By Shelly Smith, Journalism senior

In February, more than 100 students from universities in Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana came together at Texas State for the first time to hear 17 speakers emphasize the importance of public relations in the workplace. Attendees laughed, cried and networked all weekend.

It was all because four SJMC students began planning this event in the summer.

PRSSA’s Regional Conference “Deep in the Heart” took place February 9-10. With over 300 U.S. chapters, Texas State was one of only 10 regional conference bids chosen this year.

Public Relations Student Society of America is “the foremost organization for students interested in public relations and communications,” according to Texas State’s website.



In July, the PRSSA Conference Committee. Each of its four members had a specific role in planning the event.

Charlcee Cervantez, junior, PRSSA member since fall 2017, served as programming coordinator on the committee.

“I was pretty confident in our bid from the start, but of course you never know who else your school is competing with, so there is also some doubt,” Cervantez said.

The Committee’s intent-to-bid form included over seven pages of questions and was reviewed by top leaders in the PRSSA.

In October her confidence overshadowed the doubt.

It was announced at the 2017 National PRSSA Conference held in Boston, that Texas State’s proposal was accepted. From there the committee worked in earnest, meeting every week to discuss progress.



First, they needed a logo and a theme.

Jacob Schatte is communications coordinator for the conference committee and is in charge of all social media, photos, graphics and communications between attending chapters.

“We wanted to do something Texas related and I actually brought up how Texas State really likes the song ‘Deep in the Heart.’ After we played with that a bit, we decided to emphasize PR at the end and it flowed pretty easily,” Schatte said.

Texas State University SJMC website and Texas State PRSSA conference committee.



“I was in charge of the in-and-outs of the conference. This included things like booking speakers, coming up with a schedule, figuring out what type of topics we wanted to cover, when and where we were going to have the conference, and overall, creating a unique and professional experience for our attendees,” Cervantez said.

Director of Governmental and Public Affairs at H-E-B, Dya Campos, was the keynote speaker for the event.

“The foundation of great PR is about your people. It’s about your culture,” Campos said at the conference. She discussed H-E-B’s role in providing relief following Hurricane Harvey.

During the question and answer portion of the lecture, a student stood up and thanked Campos for H-E-B’s contribution. The student said that H-E-B had provided for her family after they lost everything.

“It was a very powerful moment, and I don’t think there was a dry eye in the room,” Cervantez said.

Dya Campos, director of Governmental and Public Affairs at H-E-B delivers keynote speech at “Deep in the Heart” 2018 Regional PRSSA Conference at Texas State on February 10, 2018. PHOTO CREDIT: “Deep in the Heart” 2018 Speakers and @SaddlinUpForPR

Acquiring big-name speakers was just one aspect of the event. Garnering interest was another.



Alana Zamora, president of Texas State PRSSA chapter, served as conference coordinator for the event.

“Our goal was 100 registrants. By our Jan. 20 deadline, we had surpassed our goal with a total of 150,” Zamora said.

Registration for the conference opened in November but was extended past its original deadline of Jan. 20 to allow for more students to register.

Communications coordinator Schatte was also in charge of promoting the event.

“Days leading up to the conference were filled with committee meetings, papers containing speaker information and lots and lots of social media,” Schatte said.



Procuring conference space and hotels for registrants was designated to the committee’s logistics coordinator, senior, Andrew Terrell.

“Ultimately the hardest part was setting up the hotel space for our conference guests on the weekend of our conference,” Terrell said.

In addition to reserving hotel blocks for registrants, Terrell and the committee promoted local tourism by encouraging the attendees to visit Spring Lake and Wonder World Cave while they were in town.

“Looking back, I feel really proud of the work the conference committee put into the planning all details of the conference. It was an honor being a part of such an incredible team and on a personal level I’m quite sad the event is over and that I won’t be working with my team members anymore,” Terrell said.

“Deep in the Heart Regional Conference Committee LEFT TO RIGHT: Andrew Terrell, logistics coordinator, Alana Zamora, chapter president and conference coordinator, Jacob Schatte, communications coordinator and Charlcee Cervantez, programming coordinator. PHOTO CREDIT: @alana_zamora