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International Conference Scholarship Recipient, Paula MacDonald

To say that I’m excited to have been selected as the recipient of the PRSA Tampa Bay 2014 International Conference Scholarship would be an extreme understatement! This year’s conference, to be held October 12-14 in Washington, D.C., will be my first ever International Conference, and is jam-packed full of amazing networking and learning opportunities.

In a past life, I really took attending large conferences of this nature for granted; not that I didn’t value the experience, but when you are fortunate to have an employer covering your costs as part of your training and development budget, I don’t think you savor the moment as much as you do when budgeting conference fees, travel and lodging on your own. To be honest, I really never imagined that I’d be able to attend a conference of this magnitude this year. After experiencing a job layoff in July 2013, I launched my own public relations practice, Image Suite PR, and have spent much of the last year building my business and only dreaming of training opportunities like this. Thanks to PRSA Tampa Bay, I’m able to make this a reality in 2014!

The tough part now is figuring out which sessions to attend. The conference schedule is an amazingly condense three days, with back-to-back sessions on everything from crisis communications to social media and more. I’ve got each time slot narrowed down to three potential sessions, but will have to make some difficult decisions soon, as I can’t be everywhere at once.

In addition, I’m looking forward to continued networking with fellow PRSA Tampa Bay members who will be in attendance at the conference, as well as meeting new contacts and making new friends from PR environments around the world. One seasoned PR practitioner from our chapter recently told me that in her experience with the International Conference, it’s a great value to establish those connections outside of your region, as you can utilize them as a resource for fresh ideas when you have a challenge of your own; it’s possible they have been through similar situations in their own area, and can provide you with new insight. Great advice!

Finally, as part of what seems my never-ending quest to achieve my APR accreditation, I know that attending the International Conference will help to solidify many of the concepts that I am incorporating into my work with my clients to become a better public relations practitioner. I’m committed to testing by Spring 2015, so the clock is ticking to prepare myself appropriately for readiness review and testing. Immersion at the International Conference will provide a great opportunity to continue my studies.

Thanks again to PRSA Tampa Bay for selecting me for this honor; I hope to represent you well! Please follow along with me during the conference on Twitter and Facebook, @imagesuitepr, as I share my experience at #PRSAICON.

 

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