Meet the Newly-Elected 2014-2015 PRSSA Executive Board

Vi TranVi

Position: President

Classification: Senior

Major(s)/Minor(s)/Certificate(s): public relations major/Business Foundations Certificate

Hometown: Dallas, Texas

Fun Fact: “I drink coffee like it’s water and often times, I take it black – hold the cream and sugar, please.”


Name: Nikki DulayNikki

Position: VP of Chapter Development

Classification: Junior

Major(s)/Minor(s)/Certificate(s): public relations major/French minor/Business Foundations Certificate

Hometown: Sugar Land, Texas

Fun Fact: “I’ve donated my hair to Locks of Love three times.”


Name: Landon HoranLandon

Position: VP of Special Operations

Classification: Senior

Major(s)/Minor(s)/Certificate(s): public relations major/government minor/Global Track Business Foundations Certificate

Hometown: Plano, Texas

Fun Fact: “I studied abroad in Dublin last summer with the UT PR Maymester program.”


Name: Alyssa NeilsonAlyssa

Position: VP of Special Events

Classification: Senior

Major(s)/Minor(s)/Certificate(s): public relations major/international relations and global studies minor

Hometown: Houston, Texas

Fun Fact: “I’m in love with sneakers and I collect them; I have 46 pairs!”


Name: Michelle HillMichelle

Position: VP of Public Relations

Classification: Senior

Major(s)/Minor(s)/Certificate(s): public relations major/Business Foundations Certificate

Hometown: Weslaco, Texas

Fun Fact: “I walked my cat, Sophie, once. She didn’t quite understand the concept.”


Name: Elizabeth ChavezElizabeth

Position: VP of Professional Development

Classification: Senior

Major(s)/Minor(s)/Certificate(s): double majoring in international relations and global studies and public relations

Hometown: Austin, Texas

Fun Fact: “I used to want to be a doctor and somehow that led me to touch a human brain.”


Name: Jay EggerJay

Position: Bateman Team Director

Classification: Senior

Major(s)/Minor(s)/Certificate(s): double majoring in public relations and political communications

Hometown: McAllen, Texas

Fun Fact: “I have about 150 GB of purely hip-hop music on my computer (and that’s not nearly all of it!)”


Name: Jasmin EscherJasmin

Position: Secretary

Classification: Sophomore

Major(s)/Minor(s)/Certificate(s): advertising major/German minor/Business Foundations Certificate

Hometown: Born in Hamburg, Germany; but grew up in Dallas, Texas

Fun Fact: “I’m a musical junkie! I was a musical theatre major my first year of college, and heavily involved in local productions in Dallas. I still love to act and sing, and try to do it as often as I can in my free time. If anyone ever needs someone to go see a touring show with, hit me up!”


Name: Neha SethiNeha

Position: Secretary

Classification: Senior

Major(s)/Minor(s)/Certificate(s): public relations major/Business Foundations Certificate

Hometown: Plano, Texas

Fun Fact: “I can read and write Hindi.”


Name: Autumn TaylorTaylor

Position: Creative and Digital Specialist

Classification: Junior

Major(s)/Minor(s)/Certificate(s): double majoring in public relations and Asian studies/Global Track Business Foundations Certificate

Hometown: Breckenridge, Texas

Fun Fact: “I lived in Alaska for about three years! A moose wandered near our neighborhood once…”





Announcing: Austin PR Field Guide

UT PRSSA is starting a new initiative to introduce students to the public relations landscape in Austin and provide an opportunity for all employers to be represented in front of future professionals.

The Austin PR Field Guide will consist of information like a physical address, website, specialty and contact information on every public relations or communications firm, agency, organization or non-profit in the Austin area. This information will be shared with students for free in a central location on this website.

In addition, the Field Guide will also be a fundraising opportunity for our Chapter: all organizations indexed on the Field Guide will have the opportunity for a 200 word max personalized description written by a PRSSA member to accompany their entry. This content will be developed with a representative from that organization in order to share further insight into Austin’s unique public relations and communications opportunities.

Submissions can come from anyone and will be fact-checked for accuracy. The form to submit is here.

The Field Guide model for sharing knowledge and fundraising has already generated buzz and admiration from other Chapters. We hope that its success will spur copycats and provide information to students across Texas and hopefully, PRSSA Chapters nationwide.

It will be a team effort to make the Field Guide as comprehensive as possible, so please submit your organization and share the news!

5 Tips for the Internship Application Process

Written by: Michelle Hill

1. Personalize each cover letter
Every time you apply somewhere new, make sure that your cover letter is not generic and the name of the business could not easily be replaced with another. Do your research, highlight your strengths and show your personality.

In addition, the place you apply to needs to not only know how they can benefit you, but how you can benefit them. Don’t forget that this is a two-way street.

2. Triple check your resume for errors
After you proofread your resume, have your professors and PRSSA friends proofread it. The more the merrier!

Also, keep in mind that the most relevant information should be towards the top and that anything you put down on this paper can be asked about during an interview, so don’t stretch the truth.

3. Make your resume stand out
Black-and-white resumes look clean and well-organized, but adding an accent color or displaying your name and contact information in a different fashion can be the one thing that makes your resume memorable. Get creative!

4. Remember that experience doesn’t only mean previous jobs held
Getting your first internship is usually the most difficult because you don’t have any previous internship experiences to talk about. However, don’t forget that the positions you hold in sports and organizations can be just as good. Find what’s relevant to the internship and talk it up! 

5. Pick and perfect a couple of writing samples
So you’ve only written a couple of news releases and news stories in Junker’s PR 317 class? Use them!

Pick two or three graded assignments and edit them by using the corrections given. The recruiter knows that you are a student and likely haven’t written on the professional level yet. Use these assignments as a springboard to get more writing experience. 


Regional Conference Recap

By Jasmin Escher


The Red River Regional Conference was hosted in Dallas this past weekend by The University of Oklahoma and The University of Texas at Austin’s local PRSSA chapters. This was the first regional conference to be held in Region Three in over ten years. One hundred and forty students came from schools as far as Michigan to join together for a weekend of learning and furthering their knowledge of the public relations field. Here are a few highlights of the unforgettable three-day conference!

Friday evening: Actor and Producer Glenn Morshower, who’s starred in 24, Transformers and Law and Order, kicked off the conference with an inspiring talk attributing how to hone in our natural tendency to be a winner by listening to “whispers”.


Saturday: Break out sessions!

Blake Lewis, PRSA 2014 National Secretary and Senior Consultant of Lewis PR, spoke on the value of measurement, emphasizing that measurement must be central, focused on balancing both organization and audience priorities, and that the approach needs to be determined at the start of the program or year.

UT professor Dave Junker shared how storytelling is the cohesive component and core of all public relations.


Jamaison Schuler of Dean Foods and Lisa Vasquez of Collin College gave tips on how to build and maintain your professional network. Finding a mentor, following up after interviews and connecting on LinkedIn are all ways to reach out and build your network. Just remember – upholding those connections after they’ve been made is just as important as establishing them, whether it be a monthly email or a retweet!


A midday panel focusing on how to find your PR path towards wither agency or corporate included panelists Marley Goudge (Senior PR Manager of Digital and Social Media at AT&T), Linh Le (PR Specialist at Haynes and Boone), Jamaison Schuler and Blake Lewis. Each weighed in their experiences, all agreeing that leveraging and getting experience in college, knowing your industry and your goals, and getting yourself a cushion are necessary for graduates as they prepare to get a job.


After lunch, Brittany Aguilar of Pulse Point Group discussed social listening and media strategies.


Recent graduate Katie Chrisman taught us how to train the “dragons” in the PR industry.


Closing speaker Korey McMahon of McMahon Marketing gave an inspiring interactive workshop teaching us how to get out of our “Southern Comfort Zone”, along with an unexpected surprise…


Unlimited free Starbucks and heated case competition debates are a few among many eventful moments of this weekends conference. The best part? Spending time together as a UTPRSSA chapter doing what we do best – learning about something we love and having fun while doing so! Hook ‘em.

How to Rock the Career Fair

By Jasmin Escher

Career fairs are intimidating with the challenge of standing out amongst hundreds of other candidates. Although difficult, there are a number of ways to be successful at the end of they day. Here are eight tips to swing the odds in your favor:

1. Have a game plan

Check the list of attending companies a few days in advance to make a “cheat sheet” of your top choices, including what they do, the representative’s name and area of expertise and what positions are being offered.

2. Do your research

Look through the company’s website to gather background information, such as what clients the agency or firm has, successful campaigns that were implemented or a recent news article about the firm. In addition, knowing what questions are already answered on the company’s website are not worthwhile asking.

3. Tailor your resume

For your top choices, prepare individual resumes highlighting the skills and using the wording included in the job or internship description. For example, if one of your top choice companies has an opening in public relations, highlight any skills involving managing social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter, event coordinating experience and writing for a publication or blog.

4. Personal appearance matters

Business attire is a must! However, if you don’t have a suit, no problem! Business casual is perfect for the event.

5. Prepare an elevator pitch

Prepare a 30 second to one minute elevator pitch to respond to the routine “Tell me about yourself” question. Respond with information that highlights your best qualities, including general background information such as your academic discipline and grade, any on-campus involvement and leadership positions you’ve held, prior internship or job experience and why you are interested in the company. Remember, you have to sell yourself within a short amount of time!

For example: “I grew up in Dallas but moved to Austin to attend college. I am a junior this year with a major in public relations and a minor in business.  I’m a member of PRSSA, serving on the special events committee, and in that role I’ve organized a regional conference with representatives from industry leaders such as AT&T and Pierpont Communications. I also write for an online publication in my free time, which has gotten me in contact with valuable firms such as Wall Street Journal and Austin Magazine. I’ve researched your company and I know that you offer the means of a large agency with the intimacy of a smaller firm, and I believe that this combination will be the most beneficial in fostering my career in PR.” 

6. Pay attention

Long lines are typical at the big name company tables. To capitalize on the short amount of time you have with a recruiter, listen to the questions they are asking the people in front of you so you are prepared to answer them when it is your turn. This both impresses the recruiter and gives you more time to interact and ask personalized questions.

7. Be confident

Everyone knows you’re nervous – the trick is to act like you’re not. Start with a firm handshake, look people in the eye as you speak to them and end asking for an interview! The initiative you’ll show is impressive and memorable.

 8. Follow up within 48 hours

At the end of the day, recruiters have dozens of resumes to sift through. The chances of your resume being thoroughly assessed are slim. Something as simple as a thank you note or email can spark a recollection of your meeting at the career fair and be enough to get an interview!

If all else fails, remember you’re a longhorn. And longhorns can do anything they set their minds to! Good luck!

Spiceworks’ Adam Schaeffer provides advice about everyday PR challenges


Written by: Michelle Hill

 Last Tuesday, Spiceworks’ Public and Analyst Relations Manager Adam Schaeffer spoke to UT PRSSA about life after graduation, including the personality differences among startups, midsize and large companies, the effect of the changing media environment on PR, and advice for contacting reporters.

 After graduating with a corporate communications degree from UT Austin, Schaeffer moved to New York City to work as an account executive for global firm Ruder Finn. Moving to New York was one of the best decisions he could have made, Schaeffer said, although he originally wanted to stay in Austin.

 A few years and jobs later, Schaeffer moved back to Austin to work for Dell and, eventually, Spiceworks. He described Spiceworks as “a professional network for the technology industry,” comparing it to both LinkedIn and Facebook. He also noted that the emerging tech hub connects roughly 5 million IT professionals.

 Schaeffer also covered which personalities and personal interests match startups, midsize and large companies. With startups, employees may be super creative, have the liberty to try new things, and know that the decisions they make have an immediate impact on the company. And with large companies, one may be shy and prefer control with less risk. Midsize companies are a balance between the two.

 Technology is always changing and “constantly reinventing itself,” said Schaeffer. In the changing media environment, the tech industry is fortunate because although there is tough competition among news stories, it indicates that tech is still a driving force with the help of many dedicated reporters.

 PR professionals also need to consider articles from the reporter’s point of view. When thinking about what a reporter needs to write the story, Schaeffer advises to “ace the basics” with these four elements: industry trends, credible sources, news hook, and attracting eyeballs. Industry trends that are credible, timely and have a competitive or controversial angle are more likely to seem interesting and be covered by a reporter.

 As PR people, we also must understand how and when to pitch to reporters. Schaeffer suggests that e-mails must be concise. In addition, calling after 3 p.m. is ideal, and coffee breaks are a reporter’s perfect excuse to get out of their office.

 Ultimately, “PR is a relationship business,” Shaeffer said

Michelle Dziuban hosts Cision workshop

Written by: Michelle Hill

As a public relations major, one of the best things you can do to expand your horizon and add value in the workplace is to acquire new, applicable skills. Knowing how to use Cision’s software allows students to do just that. It gives students a competitive advantage over other intern applicants because it is widely used in PR agencies to build media lists, contact reporters and identify influential writers.

On Feb. 4, Cision product specialist, Michelle Dziuban, walked UT PRSSA through the basics of using Cision. Dziuban covered the site’s services, including how to use the site’s plan strategy function, smart search and build media lists. At the end, she also mentioned a special opportunity on how to become Cision certified, noting how it could improve a resume to potential employers.

Students were able to ask questions and become comfortable with the software, ultimately giving them something to talk about during interviews or add to their resume. 


If you’re interested in learning more about becoming certified with Cision’s University Program, please e-mail And if you’re interested in learning more about using this six-time CODiE Award Finalist’s software, there are a lot of free resources and webinars here.