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.

Lessons from a PR Intern

I cannot believe it has been a month since my last blog post, but I guess that what happens when you have the opportunity to work on an RFP!  For my final intern project at Burson-Marsteller, I was put on a team with 5 other interns to answer an RFP for one of their clients.  We spent many hours (often until 9 or 10 in the office) working together to create a strategic campaign for a real problem the client faced.  We presented in front of senior management and the client and ended up winning the competition against the two other intern teams!  It was a great learning experience and a fantastic end to my summer internship.

Along the way, I learned a lot about the field of public relations from my supervisor, colleagues and training sessions that the HR department provided for us.  Here are just some key items I took away from my experience:

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. – Everyone knows that it takes awhile to get adjusted at a new company.  An internship is a time to learn from those around you.  If you do not understand a project you are assigned, ask about it.  Ask to learn about the background of the client and project so you can do a better job.  As you spend more time working at the company and on a particular client, you will soon be able to answer those questions yourself.
• Take a chance, and tell your supervisor that creative idea that you may not think they will consider. – Many clients are targeting kids our age, and they want to know what will get our attention.  Who better to know how to solve this dilemma than us?  You never know who may be the creator of the next BIG campaign.
• Get to know your co-workers and the senior staff of the agency. – This summer, I worked with some of the most impressive people I have ever been around.  These people remember what it is like to be in my shoes.  They remember being the intern and not understanding the culture of the company.  Ask to grab a cup of coffee or lunch to hear about some of their experiences.  You will learn a lot simply from listening to them and potentially build a great relationship.  People in PR love to help others.
• Don’t just ask for more responsibilities.  Prove that you deserve more responsibilities. – Actions speak louder than words.  Agency life is extremely busy, and supervisors would love to delegate more work to the junior level.  But before they can do that, they have to have faith that the work will be completed well.  Show your managers that you can deliver outstanding work.
• Learn to juggle. – Ed Menniger told us from the first day that we would need to learn how to juggle multiple tasks that are thrown our way.  It is the only way to survive in agency life.  Even if it takes some time adjusting to different demands coming in from different people, it is a necessary part of survival when working in an agency.

Getting adjusted to life in an agency takes some time, but don’t be discouraged!  At the end of the day, it is a rewarding (yet hectic) experience, and you learn a lot.  The five items above are just a glimpse into my life this summer, and the experiences I took out of my internship.

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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