I spent the first part of this week in Boston where I saw future leaders of the public relations profession in action. And the future looks bright.
Some 1,000 members of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) participated in a wide range of meetings and workshops that exposed them to new ideas and future trends. The conference ended with the annual awards ceremony and dinner that celebrated the organization’s 50th anniversary by recognizing outstanding students and PRSSA chapters. Since mentoring the next generation of PR professionals is the focus on this blog, it has been my honor for the past several years to present the annual Ron Culp Scholarship for Mentorship.
Although I don’t pick the recipient, I couldn’t have been happier this year to present the award to Kaitlin Biersach, a senior at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. I met Katie and her fellow Oshkosh PRSSA members at last year’s conference in Indianapolis. They are an enthusiastic and impressive group of future PR rock stars.
A native of Waukesha, Wisconsin, Katie is a public relations major and radio-TV-film minor who credits PRSSA for much of her success. “Since my freshman year I have been heavily involved in the organization and fell in love with the profession and PRSSA,” says Katie. She has held several executive board positions including president in the 2016–2017 year and she currently serves as a Regional Ambassador, a new national subcommittee.
“PRSSA gave me a platform to grow personally and professionally and has given me the confidence to be a leader, Katie explains. “What I love most about PRSSA is the ability to create relationships. My connections now spread across the world, and each and every person I have met has positively impacted my college career.”
Like PRSSA’s “Godmother,” the late Betsy Plank, Katie enjoys building relationships and serves as a mentor to others. “Starting as a junior, I hoped to share my trials and tribulations with younger students, which is why I sought to mentor UW Oshkosh freshman Abby Reich.” Katie adds that such relationships are mutually beneficial since Abby helps inspire her to be a better leader. “As I reflect on my past three years in PRSSA, I truly feel that my college career is coming full circle.”
Last summer, Katie worked in the entertainment industry with the Television Academy Foundation Internship Program in Los Angeles and she now feels her heart–and future–belongs in entertainment. “I aspire to work in entertainment in the Midwest but will keep my LA connections to hopefully do freelance work for award shows,” she says. This past semester she became the promotions director for Titan TV, UW Oshkosh’s student-run TV station. This fall she also began her fourth internship, now with the new NBA G League basketball team, the Wisconsin Herd.
“Because of my involvement in PRSSA, the connections I have made, and my internship experiences, I know I have the determination and skill level to succeed in public relations,” Katie says.
Katie’s determination and success should inspire all undergrads to get involved in PRSSA while making time to help other succeed in their college experience.