Only a few months out of college and into my first “real” job in public relations, I can already say that I’ve been involved in a major PR project from start to finish. With all due respect to my incredible communications professors at Villanova, it wasn’t until being thrown into the fire here at Buchanan Public Relations that I really started to learn about PR and get confident in my abilities.
We began working with a great new client in July, a month after I started here as an account coordinator. By that time, I was beginning to get a feel for my responsibilities and the work that we do for clients, but I hadn’t yet seen the process from start to finish.
The project began with creating a strategic plan and building out the key messages. The topic was nuanced and complex, which made nailing down the plan and the messaging challenging, but engaging and exciting. Of course, through my work with other clients I had already seen these plans at work. However, this was the first time that I was able to be a part of the initial planning and strategy stage.
Then, of course, came the thankless but necessary task of building out our media lists, a process that required updating every few days. Throughout the project, we fine-tuned the key messages and planning materials constantly, honing in on our position and our goals each step of the way.
Through this project, I gave my first presentation, did my first phone pitching, and coordinated interviews for the first time. All of the meticulous planning, time spent listening to colleagues pitch and trying to imitate their effortless approach, and hours doting over media lists and messaging could not have prepared me for the work I did on this project.
Presentations and pitching are scary. I’ve heard mixed messages about whether or not this ever changes. Either way, I’m grateful to my account leads for assuring me that I could do it and then pushing me to face my fears. Experience really is the best teacher, and no amount of preparation could have made me feel totally comfortable.
Now, as we wrap up the project by securing some op-ed pieces to keep the momentum going, clipping our coverage in the Inquirer, USA Today, CNNMoney, and other major publications, and tracking our hits and social media mentions, I feel like I’ve just completed the best possible public relations course, and I’m walking away from this project more confident than ever.