Posted: October 28, 2014, 12:30 a.m.
by Brittany Downey.
My friend Julia put it best when she said, “Public relations is truly taught by experience.” As we all know well, our world is full of trial and error, preparing for the worst and sighing in relief when it all goes right. Effective public relations takes work, cooperation and patience. It also takes the right opportunity to grow.
Alabama Power recently awarded a grant to the new Digital Media Center at The University of Alabama. In conjunction with this grant, Capstone Agency, the University’s student-run integrated communications firm, joined forces with WVUA-TV and the Digital Media Center to create the Power of People campaign. Along with a few other talented teammates from Capstone Agency, Julia and I were given the opportunity to develop and implement the campaign as college students. Seems a little unconventional, right?
I’ve learned most of what I know from my work in Capstone Agency. It’s given my co-workers and me a much-needed opportunity to learn and work in the public relations field before even completing our degrees. On the Power of People campaign, in particular, we were working with a large company, and that meant large expectations. But, in the end, we pulled it off and we learned a lot.
There’s no “I” in team
With every campaign there are ups and downs. Tasks are thrown at you out of the blue and last minute details can get missed. Without the help of your co-workers, campaigns can quickly go sour.
Three days before our presentation to Alabama Power, the need for a news release arose. What would usually take about four days needed to be expedited in 24 hours. Without the help of my team, it wouldn’t have been accomplished; but with their help, the news release was picked up and appeared in the local newspaper just three days later.
Communicate well, communicate often
Check, double check and triple check that everyone on your team is on the same page. You’re a part of a team from the beginning to the end — or from research to evaluation in our PR world. You might as well become comfortable with everyone. Make sure team members are kept up to speed on what they miss.
Julia, as our account executive, learned a lot about communicating with the team. For example, scheduling college students seems impossible. Not everyone could meet at the same time, which led to many late nights and early mornings. Teams inside Capstone Agency, WVUA and the Digital Media Center were consistently kept in the loop. Julia really perfected the concept of “no man gets left behind,” which is critical when it comes to reaching your deadline and making your mark.
Working for a client is a blessing and occasionally, yes, a curse. Sometimes a client’s ideas align with your strategies, and other times they don’t. You’ll agree and you’ll disagree, but you must always remember to remain grateful. Without your client, you wouldn’t be working. Without your client, your talent wouldn’t be shown.
Alabama Power’s partnership with Capstone Agency, the Digital Media Center and WVUA created a unique opportunity for several spheres of students to grow. The faith that clients, like Alabama Power, have in our team and organizations at large speaks volumes for the quality of students working in public relations today. Without collaboration, we wouldn’t keep growing. Without collaboration, we wouldn’t be working.