Champlain Students Reflect on a Public Relations Regional Conference in Boston

By Abbey Berger-Knorr ’24 & Hanna Blankenship ’24

We’re Abbey and Hanna, President and Vice President—respectively—of Champlain College Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA). The last weekend of February, four members of the chapter ventured to Boston to attend the Boston University PRSSA regional conference, “PRAdvanced: See Through Boundaries & Unlock Potential.” This enriching experience was made possible thanks to the generous support from the Yankee PRSA Chapter and Champlain College, highlighting the college’s commitment to fostering hands-on learning and real-world exposure for its students.

Throughout our time at Champlain, through the Career Collaborative and the faculty, we have been taught the significance of attending such professional development events. The annual Boston University PRSSA conference was at the top of the list of events we hoped to go to before graduating and ending our PRSSA chapter leadership positions, and we are proud to say that our trip was a success. The learning and networking opportunities Champlain has supported us with, both on campus and off, will benefit our career paths as young professionals soon to enter the workforce.

Champlains’ PRSSA representatives attended a panel discussion on digital storytelling at the Boston University PRSSA Regional Conference in Boston, MA.

Our journey began with excitement as the PRSSA Champlain group embarked on a three-and-a-half-hour trip to Boston, Massachusetts, aboard a bus—our spirits high with anticipation. Our stay at the Hotel Commonwealth set the stage for a weekend of learning, networking, and camaraderie among peers and professionals alike.

Under the guidance of our faculty advisor and Yankee Chapter board member, Assistant Provost Dr. Roz Whitaker-Heck, APR, we were excited for an immersive experience in the dynamic world of public relations and communications. The conference agenda was packed with sessions led by a roster of speakers from esteemed companies such as Johnson & Johnson, SharkNinja, Gigacloud, Sloane & Co, Man Group, and SHIFT Communications, offering invaluable insights into the industry’s latest trends and challenges.

The conference offered a broad spectrum of sessions, with topics ranging from “Corporate Communications Beyond Buzzwords” to “The Relations Panel,” where Boston University alumni discussed their transition from college to corporate roles. As graduating seniors and leaders of the chapter, we found the speaker panel featuring Boston University post-grads particularly enlightening. The insights shared helped us reflect on what career niches interested us within the Marketing and PR fields and highlighted the conference’s role in professional development.

(From left to right) Champlain PRSSA members Hanna Blankenship ’24, Georgia Warren ’24, and Taylor Smith ’26.

Our fellow PRSSA Champlain member, Georgia Warren ’24, a Filmmaking major, was particularly struck by the keynote speech delivered by Ernie W. Knewiz from Johnson & Johnson. “I found his presentation very informative about what PR in action looks like by using J&J as a case study,” she reflected, emphasizing the practical learning opportunities the conference provided.

Taylor Smith ’26, another PRSSA Champlain member and a Creative Media major, appreciated the chance to gain perspective from professionals within the public relations field. “Hearing from the VP of Communications at Johnson & Johnson provided insight into the value of working a job that benefits others,” Smith noted, underscoring how the event enriched our understanding of the role of public relations in society.

The Boston University PRSSA conference served as a profound learning experience for our PRSSA Champlain members, allowing us to deepen our understanding of public relations, forge meaningful connections, and envision our futures within the industry. We at Champlain College’s PRSSA chapter extend our heartfelt gratitude to the Yankee PRSA Chapter, Champlain College, and Dr. Roz Whitaker-Heck for their unwavering support. This trip not only reinforced the value of experiential learning but also strengthened the bonds within our chapter.

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