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Sarah Vlach
Sarah Vlach

That “aha” moment

"Perception is Reality" was this year's theme for the PRSSA National Conference.

You know that “aha!” moment? You’re brushing your teeth when a great new pitch idea suddenly pops into your brain, or luxuriating in a bubble bath when the perfect event is fully realized in your mind. Imagine how it would feel if these sparks of genius lasted two hours: complete euphoria. Mind-blowing. Life-changing. Welcome to the PRSSA National Conference 2011.

While attending a session exploring Healthcare PR, I felt worlds collide and sync up. Inundated with public relations tips, skills, facts and action plans, I had not felt a strong connection with any specific area of expertise. Then one little quote changed my whole outlook. Kathy Lewton, APR, of Lewton, Seekins & Trester, succinctly stated, “You must be able to read, comprehend and translate.” I instantly knew I had found my calling.

As an avid learner and unabashed communication geek, I had been considering graduate school directly after graduating. My plans took a 180-degree turn. Everything I love about academia ­— researching, interpreting articles and studies, and rewriting the core concepts in my own words — goes hand in hand with the everyday responsibilities of healthcare PR professionals. Healthcare is also the perfect fix for my craving to directly help people. Whether I land a position at a hospital or at a nonprofit promoting cancer awareness, making a difference in someone’s life will put a smile on my face every day.

As if that life-changing realization weren’t enough, after it happened I was given the opportunity to speed-network with professionals who were attending the PRSSA Conference right down the road. I was already elated, and then my whole world brightened again when I met Gary McCormick, Director of Partnership Development for HGTV. I shared my “aha” experience with Gary, and he immediately offered the names of three healthcare PR giants that he could help me contact. I offered him my business card, and I was shocked when he turned it down! He said he never accepts business cards because it’s too impersonal; we work in a world of personal relationships, and handing out his email address directly starts the relationship off in a more personal manner. Not only had I just found out what type of work I was destined for, I realized what an amazing group of people make up the PR profession.

As an aspiring PR professional, I am constantly dazzled and amazed by the kindness and willingness I have encountered with PR professionals. I can’t wait to become part of their world!