An agency leadership panel was hosted by Drexel University’s Public Relations Student Society of America Nov. 15 featuring various industry business leaders.
Panelists included David Neff of Neff Associates, Matt Broscious of Brian Communications, Jennifer Mansfield of Breslow Partners, Melissa Roth of Domus, Inc. and Scott Tattar, a professor in the Department of Communication at Drexel University. The event was moderated by Nneka Van Gronigen, the president of PRSSA.
The panel lasted about an hour, beginning with Van Gronigen asking the panelists direct questions. Afterward, the floor was open to the audience to ask questions. Following the panel, there was a networking opportunity for students in the Skyview Lounge in MacAlister Hall.
The panelists were a variety of leaders in the public relations industry. They had plenty of advice for the students in attendance, which were mostly communications or business majors.
The first question posed by Van Gronigen asked the panelists to address how their college courses helped them in their careers.
“They gave me a great foundational experience, I think really the core skills I use every single day to this point in terms of especially writing. If I was to underscore one thing for me in terms of running a [public relations] team and an agency is the quality of writing is so critical, whether it be a work product we’re producing for clients, op-ed, press releases, speeches, but even business communications. Writing is just a core thing,” Broscious said.
The importance of writing was also echoed by Professor Tattar, who is the faculty advisor of Drexel’s chapter of PRSSA.
“I know we drill it into our students how critical writing is. It was critical when we went to school but now because of the multimedia channels we have … you cannot overemphasize the importance of writing,” Tattar said.
A follow up question asked the panelists if they thought that communication and PR classes could help students of every discipline.
“The ability to communicate persuasively crosses all industries,” Tattar responded.
Panelists agreed that PR knowledge is helpful to other majors besides communication. Broscious iterated that writing skills, public speaking, presentation skills and how to present yourself and your talents are all important regardless of discipline.
Van Gronigen asked the two female panelists if they felt that PR was a male-dominated industry. Both Mansfield and Roth described their career paths and both had mainly spent their time working for female-led agencies. Neff had some additional insight on the gender split in the industry.
“Its traditionally been about two thirds female to male. PR and social media tend to be exclusively female … All of the men at Neff are either designers or developers. It’s kind of weird that it’s just the way it is … men tend to be in one area and women tend to be in another area. But we are always looking to just hire the best people, regardless of whether they are men or women … may the best person win … the smartest, the most passionate, the best team player, the most creative,” Neff explained.
Other panelists echoed Neff and agreed that their agencies hire the best person for the job, regardless of gender. The panelists also made sure to note that a candidate’s social media presence does affect whether they would be hired or not.
Broscious explained that an appropriate online presence is necessary, especially for students that are going into PR.
“That digital footprint will always exist,” Broscious said when urging students to think before posting online.
Natalie Jenkins, previous vice president of the Drexel PRSSA chapter, was pleased with how the panel turned out.
“We encountered many challenges in the planning of this event and I am so proud of the way our team came together to pull it off and and I think it was amazing,” Jenkins told The Triangle. “I learned a lot as a young professional heading into the business world full-time and I know many others were as impacted by the event as I was.”
“It was great to see so many students and even faculty who were interested in the panelists … Overall, I’m so proud of my fellow PRSSA members who put in a tremendous amount of work into seeing the event come to fruition. We’re hoping this will be the first of a series of panel events with Philadelphia Professionals. We’ll be planning an agency tour and some mentor opportunities for winter and spring term,” Van Gronigen told the Triangle.