Saturday, November 5, 2011

Edelman and Ketchum PR Agencies Welcome Marist PRSSA Students

On Friday, November 4th, a group of PRSSA members, me included, woke up earlier than most college students. We met in Donnelly and frantically waited for our designated ticket holder, who we later found waiting at the train station. Crisis averted. Tickets in hand, we boarded a train to NYC.

Our first stop once we arrived was Edelman, a global PR firm, where we met with HR representatives and a panel of PR professionals. The atmosphere of Edelman was intriguing. It had a modern design with sunshine yellow walls and partly frosted glass doors that enclosed the conference room, where we were seated around a long, wooden table—very cool. The panel included three Marist graduates who reassured me, and I’m sure several other students, of their success after graduation. There is hope. One Marist grad in particular stood out to me. She works within consumer PR which means her job is to get her product into the hands of the media. Some of the products she works with include Planters, Trojan, and Barilla. Wait, she works with Trojan? Her job tasks include campaigns about sexual health. How exciting, literally. Personally, I find myself interested in consumer PR because products are diverse. To think that this specific Marist grad works with three very different products (Planters & Barilla=food; Trojan=sexual health) is exciting. The panel was not kidding when they told us that every day in PR is different.

Important advice that I gathered from the panel at Edelman: Internship experience, get involved on campus, know your media, read everything you can, network, and be well rounded!

Next stop: Ketchum PR, another very cool atmosphere. We passed a chalkboard wall on the way to the conference room and were distributed new flavors of Snapple.
Ketchum's warm, digital welcome on their presentation
screen in the conference room!

Michael O’Brien, a Marist graduate on the Advisory Board of the School of Communications and the Arts, began the presentation by providing us with information about Ketchum. An astounding fact: Ketchum is a global firm within the top 5 according to size in the PR industry. We were also informed of Ketchum’s Chair Fellows Program, a ten week summer internship program. It is very competitive, but it is an amazing real world PR experience. Another Ketchumite we met showed us creative projects that were awesome. He told us that ideas can come from anywhere and the crazier the idea, the better it is. Some advice from a Creative Project Leader at Ketchum: spend at least one hour a day on social media, developing your passion and manage your own personal brand. We also met the VP, International Network Relations Director who, of course, is a Marist graduate. He even included pictures of his fondest memories from college because he credits his position within the PR industry as a direct result of Marist—how inspiring! My favorite quote of the day came from him: “If you’re worthy of it, you’ll get it.”

Patrick Brady, a Marist Grad, points to his
inspiration, Professor Daniel Cochece Davis!

Our last panel member at Ketchum was an HR representative, who offered helpful tips about maintaining your online presence through social media, preparing and researching for interviews, and making your resume stand out. My favorite piece of advice (because it reminds of something my dad would say) involved starting a spreadsheet that includes companies you applied to, positions you applied for, which résumé you sent, and when. My dad loves spreadsheets and I’m sure he will be delighted once I create a spreadsheet comprised of internship/résumé/position information.

The NYC agency trip was eye opening. I caught a glimpse of actual PR firms while also having the opportunity to listen and talk to PR professionals. I am very thankful that PRSSA allowed us to travel into NYC for a day to see what it is really like to work within a PR firm and receive valuable advice from professionals.

A lasting piece of advice I remember O’Brien telling us as he closed the Ketchum presentation,
 “your career is a journey, not a destination.” 

PRSSA members pictured at Ketchum PR.

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