New school year brings a new slogan, clients, leaders and goals

By Nicole Bersani
CEO, ImPRessions

Posting for the first time as the CEO of ImPRessions, I have a “tall” order to fill. Devin Hughes, Janelle Huelsman and Courtney Cooper — the past three CEOs — must be around 5’7″. I’m 5’4″. However, it’s not as much about the height of course as it is about their accomplishments as CEOs. Looking back at the firm’s successes when they were CEO, I have set new heights.

Last year alone, there were a lot of accomplishments in the 2010-2011 school year: an increase in clients and members, a PRSSA National Affiliation student-run firm recognition and of course all the successful accounts! To check out last year’s portfolio, please click here. Now, ImPRessions is looking to continue the success of last year and move into a new year, bringing with it a new slogan, clients, leaders and goals.

New slogan

First, we are incorporating our new slogan, “Build a brand. Shape your future,” into all our materials, especially our blog. If you have visited our blog before, you might have noticed it has a different style. We wanted our logo and new slogan to stand out, or in other words, make an imPRession. Please read a previous post by Devin Hughes, 2010-2011 CEO, unveiling the new slogan and the significance it holds for our firm.

New clients & leaders

For the 2011-2012 school year, we have five new clients. At the annual banquet, four were revealed: Express, ROTC, GoBus and Bird Ice Arena. Most recently, another one has been included: Student Senate. The accounts continuing from last year are Cardinal Health, E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, Athens County Humane Society, Backdrop Magazine, College Book Store, AVW Productions, Up ’till Dawn, College Green Magazine, OHIO Performing Arts and ImPRessions internal. Overall, we have 15 clients and are excited for our accounts to hit the ground running for the 2011-2012 school year. Please see our full list of clients here.

There are 33 members on the executive board (some in more than one exec position), with a CEO, two VPs, 10 supervisors and 23 account executives. Please check out all of our leaders here and see which account(s) they are involved with for the upcoming school year.

New goals

One of my main goals before starting this school year was to create a more diverse line of clientele. From retail, public affairs, transportation, sports and governmental as new clients, adding to the already strong list of national, regional and local clients in healthcare, restaurant, business/organization, entertainment and nonprofit, we can mark that goal as accomplished.

Next up on the list:

  • to increase membership by 25%
  • to standardize our social media brand and to increase our outreach and efforts
  • to structure our brand and image with templates, how-to’s and the like (especially with the new slogan)
  • to host quarterly events for all members (e.g. “PR 101, leadership series and creative workshops)
  • to secure a PRSSA award for best campaign, best tactic or a Teahan Chapter Award for Chapter Firm

These goals will only be reached with the combined effort of each of our members working to write press releases, create fliers, connect on social media and plan events for our clients. It is the team work of our members working to successfully reach their client’s audiences. And it is the clients providing real-world and hands-on PR opportunities for our members. The new slogan “Build a brand. Shape your future.” is a motto for not only our firm as a whole, but also every single member and client within our firm.

Build a brand. Shape your future. Leave an ImPRession.

By R. Devin Hughes, CEO

For the last time, I am writing a blog post with the “CEO” title, as I am soon to graduate and hand the role over to Nicole Bersani. As I do so, ImPRessions is unveiling its new slogan, “Build a brand. Shape your future.” Having spent four years with the firm, four years which I consider the best of my life, I feel qualified to say that this slogan more accurately represents what ImPRessions, at its core, is all about. For my “swan post”as ImPRessions CEO, I would like to walk you through this new slogan, including my insights over the past four years and an overall summation of the value of ImPRessions.

At its core, ImPRessions does two things: we help our clients by giving them quality, free PR efforts, but we also help ourselves, engaging in real-world PR work that will qualify us for internships and jobs. In selecting a new slogan, we wanted something that encompassed both of these elements, doing justice to everything that ImPRessions is.

Build a brand

On the surface, this is what we are doing for our clients. We help shape their brands and engage in PR strategies and tactics designed to improve their standing with their target audiences.

But those aren’t the only brands we build in ImPRessions: we also build personal brands. Using a conservative estimate, if you work on one account all four of your years at OU, you’re going to meet between 30-40 people. And you aren’t just meeting them; you’re spending an entire year working closely with them. These are people that are going to graduate and go into the same field as you, and ImPRessions gives you the opportunity to show them what you’re all about.

I have accepted a post-graduate internship for this summer. The person who encouraged me to apply was my account supervisor during my sophomore year with ImPRessions. She went on to work with a major PR agency, and wrote to me when an internship opened up. If I had been a complete screwup, do you think she would have done that? This is proof of where ImPRessions can take you: she was two years older than me; we didn’t run in the same social circles or have the same classes. We met through ImPRessions, period. This firm was the one chance I had to brand myself in front of someone, and she apparently liked what she saw.

Shape your future

Again, on the surface this can refer to our clients: obviously, if we brand them well it will have a positive impact on their future performances. At the core, though, it comes back to the students, just like “build a brand.” In my example, I effectively shaped my future by coming across a post-graduate internship through someone I worked with in ImPRessions. You can too.

Those hiring for jobs can get hundreds of resumes for one posting. Your best chance is to have an “in,” someone who can advocate for you and get your name to the top of the list. I have met some of the smartest, most hardworking people I know through ImPRessions, and if they told me they were applying for a job where I worked, I would make it a point to badger the hiring manager, advocating for these people. This has actually already happened–despite just being a student, super low on the totem pole, I have had managers ask me who I recommend for positions, and these people have gotten hired.

But not everyone chooses to shape their future positively. When it’s winter quarter, it’s cold, and you’re snuggled under your blanket at home, you might not feel like going to that ImPRessions meeting at the library. I guarantee you, though, that your execs will notice if you do. I was an account executive; I felt immense gratitude to those I could consistently count on showing up to meetings and getting their work done on time. I would do anything I could now to get those people hired.

As a student, you can shape your future by working hard in classes and getting good grades. However, I think people forget about the network they are building around them. In my opinion, the best way to effectively shape you future is by learning from and imPRessing your peers. They’ll remember you, and that could end up going much further than a high GPA. Which brings me to my final point…

Leave an ImPRession

This is not part of the official new slogan, but it goes with the overall theme and you may see it thrown in there from time to time. You’ve got four years to leave a positive ImPRession on as many students as you can. I can candidly say that I know there are students who would recommend me if they got the chance because of my work with ImPRessions. I can candidly say that there are students I would recommend because of their work with ImPRessions.

Setting yourself apart is easy. It doesn’t involve being the smartest or the most creative or having the most Twitter followers. It simply involves showing enthusiasm, a willingness to learn and volunteering for as many things as you can. As CEO, when I was hiring executives, my line was always that I looked for attitude more than brains. You’re a student; nobody is expecting you to be a PR expert. We just want someone who is dependable, and ready to learn.

I’ve been an account associate, an account executive, an account supervisor, an assistant director (that position doesn’t even exist anymore!) and a CEO. I’ve played all the roles, and I’ve heard so many stories. Stories from students who got internships almost solely because of their ImPRessions work. Stories from clients who love our work and want to hire an OU student.

People like to tell stories, and that’s how your network grows. I’ve actually never directly worked with our incoming vice presidents on an ImPRessions account, but I know how qualified they are because other people tell me good things about them. Conversely, I’ve had executive candidates described to me as “hot mess train wrecks.” You hear these things. When you leave ImPRessions, you will have left an ImPRession.

So you can choose to be known as the hardworking, organized associate or you can choose to be known as the hot mess train wreck. Personally, I would try my best to make it a good one.

This is your chance: Build a brand. Shape your future. Leave an ImPRession.

ImPRessions welcomes 2011 – 2012 leadership

By Rebecca Reif                                                                                                                                                                                  Assocaite, ImPRessions account

ImPRessions will begin next school year under the new leadership of Nicole Bersani as CEO, Rachel Csaszar as VP of operations, and Heather Bartman as VP of administration. Bersani, Csaszar and Bartman have all been involved in ImPRessions since their freshman years, and they are excited for the firm’s future.

After receiving national affiliation from PRSSA last quarter, ImPRessions wants to continue establishing solid connections through their national recognition.

“Because PRSSA has asked ImPRessions to be a mentor to other student-run public relations firms across the country, we plan to keep our message strong and consistent. Right now, we are in the transition stage between ImPRessions’ old executive board and the new one, so as the new CEO I am trying to learn as much as I can to assure that our firm continues to run smoothly,” Bersani said.

As the new CEO of ImPRessions, Bersani will handle day to day activities within the firm, interact with the firm’s client base, work on recruiting new clients for the firm and assure that each account is interacting effectively with their client. Bersani also plans to help ImPRessions apply for PRSSA’s nationally-affiliated student organization awards and the Teahan awards.

Csaszar, like Bersani and Bartman, started out as an account associate in ImPRessions and has worked her way up to her new position as VP of Operations. In her new position, she will be working internally within the firm to assure that each account is staying consistent with the firm’s goals.

“I’m most excited about having a more in-depth role in ImPRessions, and getting to work more with our firm’s adviser, M.J. Clark,” Csaszar said.

As a sophomore and the youngest of the new leadership, Bartman said she is excited to learn from Csaszar and Bersani and is thrilled to be ImPRessions’ new VP of administration.

“ImPRessions is such a prestigious firm and I am proud to say I am a part of such a wonderful student organization. Since joining ImPRessions last year, I have watched the firm grow and succeed. It’s going to be hard to improve a firm that is doing so well, but I am looking forward to the challenge,” Bartman said.

ImPRessions is currently accepting applications for account executive and account supervisor positions. Everyone is encouraged to apply! Please fill out the application and return it to the PRSSA mailbox no later than 5 p.m. on May 6. Electronic submissions will not be accepted.

ImPRessions to make impact in 2010-2011

By R. Devin Hughes

Ohio University students don’t know what is about to hit them next year (though hopefully, with our PR efforts, they will).

Last year, ImPRessions took part in its largest event ever, collaborating with the Black Student Council Programming Board, University Programs Council and Backdrop Magazine to put on the first MAYDAY event, a large outdoor concert featuring artists Clipse and Consequence. It was estimated that more than 800 people  attended. The success of this event opened our eyes to our potential to be a part of major campus and community events, an initiative we plan to continue next year.

The year has not even begun, and already some big ideas are flowing (I have to stress that these are ideas, so don’t yell at me if they are scrapped). Another MAYDAY (Backdrop). A drag show (ButtOut Ohio). A putt-putt tournament in the library (University Libraries). A dance marathon (Up til Dawn). Ohio University students will not be able to avoid the ImPRessions ImPAct next year; we will have our hands in too many fun things.

That’s not the only impact we will make, however. Let’s not forget the pro bono work we do. Raising awareness to the dangers of smoking (ButtOut Ohio). Fighting prescription medication abuse (Cardinal Health). Giving puppies a home (Athens Humane Society). Helping African children receive an education (Empower).

All told, there has never been a better time to get involved with ImPRessions, because our impact will be felt among Athens-wide, nationwide and worldwide audiences next year. By joining our firm, you won’t just be benefitting themselves from valuable PR experience—they’ll be making a difference.

Presenting the new ImPRessions website!

by R. Devin Hughes, CEO

I am delighted to write the introductory post for the new ImPRessions website, moved over from Blogger to WordPress. Aside from needing to fill out a few biographical segments in our Leadership section, the site is complete and ready for public viewing. As this is a new venture, we would really appreciate any comments and/or suggestions you have for the page; please feel encouraged to comment on this post or e-mail us at This website needs to accurately portray the excellence of our firm, so we welcome all constructive feedback that will help us to do so.

The creation of this new site dates back to last year, when I asked the ImPRessions account to analyze the websites of top-notch PR firms around the country to see what was traditionally done in the field. The team came through, presenting a list of suggestions for the design of a new ImPRessions website as well as producing some sample copy for the pages. Because of the various projects we were involved in,  I pushed the potential creation of the new website to the future, mentally storing the ideas the account members had suggested. Now, with the free time that summer offers, the ideas have become a reality.

Why model ourselves after these top PR firms? Because we are a top PR firm. The firm-wide oversight I had last year as assistant director showed me as much. We have a truly exceptional group of students with extraordinary amounts of enthusiasm, and time after time I heard reviews from clients who were extremely pleased with the work we had done for them. Stepping into the role of CEO, I realized it was time for the entire firm to own its potential.

This new website is a major step in a new way of branding ImPRessions. We are more than just a “student PR firm.” We are a credible, viable and exemplary public relations service. We provide tangible value to any client we take on. Looking at ourselves as just a “student PR firm” only creates psychological limitations within ourselves.

My vision for this firm is to move forward to a place where we are not just a great student PR firm; we are a great PR firm that happens to be employed of students. Re-branding ourselves as such removes the perceived qualitative and geographical limitations of our work; we can, in fact, go anywhere and do anything. This vision began to become reality in the past few months, when we chose to move from nine clients to 13, a 30 percent increase in client base.

We added a company that is #17 on the Fortune 500 (Cardinal Health), two clients that impact, oh, every student at Ohio University (University Libraries and the OHIO Performing Arts Series) and partnered with a firm that is a global leader in public relations (Fleishman-Hillard). Oh, and our work is so highly regarded that we added a client that is only the greatest journalism school on the planet (E.W. Scripps School of Journalism).

As ImPRessions steamrolls forward, we refuse to grow complacent with our already high-quality work or set any limitations on ourselves.  It is an exciting time to be involved with this firm and I cannot wait for next year to begin.

Alas, with only week two of summer vacation set to begin, we will have to settle for a new website for now. There will be blog posts throughout the summer so I encourage you to subscribe to our RSS feed or follow us on Twitter to stay up-to-date. Again, we would really appreciate any thoughts on the new page in the comments section, or e-mail us if you are shy.

With the introductory post complete, and by the powers vested in me by the Public Relations Student Society of America, I hereby pronounce this website open and operational. Happy visiting!