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Find the Cure to Your “PR Hangover”

Photo by Abby Walsh via Unsplash

Published on Oct. 10 at 3:27 p.m.
by Jamie Zimmerman.

Podcasts have been on the rise to become one of the most popular digital media channels today. As of 2022 there are globally 383.7 million podcast listeners, with a podcast for virtually any audience of interest from true crime to comedy to daily news.

As podcasting continues to grow and expand its limits, countless professionals have joined the podcasting trend to share news, stories and practices of their specific industry; public relations is just one example of an industry emerging in the podcasting world.

While there are multiple public-relations-related podcasts that listeners can tune in to, one that stands out is the bi-weekly podcast called “PR Hangover.” This student-run podcast show is produced by students from Grand Valley State University’s PRSSA chapter.

What started as a meeting recap to their members has transformed into an award-winning podcast channel targeted to public relations students as they begin their journey in the industry.

The creation

The “PR Hangover” podcast first launched in 2016. At its founding, the podcast would drop the morning after a GVSU PRSSA chapter meeting to review the night’s event, lessons and speakers, and to promote the coming meetings — similar to a morning hangover from the night before, where the creative name of the podcast was inspired, according to Adrienne Wallace, GVSU PRSSA faculty adviser and “PR Hangover” founder.

Within the next two years, the podcast expanded to become more collaborative with its topics of coverage and partnerships with meeting speakers.

It wasn’t until the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020 that the podcast expanded beyond the Grand Valley region to reach other audiences in the country, Wallace said. With students at home from school during the unexpected pandemic, she explained how “PR Hangover” and a collaborative PRSSA project called “PR Reimagined” became the main programming that their chapter could produce to keep students engaged. During this time, Wallace said they were able to collaborate with five other PRSSA chapters in the nation that they might not have had the opportunity to connect with otherwise, which played an instrumental part in keeping their chapter together.

Photo by Abby Walsh via Unsplash

“PR Hangover” today

“[The podcast] has more or less become its own thing now,” said Wallace. “It used to always be a tag-along to our programming, but now it stands on its own.” In 2022, six years after its start, “PR Hangover” has worked with a number of notable names in public relations and similar industries. One of its most recent guests was Bill Imada, who has represented top global and domestic companies, including Coca-Cola, American Airlines and Warner Bro. Pictures.

According to sophomore GVSU PR student Olivia Dolley, her role as podcast director/host is to interview professionals such as Imada to help fellow public relations students gain insight into the industry and to find the answers to common questions about the vast public relations field.

The uniqueness of the “PR Hangover” podcast comes from the student perspective offered, as every year the podcast director/host is a student like Dolley.

“I often take a lot of struggles and questions that I come across myself or that other students have shared, such as pitching to an outlet, that I like to bring to the professionals to get their perspective on,” said Dolley.

One of the most significant student takeaways from this podcast is answered through the final question of every episode: “Is there one thing you wish you would have known in undergrad that you know now?”

This “ending tradition” is how Dolley works to make the podcast more relatable and helpful to students, as well as to hammer in to students’ minds to just keep trying. “I’ve found that you will fall into where you are supposed to be … and it’s really eye-opening for professionals to remind you that there is a spot for you in this field if you work towards it,” Dolley shared.

For more than students

Though the target audience of “PR Hangover” is students, PR professionals themselves can gain from tuning in to an episode. Wallace, having worked in PR for over 20 years herself, said that professionals who listen in are able to gain a better understanding of where students are coming from, as they are the next generation to enter the industry.

“When you’ve been in the profession for a long time,” shared Wallace, “you forget what it’s like to be new. … Learning doesn’t just go one way, and having that fresher perspective from students can trigger new ideas in your own practice.” Wallace noted how the public relations field is incredibly flexible and always changing, and how “PR Hangover” is helping students find their next steps and better define where they can go in this industry.

Photo by Abby Walsh via Unsplash

Recognizing success

The “PR Hangover” podcast is continuing to reach further audiences and gain recognition for the students’ work. The podcast has been award-winning since its conception — winning Gold at the West Michigan PRSSA PRoof Awards in the podcast tactic category for four out of the six years it has been running.

Furthermore, “PR Hangover” was ranked 22nd out of 90 of the best PR podcasts from FeedSpot. As the podcast continues to succeed, listeners can likely look forward to more big names of the PR industry to share their stories.

All interested students, professionals and other parties can now listen to “PR Hangover” on Soundcloud, Spotify and Apple Podcasts.

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