.

We received some funds to start a student run PR firm called PRIMA Connections. 

I applied for a position and became the vice president of client communications for the firm.

This was the perfect situation for PRSSA.

The organization suggests that every Chapter take advantage of the opportunity to start a firm and ours would allow PRSSA to be the education and networking arm of the organization while PRIMA allows us to do real work for real clients.

This semester we have been able to do just that.

PRIMA Connections work has included Fisher Alumni associations, working with a production company that puts on Broadway shows using the special needs community, promoting on campus authors, promoting a local high school sports radio show, working with local charitable organizations like Habitat for Humanity of Ontario County and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and promoting local bands.

Check them out on MySpace, by the way, they are called Lights of Autumn. We think you’ll like them.

This semester also included the National Conference for PRSSA and I can’t even begin to list all of the wonderful experiences that it brought us.

I was able to meet many more students who are the future of public relations and thanks to a shared location with the Public Relations Society of America’s International Conference I was able to include many professionals in the list of new contacts I can seek out for advice or assistance.

There were also many more sessions that will help propel us beyond the competition when it comes to looking for jobs next year, including one that was instrumental in the streamlining of PRIMA Connections with hopes of surpassing the lofty expectations that many of us had for it in the beginning.

The best part of the conference for me was seeing that someone from my Chapter came away with the same feeling I had after San Diego.

She made her own set of contacts and combined with the students and professionals I introduced her to, I expect to see her get all she expects from what ought to be a fine career in public relations.

So I encourage everyone to take advantage to all that Fisher has to offer.

Come to a PRSSA meeting, join the club, attend a national conference and most of all be the driver not the passenger of your college career.

I would like to thank you all for joining me for my first podcast and I hope every one of my classmates got as much out of this assignment as I did.



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