Conference teaches business side of public relations

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By Brittany Redden, Reporter

We are a generation of creators. We are a world of sharers. And more than ever we walk amongst entrepreneurs. The Internet and social media are still budding entities, but they have already inspired us in ways that have helped people embody more of these qualities.
Even with the vast information pool that the web provides, personal mentors remain invaluable resources in learning to become an expert in the craft of your choice.
UNO’s Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) chapter, MaverickPR, invited three prominent Omaha businesspeople, who are experts in brand marketing, as part of MaverickPR’s regional conference, “Big Biz in the Big O.”
Conference attendees received valuable advice about starting and marketing your own business from Donna Faust of Hayneedle; Megan Hunt, co-founder of Hello Holiday; and Heather Tweedy, founder and CEO of Bright Sky Interactive.
Faust, Hunt and Tweedy are experts in three different arenas of beginning businesses and offered advice to attendees on how to succeed in marketing a brand, whether it is their own or part of a larger company.
As director of brand marketing at Hayneedle, Faust works with new and unknown brands for the online retailer. Faust said the key is to become an expert at something.
“Make your name in something,” Faust said. “Be the person in your area who people come to for answers.”
For Hunt and Tweedy, who own an online boutique retailer and a digital marketing firm respectively, building a company from the ground up required certain personal qualities and an understanding of the many associated risks. If you see a change or addition that needs to be made to better the world, building your own business is an ideal way to do so.
“Starting Bright Sky didn’t necessarily come from wanting to be my own boss or work my own hours. I just feel there are issues in ad agencies today,” Tweedy said. “I am going to revolutionize agencies.”
Hunt said being in her twenties made this the perfect time to start Hello Holiday.
“I’m at a time in my life when I have more time and energy than I’ll probably ever have,” Hunt said. “I have to devote all of that time to my business, but I will reap the benefits later.”
Hunt said she chooses to look at the bigger, long-term picture as inspiration to keep going through the stressful early stages of business.
The weekend-long conference, held at Mammel Hall, attracted attendees from as far as Florida State University, Boston University and Utah State University. Around 75 students gathered to learn about business and public relations from representatives of some of the Midwest’s most prestigious and respected companies, including Edelman Digital, Union Pacific, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska and more.
When creating a new company and becoming an entrepreneur, 18-hour workdays are commonplace, said Hunt and Tweedy. They advised making time to relax your mind.
These and other professionals shared with students the ins and outs of the industry they are about to enter while keeping your sanity.
“There might not be a lot of balance between work and home life when you start,” Tweedy said, “but once in awhile, I leave everything at home for 24 hours and just get away.”

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