Presidential Advice from Senior Kristen Gorsuch

I remember walking into my very first PRSSA meeting my freshman year. I looked at all the executives at the front of the room and never would have thought I would become one. Even with my lack of knowledge, experience, and confidence, for some reason God chose to use me and place me in a position outside of my comfort zone. It has been an amazing experience to lead PRSSA and be a member of a chapter that is thirsty to grow and learn.

I think one of the most appealing aspects of being a PRSSA member is getting a chance to get hands-on experience in our student-run firm, Innovations. My junior year, I was involved in planning the Special Olympics Virginia Polar Plunge. I gained experience writing a press release, visiting businesses to get donations, and working with a team to put on a fundraising event. Innovations allows students to put what they learn in the classroom into practice.

I have 3 pieces of advice to current and future PRSSA members:

1. Run for an executive position
There are 8 executive positions and each of them offer amazing ways to use your skills. Your future employers will love to see on your resume that you took the initiative to go above and beyond by being a leader.

2. Network

When you are a member of PRSSA, you will get to meet many professionals in the field of public relations. Innovations also gives you the opportunity to work for professionals and glean off of their experience. Take advantage of this time to network with them. Ask for their business card, connect with them on LinkedIn, ask them questions, etc. You never know…one day they could offer you a job!

3. Get involved in one of Innovations’ accounts
Each semester Innovations has at least 3 clients they are working with such as HIS Vision, Special Olympics Virginia, Club Sports, and more. Pick an account and get plugged in!

Interviews for Internships

Hello my PR enthusiasts,

Summer 2014 is almost here. Many students like myself are hungrily searching for that specific internship that we want. Not only are students looking for internships but they are preparing to NAIL that first interview! I am writing this blog to give you some real world advice and tell you the do’s and don’ts during the interview process.

I recently had an interview with Meet The Press, which has been the longest running television program on T.V. It is a politically based news show that airs every Sunday morning. Coming into this interview as a Sophomore in college was nerve racking. However when preparing for an interview, you want to enter knowing as much as you can about the company (especially if that is where you want to work). And TRUST me they played hard ball. Meet the Press doesn’t play any other way. So KNOW YOUR STUFF.

- I cannot emphasize how important it is to know everything you can about the place you are interning for.
- Know HOW and WHEN the company was founded.
- Know the past and present leaders
- Most importantly know the companies goals and their message
- Show that you can contribute to ideas and have examples of how you can contribute.
- Constantly keep in touch with whatever company or network you are applying for.
For example:
Question from Meet The Press: If you were producing the show next week who would you have on to discuss the Ukraine situation?
Answer: I answered Hillary Clinton because I knew the previous Sunday they interviewed Secretary of State John Kerry on the same subject.

- Know recent changes or recent news that has happened in the organization. Recent can include the past six months!
For example:
Question from Meet The Press: Who did you enjoy the most on the show the past six months excluding Kerry from last weekend.

Answer: A good answer to this question would be someone obviously other than Kerry, however John Kerry has been on Meet The Press multiple times. He could be a possible answer… however Newt Gingrich or Benjamin Netanyahu would be a wiser choice because it shows you have watched the show more than once. It comes back to knowing the place you want to intern for. DO NOT just focus on news from them the past two weeks but focus on their past history as well.

** It is more important to give a confident answer even if you may not think it is the best answer. Giving an answer without hesitation will set you apart from those who allow nerves to control their emotions and answers.

- Show an interest in the company and ask questions about the internship and about the company.

-Because when you show an interest in the company’s cause they will show an interest in you. These places you are applying for are looking for passion and a very hard work ethic.
-Showing your love for the company and the work they do will help set you apart from other interns.

- There are duties that are normally listed under the internship you apply for. Make sure to clearly state that the duties outlined with in the internship responsibilities align with your personal goals.
- When you show them you know what they expect from you and more importantly that you can accomplish it, makes your chances of earning that spot easier.
- Make sure you make these goals attainable. NEVER exaggerate when in an interview about your skill set. Be honest, but highlight your strengths without being cocky.

3. After the Interview
- After EVERY interview hand write a thank you! This makes a difference in how you will be remembered, whether you get the internship or not, this will set you apart from those who chose not to write or send an electronic thank you note.


- It shows your professionalism as well as character. It shows the employers you understand that they took time out of their day to give you a chance. They chose you to possibly represent their company and you want to make sure you leave a lasting impression. Again if you do not get the internship they could still be a possible employer for the future.

Example thank you:

Thank you for taking the time to discuss the internship opportunity with me yesterday. The job seems to align with my goals and skills. I have a strong desire to work for you and look forward to hearing from you regarding this position.

Kindest regards,

Lauren Creekmore

If you have any questions regarding an interview you are up for please don’t hesitate to ask! Stick with our blog we have some new clients this fall and exciting events happening in the near future for PRSSA!

PR places by: Sarah Corder

Graduates must decide where their lives are going after getting a college degree. Literally, one of the big choices they face is where to live.

“The most mobile age group is 18 to 29 year olds,” Alison Fields, chief of the Census Bureau’s Journey-to-Work and Migration Statistics Branch, said.

“It stands to reason that single people and renters, whose roots are not yet so deep, find it much easier to relocate for a job. People in their early twenties are three to five times more likely to move than a mid-career person,” Richard Florida, director of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, said.

Quality of life — in the form of great restaurants and night life, museums, diversity and street energy — is also important to people who are seeking to move. Fortunately, he said, cities with those attributes tend to be places that also provide a lot of economic opportunity.

San Francisco, CA- The “Golden State” has several top playing metro cities. The annual median wage of a public relations specialist working in San Francisco is $84,000, which is $30,000 more than the average pay in the profession, according to the 2013 U.S. News & World Report. Though rent is high, San Francisco is ranked as one of the easiest cities to live in without a car by

Additionally, the Bridge City comes in at seventh for the most Twitter users, according to research done by Marketwire. This statistic contributed to San Francisco being listed as one of the 10 Social Media Meccas Worldwide by With nearby Silicon Valley and downtown SOMA, computer-savvy grads can find plenty of tech companies to work with, including big names such as Google, Facebook and Apple.

Listed as the fifth best city for sports fans by, San Francisco averages almost 100 percent attendance at games for all four major sports— MLB, NFL, NHL and NBA. Attending the games is affordable for sports fans as tickets for Giants and Warriors games run about $30 each.

Chicago, IL- After a devastating fire in 1871, Daniel Burnham redesigned Chicago so every citizen could be walking distance from a park, streets could be wider and buildings could be taller. These factors make the average commute shorter, at 35 minutes vs. 40 minutes, according to Business Insider. The “Windy City” hosts a high density of political, healthcare and financial PR jobs.

“We currently have over 400 Liberty University students and alumni in the Greater Chicago area, with a solid percentage of them being in the fields of communications and public relations specifically. They work in organizations such as Christianity Today, Brand Be Collective, Plan B Advertising Agency, and The Chicago International Movies & Music Festival. As one of the top 25 cities for recent graduates and starting place of Edelman, the world’s largest independently owned PR firm, Chicago certainly has a lot to offer”, Liberty University Career Counselor Reggie Leonard said.

Austin, TX- Forbes listed Austin as one of the best job markets for finding work. Many of the jobs in this booming city are sprouting from the real growth in well-paying social media positions. The average salary for PR specialists is $60 thousand in Austin, well above the national average. Yet, Austin has the lowest cost of living on this list so residence will actually be able to hold on to some of your paycheck.

Austin is emerging particularly quickly in the tech industry, as Dell and IBM are headquartered here. At fewer than six percent, Austin has the lowest unemployment rate of any city on this list. Known as the “Live Music Capital”, Austin has so much for young professionals to do. For those not fond of the cold, Texas’ capital may be the ideal city. To top it off, Keplinger lists Austin as the #1 city to live in for the next decade.

Boston, MA- AdAge named the Boston agency Allen & Gerristen its “2011 #1 Place to Work.” For more experience before committing to a job, their internship program has been recognized as a “magnet for millennial talent.” At a rate of less than seven percent, unemployment is not a high concern for those living in Boston.

Consulting and venture capital are the major industries here. With a wealth of museums and historical sites such as the Paul Revere House, America’s past still lives on in this city. Beantown, as it is affectionately known, has the most 18 to 24 year olds of any U.S. city.
It’s crawling with college students and welcomes a young crowd. Sports lovers especially enjoy this town because “Boston has some of the most iconic franchises in sports and one of the most hallowed ballparks in Fenway Park”, reports.

Washington, D.C. – Employment opportunities are three-fold greater here than compared to the national average, according to Show Me the Money. At $81 thousand, the average salary for PR specialists in D.C. is almost double the overall national average of $46 thousand. The U.S. capital’s unemployment rate is less than six percent. Not only are lots of attractions, like the Smithsonians, free to the public, but specialty interests groups constantly invite young professionals to their events.

“Washington, D.C. is probably best known for politics and government; however, there is a diverse and vibrant community that makes this area unique. Almost every organization in the world has a presence here and that creates numerous opportunities for public relations professionals. In addition, the region offers a perfect mix of history combined with vast modern amenities for dining, shopping, entertainment, touring, sports and other activities both in and around our nation’s capital,” Senior Vice President of Edelman David Almacy said.

New York City, NY- The Big Apple is home to multiple worldwide agency headquarters. NYC based Edelman has the highest fees of any top PR firms with major U.S. operations, according to an Odwyer report released in March of 2013. With almost 5 thousand employees, their net fees have reached $656 thousand.

Keep an eye out for the small agencies too. For instance, Mr. Youth was voted the second best place to work by Crain’s New York Business in 2011. The “if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere” attitude is prevalent in this highly competitive environment. The city also embraces “work hard, play hard” as most things are open 24-hours.

“New York City, of course, is the premier place to work if you can get a job. It’s where the best in PR are brought up, for the most part,” Jon Negroni, creator of The Pixar Theory and 2012 public relations graduate of Liberty University, said.

“When it comes to a career in the marketing industry, which includes PR professionals, the location and the field you choose can have an immense impact on your future satisfaction and salary,” Anne Webster, president of the staffing agency Aquent, said in a press release.

Extensive research is available for those attempting to make an educated decision as to where they should work and live. “When in doubt, go where you have the most connections,” Liberty University Public Relations Professor Amy Bonebright advises.

Social-rating website signs with Liberty University’s student-run public relations firm

Liberty University’s chapter of PRSSA promoting start-up company TengradeTM

Lauren Creekmore – Account Executive at Innovations –
Joshua Gordon – Account Executive at Innovations –


LYNCHBURG, Va. – The student-run public relations firm of Liberty University, Innovations, is announcing its partnership with TengradeTM, a social-rating tool and website. The organization’s site features simple web ratings, which allows users to rank any subject in the world.

Innovations-Logo-New“We see Tengrade as being the universal rating gadget for everyone and as such, we can think of no better place to introduce our technology than among the enthusiastic, passionate, and truly blue-blooded American youth in places like Liberty University,” Stu Strumwasser, co-founder and COO of TengradeTM, said. “Tengrade enables users to stop trusting ratings from strangers, and start relying on their friends and people who are similar to them.”

The website,, is a mobile-friendly site that shows rankings of different subjects based on a user’s demographics.

“We are very excited to be partnering with the organization,” said Olivia Witherite, firm director for Innovations. “Tengrade offers a new and innovative idea, and it is a great way for Liberty students and others to share their opinions on any subjects that are important to them.”

Identity and Button ExperienceCurrently, TengradeTM, based in New York City, is one of Innovations’ four clients. All members of Innovations are full-time students who have the opportunity to perform work in a setting that mimics a public relations agency.

“For Tengrade, we don’t expect to enjoy our initial adoption at Harvard. It will be in regular places, like the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains,” Strumwasser said. “And we are thrilled about that.”

For more information, contact Joshua Gordon at or Lauren Creekmore at

Innovations is the nationally affiliated firm under Liberty University’s chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA). PRSSA is a student-run organization for emerging public relations professionals who are looking to network and gain practical experience. The organization serves its members by enhancing their knowledge of public relations and providing access to professional development opportunities.


Editor’s Note: If you are signing up at, please enter “liberty2013″ into the referral box.

Profit for Nonprofit Organizations

By Olivia Witherite (@oliviawitherite)

At Innovations, one of our biggest clients each year is Special Olympics Virginia. Over the past few years, we have been helping them organize the Hill City Polar Plunge, an event that raises tens-of-thousands of dollars for the local chapter of Special Olympics.

Not only do we have the opportunity to work for a great cause, we also have the chance to engage with many local businesses. Many nonprofit organizations rely on the support of local businesses to thrive, and the Polar Plunge festival is a prime example.

Special Olympics Virginia BasketballIn order to be successful, we must have businesses backing our cause. For the Polar Plunge, we need sponsorships, donations, door prizes and more in order to carry out a successful, profitable event.

This year will be my third straight year working on the Polar Plunge event, and I have spent many hours reaching out to businesses, asking them to support Special Olympics’ cause. Recently, I talked to some public relations students who are ready to go out to businesses and ask for support. While the pieces of advice I gave them was specifically for Special Olympics, the advice can be used by anyone looking to grow a nonprofit through the support of small businesses.

1. Be personable.

Go talk to people in person. Although it is much easier to contact a business via email or phone, people are much more likely to listen to your pitch in person. Not only will you be able to discuss your organization face-to-face, you can also hand them collateral in person, keeping you and the nonprofit at the front of their minds.

2. Timing is everything.

The Polar Plunge is a one-day event. In order for us to gather maximum support, it’s imperative that we reach businesses at the prime time. Planning is everything. We time everything around fiscal years, the time of the event and more. While you’re preparing to meet with businesses, make sure you’re planning to go at the right time!

3. Stand behind your cause.

After working with Special Olympics for more than two years now, I have really fallen in love with the organization. The nonprofit offers great opportunities for some great people. I have met awesome athletes in the organization, and I have learned so much from them.

When you’re passionate about your organization, it will show in your work. When you’re meeting with potential sponsors, volunteers or others, show off your organization! People will be more likely to stand behind an organization when they see that you’re right there with them.

PRSSA National Conference 2013 in Philadelphia

Let’s get innovative

By Olivia Witherite (@oliviawitherite)

Before we dive into talking PR, allow me a second to introduce myself. My name is Olivia Witherite, and I am Innovations’ firm director. This fall semester marks my last at Liberty University before I head off into the real world. I am excited to start my career doing what I love: social media marketing in the sports field.

After more than three years in college (studying advertising, public relations and broadcast journalism,) countless public relations conferences and meetings, years of internships, full-time work and a recent trip to Philadelphia for PRSSA National Conference, I have learned one main thing: I still have so much to learn.

PRSSA National Conference 2013 in Philadelphia

PRSSA National Conference 2013 in Philadelphia

Public relations is a constantly evolving profession, and there are so many opportunities to keep learning. As stressed by many prominent speakers during my recent trip to Philly, if you want to be a public relations specialist, you must be a lifelong learner.

The intent of this blog is to showcase what we are learning through Innovations. While this post mainly serves as an introduction, I hope that I can start off this semester’s blog with a few pieces of wisdom that I have learned over the last few years.

1. Keep up.

If you’re not staying involved and updated with the current news and technologies, you’re behind. Read up on the latest industry news, watch the news and keep up with what your friends are sharing on social media. Some good places to start are Mashable, Forbes and the good, old-fashioned local news. Also, I wholeheartedly suggest signing up for Google Alerts.

2. Clean it up.

If your social media isn’t clean, you better go fix it now. You may think that your posts are set to just your “friends,” but people will see what you want to keep hidden. And while I’ve never personally hired someone for full-time employment, from personal experience and from others’ stories, I know that people are looking at potential employees’ profiles. Watch what you share, retweet, like and pin. Is the possibility of three retweets from your snarky subtweet really worth jeopardizing your future career endeavors?

3. Live it up.

OK, so maybe No. 3 sounds a little cheesy (or like a slogan for a teenage clothing company.) Regardless, I really mean it.

College and your early career are great times for learning and for establishing relationships. Take advantage of both.

If there’s an opportunity to go to a public relations conference, volunteer to go! You’ll learn a lot and be able to network with professionals in the industry. Also, it won’t be easy, but try your best to balance your social life with your work. We’re only young for so long, and the one thing I don’t want to leave college with is regret. Have fun because your current stage of life will be over before you know it!

Best of luck in your endeavors, and if you have any questions, leave a comment below or tweet me.

For more on me, check out my LinkedIn and my