PRSSA’s Rachel Meltzer on Building Community
By Amy Jacques
Name: Rachel Meltzer
Current title: 2021-2022 PRSSA National President
Location: University of Oklahoma
Internship and academic highlights: President of OU Ad Club; Research Director of Lindsey + Asp Agency; Director of Membership for Alpha Gamma Delta; Public Relations Intern for the Gooden Group; Intern with Texans for the Arts
Favorite downtime activity: I love to play the guitar and I am an avid reader!
Favorite books: “Cage of Stars” by Jacquelyn Mitchard, “Stealing Home” by Sherryl Woods and “Gentle and Lowly” by Dane Ortlund
Best place to travel: Paris — we used to visit a lot when I lived overseas!
Favorite apps: Notion, Todoist and Restaurant Dash
Why did you pursue a role in PRSSA leadership?
PRSSA has been the most impactful and influential organization of my college career. I was lucky to have an incredible Chapter that has cheered me on and encouraged me to be my best, as well as support others to be their best too.
It is due to this, and my love for the PR community, that I wanted to step into leadership with PRSSA. My number one goal is to help others find their path and purpose in the PRSSA community.
What advice do you have for others for success in PRSSA and how can PR students make the most of their college experience?
I’d encourage students to not be afraid to challenge the status quo. Our community, as well as our Society, is constantly changing and growing — and this change and growth should be reflected! I believe that you should always build on a firm foundation, and if the foundation isn’t strong, then strengthen it!
How do you strengthen the bond between PRSA and PRSSA and make sure people want to continue their membership?
Intentionality is something that I talk about a lot, specifically in PRSSA. We’re a community of communicators, but we sometimes forget to communicate with each other and build those strong relationships within our own community.
Being intentional in your relationships — both within your work and personally — will encourage that bond between PRSA and PRSSA, and grow both awareness and membership.
What classes or experiences in college have best prepared you for the real world so far?
In Gaylord College at the University of Oklahoma, we have a career symposium specifically for majors that fall under strategic communication. I had the opportunity to be the co-coordinator for the event and plan it from the ground up. I learned so much about the minute details of planning, marketing and managing events. These opportunities for students to take the lead make a difference in our career preparation!
What impact has the remote classroom and distance learning had on college life?
I think we’ve seen the value of grace and flexibility in a way that we haven’t before. Throughout this entire situation, we’ve all been figuring it out as it comes together.
Personally, it took a lot of intention to maintain relationships and strengthen communities when we stopped seeing each other every day simply because we had a class together or were in the Mass Communications building all the time. This seems to have been a common theme throughout college campuses, and I’m looking forward to most schools being able to connect with each other on campus in the fall.
What have you learned from your own internships and what advice do you have for others on how to make the most of them?
My biggest piece of advice regarding internships would be to know when it’s the right fit and trust your gut. It can be hard to just want to take any internship that you can get, but you need to know when it isn’t going to be a good fit. If the fit isn’t right, then it will impact your work and ability to learn and grow from the internship or organization.
Looking ahead, what do you want to accomplish — what are some career goals?
I am incredibly passionate about arts advocacy, and my end goal is to run my own strategic communication agency that has a philanthropic focus in the arts. My involvement in the arts industry is a huge reason why I pursued a career in public relations, and I would love to give back to the industry that has shaped so much of my life.
What are you and your classmates and peers talking about right now?
A big thing is making that transition into life after graduation. It can be hard for students to break out of the “I’m still a student” mentality and feel qualified and empowered for the job hunt, and work post-grad. [It’s about] finding the right communities to be able to help empower you.