Story by Annika Grassl
This past week was the first ever PR Week at Drake University.
All week, there were events centered on public relations.
These events celebrated all the work public relations professionals support in large (and small) corporations across the country and around the world.
The week was full of events that promoted the importance of public relations and showed the practical application of public relations across fields and occupations.
To kick off the week, on Tuesday there was a guest lecture by Steve Betz, a brand manager at DuPont Pioneer, a leading biotechnology company.
Betz discussed the importance of public relations creating relationships.
In addition, Betz’s lecture explained how his company uses its biotechnologies to help people in third-world countries gain sustainable, healthy food they need.
On Thursday night, there was a happy hour that was paid for by the PR faculty at Americana in downtown Des Moines.
This opportunity gave PR students and their friends the opportunity to network with alumni in the area.
Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) president Halli Kubes said she hopes to have this event moved to the last night of the week as a celebration of the week.
Later in the evening there was a professional panel lecture in Meredith Hall.
The panel included graduates of the PR program who have graduated within the last five years.
The panel included Chris Verlengia from Wellmark and Justin Wis, who currently works at the WISEGroup.
Hillary Gebert represented Principal Financial Group. Kelsey Jones represented Two Rivers Marketing. The final two women on the panel were Lauren Arndorfer, who works at LS2Group,
and Nikki Syverson, who works at Winefest Des Moines.
“(There is) no place like Des Moines,” Wis said.
Wis said Drake students gain the ability to think systematically and critically, make connections, network and solve problems in unique ways.
Arndorfer, who graduated in May, stressed the importance of connections.
Arndorfer said it is important to be aggressive to make your name known to people.
“(It is important to) let cover letters show personality; make sure it is written well and is direct to position,” Gebert said.
“Experience outside of the classroom and workforce help to show initiative.”
“(It is important to) make a conscious effort to reach out and keep relationships going,” Jones said.
Jones went on to say that students “(should not) underestimate social media when looking for jobs or an internship.”
Finally, Arndorfer said business and law classes were helpful to her.
“I think (PR Week) shed a very positive light on Drake’s PR Program and also on PRSSA,” Kubes said.
Kubes said public relations is now the largest major in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and a fast-growing field in the professional world.
Kubes said PR majors bring skill sets to the table that other communications majors aren’t trained in.
Kubes said the PRSSA executive board didn’t know what to expect from the week, so it was pleasantly surprised with the positive feedback from students.