An Easy And Affordable Way To Improve Your Communication Efforts

Ed Burghard

The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.
― George Bernard Shaw



PRSSA Conference Learnings

On March 16, 2013 I had an opportunity to speak at a PRSSA Regional Conference hosted by Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. The theme for this conference was “Beyond The Basics”. Over 100 students from 12 Colleges and Universities who are studying public relations participated in the Conference.

PRSSA Overview

PRSSA (Public Relations Student Society of America) is an initiative of PRSA, which has over 21,000 public relations and communications professional members. The Organization establishes ethical standards for the profession and encourages continuing education.

Ohio University

O.U. is the oldest public institution of higher learning in the state of Ohio. The main campus is absolutely beautiful and located in Athens, Ohio.

The Scripps College of Communication is considered as one of the top 5 programs in the nation. It offers students 40 programs of study ranging from the technical to the visual aspects of communication.

My Topic Personal Branding Through Social Media

I was asked to speak on the topic of the effective use of social media to establish your personal brand. It was a great topic for students who are beginning to think about their life after graduation. I shared my personal experience of having successfully reinvented myself several times throughout my career, and my ongoing experience in the use of social media tools.

If you are interested, here is a copy of my presentation. You may find the tips on how to think through creating a personal brand useful.

PRSSA Presentation


Click on image to see the presentation

My Learnings

I always try to learn something from every experience. Here are 3 key learnings from interacting with the students I would like to share with you.

  • The Communications Profession is in good hands. I was genuinely impressed with the curiosity and caliber of thought I observed fro the participants in this Conference. They were highly attentive and their questions were insightful. Since the participants represented multiple colleges and universities, I believe I got a good cross-sectional look at the future of the communications profession. If you ever get an opportunity to speak with a group of students studying communication, take it. You will walk away with a sense of confidence that ethical and accurate reporting did not die with Edward Murrow.
  • Economic Development Organizations can be more successful by hiring graduates with communication degrees. These students showed genuine interest in exploring economic development as an industry to work in. The knowledge and skills they have on use of “new” media channels can be very helpful for raising the profile of a community for business attraction/retention/expansion or travel & tourism. If a college or university in your Region has a degree offering in the field of communications, I would recommend you have a conversation with the Dean about getting access to the best and brightest graduating talent in their program. I believe you gain a noticeable improvement in the quality of your Organization’s communication if you are able to hire one or more of these talented young professionals, and/or bring one onboard as a paid intern.
  • Communication students are a treasure trove of practical ideas for Economic Development Organizations. One thing I noticed is the sheer amount of online media use by these students. Not only is their knowledge current; but, they are participating in the media with limited to no budget. Imagine the practical and affordable ideas your Organization might get simply from conducting a focus group or brainstorm session with these students. Considering most Economic Development Organizations operate on a tight budget, getting ideas that require minimal investment seems like a valuable gift. Having spoke with the students at this Conference, at a minimum I would recommend that every EDO President sponsor a working session with communication students to generate ideas on how to improve their community’s website. For the cost of several pizzas, these students will undoubtedly give you golden nuggets of information.


It had been awhile since I spoke with students. When was the last time you had an opportunity to interact with them? What are some of the learnings you got from that experience? Does your Organization have employees with a degree in communication? If yes, have these employees provided you a source of competitive difference?

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