PRSSA National Conference: Takeaways

National Conference is a great place to get inspired.

When hearing from legendary public relations practitioners from world-renowned companies like Coca-Cola and global public relations firms like Burson-Marsteller, how can you not begin to dream of your future and the endless possibilities before you?

Having attended National Conference for two years, I know the utter exhaustion experienced when returning to campus. In the excitement of attending National Conference in a foreign city, sleep is not a top priority. However, despite the extreme fatigue felt after conference, I always leave feeling utterly motivated to continue on with my studies.

My favorite speaker of the conference was U.S. Congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis, who spoke before a large audience at a PRSA General Session.

Congressman John Lewis grew up in rural Alabama. Being raised in the segregated South, it wasn’t long before Lewis began to ask questions. He was told to avoid making trouble, to simply do as he was told.

When Martin Luther King Junior emerged in 1955, Lewis got in the way. He got in trouble.

On Sunday March 7, 1965, Lewis marched for the right of the African-American vote. The protestors were met with hostility from law enforcement, but the media spread the message around the world. As a result, hundreds of people across America joined the protest, ultimately leading to the passage of the Voting Rights Act.

Without communication, according to Lewis, “the civil rights movement would have been like a bird without wings.”

Because this demonstrated the power of storytelling and spreading messages, Lewis urged those in attendance to use their skills to “call the citizens of the world to a higher calling.”

Lewis asked that those in attendance tell a story: “As public relations professionals, you have a moral obligation to tell a story.”

Hearing from such an inspiring individual, I realized the impact that we as PR people can make on the world.

Knowing this, I go forward with confidence, knowing if I work hard and remain inspired, I, and you, can make a tremendous difference in the world.



Samantha Peer is a senior public relations major. Samantha serves as the professional development coordinator of Waynesburg University PRSSA. She also serves on the leadership team of the Corner Cupboard Food Bank client of Red Brick Communications. In her spare time, Samantha enjoys cooking, exercising and spending time with family. Her guilty pleasures include Pretty Little Liars and power naps!


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