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.

January

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

February

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.

March

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

April

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

May

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

June

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!

July

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

BSMA Brunch

August

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

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

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:

November

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!


December

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 Year on the PRSSA National Committee

I stood in front of more than 150 PRSSA students across the country and began my speech, “Hello everyone!  I’m so honored to be standing here to talk about my goals and dreams for the position as Vice President of Regional Activities.”  We were in Austin, Texas for the PRSSA National Assembly.  I was running against five other candidates for a role that had truly made me fall in love with public relations.

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I started my journey in PRSSA as a member of the Regional Activity planning committee as a freshman and continued onto the role as Regional Activity Coordinator as a junior.  The opportunity to work with PR students across the country to plan similar conferences was a dream.  And that dream was made a reality as I assumed the role as National Vice President of Regional Activities.

A year later as I finish my term, I look back and am nostalgic for all the amazing times I had in this position and grateful for the opportunities it gave me to meet and work with inspirational students across the country.  The most interesting part of this position is the interaction with students you never would have otherwise been in touch with.  The organization has 10,000 students.  That is 10,000 students with different interests, different personalities, different accents, different goals and different dreams.  Some students aspire to be in a large city, and other students aspire to be in a small town.  Some students aspire to work in non-profit organizations, and others aspire to work in agencies.  Some studies are interested in new media, and other students are more focused on traditional media.  But one thing is for sure, every student I have met has inspired me in different ways.

So for those of you who are fortunate enough to have more years in PRSSA, make the most of it.  I can honestly say that my time in PRSSA has been the best part of college.  Traveling around the country to different conferences to learn more about public relations and meet the future of the industry is more fulfilling than I can even put into words.  Witnessing the satisfaction and excitement of the Regional Activity coordinators when they secured a speaker or a sponsor was probably just as exciting for me as it was for them.  I have always loved mentoring other students, and being in this position gives you the ability to help so many more students than you even thought was possible.  As a member of the National Committee, you go beyond your position.  I was in charge of managing the Regional Activities, but I found myself helping students secure internships, editing resumes and cover letters and giving general career advice.

Even though being active in PRSSA can seem daunting, it ends up being so fulfilling.  We may always preach about professional development and networking opportunities, but do not forget about peer networking.  Your peers will one day be your colleagues and may even be your boss.  Learning to work with people who are different from you will be valuable in your future career.  And making those connections will not only be a way to make new friends but may lead to future job opportunities.

I know I am a bit of a PRSSA fanatic, but I have good reasons for that.  Become active in your local Chapter and even on the national level.  The end result will make your time spent SO worthwhile.  And as I pass the torch to the next Vice President of Regional Activities, I am only excited and thrilled to see what the committee will accomplish.

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The Reality of PR: A Survivor’s Guide to the Public Relations World (Penn State Regional Activity)

This past weekend I went to my last Regional Activity (very bittersweet).  But after working with Andrea Crawford all year, I was so happy to see the event come together.  The event was called The Reality of PR: A Survivor’s Guide to the Public Relations World.  They had a great social on Friday night and a day full of excellent speakers on Saturday.  In addition to the speakers, they had an etiquette luncheon and networking reception.  Many schools from around the region came, and the committee made everything run very smoothly.  Congratulations on a great event!

Steve Manuel, Professor at Penn State University

In addition to being a former Penn State professor, Steve Manuel is also a former public affairs officer for the Office of the Secretary of Defense and Marine Corps spokesman.  His stories about his adventures doing photojournalism and other PR work were very interesting, and the engagement he had of his students was very inspiring (and reminded me of my PRSSA Faculty Adviser, Steve Quigley).  A few things that stood out in my mind when he spoke were the following.

  • 10% of people working on a group project will not pull their wait.  As students, we can definitely relate to that (or even say 10% may be underestimated).
  • We spoke about how it has been over 10 years since the 9/11 tragedy and we still have not found Osama bin Laden.  But what would happen if we actually found him?  What would the government do?  What would the public demand?  And who would become our new “#1 target?”  There will always be a new bad guy.
  • He also said you should always have a communications objective in your pocket.  And make sure you are clear about what your objective is.

After his presentation, we played PR Jeopardy.  There were questions about PR History, Agencies, AP Style the National Committee (I was an answer!) and Penn State.  My team won, and the Regional Activity committee gave us t-shirts, cups and a zip drive!

Michael Hinman, Account Executive & Media Manager at Environmental PR Group

The keynote speaker came all the way from Tampa to speak to us about environmental PR.  He started off by giving us some background about the work he does and some environmental PR issues.  Then he gave us some suggestions when dealing with media relations.  He cited Steve Jobs as an example of someone who has the ability to tell us what we want before we even know we want it.  That is how you have to treat media relations.  The Internet helps us create and own a conversation, but you also have to tailor your message to every audience.  Every target audience has their own wants and needs, and it is our job to figure out what that is.  Personalize your outreach by looking up every beat and publication of the people you are pitching to.  Utilizing social media is great, but you have to have followers and an established base or it will not do any good.

He also talked to us a bit about SEO news releases.  He showed us his own example that he did for Water Optimizer.  He told us that reporters have less time than ever before, and it is important as PR professionals to do anything you can to make it easier for a reporter to do research on your story.  They do not have the time to do in depth research like they used to so this is our opportunity to do it for them so we can still have the story published.

Ron Smith, Senior Lecturer at Penn State University

I next went to a technology session where they taught us how to use Illustrator.  It was a great refresher about some of the basic tools you need to know to use the program.  I thought this was an excellent addition to the Regional Activity.  They also had an InDesign workshop later in the day.

Jeff Boggie, Chef-Instructor at Penn State University

During lunch, we had an etiquette presentation.  There were some interesting tips he gave us about how to present ourselves in a business setting.

  • Deliver a firm handshake.
  • Stand when introduced or being introduced.
  • Travel light (you need both hands).
  • Don’t go in cold.  Have a purpose, be prepared and visualize.
  • Walk the walk aka be confident.
  • Follow up with questions about them.  Show you are interested in them.
  • Don’t arrive hungry.
  • Do not treat staff poorly.

He also displayed the following diagram to show us what utensils are used for the different courses.

Mindy Bianca, Public Relations Director at Hershey Entertainment and Resorts and Cara O’Donnell, Associate Vice President of Public Relations at Tierney

The next session I attended was about tourism PR.  This session was the most engaging session of the day.  Both Mindy and Cara are former journalists so they understand PR in a unique way.  They stressed the importance of having a background in journalism or at least interning in journalism.  When you have this background, you understand what the media is looking for and can tailor your news releases to that.  You also learn the structure of a news room and know who to pitch.

They spoke about the tourism and travel industry being more proactive than reactive.  It is also built on relationships that take years to develop. They told us some funny stories about some of the ways they have developed these relationships with journalists.  Even though they were funny, they proved to be successful relationships for both parties.

Even though travel and tourism PR seems very glamorous because of all the traveling, they did stress the long hours.  When you are traveling during the day, you have to do work all night that you didn’t get to finish during the day.

They also gave us some interviewing advice.  Present yourself well from the moment you walk into a building because you are interviewing with everyone from the receptionist who welcomes you to the recruiter.  Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.  Have inner-confidence without being arrogant.

Meredith Topalanchik, Vice President & Director, Client Services at CooperKatz

This session was about agency life and a lot of the decisions you need to make when you are in an entry-level position.

  • Don’t accept a job on the spot.  If they want you, they can wait.
  • There is no other place you can get as much experience right out of college than a PR agency.
  • Most work is in media relations.  It is very valuable to learn how to pitch.
  • Your organizational style will change within the first year.

Patricia Whalen, Assistant Professor at DePaul University and Board Member of the Board of Ethics and Professional Standars of the Public Relations Society of America

To end the day, was the Ben Bronstein Lecture called “Can PR Pros Act as the Corporate Conscience.”  It was all about the ethical dilemmas that PR professionals face.

Whalen emphasized the importance of standing up for yourself.  Don’t be afraid to speak the truth to power.  It is better to get fired and find another job than engage in unethical actions.  She said to do the right thing because there is a huge benefit to both you and your organization.  By doing this, you can build up trust which will come in handy long-term.  Every organization will make a mistake at one point, but if you have built up a trust bank, the people will forgive you.

She gave us some interesting facts about the people who are practicing PR.  Many have not been trained in PR so do not always know how to work in PR.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that 500,000 people practice PR but only 32,000 are in PRSA (less than 7%).

A lot of times there is a question between whether PR people or lawyers should be the ethical conscience of an organization.  But there is a difference between being legal and being ethical.

She told us to focus on strategic advocacy and enlightened self interest.  She explained that enlightened self-interest means that an organization is a member of society.  So corporate citizens benefit in the long run in reputation and profits.

Networking Reception

To conclude the day, we had a networking reception where we talked to some of the speakers and students from different schools.  Overall, Penn State did a great job putting on this conference, and I’m so glad I was able to attend!

With the Penn State Nittany Lion, Dana Bubonovich, Immediate Past President of Penn State PRSSA and the FIT PRSSA Chapter

 

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!

DePaul University Regional Activity

This past weekend I had the exciting chance to make my first trip to the Midwest and visit Chicago.  In addition to going to Millennium Park, the Willis Tower (aka Sears Tower) and Lincoln Park and seeing the Bean and Lake Michigan (I have never seen a Great Lake before), I had the chance to attend DePaul University’s Regional Activity, Transforming Traditional into Digital: The New Ways of PR (@NewWaysPR).  I have worked closely with the coordinator, Jamie Harris, since September, and her hard work truly paid off.  They had a great conference full of agency tours, intelligent and informative speakers and a career fair.  Their organization made the conference flow very smoothly and go off without a hitch.  Jamie and the entire conference committee should be very proud of their hard work and success!

I had the chance to sit in on their keynote speaker, Rick Murray, President of Edelman Chicago, Chris Barr, Yahoo! Senior Editorial Director, and Trent Frager, Senior Vice President at GolinHarris.  All three speakers were very informative and taught us a lot about the changing landscape of public relations.

Rick Murray, President of Edelman Chicago

It was very interesting to hear Rick Murray speak again.  When I was a freshman, he spoke at Boston University’s Regional Activity, and I found it very interesting to hear about the changes in public relations from that time until now.  He started off by telling us that the job descriptions for what we’ll all be doing in five years won’t be written for another five years.  But that’s what keeps the industry exciting – it is always changing, and there is always something new to learn.  As the former president of Edelman Digital, he knows this fact better than anyone.

The three questions that we need to ask as PR practitioners are:

1) What should you destroy?

2) What should you preserve?

3) What should you create?

Public relations is about public engagement and finding out what is important to an audience.  Murray said we play in the space of truth and authenticity, and it is important to blend passion and purpose to reach out and truly connect with an audience.  The content used to reach an audience will vary from person to person.  Some people want their information on their phone, some want it on their iPad and some want it in a newspaper.  In a time when there are so many ways to reach out to people, it is important to focus on media, ALL types of media.  That means new, old, traditional, everything.

To become a successful PR professional, it is important to keep a few things in mind.

1) Stay on top of what influences culture and the public.

2) Live and work global.  (With new ways to immediately reach people around the work, it is important to have a global way of thinking.)

3) Create value every day by thinking about goals you can measure.

4) Find your passion, and chase it.  If you are not passionate about your work, you are hurting yourself, your company and your client.

5) Making mistakes is how you grow.  Don’t be afraid to make them.

Chris Barr, Yahoo! Senior Editorial Director

Chris Barr gave some valuable advice when writing for the Internet versus written publications.  Writing online is VERY different especially when 79% of people scan web pages, and half of adults in the United States read at the 8th grade level or lower.  So in order to keep attention for as long as possible, it is necessary to do a few things.

1) Get to the point.

2) Make text scannable.

3) Write for the world.

When organizing your story, it is important to keep a few things in mind in order to once again keep the attention of your readers.

1) Front-load the most important information.  People will stop reading at some point on the web page so it is important to get as much information up front as possible.

2) You have 3-5 seconds to hook readers.

3) Limit stories to about 300 words per page.

In a digital world, it is also important to think about how the story will appear on a mobile device.  Now more than ever, people are reading news on the go on their cell phones.

Finally, he spoke about headlines and how to write them in a way that will be clear to readers and appear in search engines.  His overall advice for this aspect of writing online was that accuracy and clarity are more important than cleverness.

Trent Frager, Senior Vice President at GolinHarris

The focus of this session was crisis communications.  In particular, he focused on the impact of social media on a crisis, something that agencies have had to learn over the past few years.  There is now a lot less predictability about how your company is perceived in a crisis.  Even so, only 20.7% of companies have social media crisis plans set.  That is very low considering the impact that social media tools have on a crisis.

From the company’s perspective, it is important to have a few plans in place in case of a crisis.

1) Assess your footprint.  Figure out where your audience is on the Internet, and make sure you are interacting with them.  When a crisis hits, it will be helpful to have this contact already in place.

2) Find the right team to work on a crisis.  Prepare an advisory group.  Provide social media response training.  Online reputation management requires a strong team.

3) Be able to distinguish “baseline chatter” vs. an escalating issue.  Some people may complain online about your company, but it may not truly affect the company’s overall image.  It is important to be able to discern between the two.

All three speakers truly hit on the changing landscape of public relations.  While it is important to remember to interact with traditional media outlets, it is also important to learn how to converse with an online audience.  Whether writing a basic story or dealing with a crisis, there is a completely different set of skills necessary to succeed with social media.

And once again, congratulations to DePaul University on a fantastic Regional Activity!

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).

January

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.

February

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.

March

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.

April

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).

May

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.

June

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.

July

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!

August

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

Monaco

Toulon, France

September

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!

October

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

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!

December

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.

TweetDrive

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.

Drexel’s Regional Activity

This past weekend, I traveled down to Philadelphia for Drexel’s Regional Activity, Bizarre PR.  I was greeted by so many friendly faces as soon as I walked in the doors of the Radisson Plaza – Warwick Hotel.  I have been constantly impressed by Drexel’s professionalism and enthusiasm for their endeavors (from the time I met them in San Diego until now).

Their Regional Activity was all about bizarre happenings that occur in the world of public relations.  The day started off withJeanne Leonard from Liberty Property Trust.  She spoke about the Curse of William Penn, and it was so interesting to hear about how this whole story developed.  Three college students from the University of Pennsylvania called her one day about a theory that ever since her company built buildings that were taller than the statue of William Penn, the city of Philadelphia became cursed with sports’ losses.  She never even imagined that this story would get to the point it got.  However, one day the CEO of Liberty Property Trust (who was ranked the #24 most powerful person in Philadelphia) and the EVP of Comcast (who was ranked the #1 most powerful person in Philadelphia) called her and thought of an idea to put a statue of William Penn on top of the new Comcast building to “break the curse.”  She had no PR plan but just kept going.  Two years after this decision, the Curse of William Penn was broken when the Phillies won the World Series.  This story just demonstrated another bizarre event in the world of public relations.

Next, I went to three breakout session speakers: Gwen Kaminski from the Laurel Hill CemeteryJerri Williams, chief press officer at SEPTA, and a panel made up of Cari Fieler Bender, founder of Relief Communications, LLC, and Joseph Glantz, consulting editor to the Wild River Review.  Gwen Kaminski talked about positioning the cemetery as “The Underground Museum” as a way to interest tourists.  She showed us some creative campaigns including a fork in an electric socket (fake, of course) with a warning label that said “ATTENTION!  THERE IS A BETTER WAY TO GET INTO LAUREN CEMETERY.  VISIT http://www.thelaurelhillcemetery.org/.” They hold events at the cemetery throughout the year, especially during Halloween.  It was interesting to hear about the ways to attract people to a cemetery.

Next, Jerri Williams spoke about her experience with the FBI and SEPTA and advice about what to do during a crisis.  She spoke about protecting your boss, sticking to your message, and not treating reporters as your enemy.  When SEPTA went on strike at 3 in the morning a year or so ago, she used the media as a resource to make sure the message got out to as many commuters as possible.  However, she did say that you have to be careful when talking to the media so your words are not twisted.  “No comment” is not an option anymore in a world with 24/7 news updates.  She gave us the “Best Rules for Management of News Crises”

1) Never underestimate the crisis.
2) The media will show up before you do.
3) The media will cover a story with or without you.
4) Not responding does not mean it will go away.
5) The media needs a “good guy” and a “bad guy” for the story.  Make clear who the “bad guy” is.

She ended with telling us to stick to our message.  You do not always have to answer a reporter’s question as long as you bridge back to your message.

During the PR panel, we learned about more creative campaigns and attractions in Philadelphia.

At the end of the day, Keith Green, vice president of marketing and communications for Synergy Events, and Stanley Phelps, executive vice president at Synergy Events, spoke about their experience doing some of the most creative events I have ever heard of.  It was also a nice surprise that Synergy Events is located in my hometown of Ocean Township, New Jersey.  One of their events included making a 53 foot replica of the Statue of Liberty that looked like an M&M and putting it in the Hudson River for Mar’s “Inner M&M” campaign.  Mars was doing an online promotion to have people create M&Ms that looked like them.  Another campaign was for KFC.  They built a 87,500 square foot Colonel in Area 51 to promote the new logo.  They spoke about campaigns like these and so many more.  It was fascinated to hear about ideas like these that were transformed into such successful campaigns.  They gave us a Top 10 List of Event Marketing Tips

1) KISS! Keep it Simple Stupid
2) Be true to your brand.
3) Leverage Technology
4) Get your permits.
5) Make it viral.
6) Set up and strike (get a spokesperson)
7) Give yourself time
8) Route efficiently (during mobile tours)
9) Go green, but be aware of the Green (it can be expensive)
10) Render It Out (so your client can visualize the event)

The day ended with a two hour social at the Camden Aquarium.  I was so impressed that Drexel’s PRSSA was able to secure that space and gather transportation to and from the aquarium for everyone.  They were really so organized and responsible, and I was honored to have attended the event.  Thank you for a great time, and congratulations on a job well done!

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PRSSA National Assembly

This past weekend, I had the honor of being the delegate at the PRSSA National Assembly in Austin, Texas.  Not only did I have an incredible time and enjoy the city of Austin, but I met so many brilliant and outgoing people.  I feel so honored to know that the future of the Public Relations industry is in such great hands.

The weekend began by participating in the Day-of-Competition, which entailed working on a team to plan a campaign for theCW.  We had one hour to help the CW figure out how to target college students better, considering their busy schedules and inability to watch television when shows are viewed.  My team came up with a few ideas, but the winning idea was having students at schools such as FIT design clothing for a fashion show that would ultimately be used in the CW shows.  We won second place, which included a PRSA Associate Membership!

The next day we had workshops focusing on personality tests, problems with PRSSA chapters, and branding.  We brainstormed with each other and presented to the group on our finds.  For example, for the personality test, I found out that I am the color of blue.  According to Personality-and-Aptitude-Career-Tests.com, “Blue color is related to calmness. When your primary choice is blue, the color personality tests consider you creative, balanced and harmonious. You avoid too many conflicting opinions. You are peaceful and possess a developed aesthetic sense. You are considered suitable for careers in art, music and literature.”  We also discussed potential problems within our chapters in terms of transitioning and leadership.  Finally, we talking about how to maintain an appropriate online brand.

The next day we had elections for the 2010-2011 National Committee.  I am extremely honored to be the National Vice President of Regional Activities for 2010-2011 (starting on June 1).  So many talented people ran for elections, and I am looking forward to working with many of them on the National Committee and many of them on subcommittees!

So even though I am now stuck in the airport unable to get back to Boston, I am truly honored to have received such an opportunity to be surrounded by such admirable people.  I always respected and felt passionate about the Public Relations Student Society of America, but this weekend surely brought it to a new level.

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.