Alumni Spotlight: Jessica Lawlor #10YearChallenge
If you open up any social media app, you are bound to see a #10YearChallenge post, it’s everywhere. People are sharing how much they have or have not changed since 2009, and the results don’t disappoint. Over the course of 10 years, many things can change including organizations. Temple PRSSA is no different. The past 10 years of Temple PRSSA have seen many great changes and yet many things remain the same. To find out a bit more about what Temple PRSSA looked like 10 years ago, I asked Jessica Lawlor (‘10) to share about her time with the chapter.
In Fall of 2009, Temple PRSSA’s chapter was run by an 11 person executive board with Jessica Lawlor as the chapter president. At the time the number of general body members was around 50-60 people. Meetings were held every Tuesday and rotated between guest speakers and committee meetings. Lawlor says, “I’ll still always remember Tuesday afternoons as PRSSA time.” 10 years later Tuesday afternoons are still known to many PRSSA members as PRSSA time. What is different is since the Fall of 2009, our chapter has grown to consist of over 120 general body members and a 14 person executive board.
As a chapter, Temple PRSSA participates and plans many activities throughout the year. Each year Temple PRSSA has participated in community service events and fundraising activities. In 2009, Temple PRSSA participated in community clean-ups, Relay for Life and various bake sales and bar fundraisers. Today, we still continue to participate in several community events throughout the year through our community service committee.
In many ways, Temple PRSSA is the same. We still meet every Tuesday afternoon. We continue to center our organization around leadership, mentorship and networking. We still have the same faculty advisor. Changes in PRSSA were made because of our continuous growth and dedication to providing members with a memorable experience. Now 10 years later, not only have we grown our chapter but also our amazing alumni network. Today’s chapter would not be the same without the dedication from past members like Lawlor.
10 Years since Temple
Lawlor joined PRSSA over 10 years ago, in her sophomore year after switching into the public relations major. “I’ve always loved being involved in activities, so when I saw there was a professional group for PR majors, I immediately joined. I loved attending meetings and hearing from guest speakers who had real-world experience. Those first meetings after I switched my major really solidified my decision to study PR,” said Lawlor.
During her time with PRSSA, Lawlor helped found PRowl PR. Following the founding of PRowl, Lawlor served as the Director of Public Relations for the firm. Now PRowl has been around for 11 years and has grown so much. On PRSSA executive board, Lawlor served as a secretary before she became chapter president in her senior year. As chapter president, Lawlor was responsible for making sure PRSSA ran smoothly, leading the general body meetings and managing the executive board.
One of Lawlor’s favorite memories of Temple PRSSA was attending the PRSSA National Conference in San Diego, California. For Lawlor, it was an “incredible experience to get to meet so many other passionate PR students from across the country and network with some incredible PR pros in a beautiful city. I remember feeling very lucky to get to attend.” Today, we still send representatives to PRSSA National (now International) Conference and they have echoed the same feelings as Lawlor.
After graduating in 2010 from Temple University with a degree in strategic communications with a focus in PR, Lawlor set out on her career. She made stops in the health care and Travel and Tourism PR before starting up her own company. Today, Lawlor is the founder and CEO of Jessica Lawlor & Co (JL&Co.), a boutique communications agency focused on content management and public relations. She also remains connected with Temple University through her work with Temple Women’s Network and is an adjunct for PR writing.
10 Years of PR
Over the course of the past 10 years, the PR industry has changed and shifted. PR professionals now are responsible for more than just traditional media outreach or the stereotypes TV shows and movies portray. There are more outlets covering stories and less journalist covering those outlets. And while social media existed 10 years ago, it wasn’t used in the same capacity it’s used now. “As PR pros, it’s our job to stay on top of the changes and be in the know,” says Lawlor.
Some of the changes in the PR world have help Lawlor start her own business. Social media and blogging gave Lawlor the landscape so she could “build a personal brand that allowed [her] to create JL&Co.” Social media is a great outlet for PR professionals to build a personal brand.
Another change in the PR world over the past 10 years is the rise of influencers on social media. Influencers are a huge part of social media and can help expose brands to new audiences. Lawlor says influencers are a “huge area of opportunities for brands.” Just like how you can’t open any social media app without seeing the #10YearChallenge, I bet you can’t open an app without seeing an influencer.
As more and more digital technology becomes available, the PR industry will continue to evolve. The digital technology helps PR professionals gain more insights from their target audience to better help the brands they work for.
10 years can bring big changes to industries, people or an organization. Time allows these things to grow and become more established. Temple PRSSA is proud of their #10YearChallege growth. As Temple PRSSA continues to celebrate their 50th anniversary during 2019, we look forward to seeing how the next 10 years will go for Temple PRSSA and the PR industry.
This blog post was written by Chelsea Seidel, Chapter President.