The Professional Society Benefitting All Students

Written by Kayleigh Hyers

As an incoming freshman, most students don’t know what career path they want to take. It can be a daunting task to decide what you want to do for the rest of your life. Luckily, there are professional societies like PRSSA to guide students on the path to success. As one of those students who didn’t know what they wanted to major in, it was important to find a major that gave me the support I needed to be the best. Without the numerous resources offered to students in the College of Communication and Information, as a senior, I would still be lost.

One of the most helpful and important resources offered to students is the Public Relations Student Society of America, or better known as PRSSA. PRSSA is the leading pre-professional public relations society in the country. It is offered to all students, of all majors and can be a helpful determinate when choosing a profession. PRSSA allows you to network and meet professionals in the community, increase your opportunities for internships and build your resume. I have been fortunate enough to see the direct impact that PRSSA membership has when it comes to searching for a job. If it were not for that one line on my resume, I believe I wouldn’t have been so lucky to receive an internship offer from one of the leading public relations firms in Knoxville.

PRSSA also builds a sense of community among public relations majors and the professional community in Knoxville. It’s professional societies like these that not only help you professionally and academically, but also personally. PRSSA not only allows you to meet new people, but it allows you to build meaningful relationships that go deeper than a “hello”. PRSSA boasts its inclusion of all students, not only on their chapter website, but also on the national organization website as well. PRSSA is dedicated to diversity and inclusion and instills those values in members to utilize in their future careers.

PRSSA not only offers academic benefits, but also important lessons for aspiring professionals in any industry. The ethical principles of PRSSA are advocacy, honesty, expertise, independence, loyalty and fairness. All of these principles can be applied to our professional experiences, as well as our personal experiences. PRSSA is one of the only professional societies that I have been a part of that promotes more than just an academic agenda.

In addition, the College of Communication and Information supports PRSSA’s efforts by offering public relations students real-world experience in the forms of internship opportunities, professional trips and study abroad programs. The college provides professors that are more than qualified in their backgrounds and dedicated to the success of each student.

The college also provides academic advising that ensures each student is reaching their full potential and on-track to begin a successful career, whether they are headed to grad school, an internship or a new job.

As a graduating senior, I will most definitely give credit to my PRSSA membership for allowing me to be so successful as a student. I will continue to enact the principles of PRSSA and hopefully continue on as a member of PRSA. I hope that the university and the Sammie Lynn Puett Chapter continue to reach students who are outside of the public relations major. I believe PRSSA greatly benefits all students professional, academic and personal experiences.

Why now is the time to #joinPRSSA

PRSSA logo-updated 2019
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The Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) provides many opportunities for upcoming communication professionals to expand their network, learn from their peers and benefit from the opportunities that the national organization provides.

Our chapter, the Sammie Lynn Puett Chapter, is gearing up for another spectacular year of programming and opportunities. New and returning members alike will benefit from an update in the membership process and from a wide array of speakers, strategically arranged to bring the most pertinent information needed before graduation.

The key change in PRSSA this semester is the ability to join and pay dues online. This is a game changer, as returning members may remember the hassle of bringing a check or cash with a completed information form to our Ad/PR office.

Now, you can head to to join and to pay your dues! Make sure to select the University of Tennessee, Knoxville as your chapter, and you will be added to our roster. Dues are $65 and can be paid online until September 30, 2019.

How does a membership with PRSSA benefit you? A small portion of dues go toward our chapter. This means providing food at meetings, recruiting top-notch guest speakers and other member-exclusive benefits. The remaining balance of dues secures a spot in the national PRSSA network. This is beneficial because of the connection to more than 10,000 students and advisers organized into 300 Chapters in the United States, Argentina, Colombia and Peru. PRSSA also bridges the gap into the professional world through a rich history of support from our parent organization, the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), which offers professional development, networking opportunities and news. Furthermore, our graduating PRSSA members receive a steep discount on dues to join PRSA upon graduating— meaning it’s never too late to join!

Being involved in a national organization is a beneficial addition to the college experience. PRSSA can enhance your education, broaden your network and launch your career. One of the executive team’s favorite advantages is the internship center on It features member-only access to job and internship postings to ensure you’re getting the most out of your time with our organization. The ability to list PRSSA as an official involvement on your resume is perhaps the most popular benefit of joining PRSSA, and we are glad to know this has resulted in countless professional positions and connections.

We are so enthusiastic about this time in our chapter’s development, and we can’t wait to see everyone #joinPRSSA! If you have any questions about the process, feel free to contact us.

Corporate Communication with Discovery

PRSSA invited Nicki Collett from Discovery Inc. to come speak at our first meeting this semester, September 10. We hope the below synopsis of Collett’s presentation will benefit our members in retaining her valuable messages.

Collett began by discussing her professional history. Her first job was in advertising sales working for a newspaper. Shortly after she started, she realized that advertising sales was not the right job for her. Her passion for writing kept her in advertising sales where she offered to do additional writing for free. Through this extra effort, she earned the opportunity to fly to the Olympics as a production manager to write for Snow Magazine. Today, she works in internal communication for Discovery Inc. in Knoxville, TN. Discovery is a media conglomerate that owns many big-name brands including Food Network, Animal Planet and HGTV. Collett loves the collaborative atmosphere at Discovery, both locally and globally.

Collett spoke with PRSSA about external and internal communication. According to Collett, external communication is the exchange of information outside of the organization while internal communication is the exchange of communication within the organization.

External communication covers all content that originates inside a company that is intended for those outside the company. Internal communication plays a role in helping employees understand the values and priorities of the organization as well as helping employees be in the know about how to do their jobs better and stay connected within the organization.

Collett also discussed the goals of communication, which she summed up as to inform, engage and excite audiences, both internally and externally. She discussed specific examples that Discovery executed in three major events for the company.


Externally, Discovery had community events, news coverage, programming, cross network promotions and beach cleanups. Internally, Discovery had signage, screenings, fin-fest events, branded merchandise and contests among those in the Discovery offices.


HGTV bought the house used to shoot external shots of The Brady Brunchhouse. “A Very Brady Renovation” took the house and renovated the inside to match the set The Brady Bunch filmed on. The show is now airing on HGTV. Externally, there was press coverage, cross network promotions and even a red shag carpet on the opening premier of “A Very Brady Renovation.” Internally, there was signage, a custom menu in the office cafeteria, contests and photo opportunities.

TOKYO 2020

Externally, there is countdown coverage, social media, live coverage, and crisis communication preparation. Internally, there is an employee ambassador program, screenings, signage and internal social media in preparation of the upcoming Olympics. Euro sport works closely with Discovery because they are the source of Olympic coverage everywhere outside of the United States!

Collett revealed much valuable information. She informed us that it is not just internal and just external communication. Communications and her job is all external and all internal all the time, it is corporate communications, working to make sure employees are excited because it’s a chain reaction of excitement when it starts from within. It is all about informing and knowing your audience and getting them excited about what you are doing.

“Communication is one tiny piece of the huge puzzle, but when it all comes together it is simply amazing, and communication is at the heart of it all!” – Nicki Collett

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PRSSA/Ad Club Social Photo Gallery

On Sept. 3, the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), Sammie Lynn Puett Chapter and UT Ad Club hosted their annual social to welcome new and returning members back to campus for the fall semester. We were excited to meet interested potential members and to soon welcome them into our amazing organizations.

Meet Your 2019-2020 Officers


Jordan Carlson, Vice President

Originally from Atlanta, Georgia, I am a senior studying public relations with a minor in business administration. I am currently a domestic distribution intern at Discovery, Inc. I am very excited to serve as this year’s Vice President. I am looking forward to expanding our chapter here at the University of Tennessee so that we can create the best experiences possible for our members.


Loren Gilbert, President

Loren is the president of PRSSA this year and is so excited for all the opportunities coming this semester. She is also a member of the Chancellor’s Honors Program and curates her own fashion and lifestyle blog to practice her writing skills. When she’s not in class or interning at Moxley Carmichael, Loren can be found at Capybara Coffee with a good book!


Hannah James, Treasurer

Meet our treasurer! Hannah is a senior public relations major and a political science and business administration minor. On campus, Hannah is involved in Campus Events Board, Alpha Chi Omega, and Public Relations Society of America. She is obsessed with The Beatles, The Grateful Dead, and John Mayer and has traveled to over 35 different countries!


Victoria Johnson, Vice President of Membership

Victoria Johnson is a senior who loves public relations, building relationships with people and Broadway. Victoria has had three internships throughout her college career including a public relations firm in Sydney, Australia, a nonprofit in Chattanooga, Tennessee and her current corporate internship with Dollywood. She is excited to serve as the VP of Membership Development for PRSSA this year!


Katie Matthews, Public Relations Director

Katie is a senior PR major and communication intern for the College of Architecture and Design. She’s ready to make an impact in a student organization that has been so important in her PR career. Through meetings and professional development opportunities, PRSSA has provided her and others so many opportunities to build a network and to prepare students for future careers in communications. Katie is extremely excited for the opportunity to represent PRSSA and can’t wait for even more exciting opportunities coming this year.


Emma Thurston, Secretary

Hi! My name is Emma Thurston and I am the Secretary for PRSSA this upcoming school year! I am studying Public Relations in hopes to have a career in ministry! I currently am a children’s intern at Sevier Heights Baptist Church here in Knoxville! I love children and the Vols! I am so excited to see what the Lord does in this organization and in the lives of its members! GO VOLS!