PRSSA, the Public Relations Student Society of America, is in full swing at BU this semester, with meetings every Thursday night at 5 p.m. in COM 217.
PRSSA is a professional organization for students interested in or pursuing public relations and communication. The goal of the prestigious group is to advance the PR profession by providing experience and resources to young, future professionals. PRSSA meetings host guest speeches from public relations professionals who share their experiences about where they work and how they got there. Students then have the opportunity to network and learn more about the industry and the many possible career paths for a PR practitioner.
According to the President of BU’s PRSSA chapter, Amy O’Connell ( ’17), PRSSA is an organization “for anyone interested in communications, specifically PR, but not exclusively.” An important and alluring feature of the club is an in-house agency that allows students to get hands-on experience with real clients in Boston. Another benefit to the students is a mentorship program that pairs underclassmen with juniors and seniors who answer questions and advise them on which classes to take, how to prepare for interviews, and how to acquire internships.
While PRSSA focuses on public relations, guest speakers hail from all corners of the communication industry. “Sometimes we will have someone come in who is a videographer, or a graphic design, advertising or marketing professional, because the fields are so intertwined,” said O’Connell. For her, the graphic design presentation given by CFA’s Professor Nicholas Rock during her sophomore year encouraged her to pick up a minor in Visual Arts in CFA. “It can help students think about the interchange between the fields, and it can be really valuable.”
Rebecca Stone (‘18) served as PRSSA’s Programming Coordinator last spring. Stone is a transfer student and participated in PRSSA at her old school. “At BU, PRSSA is on steroids,” she said. “I’ve lived in Boston my whole life, and before I joined I couldn’t name a single PR agency. Now, I can rattle off ten.”
One of Stone’s favorite presentations featured Burson-Marsteller, a global PR agency based in New York City, and last year’s Vice President of PRSSA has since gotten a job there. “A lot of BU people end up there. PRSSA gives you the connections you need to succeed,” said Stone.
Large, multinational agencies are not the only companies that appear at PRSSA meetings. “Sometimes we’ll have the Chief of Communications from a smaller company or start-up come in and speak, like Alex Shuck, a BU alum who holds that title at Level Up. At a lot of smaller companies, you oversee everything – marketing, PR, advertising, social media,” says Stone.
Both O’Connell and Stone agree that PRSSA serves as a way to connect with professionals and learn about all the different things to do upon graduation. “There is so much about the industry that you can’t learn from your classes, and I think that it is really important to be open to hearing about other people’s experiences,” says O’Connell.
According to Rebecca Stone, the PRSSA experience is invaluable to any student interested in the public relations field. “PRSSA is the best thing I ever did for myself as a PR major. It helps you make friends, and gives you great opportunities you wouldn’t have otherwise. Every time I go to a meeting, I feel like I could graduate tomorrow because after each presentation, I think, ‘I want to work for you!’”
PRSSA helps public relations majors and other communication students get their foot in the door at Boston agencies. Anyone can join the organization simply by attending the weekly meetings in COM Room 217 every Thursday night at 5 p.m. If you can’t make it to the next meeting but are interested in getting involved, you can visit their website or follow them on social media @buprssa (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook).
Laura Davis is a junior at Boston University studying public relations with a minor in English, originally from Point Pleasant, NJ. She has a passion for philanthropy and community service and hopes to one day start her own non-profit organization with a focus on women’s issues. You can catch her at the Admissions office as a Student Admissions Representative, or trying to brunch at every restaurant in Boston.