For the past six weeks, I have had the honor of participating in the annual Nancy Bacher Long PR Institute, PRSA Philly’s intensive training program for junior-level public relations practitioners. Participants are split into mock agency teams that compete to create a comprehensive communications plan for a local nonprofit. Each week, we gathered to hear presentations from seasoned PR pros on the different aspects involved in creating a PR plan – such as writing a plan (presented by BPR’s very own Blair Kahora Cardinal), strategic planning, budgeting, measurement and presentation. We were even treated to a media panel of journalists from KYW Newsradio, NBC10, the Philadelphia Business Journal and Philly2Philly.
On Monday, my team gave our final presentation to this year’s nonprofit client: Rebuilding Together Philadelphia. I can honestly say it was one of the most rewarding experiences I have had in my career to date. Rebuilding Together Philadelphia (RTP) is the local affiliate of a national nonprofit organization that works to repair and maintain affordable housing for families in need.
Our team created a plan with the goal of establishing RTP as the quintessential rebuilding organization by increasing donors, volunteers, media coverage and awareness.
I have always found nonprofit work to be enjoyable, but what I found to be most rewarding about PR Institute was being able to take my knowledge and passion for public relations and apply it to an organization that could truly benefit. It was very gratifying to hand an almost-fully packaged communications plan – complete with media lists, a crisis communications plan, an op-ed piece, a full color ad, a social media strategy as well as strategies and tactics to implement this plan – to the RTP team.
This program – founded by the late Nancy Bacher Long, a legendary PR professional in Philadelphia – is something I would recommend to all young professionals looking to further their knowledge in the PR world. It’s not easy, it’s time consuming and it takes a lot of hard work, but the experience at the end is worth it. Kind of like repairing and maintaining a home.
As an avid viewer of Mad Men, I have an ongoing love-hate relationship with the hit series’ main character, Don Draper. One episode I’m critical of his womanizing, demoralizing behavior and the next I’m in admiration of his creativity and uncanny ability to command a situation. This intended roller-coaster effect has left me drawing parallels between back-in-the-day and modern-day techniques of advertising and PR.
Photo courtesy of David Maialetti / Philadelphia Inquirer
Last weekend, I ran the 10-mile Broad Street Run here in Philadelphia. This was the first year that I did not yearn to be trampled by the masses so that I could peacefully succumb to an overwhelming exhaustion. Where I’m typically ready to give up at mile 9, I actually felt ready to tackle mile 10 with vigor. With college graduations in full swing this time of year, the run got me thinking of my nine years post-undergrad and the things I’ve learned that have prepared me for this 10th year of my public relations career, my mile 10.
When family members and friends asked me what I would be doing after graduating from Franklin & Marshall College in December, it was with a great deal of trepidation that I shared my plans: “I have an internship.” The title “intern” often conjures up images of coffee runs, copy duty and menial work in general. But, luckily, my internship at Buchanan Public Relations shattered all previously held notions about the insignificance of interns, and it is with pride that I look back on my past four months here.
Last weekend, I traveled to the Waldorf Astoria Orlando for the wedding of one of my closest childhood friends. I had booked round-trip transportation to and from the airport and, when my return shuttle never arrived, I immediately assumed I’d be on my own. After briefly explaining my situation to the hotel concierge, she stepped out from behind the desk, whispered something to a bellhop and – in a matter of minutes – something amazing happened.
I have a bone to pick with you. After I do that, I am going to hand you a feast-on-a-platter of an idea.
I think I speak for a vast portion of the public relations profession when I implore you: Please stop giving your students the silly task of locating a PR professional whom they can interview for your class.
Albert Einstein once said, “I fear the day when technology surpasses our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.” This quote resonates with me because, in the constantly evolving world of social media, I sometimes see the “social” aspect missing. Have you ever found yourself alone in a crowded room, a party or restaurant and noticed just how many people were more occupied with their smartphones than with observing what’s around them? Have you felt disconnected or almost panicked when you forgot your phone at home? In a world where we are always connected, we’re all guilty of it, but there is a time and a place for using these platforms. Social media is simply one tool in the PR toolbox. (more…)