Public relations student Andrew Cook serves internationally as he spreads the spirit of the Y to students in the public relations industry.
BYU’s slogan “Enter to learn, go forth to serve” takes on an additional meaning for public relations student Andrew Cook. As the national president of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), the world is truly his campus as he travels across the country and across the globe, carrying the spirit of the Y with him.
Public relations is about being a representative and an ambassador, and Cook has the opportunity to represent BYU in his national leadership position as BYU’s latest national president in nearly 20 years. The last PRSSA national president from BYU served in 1998.
He represents BYU at national and regional conferences, where he works with students from all cultures and walks of life. In October, Cook spoke to an audience of more than 1,000 at the national convention in Boston about building personal relationships and broadening professional networks.
Cook brings something unique to the table at these conferences. In a different fashion than some attendees, he networks at the bars with a bottle of water in his hand. Cook served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and his unique missionary background and education at BYU have given him a distinct perspective on the PR industry.
“When I got home from my mission and started studying PR, I realized the missionary work I had done over the past two years was actually public relations,” said Cook. “And now I’ve been studying PR for the past two years, but I feel like I’ve only been sharing my faith.”
“Being a public relations professional is like being a missionary,” Cook continued. “You are a representative.”
And Cook is dedicated to his work—this year, he has traveled to eight states and to the country of Peru to share his experiences, teach PR tactics and strengthen relationships.
One of his favorite experiences serving as PRSSA president was his trip to Peru this summer to meet with the PRSSA chapter at the University of San Martín de Porres. Because Cook learned Spanish on his mission, he integrated into Peruvian culture as he worked. He even created video interviews of the chapter members for their website about his vision for PRSSA.
“My trip to Peru helped me see that we at BYU are so blessed with a great responsibility. As BYU students, we have the responsibility to help others, and part of that means building stronger international relationships,” said Cook.
Cook said everything he does has to fit the standard of his personal motto: “Do great things with great love alongside great friends for those in great need while enjoying the beautiful moments along the way.”
PRSSA is one of those “great things” PR students can do. Cook believes that as a student-led, student-run organization, PRSSA empowers students to be leaders in the PR industry as well as the leaders of their own lives.
But the best part of it all, he says, is the people.
“At the end of the day, the saying holds true that ‘people, not things, matter most,’” said Cook. “I don’t think there’s anything in PRSSA that I’ve accomplished alone — every success has come about through working with fantastic individuals who will be my lifelong friends.”
Writer: Lindsey Trendler