Collaboration: bridging your network


We all know public relations is built on networking (no surprise here!). But despite this being a fundamental element in our business, we often forget to utilize our savvy networking skills when it comes to collaboration.

I was reminded of the impact collaboration carries this semester when our Michigan State University’s Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) chapter partnered with Wayne State University PRSSA to host a regional conference. The collaboration was originally just an idea — by bringing our chapters together we would have access to a larger breadth of alumni, a larger student pool for attendants, a larger budget, and ultimately the opportunity for larger success. It was a no-brainer.

Despite our gung-ho attitude on partnering, there are many organizations and companies who are hesitant to enter into a relationship with another group. Although there are pros and cons to be weighed in any business decision, here are some of the pros our chapter found in planning a joint conference.


In event planning, it’s clear that more bodies in the room is a huge help for the planning committee. However, despite its obvious reasons, having more people involved is also tremendous in the planning stages of any effort. More people = more opinions. And more opinions usually mean more viewpoints; often some of which you or the other nine people in the room had never thought of.

You mean people need us to TELL THEM the event hashtag? Who knew.


The communications industry is small and, despite its size, it seems Michigan has one of the most intimate networks within the industry. Although this is a state where connections are only a few emails away, it’s always the people you need to reach that no one has crossed paths with. This is where collaborative efforts come into play. Whether the boundaries are geographic or topical, partnerships can help bridge your separate contact pools into one. The best part? Connections last a lifetime. One collaborative effort = a new addition to your lifelong rolodex.


As much as we would all like to say money doesn’t drive our decisions, it does play an active role in planning. If your idea is the size of Texas and you can only afford Indiana, it may be worth considering a partnership. If your values align, often you can work toward the same goal on half the budget. Just don’t forget to track and allocate funding appropriately and, depending on the size of your effort, hire an accountant.

Collaboration isn’t for every organization. If you’re considering a partnership in the future, be sure to assess your internal strengths to understand what you can bring to the partnership. Successful collaborations are a result of two parties knowing their strengths. For our chapter and Wayne State, much of that came down to our networks and location. Michigan State has a large amount of alumni, meaning immense contacts across the entire state. Wayne State is located in Detroit, where we held the event. Their committee was better slated to handle the logistics of an event on their campus.

Partnerships can adapt a small effort into a large success. Consider the idea of utilizing your already existent network to do more.