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Montclair State PRSSA Celebrates 10th Anniversary

By: Alexcis Tapia

Posted in: School of Communication and Media News

PRSSA Students

PRSSA President Genesis Acevedo (R), Public Relations Director, Megan Daniel (C), and Vice-president Stephanie Michael organized a last minute October 28 Autism NJ fundraiser with the John J. Cali School to raise $1,000.

The School of Communication and Media is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Public Relations Student Society of America.  The organization was founded in 2008 by its current faculty adviser, Larry Weiner.  The PRSSA is the student affiliate of the public relations profession’s governing body, the Public Relations Society of America, the world’s largest organization for public relations professionals. The goal is to provide hands on public relations experience to its members through actual client work, provide skills building workshops, and offer network opportunities.

While speaking to the founder of Montclair State University’s PRSSA about what the PRSA organization means to him, Weiner stated, “At this point in my career, it has an extra special meaning. First, by joining almost 15 years ago, it meant that I endorsed the ethical standards set forth by the PRSA that guide the profession’s practices, and those standards would guide how I conducted myself as a PR professional.  But now that I have achieved the rank of ‘Fellow PRSA,’ it means that I have been recognized by the PRSA for giving a lifetime commitment to the  profession.  There are less than 400 Fellows in the entire world, and Fellows represent the very best of the industry.”

Before this chapter was founded, Weiner thought about what he could do to improve the life of students studying public relations.  That is when he thought of the idea to begin a new chapter of PRSSA at Montclair. “For a student interested in PR as their chosen career, having membership in PRSSA on their resumes is invaluable,” Weiner said. “It’s an immediate connection to the thousands of professionals who are in PRSA, and it provides a large degree of legitimacy to our PR program. It also gives its members opportunities to hone their PR skills in ways they would never get in the classroom or through internships, and the chance to work together for a common good.  They learn how groups can produce better outcomes than individuals.”

Considering some students know nothing about what this society can do, Weiner explained, “Our Autism NJ fundraisers, which have raised nearly $30,000 in total over seven years have featured two Tony Award winners – Laura Benanti and Melba Moore; two more actresses who have a total of five additional Tony nominations – Stephanie J. Block and the late Marin Mazzie; and even an accomplished movie star, Moira Kelly (Nala in “The Lion King”).”  MSU PRSSA students worked with the Metropolitan Opera Guild to develop and produce a classical singing competition called “The Curtain Call Awards.”  The organization produced a fundraiser for the John Theurer Cancer Center at Hackensack University Medical Center that was headlined by the US’s most acclaimed Olympic gymnast, Shannon Miller.  And, it even helped publicize two Andy Kaufman Comedy competitions. In addition, the PRSSA/PRSA offers scholarships, awards, networking, and addition opportunities for expanding a student’s PR skills.

In addition to all these fundraisers and events, Weiner also mentioned a brand partnership with the John J. Cali School of Music.  Together they held a concert on October 28 at the Kasser Theater.  They were able to get an incredible piece of specially signed memorabilia from the world’s greatest operatic soprano, Anna Netrebko.  And, in the spring of next year, the PRSSA will hold their seventh April fundraiser for the organization, and that will be headline the original Broadway star of “Little Mermaid,” Sierra Boggess.

As to what hopes are to be attained in the future, Weiner says, “My hope is that we can use the success of the PRSSA to continue to build the SCM PR program, and, conversely, as our enrollment numbers grow, we can also grow the PRSSA and do even more “big things.”