Public Relations Society of America host virtual panel

By Elizabeth Ryan 

Image of event posteri

With the continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Communication at Wayne State University remains committed to giving students an exceptional education while applying real-world contexts to curriculum.

The department’s Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) chapter hosted “Communication post pandemic: How did COVID-19 change the game?” virtual panel on April 14. The panel of professionals was moderated by Peter Van Dyke, CEO of Van Dyke-Horn Public Relations.

The four panelists for the discussion were Tracey Lynn Pearson, Deputy Media Relations Director for the City of Detroit within the Duggan administration; Chrystal Wilson, Assistant Superintendent of Communication for Detroit Public Schools Community District; Jeff Adkins, senior public relations specialist at Henry Ford Health System; and Alexander Sebastian, Director of Communications and Philanthropy for The Guidance Center. The panel of professionals and moderator are Wayne State University PR program alumni.

Over 100 students, professionals, and alumni joined the 60-minute panel discussion. This event was aimed at discussing the lasting impacts and changes the COVID-19 pandemic has made on the communication and public relations industry.

“Planning this event was one of the most meaningful experiences of my undergraduate career, and it was everything I hoped it would be for the students and alumni,” said Nina Knauf, PRSSA president and recent Wayne State University PR graduate. “It was an hour of transparent dialogue about the current state of the local communication industry in various sectors for graduating seniors. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to organize an event that contributed to the growth and fellowship of my fellow Warriors!”

Panelists discussed their pivoting strategies to respond to the pandemic, changes they believed were helpful and hurtful to the industry, the importance of informing the public while dealing with technology gaps, and offered graduating students advice about entering the career field. Returning alumni had the opportunity to gain other professionals’ perspectives on how they can continue to adapt their communication strategies in the pandemic.

Shelly Najor, director of the undergraduate PR program at Wayne State said: “Our alumni panelists were spot on with their student-centered approach to offering valuable insight into how they coped this past year, as well as sharing some creative work arounds that they may just hold on to!”

This event was an example of the hands-on experience and networking opportunities that students get to experience in the public relations program. It allowed students to engage and participate in an educational discussion about the lasting impacts and changes COVID-19 has had on the industry.