Elise Konerza is the president of the Public Relations Student Society of America chapter at Minnesota State University, Mankato. In addition, she is a public relations and marketing intern at Jungle Red Salon.
1. Tell me what you do in your current role as an intern at Jungle Red Salon.
Jungle Red Salon is not only a full-service salon that carries organic products, but is also an art gallery. The first Wednesday of each month, the salon highlights one artist and one musician at Jungle Red for their Rhythm and Red event. Anyone is invited to this free event to enjoy music, art, wine, hors d'oeuvres and to network. The artist's work hangs in the salon's gallery for one month. Other projects include maintaining relationships with Loring Park, Nicollet and downtown businesses, and putting together a high-end fashion show for three Minneapolis boutiques in March. I've really enjoyed the adjustment from Mankato to Minneapolis. There is just something about the hustle and bustle of this creative city that sparks an artistic perspective.
2. What have been some of the highlights of your tenure as PRSSA president at Minnesota State University, Mankato?
As PRSSA president at MSU, I really tried to be a resource for my peers. I wanted to be able to provide real-world opportunities and experiences for members to engage in. My most proud highlight has been working alongside four dedicated MSU PRSSA members in creating a comprehensive anti-bully campaign from the ground up for the annual national PRSSA Bateman Competition. I absolutely loved seeing our ideas come to fruition, garnering recognition, generating media impressions and being able to make an impact in the Mankato community.
I've also had the privilege of working with the BackPack Food Program in North Mankato on the Birthday project. Still in the works, getting ready for kickoff in March, this campaign encourages people to bring back that feeling of their best birthday ever. Pledge your birthday, let the world know, and ask for donations on your big day. Efforts help the BackPack Food Program meet their objective of feeding 1,200 Blue Earth County school children by 2015. We've already had four birthday pledges and one couple pledge their wedding gift registry before it's even been launched! This campaign has given members a taste of website creation, social media engagement and tracking, business relationship management, community outreach, media outreach, marketing timelines and campaign launches.
3. What story are you most proud of that you have worked on at The Reporter and why?
I am most proud of a story I wrote about teaching diversity to K-12 students. Kuma Takamura from the Mankato Area Diversity Council created a program to introduce diversity to students at each grade level in a different context. I had the privilege of talking with Takamura about the implications and necessities of teaching diversity in a societal structure that's always criticized and changing. The Prejudice Reduction Workshop's goal is to familiarize youth with respect, period. By encouraging tolerance and curiosity over xenophobia, even I took away a lesson or two from Takamura. After receiving a personal thank you from Takamura, the publishing of this story gave him a steady volunteer interest to keep the program going. It's amazing to see the power and impact of media and being able to be a resource for stories such as this.
4. What advice would you give to other students looking to break into public relations?
I strongly advise getting your feet wet in every form of media possible. The job description of a public relations professional is always changing. No longer are you expected to be an expert in just press releases, but you are required to have knowledge on community engagement, social media, marketing and much more.
College provides you with the tools and abilities to try out your curiosity in media relations, public relations or journalism, or all three. In college I was able to be a media relations and public relations resource, and interplay that with journalism in all the jobs and positions I held. That experience has led me to see how media interacts with each other and how strong of an influence public relations has with journalism and the importance of maintaining relationships within. It's true what they say, what you put into it is what you'll get out of it!
5. What kind of job are you looking for when you graduate?
I am open to any industry in a corporate, agency, profit, or nonprofit setting. I am looking for a job in which I can be an asset, work as a team and continually grow my knowledge and skills. Analytics has been a recent interest of mine in targeting social media and marketing efforts. I've always had a passion for being environmentally conscientious and would enjoy volunteering or working with an organization which exemplifies sustainability.
Follow Elise on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.
-- Brant Skogrand, APR, MBC / Skogrand PR Solutions, LLC