A contingent of Elon University students, faculty and staff members traveled to Atlanta to attend the annual public relations-focused conventions, where alumna Heather Harder ’14 was presented with a prestigious PRSSA award.
Accompanied by nearly 3,500 public relations professionals and students, Elon University had strong representation at the PRSA 2015 International Conference and PRSSA 2015 National Conference, held concurrently Nov. 6-10 in downtown Atlanta.
Nearly a dozen Elon community members, including students, faculty and staff, attended the conventions jointly hosted by the Public Relations Society of America and Public Relations Student Society of America. The highlight of Elon’s participation was alumna Heather Harder ’14 accepting a National Gold Key Award, which honors outstanding public relations students and leaders.
Now an account executive at Capstrat, a Raleigh, North Carolina-based strategic communications firm, Harder served as Elon PRSSA’s president in 2013-14, and she later moved into national PRSSA leadership positions, first as vice president of member services and then as national president.
According to the organization’s website, the National Gold Key Award is the highest honor a student member can receive, recognizing individuals who “display outstanding academic excellence in public relations and leadership qualities.”
Harder was one of just 22 individuals to receive the national distinction, which is open to its 11,500 members.
Six current students—all executive members of Elon’s student chapter—also traveled to Atlanta to network and attend educational sessions with professionals and fellow students from around the country. Student participants included Meghan Windle ’16 (PRSSA chapter president), Jeremy Eisengrein ’16 (vice president), Lea Silverman ’18 (treasurer), Caitlin Phelan ’16 (secretary), Jessica Long ’16 (public relations director) and Victoria Labenberg ’18 (historian).
Assistant Professor Vanessa Bravo, Elon PRSSA’s faculty adviser since fall 2013, accompanied the students.
Also in attendance were Denise Hill, an instructor in the School of Communications, who presented at the PRSA Educators Academy session, and Visiting Associate Professor John Doorley, who promoted the M.S. in Management at PRSA’s exhibitors and sponsors hall.
During PRSSA’s career development exhibition, Maggie Mullikin, coordinator of graduate outreach and special programs, and Diane Horton, program and outreach coordinator for the Love School of Business, represented the M.A. in Interactive Media and the M.S. in Management, respectively.
A pre-professional society, PRSSA has more than 11,500 members clustered in more than 340 chapters, both in the United States and abroad. Its 2015 conference attracted 1,250 public relations/strategic communications students.
PRSA, the nation’s largest community of public relations and communications professionals, has a total of 22,000 members, and its conference drew 2,250 attendees.