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PR group holds first regional conference today

BY ALLIE JOHNSON | FEBRUARY 18, 2011 7:20 AM

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Students need to stand out from their competition by showing employers what makes them unique, one expert said.

Today, public-relations students will learn how to be different by branding themselves at the Public Relations Student Society of America’s PR Day: Brand You.

Organizers expect more than 100 students to attend.

Although it took plenty of work for the University of Iowa’s first regional conference for the group, the local students expect a great turnout, said UI senior Brittney Wichtendahl, the director of promotions for the PR group.

“We have 115 people registered right now, and the money is nonrefundable, so we are hoping they all show up,” she said and laughed.

The conference is a good way for students to network and to connect with peers, said keynote speaker Cheryl Procter-Rogers, the vice president of public relations and communications at DePaul University. She once worked in management at HBO.

“It is an opportunity for them to focus on professional relationships and get some practical tips and carve out their career path,” she said.

Procter-Rogers said she believes this is a great opportunity for students, but she is also equally excited to learn from the audience.

“I always learn so much from the students as well, it’s a mutually beneficial opportunity,” she said. “I find some of the questions usually posed to me give me an opportunity to share my best practices and experiences that I hope will be helpful and inspiring to the students.”

Organization officials said they knew right away they wanted Procter-Rogers to be their first speaker at the conference and set the tone for the day.

“She is phenomenal,” Wichtendahl said.

UI senior Natalie Dubs, the group’s communication director, said they decided on Procter-Rogers after seeing her at a conference in DePaul.

The organization has had PR conferences in the past, but never something this big. The membership has increased 200 percent this year, said UI junior Brittany Caplin, a co-director of the event.

“It’s a great way to expand our network, have personal contacts, and get internship programs started,” Caplin said. “I hope all members learn what they want to do in PR and how to improve themselves to become the best candidate possible to get a job.”

Several other schools from around Iowa, and one from South Dakota, will attend.

Shaun Feilmeier, the president of the University of South Dakota chapter, said they are excited to be joining the regional conference today, despite the long drive.

“It’s an opportunity to learn; we are all students, so we don’t have a lot of knowledge about the world,” Feilmeier said. “And branding yourself sounds like a fun idea to me.”


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