PRSSA Pride: National President Brian Price on Student Leadership

October 31, 2013

Brian Price with 2013 Chair and CEO Mickey G. Nall, APR, Fellow PRSA,  at this year’s Leadership Rally in New York City
Brian Price with 2013 Chair and CEO Mickey G. Nall, APR, Fellow PRSA, at this year’s Leadership Rally in New York City

Brian Price is a second-year graduate student at Northern Michigan University (NMU) in Marquette, Mich., and is pursuing his master’s in public administration. In addition to serving as National President of PRSSA, he is a graduate assistant for the NMU director of communications. 

Price received a bachelor’s degree in communication studies from NMU and joined PRSSA during his junior year. He served as secretary and Chapter president and was on the 2012-13 National Committee as the vice president of Chapter development. Price interned with the Sports Information Department and the Communications and Marketing Office, and was a volunteer with the Upper Peninsula Children’s Bereavement Network. He has also interned at Taylor Global, Inc., in Charlotte, N.C. and Porter Novelli’s Chicago office.

Why did you decide to go into public relations?

In the spring of my sophomore year at Northern Michigan University, I changed my major to communication studies. I was attracted to public relations as a career because of the energy and variety of work in the profession. I feel like I’m in the center of the action in public relations, and that’s right where I want to be.

What advice do you have for others for success in PRSSA, and how can PR students make the most of their college and graduate school experiences?

Employers are always looking to fill internships and entry-level roles with those who already have some experience, so students [should] do as much hands-on work as possible. It’s OK to start small and work up to bigger projects and internships, but you have to just jump in and get started. The PRSSA website lays out options at the national level, but Chapters often have great programming at the local level, too.

Why is there such an interest in public relations these days? Is it a popular major?

Yes, public relations is a relatively popular major today. A portion of it comes down to PRSSA. Our Society has done a great job with helping leaders learn from other leaders. Better recruiting practices, including seeking out those from other majors, has come out of that. Students who have the skills and traits to be successful communicators are finding public relations through this outreach.

What tools and technology are most important for you to succeed right now as a student and to carry over into the real world as a professional?

I’m not someone [who is] ahead of the curve when it comes to emerging technology, but one thing I think of immediately is using technology to stay organized and on top of work. Having a method to stay organized with deadlines, reminders, updates and meetings, while working from five or six different devices, is crucial and can minimize mistakes.

How are your professors integrating social media into the classroom experience?

Things have progressed a lot since I started my undergraduate work at Northern Michigan. The professors are now requiring students to have Twitter, with projects that involve following PR professionals in their area of interest. They will assign social media effectiveness analyses of companies, tying it back to core principles, and require social media promotion to be a part of campaigns. NMU also recently developed a social media class as an in-major elective.

You are an active Twitter user. What are some tips and best practices?

Use Twitter to engage with people, brands and organizations. A conservative approach for posting is always best, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t be playful. I enjoy Twitter the most when I have a balance between connecting with friends, sharing news and mixing in a little bit of opinion.

What classes or experiences at NMU have helped prepare you for the real world?

I took a class on rhetorical theory, which has helped me understand persuasion in a better way. We’re in the business of changing and shaping attitudes, so I had a lot of fun understanding styles and concepts for rhetoric. I am also a graduate assistant in NMU’s communications and marketing office. We don’t do a lot of media outreach, but my on-campus role is helping me write for an external audience on a daily basis. It’s helped me plan long-term strategic communication outlines and understand realistic goals.

What have you learned from your own internship experiences and what advice do you have for others on how to make the most of internships?

I’ve had a variety of internships — small and large — and what I’ve [gained] is a deeper understanding of what it’s like to be a full-time professional. Internships have helped me understand how to act, speak, write and listen in a professional manner.

Find a mentor or go-to person in the office and invest time in growing that relationship. An internship is a tailor-made path to expanding your network. Those relationships often have all kinds of short- and long-term benefits.

Looking ahead, what are some of your career goals?

I’ll be looking to start my career in an agency, so my first goal is to be hired by one. At work, I want to be someone who is considered a strong player on teams and somebody who does well when called on to lead. Professional development is important to me, which means a significant investment in PRSA and, hopefully, leadership positions at some point. I also want to give back to PRSSA and be a resource to the next group of students. I’ll always be tied to PRSSA because it has given me so much.

What are your classmates and peers talking about right now? Are  they worried about the job hunt and life after graduation?

PRSSA members are focused on the school year, recruitment/retention and National Conference. It’s all about Chapter success right now. As a whole, we’re not too concerned about what happens in May quite yet. Later in November, the focus starts to shift toward figuring out those next steps. It’s a competitive profession, so everybody is worried at times. Those who start the search process early tend to have more options and panic less.

What trends do you see on the horizon for public relations?

 [The outlook seems] good for public relations. We’re thriving as technology grows. I could see public relations working as the glue that bonds marketing, advertising, events and communications into one unified message that benefits and energizes key publics. I think — and hope — that public relations is going to see continued growth in popularity and influence with the C-suite of businesses.

What makes a good leader? Why did you pursue a role in PRSSA leadership?

A good leader is a strong listener, has passion for what they are leading and wants what is best for the majority of those affected by decisions. A good leader shows by example and is encouraging.

I wanted to be on the National Committee because I wanted to add value and increase the ease of access to our benefits. I decided to pursue becoming National President because I wanted to give back to the Society that gave me so much, plan at a deeper level and work with this year’s Committee on continuing efforts.

What do you hope to accomplish in the upcoming year as PRSSA president?

This year, our main goals are to increase participation in current initiatives and benefits as well as to create more opportunities for PRSSA members with PRSA. I also want to make sure that the National Committee members have a great experience during their year of service and that they have what they need to carry out their goals.

How do you strengthen the bond between PRSA and PRSSA and make sure that people want to continue their membership?

As PRSSA grows, members look at PRSA as the next logical step. We added an associate membership to PRSA at a discounted rate for the first two years for PRSSA members, which helped transition numbers improve. The bond is strengthened when PRSA Chapters have a relationship with area PRSSA Chapters. It helps PRSSA alumni understand PRSA and provides a feeling of comfort. I think that recent grads who are comfortable with PRSA will invest time and seek leadership opportunities, like many do in PRSSA. 

Getting to Know…Brian Price

If you could have three dinner guests, who would they be?
Jimmy Buffett, Mark Twain and Jim Valvano

What is your favorite quote or leadership advice?
“If you’re not fired with enthusiasm, you’ll be fired with enthusiasm.” — Vince Lombardi

What is your favorite TV show?

Managing Editor Amy Jacques interviewed Brian Price for this month’s profile.


Amy Jacques

Amy Jacques is the managing editor of publications for PRSA. A native of Greenville, S.C., she holds a master’s degree in arts journalism from Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in advertising from the University of Georgia’s Grady College and a certificate in magazine and website publishing from New York University.


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