PRSSA to honor women at anniversary reception


An NIU organization will be using its anniversary to honor outstanding women in the public relations field.

The Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) will celebrate its 25th anniversary from 6 to 9 p.m. on Nov. 4 with a reception at the NIU Art Museum Gallery in Chicago.

At the reception, a national award, the first of its kind, will be unveiled. This award recognizes the contributions of significant women in public relations.

PRSSA was created 25 years ago by the PRSA, Public Relations Society of America. The organization was established in 1968 to give students experience in the profession of public relations and to prepare them for a career in this field. PRSSA also gives students the opportunity to have contact with professional public relations practitioners.

NIU was one of the first colleges to receive a charter for a PRSSA chapter. PRSSA is sponsored by the Chicago chapter of PRSA, which has 570 members. The organization has been very strong since its establishment, and PRSSA alumni have gone on to excellent careers in the public relations field.

Shirley Serini, PRSSA faculty advisor and assistant professor of journalism, said with few exceptions, no one has recognized the contributions of women to the development of the field.

She said there is a need for this recognition program because of the ways women have enriched the field. The women who have been named are mostly very senior in the profession, pioneers and leaders in the field, not just as women but as individuals, Serini said.

Twenty-five women will be named to the initial award plaque, and 3 additional women per year for the next 25 years will be added. These women will be chosen by the women who have already received the award.

The $25 cost per person, as well as the proceeds from a silent auction also taking place that evening, will go toward the endowment of a PRSSA scholarship. The goal for the scholarship amount is $5,000.

The establishment of the scholarship, Serini said, marks the anniversary of the organization. She added there are currently no public relations scholarships, and the scholarship is for outstanding members of the organization.

In 1981, the group established the first ever national student public relations agency and started a workshop to help other universities create similar agencies.

Serini described the agency as an opportunity for students to work one on one with clients. Students also engage in a number of public relations activities, such as designing and implementing research, coordinating special events, as well as writing and designing a variety of publications.

Students also work closely on a number of projects with major national and international agencies in Chicago.

“PRSSA is a leadership training ground. The students who maximize their involvement find the investment of their time to be an important one when they enter the job market,” Serini said.

The reception is being held at a gallery on 212 West Superior, Suite 306, Chicago.