A Look Back on 2011

As the end of the year approaches, it seems that most of the articles are reflecting on the last year. Journalists write about the best campaigns of the year, and the worst campaigns of the year.  They write about the most memorable parts of the year, and the most painful moments of the year.  Last year I wrote a post called the Final Post of the Year that went month by month through the best parts of 2010.  I really enjoyed writing that post and looking back on my past year so I figured I would do the same thing for 2011.


In January, I went to the Dolphins/Patriots game in Foxboro which is something I have wanted to do since I moved to Boston.  The Dolphins obviously got killed, but it was still a great time.

I also started my last semester of college at Boston University.  They had a few celebrations for seniors.

With Dean Elmore and John Battaglino


I had some exciting trips in February.  First, I went to Chicago for the first time.  I went to DePaul University’s PRSSA conference.  I wrote about it on an older blog post.  Then I spent the rest of the weekend exploring the city with my awesome tour guide, Nick Lucido!

Sky Deck!

The Bean

Deep dish pizza!

A week later I went skiing for the first time at Mont Tremblant.  It was definitely scary learning how to ski at first, but by the end of the weekend I was getting the hang of it.  But I have heard that your first time skiing should not be on this mountain.


In March I did something I had been looking forward to since I heard it opened.  HARRY POTTER WORLD!


This month started off bittersweet.  I went to Seattle for the PRSSA National Assembly.  I always looked forward to my PRSSA trips, and this one was my last.  The next committee was elected, and I was so excited and proud of them.  But it was also (potentially) the last time I was with everyone in my committee at the same time.  PRSSA continues to mean the world to me and truly made a huge difference in my life and my career.  I was also awarded with the Elaine Averick Outstanding National Committee Member Award.  Oh, and I caught a fish in the Seattle fish market!

The 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 PRSSA National Committees

The 2010-2011 PRSSA National Committee Saying Goodbye

Elaine Averick Outstanding National Committee Member Award


In May, I graduated from Boston University with a degree in Public Relations from the College of Communication and a degree in Business Administration from the School of Management.  I also received the Gerald Powers PR Scholarship, Blue Chip Award and Scarlet Key.

Scarlet Key

Blue Chip Ceremony


Even though I officially starting working on May 31, my new hire training at HubSpot started on June 6.  After six months of working, I can still say I love my job!


In July I spent a lot of time working and a lot of time enjoying Boston and getting together with friends.

BSMA Brunch


In mid-August, I co-founded a Young Professionals Network for the Public Relations Society of America in Boston.  Then at the end of August, Dreamforce, Salesforce.com’s annual conference that included 45,000 people this year, began.  My responsibilities at HubSpot all summer consisted of working on our presence at Dreamforce and planning for our HubSpot User Group Summit.  David Kirkpatrick of MarketingSherpa wrote a case study about our presence there.  It was memorable, exciting and turned out very well despite Hurricane Irene’s attempt to keep the HubSpot team in Massachusetts.


September was the HubSpot User Group Summit (HUGS) in Boston with 1,000 customers.  It was inspiring hearing many of the HubSpot customer stories and seeing how excited the customers and HubSpotters were to meet each other and learn from one another.  And I cannot leave out the balloon sprocket at the opening reception.  I had honestly wanted to do this since my first day at HubSpot!


October started off by going to Maine for the first time!  I have wanted to see more of New England since I decided to stay in Boston after graduation, and this was the first step.  I also had lobster for the first time.

Then all my dreams came true, and I FINALLY got the Verizon iPhone!

And I, of course, had to highlight it on my Facebook Timeline:


This month was busy, but at the end of the month, I went with HubSpot to Cloudforce.  It was great to see everyone who I had worked closely with all summer for Dreamforce.  And it is always fun to meet HubSpot customers and talk to other people about the company!


At HubSpot, not only are we around some of the greatest marketing professionals in the industry, but they constantly take the opportunity to teach us as well.  HubSpot, therefore, set up a program called HubSpot Fellows.  The CEO and co-founder of HubSpot, Brian Halligan, teaches a bunch of classes on leadership and helps us become better leaders at HubSpot.  It is an awesome chance to learn from Brian but also interact with other HubSpotters who are part of the program.

Happy New Year to everyone!

A New Yorker Who Decided to Stay in Boston: Reflections of an ALMOST College Graduate

When I first visited BU, I loved everything about it.  My parents and I got out of the car on Bay State Road to get a tour, and I immediately told them that this was the college I HAD to go to.  (To which they responded, “You have to look at the school first.”)  It was a rainy day, but I was in love.  And everyone kept saying to me that if I loved it that much on a day like that, then I would love it even more when it was nicer out (which I obviously found out was a small percentage of the time thanks to New England weather).  My tour guide was a PR student, and I asked her a million questions.  Long story short, I knew I wanted to go to BU, and I knew I wanted to be a PR major.

I also had other goals in mind even from the time I was a freshman.  As I entered my freshman year, my sister and future brother-in-law were moving to New York City.  As a Jersey Shore girl, I decided that I too would graduate and move to New York City.  I also realized I had extra space in my schedule and decided to do a dual degree between PR and Business Administration.  That summer I had my first internship at Nike Communications (a boutique PR agency focusing on luxury brands) and absolutely fell in love with the city.  At that point I decided that when I graduated I was going to move to New York City and work at a PR agency.  Keep in mind, I still had three years left of college.

The following summer I was at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.  Even when I was there, I told my supervisors that the plan was to go back to NYC and work in a PR agency.  But when that next semester started, something weird happened.  I was on my routine run around the Charles River, and as I crossed the Mass Ave. bridge and looked at the city, I felt at home.  I felt more at home than I had even when I was at home or in New York City.  But I ignored that, because I had said for so many years that New York City would be my home.

So I continued to intern in New York City during the summers.  I spent the next summer at Burson-Marsteller, and the plan remained the same.  I had the Jersey Shore a train ride away, the city at my disposal and many friends and family in the city.  Plus, there was no doubt that I was a New Yorker at heart.  I loved the hecticness of Wall Street, walked just as quickly as the locals and enjoyed the crowds.  The fact that NYC isn’t really clean didn’t bother me.  Spending a lot of money on small amounts of food didn’t really get to me either.  So why would I live anywhere else?

As I entered my senior year, everything changed.  The thought of moving away from Boston made me miserable.  I loved the feeling I got when I arrived back in South Station or Logan, and going to Penn Station did not give me that same feeling.  How could I move away from a place that I loved so much?  How could I move away from a place that I had made my home for the past four years?  I always called Boston my “college city,” when in fact, it should have been called my “home city.”

Changing your future when you have had a plan for so many years is difficult.  I had always planned to start my career in New York at a big agency.  Deciding to stay in Boston at potentially a much smaller agency was scary.  It was really hard to realize that I wanted something different.  And it was really hard to realize that sometimes the work/life balance and happiness outside of work should be a huge factor in deciding where to live after graduation.  Yes, work takes up a lot of time, but it is also important to love the city you are in.  Choosing a city that is not New York City does not diminish your accomplishments and is not any less prestigious.  The larger cities are not necessarily the right fit.  I know I could move to New York City, thrive in an agency and survive off a low salary in an expensive city.  I could do it, but it would not be the choice that would make me the happiest.  And that’s how I made my decision to stay in Boston after years of saying I would move to New York no matter what.

So after making this decision, I want to give some advice to those who may be in my position as they enter their senior years (or even as they think about these choices before senior year).

1) Don’t miss out on networking opportunities because you never know what city you will end up in.  I went to many events in and around Boston even though I thought I was going to end up in New York.  There are many professionals in Boston who can connect you with people in other cities.  BUT, you also do not know where you will end up until you are graduating.  There may have been a few events I decided not to go to because I “knew” I wanted to be in Boston.  But look where I ended up.  Always take advantage of the opportunities you have in your city/college town.  They really do pay off.

2) You do not have to be in New York City to be successful.  Many people have the idea in their head that because it is the largest city and the hub of many industries, it is the only place you can make a name for yourself.  Yes, there are thousands of incredible people there, but there are also thousands of incredible people in other cities.  New York will always be there.  You can always go to the city later in life.  And when you are at a smaller agency in a smaller city, you may have the opportunity to have more responsibilities and learn more than you would have at a larger agency in the larger city.

3) When looking at agencies, look at the culture.  Look at the people who work there.  Look at the work they do.  Look at the work/life balance.  The name of the agency is not always everything.  A name will not make you happy.  Other things do.

4) Try new things before you graduate.  This past year I have stopped going to so many traditional PR events and gone to many digital/social media events.  I used to only go to PRSA events, but now I have gone to events put on by The Publicity Club of New England and The Ad Club.  Don’t limit yourself.  Try out new things, and see what you like.  You could be completely surprised by what interests you.

5) Make the most of your college years.  Go to professional events, but also be a student.  I didn’t learn this as much until my senior year when I really felt like I had a good balance.  The balance is key when you are a professional, but it is also key when you are a student.

So to all those who are skeptical of moving to another city, take it from a New Yorker who decided to stay in Boston: I’m proud of it, and I’m excited to start my career in Boston.

PR Advanced: Be the Change (Boston University’s Regional Activity)

Every year Boston University hosts a conference, and every year I have been impressed by the dedication of the conference committee, caliber of speakers and involvement of professionals, agencies and professors.  This year my expectations were completely surpassed under the leadership of conference coordinator, Ginny Soskey.  I have had a different perspective of the conference this year as I worked with PRSSA Nationals to oversee the Regional Activities across the country.  But it was nice to be at Boston University to see the process throughout the past few semesters.  I saw as Ginny dedicated her life and put her heart and soul into this event.  Not a day went by without her working to make it a success, and it was better than I could have imagined.  I’m truly excited to see all the wonderful things Ginny (who is only a sophomore) is going to do in the future with BU PRSSA and beyond.

For those of you who were not able to attend PR Advanced: Be the Change, there were many fantastic speakers who I was able to listen to.

Jon Iwata, Senior Vice President, Marketing and Communications, IBM

Jon Iwata started off by discussing the strengths of public relations: listening and adapting.  He then spoke about the marketing funnel:

He then split his talk into four sections: Forge a shared belief, Spur people to act, Sustain Behavior and Enable advocacy.

In this digital age, people find out about things almost instantaneously.  During his presentation, he admitted that people were probably posting about his presentation, and he didn’t know what they were saying.  It could be bad things, but he has no control over that.

He spoke about why belief is important.  He used a scenario about bottled water as an example.  It used to be the belief that bottled water was better than tap water, but we now know that isn’t true.  He said, “We ought not to confuse fact with what people believe.”  Belief matters in the public relations field, and it is over predetermined by customers.  It is the job of public relations professionals to distinguish beliefs from fact.

People don’t like change.  Iwata suggested to not try to convince people to change but eliminate the inertia that is preventing them from changing.  He gave the example of hotels trying to convince people to reuse towels.  There was a 26% increase in people who used towels in hotels for more than one night when the signs said “Hotel guests use towels more than once” instead of telling people to use towels more than once to help the environment.

He continued by quoting The Social Network:

He spoke about the multiplier effect and how Facebook was able to grow so quickly.

Finally, he spoke about something everyone was waiting to hear about: Watson.

He told us that he actually competed against Watson (and lost) before they went public with him!  We watched a clip from Jeopardy and spoke about the benefits to Watson.  During questions, he said the next step for Watson would be health care to help physicians stay on top of all the literature.

And did I mention “Jon Iwata” was a trending topic in Boston almost immediately?

The conference continued with two breakout sessions.  I attended both agency panels.

Session 1 – Opportunities Worldwide

This panel covered topics from skills and personality traits to getting your first job to client relations.

Barri Rafferty, Senior Partner and Director, Ketchum New York

She spoke about the importance of being able to translate social media skills to the corporate role.  You might be able to use Facebook and Twitter, but can you use it in a professional setting?  You also need to be a good communicator verbally and orally.  Finally, be open to trying new things.  Don’t be afraid of doing something you have not previously worked on.

Meaghan Smith, Senior Account Supervisor, Edelman New York

When you start a new job, you need to learn other people’s working styles and be organized.  Keeping up relationships when searching for your ideal job is important.  Something may not be available right away, but in a few months you could get something you are looking for.  It is also important to give a business case to clients to convince them it is worth investing in your company.  That’s where business classes come in handy.  Finally, there is not a line between personal and professional social media.  You always represent your company so be careful what you say about the company and its clients.

Katherine Wilburn, Consultant, Gagen McDonald

Resiliency is important.  You may finish a plan for a client and have to redo it.  It is important to try to make clarity out of chaos in an agency setting.  Remember to listen and ask the right questions to arrive at a solution.  Keeping in touch with people is important.  If you see an agency is in the media, show that you saw the article and congratulate them (if appropriate).  Take as many business classes as possible, especially negotiations.  It may come in handy when working with clients to tell them what the consequences of their decisions may be.

Session 1 – Opportunities in Boston

This panel focused more on the Boston market.

Sarah D’Souza, Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility, Edelman

Agencies never know when they will need to hire so it is important to keep in touch with people.  They are looking for interns who will get their hands dirty and work on multiple accounts.  It is important to learn to juggle multiple projects at the same time.  Internships are like long job interviews so it is important to show your best work.

Jason Glashow, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Fleishman-Hillard

The Boston market has an entrepreneurial environment that creates a lot of opportunities.  There is an untapped opportunity as some of these companies try to figure out their social strategies (which will be very important in the future).  Things change very quickly and constantly which is important to get used to in an agency.

Christine Perkett, Founder, PerkettPR

The ways you can reach reporters are now different.  Twitter may be a great resource, but sometimes reporters want to be reached in the “old fashioned ways.”  It is important for interns to learn how to juggle multiple clients.  Interns should take initiative and walk in with ideas.  If you can talk through a strategy for a class project and show you understand strategic thinking, that is great!

Margery Kraus, Founder, President and CEO, APCO Worldwide

The afternoon started off with another keynote address.  She told us about the way APCO has survived and made a name for itself.

  • Be the partner of choice with clients.
  • Push the boundaries of communication.
  • Provide a global service, culture by culture.
  • Do not build an organization by yourself.  Build it with a team of people.
  • Help companies, organizations and governments build, defend and monetize their reputation.

Clients often are looking for a solution but do not know how to get there.  It is the job of the PR agency to think about what they need and how it can be achieved.

The formula that APCO lives by is ROR (Return on Reputation) + ROI (Return on Investment) = Market Share.

They also live by the word passion.

  • Passion provides the fuel for our souls and minds.
  • Passion makes us work better and smarter.
  • Passion makes it more than a job.
  • Passion builds relationships that live beyond the project.
  • Passion is our secret weapon.

Ginny Soskey, Regional Activity Coordinator

I then had the honor of recognizing Ginny for all her hard work on behalf of the National Committee.  Mike DeFilippis recognized her on behalf of the conference committee.

I should also mention that by this time #pradvanced, Jon Iwata and Margery Kraus were all trending topics in Boston on Twitter.  And #pradvanced was a trending topic in the United States on Twitter.

Career Panel

Stephanie Deitzer, Founder and President, Style at Work

She gave advice about what to wear in an interview.  Know your audience when deciding what to wear.  Think of it as a first date.  What impression are you trying to make?  And she said you can never fail with the blazer!

Kate DiChristopher, HR Manager, Marina Maher Communications

When you go into an interview, show that you are passionate about the agency.  She is looking for people who know a lot about the company and are digitally savvy.  Also, be prepared to talk about the ways you consume media.  You should be able to name a few blogs you read and talk about why you read them.

Eric Leist, Emerging Technology Strategist, Allen & Gerritsen

When people come in for an interview, they are asked three main questions: Are you curious about technology?  What are you curious about?  How do you fulfill your curiosity?  It is good to ask questions that show you know what’s going on in the industry.  Look at your skills and passions and think about what you want before choosing a job.

Maggie Van der Leeuw, Manager of Human Resources, Burson-Marsteller

Show your personality during your interviews.  Does your personality online match with your personality in person?  It should!  It is good to show that you have a life outside of the industry, but also show you have industry knowledge through Twitter.  During the interview, show that you went beyond the basics of the website.  Don’t settle.  As an employer, they want to know you are going to dedicate yourself to your job.

Other Parts of the Conference

There were also many other speakers that I did not get a chance to see including Mariana Agathoklis, Director of Communications, MTV, Peter Stringer, Director of Interactive Media, Boston Celtics and Jamie Thompson, Founder and CEO, Pongr.

Additionally, Twitter was a constant throughout the conference.  Students were tweeting the entire time, but they also were asking questions of the panelists through Twitter.  Questions were answered by people raising their hands but also taken right off Twitter.

The day ended with a career fair with companies including 360 PR, Allen & Gerritsen, Boston University College of Communication Graduate Program, Burson-Marsteller, Cone, LLC, EMC CorporationFleishman-Hillard, Hill Holliday, Ketchum, Lewis PR, Marina Maher CommunicationsMSL Group, NYU School of Continuing and Professional Studies, Porter Novelli, PRSA Boston and the Publicity Club of New England.

Once again, congratulations to Boston University and the entire conference committee!  Another job well done!

Final Post of the Year

As the year comes to an end, I wanted to take this time to write about my most memorable moments from the past year (1 per month).


In the beginning of the year, I was lucky enough to win the Jersey Shore Public Relations and Advertising Association (JSPRAA) James R. McCormick Scholarship.  I was invited to attend a luncheon and met some incredible public relations and advertising professionals who work in the Jersey Shore area.  I also met some very talented students from the Jersey Shore area who were also awarded the scholarship.  Steven Lubetkin took a picture of us at the luncheon.


The PR Advanced: Brand Yourself conference that I helped plan as co-coordinator of Boston University’s Regional Activity was on February 27.  More details about the conference are at the PR Advanced: Brand Yourself post.  The conference was a culmination of my love for the Public Relations Student Society of America, public relations and event planning.  I had an incredible committee who contributed to its success, and it was truly an exceptional day to see everything come together.


In this month, my life changed for the better.  I went to PRSSA National Assembly in Austin and was elected to serve as the 2010-2011 National Vice President of Regional Activities.  Not only do I get to assist in the Regional Activities across the country, but I have had the chance to get to know some incredible people on the National Committee and in other Chapters who are truly going to make a huge impact on the industry.


After filling out and submitting many applications and cover letters and researching a lot of agencies, I accepted an offer from Burson-Marsteller to intern in their Corporate and Financial Department in New York City.  More details about the internship are in my Lessons From A PR Intern post.  I didn’t know it then, but I would gain a lot of public relations experience, interact with some of the industry’s top PR professionals and work on many interesting clients (often at the same time).


I have always befriended people who are older than me so it only made sense that I attend Boston University’s graduation ceremony.  It was a great “last hurrah” to spend with my friends who were graduating, but it also made me think a lot about my future (and the fact that I only had a year left to enjoy college and potentially Boston).  I wrote about my thoughts in my Graduation Reflection post.


There will obviously be a common theme about PRSSA in this blog post, but in June I really began to understand the organization inside and out.  Every year the PRSSA National Committee goes to Scottsdale, Arizona for a few days for a retreat to kick off the year.  I was amazed at the talent and leadership in the room as we discussed our platforms for the year and got to know each other.  The four days I spent with these people were truly the best days of my summer.


On July 14…I turned 21!  It was a great birthday and definitely exciting to be considered more of an “adult.”  Below is the best birthday card I have ever received!


For my grandmother’s 80th birthday, she took my family on a Mediterranean cruise that left from Barcelona.  We traveled to Capri, Rome, Pisa, Cannes, Monaco and Toulon.  It was my first time in Europe and truly an incredible experience.

Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona, Spain

Capri, Italy

Rome, Italy

Pisa, Italy

Pisa, Italy

Cannes, France


Toulon, France


In September I started my last year at Boston University and my last year of school forever.  It is crazy to think that after so many years of school and classes, I will not be starting a new year next September!


In October I spent 10 days in Washington, D.C. first at the University of Maryland and then at the PRSSA National Conference.  More details about the conference are in my 2010 PRSSA National Conference: Washington, D.C. post.  Long story short, the conference was the greatest week of my life.


November was a very busy month.  I felt like I had a different event/commitment every night.  But I did one thing that I have always wanted to do.  I competed with Chris Wilcox in the Mr. and Miss BU pageant as Mr. and Miss COM!  We had a few challenges and prepared a skit and dance to Lady Gaga’s “Telephone.”  We got 2nd place, and it was a lot of fun!


I was hoping to talk about my smartphone here but since I still have my Blackberry (see #downwithblackberry), I will discuss 2 tweet-ups I went to that I really enjoyed!  Harrison Kratz asked me to plan Boston’s TweetDrive to gather toys for needy children.  More details about this event are in the Boston TweetDrive post.  Zach Cole asked me to be part of a social media task force at the MegaTweetup 2.  More details about this event are in the MegaTweetup 2 post.


MegaTweetup 2

Happy New Year to everyone, and I look forward to many more memories in the next year as I have had this past year.

The Year As Boston University PRSSA President

Today I submitted the PRSSA Teahan Chapter awards, marking the end of my term as Boston University’s PRSSA President.  It was a bittersweet moment, as I loved leading such an incredible group of individuals, but I look forward to the upcoming year on the National Committee.

Looking back at this past year, I am so proud of what the executive board and PRSSA members accomplished.  We have a greater presence on campus and more members than ever before.  We usually have a problem retaining active members until the end of the year, but there were a lot of enthusiastic and dedicated new members who joined second semester and will make great contributions next year.  We are also attending all of the national events, National ConferenceNational Assembly, and Leadership Rally.  I am excited to see how many of our members will be at the 2010 National Conference in Washington, D.C.

Our Regional Activity, PR Advanced: Brand Yourself, was also an incredible experience both for myself and our committee members.  We had more members on the committee than ever before and more attendees.  More people on campus knew about the conference and attended, which attracted the attention of our Dean of Students.  Our addition of social media into the conference gained the attention of professionals around the world (the United States AND Bangkok).  It was a great success.

Our Vice President, Eric Leist, created our first annual Social Media Competition and Tweet-up.  Both were heavily attended by students and professionals around Boston.  The Social Media Competition invited students to create a campaign forPavement, a new coffee shop, and had six social media judges to decide which team of students had the most creative idea.  The Tweet-up took place at Jillian’s for a night of socializing and networking.

PRSSAgency, our student-run firm, which will be called Unleashed PR next year, had a year of development that will hopefully lead to national affiliation next year.  Emilie O’Toole, who led the agency, worked constantly to create more structured rules for future success.

We also created great relationships with local professional organizations thanks to the hard work of Becky Steinberg.  She built relationships with PRSA and the Publicity Club of New England that led to many opportunities for our members and many fantastic speakers.  We have never had such a variety of speakers before, and it made for more interesting and engaging meetings.

To finish off, our social media presence helped us attract many professionals and members.  The Regional Activity was a trending topic on Twitter (#pradvanced and @pradvanced), the presence of the Tweet-up (#BostonCOM) and Social Media Competition (#BUSMC) on Twitter attracted more people than expected, and our chapter meetings were advertised on Twitter (#BUPRSSA and @BUPRSSA) and Facebook.  We also posted videos on YouTube to inform our members about meetings, events, and even conferences.  If they missed something, they could check the YouTube channel to constantly learn from the executive board.

And I cannot forget the hard work of our Faculty Adviser,Professor Steve Quigley.  Without him, none of this would have been possible.  He always puts his students first and drops everything to give advice and help out where he can.  We are truly lucky to have someone as dedicated as him.

Our new Professional Adviser, Meghan Gross, has also helped us this year.  As President of PRSA Boston, she worked to connect our organizations.  And she helped us secure some speakers for our Regional Activity.

Finally, Dean Fiedler, the Dean of COM, has been so supportive of PRSSA.  Between helping us with funding and giving us suggestions for some of our events, he has truly helped us develop our organization.

PRSSA has brought me incredible memories throughout the years.  I spoke a bit about them on my guest blog post.  But being President has been one of the greatest experiences I could have asked for.  I truly encourage everyone to get involved in their local chapters and aspire to hold this position.  It is truly worth the hard work throughout the year to see so many new faces, meet so many inspiring people, and make a difference.


Graduation Reflection

This past weekend, I attended Boston University’s Commencement Weekend.  It was basically my one last hurrah with many of my friends who are a year older than I am.  We spent some time in Cape Cod and then came back to Boston for graduation.  It was a great weekend, but it felt like any other weekend at college.  It did not really hit me until I was driving back home from Boston that my experience at Boston University would be very different in the future.  Many people who have been in my classes and who have been easy to get into contact with will not be there anymore.  One of my close friends is moving to Mississippi for Teach for America so I will not see her for at least two years.  Others will be going back home to California, Florida, New York, and even Scotland.  College as I know it will be different.

So all of this got me thinking: What do I want to remember from college?  What experiences, professionally and socially, are important to me?  What do I want to make of my senior year?  Do I have any regrets from the past three years?  Should I have done something different?  Is there something I need to experience in Boston before I graduate?  Will I live in New York City after I graduate as I have always planned?  Should I look into other cities to live in besides Boston and New York City?  What is keeping me on the East Coast?

I remember when my sister and brother-in-law graduated from college.  They had been in Philadelphia for the past four years but had not experienced everything Philly had to offer.  My brother-in-law went back after graduation to relive some of the historical sites that he had not visited during his time at the University of Pennsylvania.  This made me think too.

The past semester, I tried to go out of my way to do some things that I may not have done in the past.  If I was too tired to meet up with a friend who just graduated, I made myself do it anyway.  If I was too tired at night to go to a networking event, I made myself do it anyway.  I wanted to make sure I made the most of my time in Boston because I was realizing, slowly, that it was limited.

With only nine months left in Boston, I want to take this to the next level.  My goal for my senior year is to do one thing each week that I normally would not do.  That may be a tourist attraction or going to dinner at a restaurant besides Noodle Street (which is a feat for me).  But whatever it is for that particular week, I want to go the extra mile to take advantage of college and Boston.

People always say that your college years are the best years of your life.  That may be true for some but not all.  I am a positive person and hope that my future will be just as fulfilling if not more than college.  However, I want to make the most of the opportunities I am fortunate to have in the meantime.  Anyone have any suggestions about Week 1?  I have until September to decide!


PR Advanced: Brand Yourself

As the co-coordinator for this year’s Regional Activity, PR Advanced: Brand Yourself, the last six months of my life have been dedicated to planning and executing this event.  I am extremely passionate about three things: PRSSA, event planning, and most importantly, the Regional Activity.  That made the last six months of my life not easier, but enjoyable.  After working hard to secure speakers in December after worrying that they would not want to attend the event, working with Boston University’s Student Activities Office to fill our paperwork, figuring our logistics, schedules, committee agendas, delegating tasks to the conference committee, seeking sponsorship and career fair participants, promoting the event through social media outlets, talking to other chapters via TwitterFacebook, e-mail, and phone calls, and more (I seriously could ramble on and on), the event finally came together on February 27, 2010.  Not only did we have a stellar line-up of speakers, but we had a stellar committee and as Brandi Boatner, Immediate National PRSSA President put it, ROCK STARS as our participants.

The committee arrived at the Photonics Center to begin setting up at 8:00 am.  One of the things that I really liked that we did this year was having donations to send to Haiti.  We always have a raffle, and usually every participant gets a raffle ticket.  But this year, we charged for raffle tickets and were able to raise $87 to send to Haiti.  We also had people sign up forPenelope Trunk’s website, Brazen Careerist.

To start out the conference, Chelsea Alexander (the other conference co-coordinator) and I introduced Penelope Trunk, who spoke about her five tips to branding.

1) Stick with it: She told us that she was awake at 5:00 in the morning before coming to our conference to write a blog post to send to her editor.  That is pretty early, but she knew that is what she had to do.  I know what she means.  I have stuck with my blog for almost two years now.  I try to write a blog post at least once a week (it usually ends up being 2-3 per month) because I know that I have something to say.  I can come up with an idea.  I can write what is on my mind.  And I can give up 30-40 minutes to do so.

2) Be optimistic: You might not succeed the first time.  You might not even succeed the second time.  But if you stick with it (see above) and stay optimistic, good things will come.  You need to be positive in order to make things work.

3) Do cool things: Attending the conference is cool.  Joining and becoming involved in PRSSA is cool.  I think I already have this one set!

4) Take leaps: Do something you would not normally do.  Take chances.  Take risks.  Great things do not happen to those who simply wait on the sideline.

5) Be known for your ideas: In a world where people might be afraid of other stealing your ideas, YOU CAN’T BE.  If someone takes one of your ideas, great-you had an AWESOME idea.  There are more where that came from.  Don’t get discouraged, and don’t be afraid to tell everyone what you are thinking.

The next part of the conference was a breakout session.  There were 5 speakers: Jacob Cass, junior creative at Carrot CreativeHeather Huhman, founder and president of Come RecommendedJoe Januszewski, vice president of corporate partnerships at the Boston Red SoxLinda Shear, executive coordinator of Whole Foods, and Karen Raskopf, senior vice president of corporate communications at Dunkin’ Brands.  I was running all over the place, but I did have the chance to stop by Heather Huhman’s session for a little bit.  She spoke about the importance of buying your own domain name, starting a blog and website (I have the blog part, now I need the website part), buying business cards, and really developing your brand.  She told us to Google ourselves and see what comes up.  I have to admit, I have a Google Alert for my name, and I do Google myself from time to time.  My blog,TwitterFacebook (I have mine completely public-I am proud of my Facebook and have nothing to hide), PRSSA involvement,LinkedIn pageJSPRAA scholarship awardhigh school basketball statsGold Congressional Award, and others come up.  Sometimes, pages that say “Rachel sprung into action” come up, but for the most part, my personal brand through Google is in tact.  Phew!  I can check that off!

After lunch, we had another breakout session, where participants were able to attend another of the five speakers from above.  I was welcoming speakers for the next part of our day, so I helped set things up instead of attending a session.

Our next part was dedicated to the HR Panel.  We had Chris Gaturu from the Federal Reserve Bank of BostonKate DiChristopher from Marina Maher CommunicationsMaggie van der Leeuw from Burson-Marsteller, and Jason Glashow fromFleishman-Hillard.  They sat at a table in front of all the participants.  The cool part about this session was that we had a projector showing TweetDeck in the back.  I was the moderator and alternated between taking questions from the audience and taking questions from TweetDeck.  It was an interesting combination of corporate, boutique, and larger agency points-of-view.  For example, Chris thought that your GPA should always be on your resume, and Jason did not agree.  The larger agencies looked for certain qualities that the smaller agencies did not.  The agencies expected written thank you notes, while corporate expected you to shine in an interview without the thank you note being too influential.  It was interesting to see them go back and forth about these issues.  It was also interesting to hear about using Skype for interviews (especially when people are interviewing from other countries), the use of e-portfolios, assessments on site after interviews, etc.  We spoke about the role of social media, of course, and how that influences a candidate’s chance of an internship or job.  They all did agree upon one thing: ASK QUESTIONS IN AN INTERVIEW.  If you are properly prepared for an interview, you should know a lot about the company, and you should have a question based on that research.  Before you step in the door, know a company from the front to the back.  If you really want the internship, PROVE IT!

Next, Brandi Boatner spoke about PRSSA and encouraged participants to join and utilize all the benefits this organization provides.  Now she knows how to energize and excite an audience!  I’m already an active member of PRSSA, but listening to her speak only made me want to be even more involved.  She was seriously the energy of the conference, especially when everyone was growing tired toward the end.  I cannot wait to see her again soon!

Next, I introduced our keynote, Fiona Morrisson, director of brand and advertising at JetBlue.  Her presentation was wonderful!  She told us how JetBlue branded itself against larger companies in a way to ensure success.  One way was they said they were “jetting” instead of “flying” from place to place.  They used the slogan “Happy jetting.”  She also spoke about the creation of T5 in the JFK airport to give customers the ultimate JetBlue experience from the time the person arrives at the airport to the time they are gathering their bags at the destination’s airport.  Then she connected everything back to personal branding and how important it is for all individuals.  She was truly fabulous and fantastic.  During the career fair, many people approached her.

The career fair was truly spectacular.  We had agencies including 360 Public RelationsBurson-MarstellerBusiness WireConeEdelmanFleishman-HillardHubSpot,Internshipratings.comMarina Maher CommunicationsML StrategiesMorrissey & CompanyMS&L WorldwideOn-MessagePRSA BostonPub Club of New EnglandRacepoint GroupSolomon McCown, and TalentCulture.  And during this time, we also found out that we were the #2 trending topic in Boston (see above picture)!

Following the career fair, we went to Eastern Standard for appetizers and conversations.  This gave us the opportunity to talk further with professionals and may students from out of the state.  Participants were glowing with all of the information they had learned throughout the day.  It was truly fabulous to hear how grateful they were to attend an event like this.  I was proud of our committee and the event we were able to plan, but I also had great pride when I heard this was the best conference they had ever been to.  I was approached by many people asking if they could meet me to talk about getting an internship, even if they did not have experience.  They wanted to get involved in PRSSA.  They wanted to start their own blogs.  They wanted to create websites.  They just wanted to make sure they were properly branding themselves.  THAT is what these conferences is all about.  I’m truly proud to have been involved in this for my third year.

Also, a special thanks to our sponsors: ConeConover Tuttle PaceMorrissey & CompanyOn-MessagePRSA Boston,Staples, and TalentCulture.  We look forward to your support in the future!

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2009 PRSSA National Conference – San Diego, California

Last weekend, I had the honor of traveling to San Diego for the 2009 PRSSA National Conference.  It was my first year, and I had pretty high expectations.  I had seen the National Conference committee tweet and send out Facebook messages promoting the speakers and how many PRSSA members would be attending.  My excitement was overwhelming as I counted down the days to my trip across country.

The second we stepped onto the hotel property, we were immediately greeted by the National Committee and other PRSSA members.  It was truly thrilling to immediately learn about other PRSSA chapters and the opportunities they offer.

The following morning, we had the opportunity to see San Diego.  But I couldn’t wait until I was back at the hotel to attend the first breakout sessions of the conference.  That first day we attend chapter development sessions hosted by The University of Texas at Austin, Indiana State, Roger Williams University, and University at Wisconsin-Madison.  University of Texas at Austin proved to be my favorite as they discussed a thematic approach to chapters.  I was so impressed by the way they retain so many of their members and truly reach out to PR professionals in Austin.  They have a Mentorship Program partnering PR professionals with PRSSA members, and I really hope to implement that at our chapter at BU.  Their professionalism, charisma, and the hard work demonstrated by their executive board was clear and inspiring.  Indiana State spoke about their experience with e-portfolios and provided anecdotes about how it personally has helped their PR careers.  Roger Williams University spoke about their annual Gala and the importance of particular event planning skills.  University at Wisconsin-Madison gave tips on promoting professionalism whether when networking or applying for internships.

After that, I attended a workshop for Chapter Presidents led by the President of the OC PRSA.  This workshop was an outstanding opportunity to hear about the strengths and struggles of other chapters.  I talked to presidents from across the country and learned about how they deal with being the leader of such a prestigious organization.

That night, an event to meet other chapters was held in the hotel.  Everyone wore either their school colors or PRSSA shirts.  I found it hilarious to read some of the shirts that people had for their chapters, such as “Hello public, let’s relate.”  It was a great opportunity to once again meet people from different chapters and hear about what makes their chapters unique and promote our Regional Activity event.

The next day was the official start of the conference.  Mona Pasquil, a former public affairs director under Bill Clinton, was the keynote speaker.  She gave an inspiring addressing about how to be prepared while under pressure and truly have confidence in yourself.  The next activity was a brunch for Chapter Presidents, which gave me a chance to learn about other chapters once again.  The breakout sessions throughout the rest of the day were given my professionals.  I attended a session about media relations with Joseph V. Trahan, III, President & CEO of Trahan & Associates.  He was absolutely incredible.  He was so engaging and had such useful advice.  He spoke about preparation before dealing with the media, how to prepare your clients, how to figure out the information, and how to get the attention of journalists.  He told stories about himself in these situations, and stressed the importance to tell the truth, even if it means losing your job.

Next, I attended a session about how young talent can stand out given by Ron Culp, Partner and Corporate Director of Ketchum, and Kevin Saghy, an Account Executive at Ketchum.  They spoke about the different perspective of how interns and entry-level employees can advance themselves.  Ron Culp gave the senior management perspective, and Kevin Saghy gave the entry-level perspective.  They spoke with employees at many PR agencies to get their opinions as well.  It was eye opening to hear the differences in opinions.

Finally, I head Sheri Oppenheimer, the Communications Manager at Campbell’s Soup talk about her experiences.  She was at the company during a time of change and saw it transition from a company with bad employee relations to one of the best in its industry.  It was interesting to hear her talk about specific employee relations techniques, as my internship this past summer consisted of working with internal relations.

The next day, I started off my day by leading a breakout session about the Regional Activity with Jenna Huskinson, the VP of Regional Activity on the National Committee.  It was such an honor to speak about my experiences the past 2 years on this event because the Regional Activity attracted me to PRSSA in the first place.  I had a wonderful time, and it made me even more excited to be a co-coordinator for the event.  Additionally, we met with the other coordinators after this workshop and discussed our ideas for our events.

After, we were lucky enough to attend the PRSA Conference and hear Arianna Huffington speak.  Not only did we hear her advice on engaging the public and proper etiquette when dealing with the media, but we saw her interview Wendell Potter about his stand against health care.  After, we were able to stay at the PRSA Conference for a bit and talk to companies who provide services to PR organizations, such as Cision and Vocus.  I had questions about both programs that were promptly answered.

When we arrived back at our conference, we attended more breakout sessions.  First, we went to a session on Corporate vs. Agency given by Rana Kay, the PR Manager at the Hard Rock Café, and Tim Wheatcroft, General Manager of Allison & Partners.  They discussed differences between the two work styles and even pointed out many misconceptions, such as corporate employees make A LOT more than agency employees (it is actually only 85% of what agencies make).

The last session of the day was about Investor Relations and Ethics and discussed the PRSA Code of Ethics.  David Silver of Silver Public Relations, Deborah A. Silverman, Assistant Professor of Communication at Buffalo State College, and Jonathan R. Slater, Professor at State University of New York at Plattsburgh led the discussion and even a case study at the end.

On our final day, we went to the PRSA Conference again to hear their next keynote speaker, Todd Buccholz speak.  He was by far my favorite speaker of the conference.  He spoke about the economy, clearly a hard topic to keep listeners engaged, but he did a fantastic job of keeping everyone intrigued and fascinated.  I cannot even express how much he inspired me, and I plan to read his books over my winter break.  FABULOUS!

The next session was led by Dennis John Gaschen, Professor at California State University, Fullerton and Bey-Ling Sha, Ph.D., Associate Professor at San Diego State University.  They were such a good pair together!  They spoke about being accredited in PR (aka getting your APR) and gave advice on graduate school, internships, and key tips to keep in mind while being more involved in the field.

The final session was on interviewing, resumes, and networking led by Walter R. Bateman II, Retired CEO of The Harleysville Group and Natalie Neczypor, Marketing Executive at Ernst & Young LLP.  They gave SUCH valuable advice about how to tailor your resume, network, research a company, questions to ask in an interview, and steps to follow up an interview.

We ended our stay at San Diego by attending the Awards Ceremony.  Our own graduate student from Boston University won the highest ethics award given out to PR students.

My time at this conference was nothing short of spectacular.  I heard fantastic speakers and was able to have incredible discussions about their workshops with other PRSSA students afterwards.  I networked with PRSA professionals and PRSSA students.  I learned more about the industry than I could have ever hoped.  I learned how to develop our chapter at Boston University.  I gained tips to benefit my career in the future and learned how to stand out in this competitive environment.  I discussed other chapters’ opportunities, including Regional Activities, speakers, meeting agendas, retaining members, and being a leader.  The four days I spent in San Diego changed my perspective on PR, increased my enthusiasm of PR, and benefited my future.

For more information on specific workshops, go towww.youtube.com/buprssa to see members of Boston University’s PRSSA e-board speak about everything they learned.

Business and Communications

For so long I was told not to pursue a dual degree with Business Administration and Communications.  Advisors told me there was no overlap and more work than what it was worth.  Even though it has made my schedule much busier than I expected, I have found many similarities between the classes I am taking in both schools.  Marketing models are discussed in communications classes.  Social media is discussed in Information Systems classes.  Corporate Communications and Organizational Behavior are discussed in both schools.  The overlap has really proved to be endless.  And to cap it off, professionals in both fields point out the benefits of having these two degrees.

The similarities first became apparent to me last year in my Corporate Communications and Organizational Behavior classes.  In both classes, the culture of an organization and its importance was discussed in detail.  When people apply for jobs, it is vital to identify the culture and see whether or not it fits a person’s lifestyle.  There was an example presented to us in OB where a former student chose a job with an open cubicle where he could communicate with others in a more comfortable fashion as oppose to being shut in a private room with bleak walls.  At my first internship, the culture was open and friendly.  The cubicles were all in a big room, and all of the VPs kept their doors open.  Employees were constantly talking across the room and over their cubicles, and the environment was relaxed and comfortable.

Over the summer, my internship involved communications from a business perspective.  I interacted with employees across departments are truly witnessed firsthand the importance of having a business and communications background.  My daily tasks involved aspects of what I had learned in my classes.  Yes, the Corporate Communications and Organizational Behavior classes came into play, as they would at any internship, but my PR, accounting, and statistics classes helped me to further understand the assignments at hand.

Finally, today the connection became evident.  I have already seen my Information Systems class having the potential to benefit other Communications students.  We have discussed building a website, the uses of social media, and other ways to market a person online.  We also touched upon the use of the Internet for small businesses.  This topic brought me back to an old blog post of mine from August 18th, which highlighted a “New York Times” article discussing the benefits of Twitter to small businesses.  We talked about how small businesses are getting the edge over their larger competitors through marketing themselves online.  It is cheaper, easier, and truly makes a difference.  My professor pointed out a bike shop in Newton, Massachusetts that markets internationally to its customers because it does not have much success locally.  All of this information seems to fall quite closely to the blurred lines between business and communications.

So I’m not trying to write this blog post to prove my advisors wrong (even though it accomplishes that as well), but I want to show the interesting aspects of two disciplines that fit so well together.  Combining these two degrees is not like studying two different areas but really intersecting similar interests.

BU: Douchiest to Luxurious

From the end of August to the beginning of September, Boston University went from being the home of the 18th “Douchiest” college in the country to being the home of the nicest dorm in the country.  GQ wrote the feature article highlighting the parts of Boston University that make it an arrogant institution, more specifically the communication school (http://men.style.com/gq/features/landing?id=content_10779).  Being a communications student, I obviously find this offending and can think of many other aspects of BU that would be more fitting for such a title.  According to GQ, Boston University students are most likely to “major in communications and take it seriously.”  At least they included business students in the title as “The Future Marketing Executives of America Douche,” even though that is equally as offending to me because I am majoring in business administration in addition to communications.

I’m curious how they even go about finding the “Top 25 Douchiest Colleges.”  Do they interview individual students?  Do they survey to find students’ interests?  Even so, why focus on communications students?  Granted communications is a field that most people do not understand and therefore think is fruitless, but why focus on communications instead of business, engineering, or hospitality?  For some of the other colleges that are ranked, they focus on other aspects of campus life.  For Duke University, they focus on Duke’s obsession with being ranked #1 (which leads them to rank Duke #2).  For Harvard University, they do not even give a reason for being on the list besides being a “Harvard douche.”  Whatever the reason, this article definitely attracted attention, mostly negative.

However, the Boston Globe definitely helped turn around this bad publicity by highlighting the newest addition to our campus, the Student Village II or StuVi2 (http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2009/09/02/bu_dorm_offers_a_study_in_luxury/).  Even though it costs more than other on-campus housing (and even off-campus housing), it is luxurious and beautiful.  The first time I walked into the new high-rise building, I really felt like I died and went to heaven.  The entrance looks like a beautiful hotel, and the suites and apartments are just as nice.  The view is spectacular as it overlooks Nickerson Field, the Charles River, or other beautiful landscapes around Boston.  The common rooms have windows from the floor to the ceiling that allow for these breathtaking views.

Not only does this article help promote Boston University’s accommodations, but it depicts steps that Boston University is taking to satisfy current and potential students.  In the past, Boston University did not have the capacity to house all of the students who wanted housing and had to send some across the river to stay at the Hyatt for a semester.  Now, BU is able to provide housing for 80% of its students (16,000 students) thanks to this new addition.  I know that I would love the opportunity to live in this building, and I am sure when potential students see where they could live in the future, this housing could be an incentive to bring in students.

So clearly the media went from portraying Boston University in a negative light to a more positive light.  One second they are discussing the arrogant attitude of students, and the next second they are describing the beautiful accommodations available to the students.  Twitter and Facebook filled up with posts about both of these articles, but which one actually sticks in people’s minds?  Usually it is the negative news.  I’m sure people at other schools focus more on the fact that BU is ranked #18 on this list, but currently at BU, everyone is talking about StuVi2.