Author: Belmont PRSSA Administrator


Get Your Foodie Fix at NASHvantage

So we heard you have a weekend in Nashville—one of the newest “it” cities in the U.S. While you are here, we want you to make the most of your time. Take it from us; once you check out a few of these hot spots, you will see what we mean by “NASHvantage.”


Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams

Jeni's splendid ice cream

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams is a no brainer. There will be a line out the door, but just let this speak to the amount of people that agree that this gourmet ice cream should be included in any Nashville hot spot list. Sample as many flavors as you wish! They want you to! Some of our favorites: brambleberry crisp, goat cheese with red cherries and buckeye state.


Barista Parlor


Barista Parlor is the ultimate urban coffee shop. It has chocolates from every part of the world, serves drip coffee served in dishes that look to be straight from a chemistry lab, and prefers the ever popular “hankie” instead of a napkin. Definitely the epitome of the Nashville coffee scene.


Cafe Coco


Cafe Coco is a 24-hour wonderland. This is our classic…”it’s 1 a.m., and we aren’t tired yet, what should we do?” spot. Try the “brain shampoo” and a piece of cheesecake. Also be prepared to find yourself in the midst of an eclectic crowd. Great food during the day, too, but c’mon, everything tastes better after midnight!


Puckett’s Grocery and Restaurant

Pucketts Grocery, Nashville

Puckett’s Grocery and Restaurant serves that yummy southern cooking you’re probably looking for, complete with live music every night, and that small-town feel. It doesn’t get more Nashville. Look on their website for the band playing each night, and plan to stay a while to soak it all in!


Mas Tacos Por Favor


Mas Tacos Por Favor is a little hole in the wall in East Nashville. This place was featured on Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives, and for good reason, too. If you make it here or track down their food truck, we insist you try the Chorizo & Cactus Taco, the Quinoa and Sweet Potato Taco, and some of their famous soups.


Burger Up


Burger Up uses all local ingredients that are sourced from farms that treat their animals well. Even the interior is locally designed, with local wood in the tables and everything! Not to mention the food is delicious! Don’t leave without getting the krispy creme donut pudding with grand marnier crème anglaise.


Written by Haley Hicks, @haleyhickspr.

NASHvantage Announces Kelly Davis as Keynote Speaker

Davis PR Head  Shots

Kelly Davis

Tennessee native, Kelly Davis plans to kick-off NASHvantage with a motivational speech highlighting the best tactics to get the most out of the Regional Conference and ethics in the PR industry. Kelly Davis will also attend other sessions and be available to meet with attendees.

“I’m delighted to have the opportunity to speak at NASHvantage. PRSSA Regional Conferences are a wonderful way for students to connect with one another, to learn about careers in the public relations industry and to develop valuable leadership skills,” said Davis. “I look forward to sharing insights from my own career while helping students visualize the many paths that they can explore within this rewarding and fulfilling profession.”

Kelly Jackson Davis, APR has twenty years of experience in public relations, marketing and communications management. She is the Public Relations Director at Riggs Partners in Columbia, South Carolina, where she manages the integrated marketing firm’s public relations department and focuses on strategic communications planning, brand development, issues management and consumer marketing.

Kelly has been recognized both for her work and her contributions to the public relations profession. She has received more than 40 awards for public relations campaigns and tactics, including the 2006, 2009, 2010 and 2012 Best in Show Awards from the South Carolina Chapter of PRSA. In 2007, SCPRSA named her the “W. Thomas Duke Distinguished Public Relations Practitioner of the Year,” just ten years after recognizing her as SCPRSA Rookie of the Year.

Kelly is an actively involved member of PRSA and a Champion for PRSSA. She recently completed a two-year term on the PRSA National Board of Directors and has served the South Carolina Chapter of PRSA as Chapter President, Ethics Officer, Assembly Delegate and the chair of numerous committees. A member of the PRSA Counselors Academy, Kelly has also served as Chair of PRSA’s Independent Practitioners Alliance, Section Council Co-Chair and Secretary of the Southeast District.

Kelly holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina and a Master of Mass Communications degree from the University of South Carolina. She is an adjunct professor of public relations in the University of South Carolina’s School of Journalism and Mass Communications, where serves as the professional advisor to the school’s Bateman Team.

“Kelly actually approached me at PRSSA National Conference in D.C.,” said Regional Conference Director Makenzie Albracht. “She has always been very involved in PRSSA and I can tell she is really passionate about helping public relations students.”

NASHvantage registration is only $45.00 for PRSSA members with an option of receiving headshots for $15.00. NASHvantage will occur at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn. on March 20-22.

You can find the full schedule, accommodation and registration information at

Meet the NASHvantage Team

Just like Belmont PRSSA sang at #PRSSANC in Washington, D.C., NASHvantage is ready to meet all of y’all this March! The NASHvantage team is experienced, motivated and ready to conquer the task of introducing you to the many career opportunities in Nashville.

Our goal as a team of directors is to be absolutely sure NASHvantage is more than worth the time and effort it takes to get to this city of advantages. We will bring in local industry experts and focus on connecting you with PRSSA students and PR professionals.

Expect to learn about the facets of the entertainment industry, broaden your network and fall in love with Nashville. You will leave refreshed and proud to be a public relations young professional.

So who is NASHvantage?

Makenzie Albracht, Regional Conference Director


Favorite baked treat: Chocolate chip cookies.
Favorite TV show: Law and Order: SVU
Favorite aspect of Nashville: Love Circle, one of Nashville’s best skyline views.

Makenzie is currently interning at Ramsey Solutions in the public relations department and has held several event-planning internships. As Regional Conference Director, Makenzie is arranging the PR firm tour — where you will visit the best of Nashville PR firms. With the incredible mix of diverse professionals in town, the speaker line up will be sure to excite and inspire you.

Makenzie hopes to ensure all attendees leave NASHvantage with invigorating PRSSA and PRSA connections, public relations knowledge and a new appreciation for the industry. We are the future, so join us as we establish our advantages as uniquely talented young PR professionals.


Mary Anna Davis, Director of Logistics


Favorite baked good: Red velvet cake with cream cheese icing.
Favorite TV show: Mad Men.
Favorite aspect of Nashville: The 12 South Neighborhood, especially Frothy Monkey.

Mary Anna is currently a Lead Planner for Music City Events, an event planning company in Nashville. In her position, Mary Anna is responsible for setting up and executing many details of each event. We’d say she is extremely qualified to be the Director of Logistics for NASHvantage.

Did you know Nashville is a city of rising culinary excellence? Part of Mary Anna’s job is to make sure NASHvantage serves food that makes you drool. She guarantees it will not only  be delicious, but also very Nashville. Mary Anna is also ensuring you get to experience NASHvantage in one of Belmont University’s newest, and one of Mary Anna’s favorite buildings on campus — the Wedgewood Academic Center.


Arielle Schrader, Director of Promotions and Creative


Favorite baked treat: Warm peanut butter cookies.
Favorite TV show: The Office.
Favorite aspect of Nashville: Jeni’s Ice Cream and Las Paletas.

This semester Arielle is living in New York City and interning with the Hearst Magazines public relations department — Nashville cannot wait to have her back in January. As the Immediate Past President and former Public Relations Director of Belmont PRSSA as well as a current member of the PRSSA Integrated Media Subcommittee, we know she is more than capable of succeeding as our Director of Promotions and Creative.

Arielle wants you to feel connected to NASHvantage. To us, NASHvantage is more than a PRSSA Regional Conference — it’s an experience. Arielle will make sure you always know as much as we do. She is aiming to keep the NASHvantage Facebook and Twitter accounts active, send out NASHvantage News regularly and ensure our website is updated and easy to use. Of course she will also help to create killer videos and graphics.


Nicole Smart, Director of Finance

Favorite baked treat: Pumpkin bread.
Favorite TV show: Big Bang Theory.
Favorite aspect of Nashville: The Ryman Auditorium.

As a Dave Ramsey fan and follower for years, Nicole is more than ready to take on the role of Director of Finance. When she is not playing the role of Belmont PRSSA member, Nicole is chasing stories as a photojournalist — which means she knows amazing people. She keeps a meticulous budget so Director of Finance is the perfect role for a someone like Nicole.

Nicole knows the knowledge shared by our fellow Nashvillians will motivate, inspire and amaze you. So she will use her connections as a photojournalist and years following Dave Ramsey to ensure NASHvantage has the funds to have some fun this March.


Aryn Van Dyke, Director of Hospitality

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Favorite baked treat: Any cake with her dad’s homemade frosting.
Favorite TV show: Parenthood.
Favorite aspect of Nashville: The local coffee shop scene.

Aryn has a knack for the hospitality and tourism industry. This summer she interned with the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corporation where she worked on various events and talked with tourists from all over the world. It’s safe to say Aryn knows a lot about Nashville hospitality.

Did you know that hospitality and tourism is the second largest industry in Nashville behind healthcare? Aryn knows a ton about Nashville and wants to share all of her inside secrets with attendees of NASHvantage. There is always something to do here in Music City.  She will be working with local hotels, restaurants, and vendors to make your visit to Nashville a great one.

All it Takes….When it Comes to Internships

A couple weekends ago I volunteered at a race in my hometown–Grand Rapids, Michigan. For the past several years I have volunteered with one of the TV hosts from a local station on the media truck which drives about 100 feet in front of the lead runners. Being on the truck is a fantastic experience (except for the years when we encounter horizontal rain) because you get to see the city and be surrounded by various media personnel.

This year there was a sign hanging on an overpass about halfway through the race. It read: All it takes is all you got. The message was just the motivation the runners needed to keep going, but I also saw it as motivation that goes beyond running.

A couple days after the race I would be starting my new internship in Nashville. Starting at a new job is an intimidating thing. I always walk in on the first day with a bundle of nerves because I am in unfamiliar territory. Are the people going to like me? Am I going to mess up? Will I even be good at it? Seeing the phrase, “all it takes is all you got,” really stuck out to me as a reminder for going into an internship.

The purpose of internships is to learn more about the industry you want to work in, and hopefully get a job at the company or at least in the same field. Internships are vital in this job market. It seems that employers are looking less and less at what your GPA was, but more at the last internship you completed. With that being said, it is important that if you get the opportunity to intern somewhere, you better not screw it up.

All it takes is all you got.

I am currently on my sixth internship/volunteer opportunity. After next school year I will graduate college and attempt to find a real job based on everything I’ve learned from all of my experiences. If I had to give four points of advice to anyone looking for/thinking about an internship, I would tell them the following:

1. Do not take any task or position for granted. This includes, but is not limited to: copying, filing, compiling, scanning, sorting, organizing, stapling, etc. I have done all of these things and I would never put them in my “Top 10 Most Fun Jobs Ever,” however, each of these tasks made me a better worker when it came to jobs I actually liked doing. There is no job too unimportant–it all has to be done, and unfortunately it usually gets pushed to the interns. But trust me, if you get it all done efficiently and with a good attitude, your boss/co-workers will notice.

2. Show up. I mean, you should physically show up to work, but make sure your work ethic shows up too. You will be handed tasks that are so easy an ape could do it in his sleep, BUT that doesn’t mean you deserve thirty minutes to browse on Facebook when you’re done. Go ask for the next task. Your boss may tell you to sit tight for a bit while they finish something, but at least they know you are itching to help them. Jobs do not just fly around and land in your lap. They only appear when you ask for them. When your boss has to come find you to see if you finished and can help on something else, consider that as the cue you won’t receive a glowing recommendation. Make sure you are there to work and let your bosses know you mean business.

3. Do not be a stranger. You are aware that you are surrounded by industry professionals every day, right? Why would you ever let those chances go to waste? One of the biggest secrets to getting internships and eventually jobs is having a connection. Sure, it is possible to get positions by simple applying, but it will be hard to beat out the resumes that come with a recommendation from someone within the company. I am at my current internship because I sent a follow-up email. You may be thinking: That sounds easy. And you’re right…it is. Talk to people. Make it apparent you are passionate about the company by asking someone to lunch so you can learn more. When you are in the elevator with your cubicle neighbor, don’t look at your iPhone screen, make conversation. There is no easier way to start taking steps toward your future.

4. Ask for what you want. Yes, you are there to help the current employees with their projects, but you are also there for your own benefit. Internships are the place where you can experience it all. If there is something you specifically want to learn, then ask to be taught. I would be shocked if anyone said “no.” I know that it may be hard to believe sometimes, but the people with the “big-kid” jobs WANT interns to succeed. They understand you are the next wave of brainpower in the industry and they don’t want to hold you back. If you are working hard at other tasks, your boss will want you to keep soaking up knowledge–she is already considering hiring you. Internships are mutually beneficial, so make sure to take advantage of each and every opportunity you get.

All it takes is all you got.

It is so simple. Success is an attainable thing for those who work hard for it. Every President and CEO of the company you dream of being at had to work their butts off to get there. None of them half-way did a job they were asked to do. Becoming successful requires putting all of your efforts into the things you do. Use your passion to fuel the fire. Dig deep (even through the boring times) and put all of your cards out on the table–you never know where an opportunity could lead you.

-Aryn Van Dyke
Senior, Belmont PRSSA Member

Three Ways to Effectively Use Business Cards


I recently attended a networking event with my mentor and spent the evening being introduced to a room full of strangers. Sound familiar? It should. If you are an aspiring young PR professional, this is a task you are accustomed to.

In class, at conferences, and in PRSSA chapter meetings I have heard countless ways to make a positive impression at a networking event. I even know the proper way to manage my personal brand.

But here is where it gets tricky: after you have made that first impression, given your “elevator pitch” and heard the other person’s story; the exchanging of business cards occurs and the event ends.

Once you get home, what do you do with the new stack of business cards representing future mentors, internship opportunities, and useful contacts? Put them away and never look at them again? Trash them? Forget they are there until months later? If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, you need to rethink the way you handle business cards because you are missing out on key connections.

Here are three ways I effectively use new business cards:

  1. Document: As soon as I get home I write the date, name of the event and topics of conversation on the back of each individual card. If there were any unique characteristics of the person, I write those down as well. This way if I ever have to contact that individual, I am able to remind them how we met.
  2. File: Call me OCD, but I file all of the business cards in a playing card plastic protector sheet in a binder. This way they are all in the same place.
  3. Follow Up: This step is the MOST important of the three. I always send out an “it was nice to meet you” email a couple of days after the event. The new contacts don’t always respond, but I like to think that if I ever had to contact them again; whether it be for an internship or inquiring about a position, they will remember me because I remembered them (because of step #1).

These are the ways I keep track of my new contacts. I hope this helps you keep track of new business cards!

If you have a different method to keep track of business cards or have any thoughts about mine, please leave a comment below.

Thanks for reading!

-Mary Anna Davis, Director of PR, Belmont PRSSA

Career Tips for College Students

Jennifer Way, CEO of Way Solutions, joined us at our meeting on March 26. She shared her story and the lessons she learned on the way. Now, we would like to share them with you!

Branding Yourself:
  • Determine your “main value.” This should be the most substantial skill you have to offer. You want to put emphasis on your best skills. You should never emphasis the fact that you are a student.
  • Brainstorm your relevant skills. These could be blogging, social media, AP style, graphic skills, event planning, etc. While applying for a specific job or internship, find out what they are looking for and arrange your skills to match their description.  
  • Make a connection. You are more than just your resume. What make you stand out from every other public relations major? Are you a fashionista? Have you studied abroad? This step requires some self-discovery.
  • Decide what to include and what to exclude. You should only include the skills and experiences match the job or internship description.
  • Understand yourself and your interests. What are your best skills and attributes? Who would like those? What type of job or internship are you looking for? What type of person would they want?
Reality Checks:
  • If you don’t know who you are, nobody else will either.
  • You have to build your career in order for it to happen.
  • Be consistent.
  • You have to have a plan for your career. Or it will go nowhere.
  • What are you willing to do & give up for your career?
  • You will reap what you sow.
  • There is no such thing as a corporate ladder, it’s a corporate web.
  • Success happens together.
  • Ask yourself, “will this open more doors than it closes?”
  • Money is not always the thing that leads to more opportunity.
  • For awhile after you graduate, the answer should be “yes.” Yes’s open doors and no’s close them.
  • You never know who is going to hire you, so you need to be nice to everyone.
We have all heard the saying “don’t toot your own horn.” Well, Jennifer Way believes it is a myth and she has good reasoning. After all, if you don’t speak about your work, how are people going to acknowledge it? There is a way to share information without bragging. So start sharing!


Start Now:
  • Educate yourself on the market.
  • Read job descriptions and requirements.
  • Start networking with people in the area you want to be.
Important Questions:
  • Who do you know?
  • Who do they know?
  • Who do you need to know?
  • Who are your champions and what do they care about?
Jennifer had so much knowledge to share with us! If you enjoyed her tips, then you should pre-order her new book “Career Sushi: Bite Sized Activities to Feed Your Career.”


Connect with Jennifer Way:

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