About 50 students were present yesterday for the 10 a.m. opening of the PR Career Forum at the Kimmel Center of New York University. This grew to nearly 100 as the day advanced.

Reporters were banned from the Forum. PR publishers had to pay $1,000 to display their products and none did so.

career daySpeakers included Lou Capozzi, chair of the Foundation of PRSA, a sponsor of the Forum, who said "PR is poppin'." He said it would be "the fastest growing profession in America in the next ten years."

Capozzi said a new age is dawning, "the conversation age" that will be about "two-way conversation."

Organizations can no longer shout at their audiences but instead must "engage them," he said.

Corporations need the assistance of PR people in trying to navigate in this new world, he added. This presents a "terrific opportunity" for PR people.

Millennials are "obviously the most savvy social media people on the planet," he said.

Capozzi, who was chair of the MSLGroup of Publicis from 2000-09 and is now an adjunct professor in the NYU M.S in PR program headed by John Doorley, also spoke in favor of transparency and the need for organizations to "be comfortable" with the realization that they can no longer control a message.

"PR always works through third parties," he said.

Academics, he continued, talk about "two-way symmetrical, integrated communication ... trying to create a win-win scenario ... sensitivity to all audiences is important in this environment ... the notion of transparency is now prevalent everywhere."

Germinder Gave Brief Intro

Lea-Ann Germinder, president of the New York chapter, was listed as speaking from 10 a.m. to 10:10 a.m. in an initial program but this was changed on the day of the event.

She only spoke for about a minute, thanking Brandi Boatner of IBM, who helped organize the event, noting Boatner was national president of PRSSA in 2008 and that the New York chapter was lucky to have her on its board.

She then turned the mike over to NYU PRSSA chapter president Shira Palka, saying: "We think that you'll have a lot to gain today so without further ado, Shira Palka."

Palka thanked the students for coming and said she hoped to meet everyone during the day.

The Society "has really introduced me to the field of PR and what it's all about," she said. "Making these connections and really speaking to people in the industry ... will teach you how PR can further your career development."

Cripps Pitches PR as a Career

career dayKathy Cripps, president of the Council of PR Firms, spoke in the most glowing terms about PR as a career. Her Powerpoint pitch was called: "Take Flight with PR—A Smart Career Choice."

Cripps said PR is vastly different today from what it was a few years ago and quoted Burson-Marsteller founder Harold Burson as saying PR is "creating, changing and reinforcing opinion and attitudes."

PR can help companies and institutions to "get out of crises," said Cripps.

She described the differences between corporate and agency PR, noting she had once worked for Nestle. Her tasks there, she said, included giving advice to line managers and shaping messages to employees.

Her "heart," she said, is in agency PR because of the "entrepreneurial environment." She called PR "the number one creative job ... brainstorming great ideas and selling them."

Stress is part of a PR person's job "but what job isn't stressful?" she asked.

Food Was Excellent

The buffet-style lunch was plentiful and excellent, students said. It included chicken tenders, hot dogs, cheese sticks, vegetables and several types of sodas.

Arthur Yann
PRSA VP-PR Arthur Yann photographs O'Dwyer staffers outside of the event.               Photo: Sharlene Spingler
Many of the students present did not stay for the entire day since they had to attend classes.

A count of those present is being sought from Germinder and Palka. They have also been asked how many full-time jobs are available to the attendees and from what companies, how many internships, and how long the internships will be.

O'Dwyer staffers stationed themselves outside Kimmel from 9:30 to 10:10 a.m. and only observed a few students going into the building.

The intention was to show some of the students the directories of the field including the O'Dwyer and PR Week directories of PR firms. However, the attention of any of arriving students could not be gained.

A guard at a desk in Kimmel said the O'Dwyer staffers had to stand at least 15 feet from the front door.

Arthur Yann, VP-PR of the Society, was in the lobby taking pictures of the O’Dwyer staffers through the window. O’Dwyer staffers took his picture.