For Illinois State University students majoring in public relations, or students who are interested in the field in general, the Public Relations Student Society of America is a registered student organization on campus that gives students a place to meet like-minded students, even if they aren’t a PR major.
“PRSSA is open to all majors, but I am a PR major with a minor in fashion merchandising,” Maggie Mokrzycki, one of the vice presidents of the organization, said. “The most common majors we see are graphic design and marketing joining since there’s a lot of overlap. It is mostly PR students and do wish that people of all majors would join because professional development skills can be used for any major/job.”
According to its Redbird Life page, PRSSA is “the foremost organization for students interested in public relations and communications.” The RSO contains over 10,000 students across 300 chapters around the United States and even into countries like Argentina, Colombia and Peru.
“We get into contact with the other chapters pretty frequently,” Sarah Lisewski, the president of PRSSA, said. “This semester, actually, I believe I have been in contact with more chapters than we have in the past. We invite other chapters to attend meetings that we have, and we are always allowed to attend meetings that other chapters have. With everything being online this semester, many other chapters have invited us to attend webinars and guest speakers that they are having so we can also learn from different professionals that they bring in.”
The changes that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the ISU campus have been vast, but most students and RSOs have taken the changes in stride. The Public Relations Student Society of America is no exception, taking measures to ensure their members’ safety.
“Overall, our meetings are generally the same but in an online format. We are still providing our members with workshops, guest speakers, and committee experiences, but all virtually,” Lisewski said. “This semester we were able to bring a multitude of guest speakers to our weekly Zoom meetings to allow our members to connect with and learn from a variety of professionals about their jobs and what skills are needed to perform well in the job field. COVID may have changed the channels in which we operate, but we are still focusing on presenting the best meetings for our members.”
Regardless of the conditions of the world right now, the group’s focus remains the same: work toward helping their organization’s members find fulfilling careers in the field of PR and give them the skills and the confidence to have success in the workforce.
“At the end of the day, PRSSA is a great organization to help students grow, and that is all we want to do,” Lisewski said. “We have a variety of committees and positions for everyone to be able to focus on an area of work that they enjoy and get experience with it. We have groups that focus on event planning, writing, and even a student ran PR firm that works with real-life clients to perform actual tasks that members may do in the future at their jobs.”