PRSSA helps local PR firm in Fox Cities Marathon

Raquel Tuohy

The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh’s Public Relations Student Society of America volunteered at the Community First Fox Cities Marathon to gain real-world public relations experience.

PRSSA is a pre-professional organization that gives students a chance to gain knowledge about the public relations field through guest speakers and volunteers.

PRSSA was able to volunteer through Red Shoes PR, a local public relations firm based in Appleton, Wisconsin. Red Shoes PR Content Manager Karilyn Robinson said that planning began in the spring.

“The idea of UWO PRSSA to help out at the Fox Cities Marathon came about when UWO PRSSA came to RSPR for a tour,” Robinson said. “PR students at UWO expressed interest in getting more media relations experience, so it seemed natural to have them shadow and help out.”

Twelve volunteers from PRSSA were on hand from the start of the marathon on Sept. 16, to the end on Sept. 18. PRSSA President Katie Biersach said there was a variety of tasks the volunteers were assigned to do.

“My duties included escorting the media to the tent, shadowing interviews and pulling certain runners from the finish line so they can be interviewed,” Biersach said.

Robinson said that PRSSA volunteers got a crash course in media relations during their shifts.

“We source stories, pitch stories to the media, coordinate live and taped interviews prior to the weekend, coordinate media at each of the events and follow up by sending clips, by way of PDF’s, to the client,” Robinson said.

Three television networks were at the marathon to interview runners, including WBAY, WLUK and WFRV that PRSSA could network with, said Vice President of PR Monica Salmeri.

“Each one of us had our own TV station that we were in charge of,” Salmari said. “I got to meet the staff of one network and they were really nice.”

This year was the first time that PRSSA volunteered and Robinson said they are going to make adjustments to the scheduling of the organization’s members to make sure they have adequate coverage for the entire marathon.

“The day went well,” Robinson said. “We have a better read on how many [PRSSA] volunteers we actually need and the responsibilities of each person if we decide to include them again.”

Salmeri said her favorite part of working the marathon was hearing some of the runners’ stories.

“There was a guy running barefoot that broke three records,” Salmeri said. “There was also a UWO alum that finished first in the half marathon. He went to Los Angeles for the Olympic Trials, so that was cool to hear.”

PRSSA’s Vice President of Events Carissa Brzezinski said she dressed like a member of Red Shoes PR to get the full experience.

“I even wore red shoes while I was working,” Brzezinski said. “It made me feel like I was one of them and I did because I was doing what they were doing.”

Biersach said that she wants the main takeaway for all PRSSA members that volunteered at the marathon would be to gain experience and have fun.

“You won’t learn what we did at the marathon by sitting in a classroom,” Biersach said. “I wanted PRSSA to get out into the community and learn hands-on what public relations is all about.”