“Adulting” Panel Features Rochester Area Professionals

On November 5, 2019 the St. John Fisher PRSSA, Tom Proietti Chapter hosted a panel featuring public relations and marketing professionals from the Rochester area. The panel included Colleen Onuffer, Jim Magnano, Collin Henrie and was moderated by Sarah Warren.

Colleen Onuffer is a consultant at Break the Ice Media, a marketing and PR agency focused on travel and tourism. She graduated from SUNY Geneseo with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications, Journalism and Media and a minor in Sociology before continuing her education to receive a Master’s Degree in Integrated Marketing Communication from St. Bonaventure.

Collin Henrie works as a senior consultant at DAC, a marketing agency, where he focuses on digital marketing. He graduated from St.John Fisher College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Media & Communications and a minor in Digital Cultures & Technology. In his professional life he has worked as an account executive, an account team lead and a digital marketing coach.

Jim Magnano is an account manager at Archetype, a global marketing and communications agency. He graduated from Brockport College. In his professional life he focuses on helping companies think strategically about using social media to communicate.

The panel was moderated by Sarah Warren, a Public Relations Specialist at Dixon Schwabl. 

The panel focused on getting a job and maximizing the benefits of college in order to be successful. The panelists offered advice on transitioning from college to the professional world, internships, interviews and networking. They highlighted the importance of being personable, professional and eager to learn and work hard. 


5 Important Takeaways from the Panel:

Interview, Interview Interview!
All three panelists emphasized the importance of interviewing. From informational interviews to job interviews, every professional conversation has benefits. “Every interview is an opportunity to learn,” said Onuffer, “even just asking professionals to look over your resume is helpful.”  Henrie highlighted the importance of asking advisors for contacts. He recommended asking for a list of area professionals in order to contact them. 

The more connections students make while they’re still in school, the easier the transition will be into the professional world. Magnano pointed out that the more interviews you do, the more comfortable you will feel when you’re interviewing for the job you want.


Be Curious.
Demonstrate interest in the company you’re interviewing for. Even if you already have an internship or job, always ask more questions, seek to learn more people and ask for more work to do. The more you explore and learn, the more prepared you will be. 

The panelists emphasized that preparing questions before an interview is extremely important. Onuffer, an internship supervisor, said she won’t hire an intern who doesn’t have questions during their interview because it shows a lack of interest.


Engage With Other Professionals
While it may be difficult, being conversational and personable with professionals is important. Even as an intern, it’s helpful to emerge yourself in the work culture and its social aspects. Be sure to contribute to professional and social conversations and always be nice. Connections that you make during internships can take you a long way, and being friendly goes even further. 


Keep Your Head Up
The professional world is extremely different from being a student. Onuffer and Henrie said the biggest difference is accountability. When you have a job or an internship, you report to someone, rather than yourself. When you make a mistake it will impact more important things than your grades, such as your boss or a client. The fact that everyone will make mistakes makes it important to know how to take responsibility and pick yourself up from those mistakes.

Onuffer also spoke about losing her job after her previous company restructured. She said that it’s important to keep going after something like that and to keep moving forward. The path to success is not as linear as college, studying and working hard won’t always equal success, but you have to keep working hard and staying confident.


Keep a Good Network
Networking online and in person is extremely beneficial when moving into the workforce. Magnano says to use college as a four-year on-ramp to your career. Continue making connections, building relationships and making people remember you throughout your time in college. Important things to remember when networking are to shake hands, make eye-contact, be personable and be professional. The panelists reminded us that the longer you are in someone’s head after you meet them, the more beneficial your professional relationship with them will be.


The panel concluded with one piece of advice from each panelist:

“Go for every opportunity you have to gain experience.” – Colleen Onuffer

“Maximize all four years of college. It’s never too early to start planning for the future.” – Jim Magnano

“Take advantage of the Fisher network. They have an incredible network of alums and professionals.” – Collin Henrie


PRSSA would like to give a special thank you to Alyssa Whitley, former president of the St. John Fisher PRSSA, Tom Proietti Chapter, for organizing the panel.


2019 PRSSA International Conference

Members of St. John Fisher’s Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) and St. John Fisher’s Public Relations and Integrated Marketing Agency (The PRIMA Group) attended the 2019 PRSSA International Conference in San Diego, CA. The students attended multiple sessions which were led by industry professionals and students were able to network with professionals and students from all over the world. Not only did students attend these awesome sessions, they were also able to explore and learn about the city of San Diego! The students had many key takeaways from the conference from all things Public Relations, Marketing and Communications.
Colleen Senglaub, Treasurer of PRSSA and CEO of The PRIMA Group, said that her favorite session was  “The Hidden World of PR” led by Brandi Boatner. Brandi spoke heavily on personal branding, about imposter syndrome and how you should be your true self at work. Failure is also a topic she heavily spoke on. She said to embrace failure and stop striving for perfection because it is never going to happen. Another topic she told us we need to know is business literacy and to know business terminology and to also build your skills with receiving online certifications. Lastly, Brandi spoke on knowing your worth. Colleen learned was that when it comes to seeking a career, negotiate and ask what the minimum and maximum salary is for the position you are offered.
Lizzy Beach, Director of Recruitment and Retention for PRSSA and Director of Events for The PRIMA Group, really enjoyed the session called “The 9 to 5’s of PR: The Difference in corporate and agency life with Hannah Riffle and John Soriano.” Lizzy said she learned a lot about the pros and cons of working in an in-house/corporate position and working in an agency. Some of the pros of working in an agency are there is endless learning, peer leadership and interaction with like-minded individuals, there is diverse work, and you can explore your likes and dislikes. Some pros of working corporate/in-house are that you have a stronger knowledge of the business, your salary and benefits tend to be higher, and there is a better work/life balance. The cons of working in an agency are that there is lower pay, increased stress, clients often have different beliefs, and content will not always equal your passions. Lastly, some cons in corporate/in-house are that there is often only one client, there are limited promotion opportunities, and there are less like-minded people.
Samantha Foley, Vice President for PRSSA and The Director of Marketing and Public Relations, found her favorite session was “The Gen Z Era: Learning the Intricacies of Social Media” led by Erika Prime. Sam found this session very interesting for many reasons. First, Erika Prime leads strategy for all social and digital marketing at Taco Bell. This session was very interesting for Sam because Taco Bell is a large global restaurant chain with a heavy social media presence. Some things Erika spoke on included some of her social campaigns that she worked on. Some of these included the Taco Bell Emoji campaign, Taco Bell Weddings, Nacho Fries,  Forever 21 x Taco Bell, and The Bell Hotel. She also spoke on influencer marketing at Taco Bell including Jeffree Star. She explained her team’s strategy was that all they did was invite Jeffree Starr to stay at the hotel and they did not require anything of him. Because of their “strategy,” Jeffree Starr posted a video that curated over eleven million views. It also was the top three on trending on YouTube. Lastly, one of the most important lessons that Sam took away was to keep your side hustle. An interesting fact she learned was Erika is an artist on the side and because of this, she was able to use her artistic capabilities to create a jacket for the Taco Bell x Forever 21 campaign…so cool!
Lindsay Garrant, former CEO of The PRIMA Group, was most impressed with the session called “Disruption: How the industry can adapt to succeed” led by Kimm Lincoln. The most astonishing and awesome part of this session was that Kimm started as an intern for the Nebo Agency in 2006 and now she is the President of the company with over 90 employees. Some of the most important takeaways Lindsey learned was “don’t pitch; tell stories.” Storytelling can’t be automated so you should be sure that you are an expert at storytelling. Another interesting lesson learned was that earned/owned media is becoming less effective without including paid media. Lastly, Lindsay learned that brands cannot simply sell products or services, they need to have a purpose and they need to be doing good for the world.
Aleccia Mack, the President of PRSSA, was most intrigued by one of the PRSA keynote speakers, Laura Ling. Laura is an American journalist and writer. In 2009, she was captured and detained in North Korea while working on a story. She was sentenced to 12 years of hard labor. After constant communication with her sister and with media coverage, she was pardoned after Bill Clinton met with Kim Jung-il. Some important takeaways that Aleccia took were that your message must be crafted for your audience. If Laura and her sister’s letters were not written carefully, they could have possibly offended the North Korean government, since the letters were seen by their government. Lastly, Aleccia learned the importance of relationships and networks. This was important because Bill Clinton was only able to get Laura released because of his professional relationship with Kim Jung-il. Bill had called Kim when his father passed away, and Kim never forgot that moment of sympathy from Bill Clinton, so the only person that could have Laura released was Bill Clinton.
Jeremiah Boerman, the Secretary of PRSSA, share that his favorite part of the conference was being able to see how much of an impact our work really creates in the world around us. Jeremiah stated, “Through the keynote speakers and our ability to network with other students from across the country, I was able to see how the work we do with the chapter can create opportunities for so many people.” He believes that individuals in the Public Relations industry have successfully incorporated their passion to results when it comes to marketing and awareness of the project they are working on. He was excited to be able to see the movements created by PR professionals and gain insight into what students across the globe are doing, as well.
Next year, the 2020 PRSSA International Conference will be held in Nashville, TN!!! 

PRSSA’s Career Crawl

Friday, January 25 the SJFC PRSSA Tom Proietti Chapter set out on a career crawl of five companies to learn about the marketing, public relations, and advertising opportunities in the Rochester area. Participating companies included Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield, Text 100, Partners & Napier, Helen & Gertrude, and The Cause Collaborative.

Students toured the offices followed by information sessions about the company, communications field and career options from professionals. Chapter President, Alyssa Whitley explained, “Our Career Crawl is an incredible opportunity to network with and learn from local talent, and get a peek of their office spaces.” She continued, “The majority of our chapter are seniors and will soon be graduating. This crawl can provide a lot of clarity for students thinking about their next move after college.”

In addition to educating students about their companies and positions, many crawl hosts shared important advice for success. Our Chapter’s top five takeaways:

  1. Network with as many people as you can because you never know how a connection can benefit you in the future
  2. Try as many different things as you possibly can and keep an open mind
  3. Identify a mentor that can help you grow in your skills
  4. Know that your first job out of college likely won’t be your forever job
  5. Don’t be afraid to fail because your failures will teach you more than your successes will

Many students ended the crawl feeling more confident about life in the communications field after Fisher. Media and Communications senior, Chris Murray shared, “I’m so excited I was able to participate in the Career Crawl because I feel a lot better about what to look for in companies!”


PRSSA Intern PRep Series: Part 1

PRSSA hosts an Internship Prep Series every year in order to help it’s members learn about, prepare for, and find internship opportunities. During the series there are mock interviews, resume critiques, paneling sessions with professionals and more. To kick off this year’s series, Alyssa Whitley, President of PRSSA, hosted and facilitated a panel discussion with professionals who either turned their internship opportunities into full time jobs or deal directly with hiring or supervising interns in their organizations.

There were nine members at the PRSSA meeting on October 23 along with the chapter’s advisor and the five panelists listed below.

  • Olivia Rotondo – Research and PR Account Coordinator for Tipping Point Communications
  • Christine Leavenworth – Communication Coordinator for MedAmerica
  • Courtney O’Gorman – Public Relations Assistant at Dixon Schwabl
  • Melissa Greco Lopes – Assistant Director of Marketing and Communications at SJFC
  • Kate Torok – Director of Marketing and Communications at SJFC


Throughout the meeting, the professionals discussed how they got to where they are today in their careers, how to ask about and find the culture fit for you, and how to go about leaving an impression on your internship. Then, the professionals were asked to give tips on how to network and reach out to professionals, create a unique and powerful resume and portfolio, and use social media professionally.

Author – Kaitlin Hawkins-Rusch, Chapter Director of Recruitment and Retention



Meet the 2018-2019 PRSSA E-Board

This past year was a big year for St. John Fisher College’s PRSSA with many successful events and a trip to the PRSSA National Conference in Boston. Next year will bring even more opportunities for events and networking and will include a trip to Austin, TX for the 2018 PRSSA National Conference. All of this will be made possible by the brand new E-Board, with a mix of old and new faces. Meet the 2018-2019 PRSSA Executive Board:

Alyssa Whitley, President


Alyssa is a rising senior at St. John Fisher College studying Media Management. She became an active member of both PRSSA and The PRIMA Group last year and next year she will also be serving a the Director of Public Relations for The PRIMA Group. This past  year, she served as the Public Relations Manager for Gilda’s Cup and for the Bateman Competition. This summer, she will work as a Public Relations and Marketing Intern at Helen and Gertrude.


Aleccia Mack, Vice President

Aleccia is a rising junior at St. John Fisher College studying Media Management andPsychology. She has been an RA at Fisher for the past year and is very involved in Residential Life.


Colleen Senglaub, Treasurer

Colleen is a rising junior at St. John Fisher College studying Media Management with a minor in Spanish. This will be her second year serving as the treasurer for PRSSA. Last year, she served as an Account Executive for Gilda’s Cup, the Strategic Communications Manager for the Bateman Competition, and a Development Captain for the Teddi Dance for Love. She also worked as a Corporate Communications Intern at Excellus BlueCross BlueShield.

Lindsey Garrant, SecretaryProcessed with VSCO with f2 preset

Lindsey is a rising junior at St. John Fisher College studying Media Management with a minor in Political Science. Last year, she served as the recruitment coordinator for PRSSA. She was also an Account Executive for Gilda’s Cup and the Research Manager for the Bateman Competition. This summer, she is working as a Communications Associate Intern at Relentless Awareness in Albany, NY.   

The entire E-Board is looking forward to a wonderful year!

Author – Colleen Senglaub, Chapter Treasurer

Meet the Media 2017 – The Future of Media

Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 1.25.43 PM.pngFisher Students “Meet the Media” during the 3rd annual Meet the Media panel series.

On Thursday, November 16th, The PRIMA Group and PRSSA of St. John Fisher College hosted the annual Meet the Media event. This event was created in 2015 by Professor Arien Rozelle. The panel’s goal is to showcase the important relationship between media professionals and public relations professionals. This year, there were 5 panels all together throughout the week. Two panels were held in Professor Rozelle’s Intro to Public Relations classes, and two were held in Professor Rozelle’s Media Relations classes. The fifth panel was held on Thursday night, which was a panel and networking event, open to all St. John Fisher students. New this year, one of the panels was not media professionals, but it was full of public relations professionals in order for students to fully understand both viewpoints of the media’s relationship with public relations professionals.

Thursday night’s panel had some amazing media professionals. These guests included:

  • Olivia Lopez, a Fisher alumni from the Democrat & Chronicle
  • Will Cleveland from the Democrat & Chronicle
  • Mark Gruba from WROC Channel 8
  • Scott Spezzano from 98.9 The Buzz
  • Lisa Famiglietti from WXXI

The panel was full of lively discussions about the state of the media in the past few decades, and where it is headed – especially in terms of social media. Having panelists from print media, radio, and television, led to an array of viewpoints which was beneficial to all in attendance. Attendees learned about the importance of news being accurate, how social media influences news, and how to form relationships with media professionals as students.

At the end, we were all given the opportunity to network with these media professionals, and ask any specific questions we might have had after hearing their experiences. Many of us walked away with business cards in our pockets, and beneficial connections in the community!


Author: Lindsey Garrant – PRSSA Recruitment + Retention Coordinator

Jane Dvorak Leaves Her Mark on Fisher

PRSSA and The PRIMA Group were fortunate enough to have an unforgettable guest visit on November 9th. Jane Dvorak was the chair of the 2017 PRSA International Conference and we were unbelievably lucky to hear from her. Her visit was short, but during that hour we learned and we laughed more than we could have imagined.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Jane brought an unbelievable amount of energy to Basil 208. A Colorado resident, she told us all about her incredible career in public relations. She considers herself a “consultalancer,” a word she created, combining the work of a consultant and a freelancer (two things she says are basically just the same). Jane owns her own company, JKD & Company Inc., and does a huge portion of her “consultalancing” for a plumbing business. She taught us that chances are, whatever you end up doing is not going to be overly glamorous, you just have to make sure you love what you’re doing.


Jane’s love for the work that she does was beyond clear. She inspired us saying, “If you continue to invest in yourself, there’s nothing you can’t do.” She shared with us what it takes to be a good intern and what you have to do to thrive in the PR industry.


Jane’s sense of humor and incredible laugh were unforgettable. We were lucky enough to be the last stop on her #Chaironthego journey. Jane visited as many places in the country as she could during her year as chair of the international conference. Jane shared with us how amazing it was to visit so many places. However, no matter how many amazing places she visits, her favorite place will always be home.


Author – Colleen Senglaub, Chapter Treasurer