Austin pros show UT PRSSA the value in relationship-building

Last Tuesday, the first UT PRSSA meeting of the fall semester drew a crowd of over 100 new and returning members to talk about the Alan Scott chapter and how PRSSA can help any student achieve personal and career goals.

Dr. Dave Junker, Texas Tribune’s Reeve Hamilton and Porter Novelli’s Ashley Underwood joined the first meeting festivities and spoke to the value of joining a professional student organization.

“Although I’m the adviser, as you can see, I’m also an advocate,” said Junker, who is in his fifth year of overseeing the chapter. “This organization can provide you so many opportunities. I think Hugo [Rojo] put it best when he said it’s all about bridging the gap between where you are now and where you want to be.”

108 members gathered on Sept. 11 to see what PRSSA can do for them this fall. Photo: Daviz Pham.

Underwood, past UT PRSSA president and current PRSA Austin membership chair, proved the importance of relationships. She told the chapter she secured her dream PR agency job on LinkedIn through her many connections, many of which she gained during her time in PRSSA.

Reeve Hamilton, who often covers higher education issues for the Texas Tribune, stressed the importance of making personal connections in college well before your career begins.

“Good PR people are the ones who take time to build a personal relationship,” said Hamilton. “I’m much more likely to respond to a PR pitch from someone I know than a random news release from someone I’ve never met. I try to get lunch with different people every day. And maybe drinks after work.”

After the speakers gave background on their careers and what networking has done for them, Junker and Underwood coached returning PRSSA members Vi Tran and Attiya Ali on interview techniques before Reeve spoke with each contestant on their experience with PRSSA. Although both interviews were entertaining, Hamilton picked public relations junior Vi Tran as the winner for noteworthy quotes that stood out as attention catchers, something every reporter looks for.

“The interview exercise was helpful for future jobs and internships and networking in general, or even meeting new people,” said Ali, a public relations junior who is no stranger to membership benefits as a third-year member. “PRSSA has given me the opportunity to meet professionals. I didn’t get that in my classes.”

Hamilton interviewed Ali and Tran after they were coached on interview basics by Junker and Underwood. Photo: Daviz Pham.

The first meeting was a wonderful success and the Executive Board was excited to see everyone ready to go for a semester full of valuable opportunities. Our social event at Austin’s Pizza on Tuesday, Sept. 18 will give members the chance to have some fun and get to know each other after the first few busy weeks of school.

Check out Chapter President Rachael Sperling’s Storify story for a recap of the meeting in the Twittersphere.