On Saturday, I went to PR Advanced, hosted by Boston University’s PRSSA (Public Relations Student Society of America). I’m not a national member yet, but I am a member of my chapter so I was welcome to come. I’m not yet a national member because I only discovered that this club even existed at the beginning of this month. I have to say that being apart of this club has already been well worth it, and next Fall I’ll be a dues-paying, national member. And I’m excited.
So anyways, PR Advanced. It did mean driving through Boston, which is horrible. But BU’s campus is very nice, it wasn’t raining or snowing yet, and also it was a Saturday at 8 in the morning, meaning no traffic, so the drive was not nearly as bad as it could have been. Myself and two other students from our chapter (including the President) came together. We go through registration, put our jackets in the coat room, and look at what the plan for the day is while getting some juice from the breakfast table.
The schedule went like this:
9-10:10: Keynote Speaker
10:25-11:25: Breakout Session #1
11:40-12:40: Breakout Session #2
2:10-2:40: Special Presentation (BU PRSSA)
3-4: Career Panel
4-5: Career Fair
6 PM: Networking Reception
I’ll start from the Keynote Speaker (since I just went over Registration).
The Keynote was Rob Flaherty, CEO of Ketchum, which is a global PR firm. He was a fantastic speaker, and very entertaining. He brought a box with him, with 10 items. And using those 10 items, he taught us various things about the PR world. All of these things were oversized props, such as a giant die, 4 giant pushpins (real), and giant “iPod headphones” (which apparently are working speakers, making it even cooler). We were all given a number before entering the auditorium, and that’s how he decided who got what prop and was the “focus” of which story.
These stories were successful PR and marketing campaigns, such as the Nissan Pathfinder’s Improv-tastic Road Trip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DuPHH5yj_rY. That one was personally my favorite. He also brought up how Doritos has been using fanmade SuperBowl ads for the past 7 years, and how that was also a good idea because it gets the customer involved more directly.
I wrote down what I thought was the most important advice:
The most effective marking is about the individual. What’s relevant to them?
You must be an artist and a writer: “You don’t have to go to art school to be creative.” – Rob Flaherty
Don’t just look at the customer, look at everybody.
Don’t fight back against negative publicity. Invite the critics in, and don’t be defensive!
Always do the right thing, and make sure your client is too. Take responsibility for anything bad that happens.
Everything is about the actions, not the words.
On to Breakout Sessions! There were a few options for both sessions. I was put into Connecting with Your Client, presented by Chris Meehan, Kate Finigan, Kate Weiss, Alyson Karoly, and moderated (mediated? not sure) by Todd Van Hoosear.
Good advice included:
Don’t say yes to every client – they’ll be happy, you’ll be miserable.
Emails can be very impersonal, so find ways to show your personality.
Don’t put anything out there (internet/social media) you may regret, regardless of clients.
Be extremely responsive and develop a relationship with them.
Understand the challenges of your client.
Be open and honest about the outcomes of certain actions with your clients. If they do xyz, make sure they’re informed that xyz could be a bad idea before going ahead with it.
When you go to an interview, don’t mention it on social media, because they are looking. If you do, show humility and teamwork.
Other Breakout Session 1’s were: The Social Business Culture presented by Vala Afshar, Effective Storytelling Through Video presented by Steve Garfield, and Analyzing the Success of Campaigns presented by DJ Capobianco.
Breakout Session 2 was the Road Less Travelled, presented by Rachel Sprung, Alison Morris, and Sean Carlson. I really didn’t take any notes, I was just too amazed at what they had done. Rachel and Alison both work for startup companies – HubSpot and Springpad, respectively. That is a massive risk in itself, and one I wouldn’t be likely to take. They took it, and are very successful. Sean Carlson simply took the time to travel all over, working part time for companies such as Google all while writing a book about his mother. The takeaway I got from this session was that if you have an opportunity for something interesting, and nothing holding you back, take it and run with it, because it can bring you to some surprising places.
Other Breakout Session 2’s were Breaking Barriers: How to Be Heard in Entertainment by Kion Sanders, Does Doing Good in Business Matter by Simon Bowers, and Keys to Content Marketing and Creativity by Rob Six.
And then we had lunch, which was just sandwiches, salad, and pasta salad. Not sure who made the food, but it was pretty good. There was also a speaker, though I can’t remember his name, but I believe he was one of the Deans at BU. I was too hungry to really think at that point. Also at lunch, we made cards for hospitialized kids as a part of our National Initiative, which was nice. I wish I took pictures of mine, but on the front I wrote BATMAN is a superhero… with a Batman symbol, and then talked about how they were even better than Batman, and how inspiring they were. Seriously, kids who are able to stay strong and awesome when faced with tough challenges like a serious illness are inspirational. Well, anybody is, but kids especially. They lose out on a lot of important aspects of childhood, which is sad.
Also, guess who was at our table, eating lunch with us? Kion Sanders. I just mentioned him above, but if you don’t know, he’s the guy that runs all of MTV’s social media and things like that. He’s a pretty big name (to me) and I was a little intimidated. He was a really nice guy though, and accepted people’s resumes’ and things like that. It was pretty cool!
After lunch there was a “special presentation”. I thought it was some sort of secret special person to talk, and apparently so did everybody else, but it was really just information presented by the BU PRSSA and the national PRSSA about things like National Conference and how the planning for PR Advanced went. Nothing really very special, but okay.
The Career Panel was back in the same room that the Keynote was in, so we all sat back down. The speakers were Susan Baba from Proctor & Gamble, Rachel Leamon from Burston-Marsteller, Madeline Rubin from Edelman, Lauren Riley from Simmons College (and formerly Woman’s Lunch Place), and Laura Ogerri, who works for Senate President Therese Murray.
These women were here to talk to us about the different PR sectors, and their experiences in them. Susan Baba is in Corporate, Rachel Leamon and Madeline Rubin are in Agencies, Lauren Riley is in nonprofit, and Laura Ogerri is in government. Hearing about their experiences was very eyeopening. Before this, I had had my mind set on nonprofit PR (working for the ASPCA or Humane Society? Dream job. I love all the little furbabies.). I had been pretty dead-set against the rest, but after the career panel I realized I really need to try and get out and experience them all. Hopefully I can get an internship in each and really get my feet wet. Except for government. I am extremely opinionated, especially when it comes to politics. If I have to work for/with someone I disagree with, and the whole job is centered around that… it wouldn’t go so well!
After that was the Career Fair, featuring a whole list of different companies that you could get to know better and learn what they were about. Unfortunately I had to leave at that point, so I missed most of the career fair, and the networking reception, which was held at Eastern Standard down the street.
All in all, it was a lot of fun and I’m definitely going again next year. I’m even thinking of going to National Conference in October, but that’s in Philidelphia, so I’d have to save up to make sure I can pay to get there.
And in other news, I finally managed to get an application through to the Salem Animal Rescue League as a volunteer. For some reason they just weren’t going through. Yesterday I managed to get one in, and was immediately told to reserve a space for volunteer orientation. Hopefully I can work in canine care, because that basically means dogs all day. If I were to win the lottery, I’d probably spend most of my time doing that. Unfortunately, I can’t make a good living off of caring for dogs. See why the ASPCA or Humane Society is my dream job? Puppies! ❤
Thanks for reading, and have a great day!