Announcing Our 2017-18 Executive Board!

(From left to right) Madeleine Markson, Carina Torres, Leslie Ortega, Chloe Mark, Komal Charania, and Shannon Switzer (Not pictured: Alexa Lewis)


By: Alexa Gonzaga


As the school year draws to a close, it is now time to pass the baton to next year’s Texas PRSSA executive board! Congratulations to our newly elected officers – we can’t wait to see what the next year brings.


  • President: Chloe Mark
  • VP of Operations: Komal Charania
  • VP of Public Relations: Leslie Ortega
  • VP of Special Events: Carina Torres
  • VP of Membership: Madeleine Markson
  • VP of Professional Development: Shannon Switzer
  • National Conference Committee Chair: Alexa Lewis



1/24 Meeting Recap: Starting a New Semester!


By: Alexa Gonzaga

We were so excited to welcome 102 new and returning members to our first meeting of the spring semester! Below, find a recap of what we discussed at our meeting:

Member benefits
Being a PRSSA member comes with tons of perks. Not only do you get access to chapter-specific benefits such as top industry speakers, an internship database, agency tours, and socials, but you also get access to national PRSSA benefits such as a national job/internship database, career resource manual, exclusive scholarships and grants, and more.

What to expect this semester

  • T-shirts: We have new T-shirts this semester! We’ll keep you posted on when they come in.
  • Senior Series: New for this semester, we’ll be hosting three sessions designed especially for graduating seniors, covering topics such as post-grad internships, salary negotiations, and relocating for a job. Dates are TBD, but invite your friends — the Senior Series is open to ALL Moody College students!
  • Socials: We will be hosting a social with our sister organization Texas Tower PR, as well as a tri-chapter social with Texas State and St. Edward’s University. Stay tuned for dates, times, and locations!
  • Member of the Year: Our member of the year award is given to an outstanding member who participates often and shows dedication to PRSSA. The winner will receive a $75 Amazon gift card (as voted by you!) for their efforts. Stay active in PRSSA and the member of the year might just be you!


  • The PRSSA 2017 National Conference will be in Boston! Conference is a great way to build your network and attend workshops hosted by top industry pros. You’ll learn a lot and have fun while doing it! We encourage you to apply for the National PRSSA Grant and start saving your money — it’s never too early!
  • Exciting news: the 2018 National Conference will be right here in Austin! Current freshmen and sophomores will have the opportunity to network and learn from PR pros right in our own backyard.
  • Regional PRSSA conferences will be held at the University of Oklahoma from Feb. 24-25 and at Loyola University in New Orleans from Mar. 11-12. Email Nancy if you’re interested in going!

Becoming a member
Visit our “Become a Member” page for more info on how to join PRSSA. Dues are $75 and will last an entire year. The deadline to pay is Feb. 21 — afterwards, dues will increase to $85 until our final deadline on Feb. 24.

Dates to know

  • Jan. 26 – PRSA Austin January Happy Hour at the Black Finn Pub at the Domain. Email Nancy if you’re interested in going! You don’t have to be 21.
  • Feb. 2 – Application deadline for Texas Tower PR, our sister org and UT’s only student-run PR firm.
  • Feb. 7 – Our next meeting! The topic will be Social Influencers. We’ll also have a visit from CCS regarding the upcoming career fair.
  • Feb. 22Spring 2017 Communication Career Fair
  • February – Agency tour at HomeAway – date TBA

See you at our next meeting!


9/6 Meeting Recap: Kicking off the Fall Semester!


By Alexa Gonzaga

We were absolutely thrilled to welcome 97 new and familiar faces to our first meeting of the semester! Below is a rundown of important information you need to know.

Becoming a member
Interested in becoming a member of Texas PRSSA? Fill out a membership form! Dues are $75 and are payable by cash, check, or PayPal. Please make checks payable to UT PRSSA Chapter and include your name and email.

The regular deadline to pay dues is October 4. After this date, dues increase to $85. All dues must be paid by our late deadline — October 7.

National Conference + Texas PRSSA Chapter Scholarship
National Conference is a great opportunity to build your network, whether you’re a freshman or a senior. This year’s conference will be held in Indianapolis from October 21-25. Don’t miss out! The deadline to register for conference is Friday, Sept. 16. Remember: you don’t have to stay the whole time, and it doesn’t conflict with ACL or Texas-OU Weekend.

Additionally, we are offering a chapter scholarship that will waive your National Conference registration fee — a $310 value! Apply here by 11:59 pm on Sunday, Sept. 11. We will select two winners and notify them within that week. We will also offer partial reimbursement to all Texas PRSSA members who choose to attend conference.

Still on the fence? Read our blog posts about conference and visit the PRSSA National Conference website.

Social Media Committee
Interested in becoming part of the social media committee? Submit this form by 11:59 pm on Monday, Sept. 12. As a committee member, you’ll get the chance to create content for our blog and social media channels. It’s a great way to build your portfolio, sharpen your writing skills, and improve your resume!

Mentor Program
Want to be connected with a mentor in the industry? Apply for the mentor program by October 7. Connecting with a professional can benefit you in many ways and give you insight into your future career and the industry as a whole. Click here to apply.

Dates to Remember

  • September 11: Scholarship application due (11:59 pm)
  • September 12: Social Media Committee signup deadline (11:59 pm)
  • September 16: National Conference registration deadline
  • September 20: Our next meeting!
  • October 4: Membership deadline ($75)
  • October 7: Late membership deadline ($85) / Mentor Program application deadline

Next Meeting
Beyond Likes and Retweets: Social Media Strategy for the PR Professional

Join us on Sept. 20 for a talk about social media strategy, presented by Spredfast. We’ll be hosting Courtney Lowell, Director of Communications, and former Texas PRSSA member Samantha Subar, PR Manager.

We’ll also have recruiters around to chat with members! This is a great opportunity to get your foot in the door before the Moody Career Fair the following day. Click the link above for more details.

Most of what we covered at our first meeting can be found right here on our website. You may also refer to our meeting presentation, which we included in our recap email. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.

Thanks for a successful first meeting!

SXSW Scandal: How Panel Cancelations Led to a PR Mess

By: Alexa Gonzaga

SXSW is known for bringing leaders from the technology and entertainment industries together, but recently the festival organizers came under fire for canceling two panels related to gaming.

Prior to its cancelation, one of the panels, entitled “Level Up: Overcoming Harassment in Games,” drew the ire of several individuals involved with the Gamergate movement. Gamergate supporters flooded the “Level Up” panel’s page on SXSW’s website with negative comments and even formed their own panel entitled “Save Point: A Discussion on the Gaming Community.”

For those who are unfamiliar, the Gamergate movement concerns sexism and progressivism in video game culture and is notorious for the harassment of several women in the gaming and tech industries. Those who have spoken up against the movement or have expressed opposing ideas have been subjected to vicious online attacks that have extended into real-life threats of violence.

Despite concerns raised by “Level Up” panelists about security and the possibility of a hostile environment created by Gamergate supporters, SXSW organizers approved the Gamergate-backed panel in the interest of representing all viewpoints.

However, SXSW organizers would later back up and cancel both panels, citing “threats of on-site violence.”

This immediately caused widespread backlash. Buzzfeed and Vox Media, both major participants in SXSW, threatened to pull out of all panels they were involved in if the canceled panels weren’t reinstated. Many criticized SXSW organizers for bowing to threats and essentially giving the violent opposition what they wanted. Others found it ironic that a panel about online harassment was canceled due to online harassment.

After days of dealing with the repercussions, SXSW organizers eventually decided to reinstate both canceled panels and add a daylong summit on online harassment. “By cancelling two sessions, we sent an unintended message that SXSW not only tolerates online harassment but condones it, and for that we are truly sorry,” the organizers wrote in a blog post.

Although the organizers of SXSW eventually reversed their original decision, this controversy serves as a lesson on how not to react to online harassment. As future PR professionals, it’s important to be mindful of the messages our actions send to those directly affected and to the community as a whole.