#WhyPR: Keep it Green and Follow Your Dreams

BY: BRITTANY O’CONNELL

When I attended my first Public Relations Student Society of America meeting at the University of Delaware, I knew Public Relations was a career I could envision myself in. Prior to college, I had absolutely no idea what the profession even was. Actually, I’ve come to find that the definition of PR is still a little fuzzy depending on who you ask. That’s why, before I continued perusing my dream of PR professionalism, I wanted to make sure my hobbies and values were able to be incorporated into the field. Luckily, my research was reassuring. There are SO many different aspects to Public Relations that I’m convinced almost any hobby people adore can be included in some way.

Something very important to me is the environment and driven people doing things for a good cause. (I can’t act like this has always been a core value of mine, but rather it is a passion I recently discovered after taking a breadth course at school. Thanks, Animal Food Science!)  I didn’t want to ignore a lifestyle I came to love on my journey to a PR career. That’s when I discovered the world of Non-Profit Public Relations. Yes… environmental PR is a real thing!
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Helping others while doing what I love? Just the thought put me in a state of pure bliss. With this new information under my belt I landed a summer internship at an environmental non-profit called Grow It Green Morristown. Days can be spent doing various PR and Marketing practices, and then lead to staff meetings at a picnic table in the middle of our Urban Farm! It’s the perfect mix of behind-the-computer and outdoors. Our building is shared with other local non-profits and everyone is friendly, knowledgeable, and wants to change the world for the better. It’s pretty awesome.
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Doing PR for non-profits, specifically in the environmental sector, typically focuses on how to best present the mission and goals of the organization to the public. You must keep people well-informed about the continuing importance of the non-profit’s work in order to stay in the public sphere. This may include media campaigns, a lot of research and analyzing demographics and the environment, writing press releases, possibly obtaining grants and other forms of funding, and much more. Every day is something different and exciting.
There is a sector of PR for almost everything. Where there is a brand in need of increasing their awareness and improving reputation, there is a PR job. In the future, I hope to continue non-profit Public Relations before exploring all of the different sectors available to me.
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Brittany O’Connell is a rising junior at the University of Delaware. She is a Social Media and Marketing intern at UD’s Career Services and the PR Director for PRSSA-UD. She is also a Social Media Ambassador at the University of Delaware… follow her account @BlueHenBrittany!
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PRSSA-UD’s General Meeting Recap: Crisis Communication

Jumping into the spring semester, PRSSA-UD wasted no time getting down to business at their official second meeting on Monday, March 2.

The meeting began with two speakers talking to the organization about SPPA (School of Public Policy and Administration) and its potential to help members who decide they want to join and apply. From there, a quick re-cap of general information was discussed, such as the benefits of becoming a dues paying member and the organization’s mentor-mentee program, the PRSA Delaware award that members can apply for, and a Hunter PR Fellowship opportunity that is being offered. Also introduced were things to look out for this semester, such as the headshot fundraiser April 15 with discounts for dues paying members and the first PRSSA-UD Skill Slam of the semester, entitled “Break Through the Interview” on March 23.

Once the basics were covered, members had the opportunity to use their own skills and brainstorm. In a PR-strategy workshop, members were asked to handle an example crisis. The workshop included a scenario that actually occurred in real life; when a link between a local E.coli outbreak and Odwealla’s fresh, unpasteurized apple juice was discovered, in which one child died and more than 60 people became sick. This situation prompted more than 20 lawsuits and members were asked to use their PR knowledge and split into groups, visualizing themselves as the head of PR to determine how they would handle the situation, who their audience was, and how they would go about creating awareness whilst changing attitudes and behavior.

Each group came up with their own unique spins on how to handle the crisis, including press conferences where high-ranking company officials would present. Members stated that in the conferences representatives should use total transparency and apologize, make it clear to consumers of the drink that the company valued buyers’ trust, and should additionally state what changes the team would make to their processes in order to keep said trust. Also mentioned was compensation for the one child who passed away and those who became sick because of the apple juice product and to put a FAQ sheet online of commonly asked questions and their answers about the product and the companies’ procedures.

After the exercise members got the chance to read how the company handled the crisis in real-life. Astonishingly enough, it was almost identical to what members came up with… PRSSA-UD really knows how to train students for the future field they are considering. The meeting concluded with a quick hot chocolate social where mentors and their mentees got a chance to connect after the long UD winter break. Although cut short by an incoming class, the atmosphere was relaxed, yet informative, helping all members to feel at ease and prepared for the upcoming semester of events to come.

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By: Brittany O’Connell

Brittany O’Connell is a freshman communications interest that is passionate about art and social media. She is a Social Media Ambassador for UD on her Twitter account @BlueHenBrittany, and hopes to broaden her horizons, step out of her comfort zone and help many throughout her next three years at UD.

Fall Field Trip: PRSSA-UD Visits iHeartMedia

One of the biggest challenges in most people’s lives is choosing a career path. In fact, there are a ton of different jobs out there that most people are unaware of. That’s why when a select few PRSSA members, myself included, had the chance to go behind the scenes on November 3 and visit iHeartMedia’s office in New Castle, Del., the opportunity to meet with a handful of individuals with unique and fulfilling careers was a true blessing.

A personalized “welcome” sign greeted us in the waiting room where we were then whisked IMG_7987away and taken on a tour of the office. Starting the day off by viewing multiple recording studios, we were all pleasantly surprised when Sky Phillips, host of the Sky & Christa show from 94.7 WDSD (Delaware’s Country Radio Station), was in-between work and still had time to show what he does most days. Sky explained the technology behind radio stations and recording, answered all questions, and even allowed PRSSA-UD to pick a song he played live on the spot!

Next, Anastasia Kincaid, the office’s Digital Content and Promotions Director, finished up our tour of the station and led PRSSA-UD into a boardroom. With printed out packets full of coverage maps and “At-A-Glance” notes detailing each main station’s information for everyone, members couldn’t help but feel professional. For a brief moment, it felt like we were a part of their team.

Anastasia and the head of the iHeartRadio’s traffic analysis for the Delaware region graciously answered our questions for a half-hour. It was wonderful to hear about their job descriptions and what a typical day for them in or out of the office could be like. They informed us about the company’s events hosted year round for a variety of different charities, and how they went about keeping things interesting and new with each coming year. However, what was most inspiring of all was getting to hear about how both women loved their jobs. Both described a passion for what they do each day and how genuine joy results from helping people with their philanthropy events and daily work. It was also refreshing to hear that the radio station is actually women-dominated and you can really feel like you are making a difference.

The day concluded with advice to PRSSA-UD members about how to get their “feet-in-the-door.” Most workers at the station started from just an internship! We were advised that any opportunity is a starting point. You can work your way up to anywhere you desire if you try hard enough, you just have to start somewhere and make as many networking connections as you can along the way!

All in all the Fall Field Trip was a success and members couldn’t be more thankful for Katerina Vlitas, PRSSA-UD’s Assistant Program Director, for making the whole experience possible. iHeartMedia was full of kind and insightful workers, and each person we came in contact with taught us many lessons we will be sure to take with us as we go on looking and working for our dream careers.

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By: Brittany O’Connell, freshman communications interest with a hopeful minor in advertising. She is currently a new member of PRSSA and hopes to broaden her horizons, step out of her comfort zone, and help many throughout her first semester at UD.

The First Of Many Successful Meetings

PRSSA-UD shattered records of attendance at its very first general meeting on Monday, September 8 with a whopping 101 students packed into a Gore Hall classroom. Intrigued, the crowd sat and stood in any spot they could grab to hear the inspiring Laura Woodin share some of her wisdom on how to succeed in the PR world.

Working in Engineering Communications for DuPont, and being a former Blue Hen herself, Laura discussed everything and anything that could potentially help PR-hungry students. Topics such as how to possibly land jobs and internships through successful interviews, ways to help your business and peers flourish, and how to have the ability to foresee both barriers and opportunities for your company were all touched on. Because Woodin got her first internship due to PRSSA, it was quite refreshing and motivating to hear how she came full circle and succeeded in what she dreamt about. Laura explained, “When you have passion for the topic you’re interested in, that shines through.” This statement proved true, as throughout the presentation, all PRSSA members were enthralled in the information being given to them because of the content, but also in the enthusiastic and motivating way Woodin spoke about it.

Members got a chance to hear about a typical day for our hard-working guest speaker, although as pointed out in the presentation, no day in the public relations world is “typical.” The first meeting came to a close with Laura taking any questions from the crowd to better the group’s understanding. Overall, the first general meeting was a major success! And with how many interested and intelligent students showed up to learn, the PR world should brace itself for greatness.

 

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Photo credit to: Natalie Hines, PRSSA-UD President

By: Brittany O’Connell is a freshman communications interest with a hopeful minor in advertising. She is currently a new member of PRSSA-UD and hopes to broaden her horizons, step out of her comfort zone and help many throughout her first semester at UD.