PRSSA chapter plays role in Renaissance Awards

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Waynesburg University's students are accustomed to applying classroom concepts to real-world situations and taking learning outside of the classroom. Last month, the University's public relations students took that learning all the way to the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pa., for the annual Renaissance Awards.


The Awards, sponsored by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Pittsburgh Chapter, showcased top regional public relations talent and awarded practitioners who excelled in the field in 2012. Waynesburg University students worked closely with the chair of the Renaissance Awards to prepare for the notable event.


After meeting Dan Ayer, chair of the Renaissance Awards Committee and senior account executive at Gatesman + Dave, at a November 2012 Chapter speaking engagement, Richard Krause, chair of the Department of Communication and Faculty Adviser to the Waynesburg University Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) offered the skills of the Chapter.


“I told him that we have great students who aspire to work in public relations and take advantage of any opportunities that come their way,” Krause said. “He quickly took advantage of the offer and now our students have this wonderful opportunity.”


Ayer coordinated with the students via email and meetings to delegate tasks and track progress. He is grateful for their “outstanding help” and applauds Waynesburg students for their volunteerism and eagerness to learn.


“I've had the opportunity to speak at a number of local colleges and universities across the area, but I have yet to come across a group of students positioning themselves for successful careers better than the students who make up the PRSSA Chapter at Waynesburg University,” Ayer said. “The students jump at every opportunity to learn and have exceeded my expectations every time I have interacted with them.”


Students arrived at the venue early to set tables with programs and favors, assemble the registration table and assist Ayer and his team with any public relations activities necessary. Mitch Graham, a senior public relations major from Meadville, Pa., worked closely with Ayer to keep a running spreadsheet of registered event guests during the holidays and managed the registration table at the event.


“From learning how to conduct myself in a highly professional manner to being able to talk the jargon of the industry effectively, my education and experience at Waynesburg University fully prepared me for the experience,” Graham said.


The Waynesburg University PRSSA Chapter, a pre-professional organization possessing national membership, recently entered its third chartered year and has approximately 20 dues-paying members. Krause is confident that the Chapter will continue to grow and flourish as it continues to volunteer for events such as the Renaissance Awards.


Brittany Semco, a junior public relations and interactive design major from Newport, R.I., served as the event photographer's assistant throughout the evening. She helped pose people for photographs and made introductions for the photographer. She communicated her interest in photography to Ayer and received the personalized responsibility as a result.


“I immediately volunteered because I knew it would be an invaluable opportunity to meet public relations professionals and strengthen my skills,” Semco said. “I got to network with so many people there.”


Students returned from the event with business cards and contact information from respected public relations professionals, and many were encouraged to apply for summer internships by company representatives they met.


“Volunteering at the PRSA Pittsburgh Renaissance Awards is an excellent opportunity for students to get an inside look into the world of event planning and public relations,” Ayer said. “My hope is that each student received a positive experience and was inspired to develop the campaigns and work that will be honored at future PRSA award shows.”