As PRSSA grows, members build personal brand


(Photo: Courtesy of Ashley Dalsing)

by Taia Veren, Special to The Simpsonian

Simpson College is home to its own chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America, which gives students the opportunity to attend networking events and apply communication skills to develop them into professionals.

Jane Murphy began overseeing Simpson’s PRSSA chapter in 2012 with only five members. Since then, she has focused on recruiting, building membership and getting students to network with central Iowa public relations professionals.

In the fall 2014, the public relations major was launched and PRSSA became a practicum option for the major. Membership jumped to around 20 members, and the chapter began sponsoring events, such as the annual Goodwill Fashion Show.

“Now we work with real clients,” Murphy said. “We have a couple of nonprofits we are working for, and we are also open to working with in-house clients which are Simpson-affiliated programs.”

Working with external clients gives PRSSA members the opportunity to put the skills they have learned in the classroom to use in a professional environment.

“Our short-term goals are to maintain the level of enthusiasm our officers have into next year and also maintain the recognition Simpson students gain from the Des Moines chapter of PR professionals,” Murphy said.

Murphy said PRSSA’s officers see the value of developing their PR skills and want to take the organization forward, keep trying new things and keep growing.

Simpson’s PRSSA chapter is the most heavily involved chapter in the state with the central Iowa Public Relations Society of America chapter, which is a professional chapter that hosts networking luncheons, keynote speakers and agency tours. Simpson’s reputation is held highly within this group, with students going above and beyond students from other schools in Iowa with PRSSA chapters such as University of Iowa, Drake University, Iowa State University and University of Northern Iowa.

Murphy wants students to see PRSSA as an opportunity and not just a required class for the major.

“We hope to raise awareness, not just about our organization, but about our PR major, which pairs well with many different majors and makes students more marketable upon graduation,” Murphy said.

“We are in a culture shift right now, and our whole dynamic of PRSSA has changed since previous years, said Ashley Dalsing, president of Simpson’s PRSSA chapter.
PRSSA focuses on committees which are devoted to meeting goals and creating networking experiences.

“We can definitely lay the ground work for future members to come and the conference gave us a vision for what PRSSA could be,” said Zach Nissen, vice president of Simpson’s PRSSA chapter, after attending a national conference in Indianapolis last month.
Nissen works for the chapter to recruit new members and allow students the same opportunities he has been able to experience. Nissen said what students gain from being a member of PRSSA is more than just the credits.

PRSSA offers workshops to help its members fine-tune their PR skills.

“We have presentations within our meetings so our students understand the industry better, understand writing better and we offer resume critiques,” Dalsing said.
PRSSA hopes to set a standard of professionalism and motivate their members to strive for success. PRSSA also has a goal to gain members from different fields to promote collaboration and a learning environment in which students can learn from other students to gain a broad and diverse skillset.

PRSSA members can be reached by their social media listed below for more information.

Twitter: @stormprssa

Instagram: stormprssa