Communication is key for any industry because you need to listen actively, express your thoughts effectively, and converse engagingly. For communications professionals, these are all the more important. At Boston University, teaching these skills is a priority. However, as Stephen Quigley, the associate professor and academic advisor for BUPRSSA says, “some of the most valuable things we learn, we learn outside the classroom.”
Here’s where Boston University’s chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (BUPRSSA) comes in. As a pre-professional organization for students interested in PR and communications, BUPRSSA acts as a resource, network, community, and home.
The organization offers students the opportunity to participate in three activities: weekly meetings with guest speakers, PR Unleashed (a student-run PR agency), and PR Advanced (a student-led conference). The weekly meetings feature experts with significant experience in PR and communications, so students can listen, learn, and connect with industry leaders. On the other hand, PR Unleashed and PR Advanced enable students to apply the skills they learn in class by creating deliverables for real clients and organizing a conference with inspirational voices from the industry. Each branch of the organization is completely student-run. “PRSSA is for [the students], it is by them, they lead it, they run it, and they put their unique stamp on it every year,” says Prof. Quigley.
Professionally, students benefit from each branch of the organization as they practice and develop their skills. For example, Melis Basaran (COM’22), president of BUPRSSA, says that connecting with and listening to the speakers helped her choose her path and discover her passion for brand reputation and crisis management. “My position affected my leadership and organizational skills and made me more courageous in networking with professionals,” says Basaran.
As the agency director for PR Unleashed, Arielle Warren (COM’21) sees the benefits of BUPRSSA, particularly through Unleashed, which has a “hands-on, collaborative nature.” “I learned the importance of client relationships, public relations tactics, and managerial skills,” says Warren.
Jaliana Griesbach (COM’22), the head of the PR Advanced virtual conference committee, learned the importance of being adaptable. “In this virtual world, things will change quickly and challenges may arise with event planning, but it’s important to see those as opportunities to adapt and try something new,” she says.
Besides providing students with skills through its different platforms, BUPRSSA also helps students find a community for networking and meaningful connections. With weekly meetings, team-based work, and a combination of diverse yet similar perspectives, BUPRSSA is a melting pot of passionate individuals and engaging conversations. “The connections I’ve made with my fellow students are so special and truly make me feel like a part of a PR community within COM,” Griesbach says. BUPRSSA is more than a valuable professional opportunity: it is a home, a social circle, and a safe place to lean on those with similar passions, navigating college and preparing for employment together.
Overall, BUPRSSA’s holistic approach to learning about the industry, making valuable connections, and preparing for the future is appropriately tailored for college students looking to learn and grow. Each section of BUPRSSA prepares students to become smart networkers, confident public speakers, organized planners, strategic writers, open-minded thinkers, and respectful team members. “BUPRSSA is a chance to put yourself up against others and see if you fit, see if you belong, and see if you got what it takes to be successful,” Prof. Quigley says.
BUPRSSA meetings are held virtually from 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 pm E.T. on Thursdays. While membership has closed for this semester, keep an eye out for BUPRSSA at Splash in the fall.
Ada Mesci, Staff Writer
Ada Mesci is a junior majoring in public relations and psychology and minoring in public health at Boston University. Originally from Ankara, Turkey, Ada moved to the United States when she was 18. Since then, she has explored many areas of interest, especially diving deep into her love of writing and storytelling as part of The COMmunicator team. Outside of school, Ada works as a public relations intern for Jasmin Santanen Paris, developing her expertise and passion for fashion. In her free time, she enjoys discovering new recipes, practicing pilates, and backpacking.