Looking Back on My Time at 1853 Communications

As my final semester at Arcadia University draws to a close, I find myself fondly looking back on how many amazing opportunities I have been given within 1853 Communications.

I first joined the practicum in the Fall of 2022 and was immediately greeted with open arms. I was going through something incredibly devastating at the time, and being brought into the 1853 Comms family and treated as if I had been there for years was something I will never forget. Time progressed, and as we said goodbye to our graduating founding members, the title of Vice Firm Director found its way into my job description. The amount of trust bestowed upon me by Dr. Mullin and my classmates has truly been an honor and a privilege.

Throughout my time with the organization, we worked closely with ACCT Philly, Pals For Life, the Downtown Glenside Foundation, and Donate Life America, along with Arcadia’s own Media and Communication department (DMC), LocoMag, and Quiddity. I was also presented with the opportunity to join Arcadia’s chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA). Through working with these organizations, I have developed invaluable skills that will undoubtedly transfer to any job I am faced with for the rest of my life.

Working with ACCT Philly and Pals For Life both showed me that not only do people love animals, but they love feeling like a part of their community and like they’re making a difference. The Downtown Glenside Foundation taught me the importance of community as well, and how important it is to open your eyes and heart to smaller-scale businesses and events in your area. As for the DMC, LocoMag, and Quiddity, I learned that uplifting and supporting your fellow students’ creative endeavors and hard work is the most beautiful thing you can do for a classmate. I will take all of these lessons with me past graduation and apply them to my future, whatever it shall bring me.

Most recently, working with Donate Life America has been such a rewarding experience. As Vice Firm Director, I had to step up and take greater control of the reins of 1853 Comms. Along with Jo, Brianna, and our amazing team of account executives, we have accomplished something greater than ourselves. Learning and spreading facts about organ donation, signing people up to be organ donors, and holding events to spread awareness and education have all taught me great things about organizing events and using social media to spread the word about said events. Being given access to Canva Pro as well, I have learned many tips and tricks when it comes to graphic design and photo editing! Most importantly, I was the photographer for our big event on April 9th which allowed me to photograph people and animals in motion, as well as capture genuine emotions on people’s faces. This exposure has with no doubt helped me in my strides toward becoming a live music photographer. All in all, I have loved getting to interact more closely with the Arcadia community and my classmates this semester. In my opinion, we deserve to win first place in the Donate Life Challenge!

To conclude my final blog post as an 1853 Communications account executive and the Vice Firm Director, I cannot thank Dr. Mullin and my incredibly hard-working teammates enough for the kindness and trust they have shown me. I will always be grateful for my time in the agency and will continue to apply the skills I have learned to my everyday life. Congratulations to my fellow Class of 2024 teammates!

Discovering 1853 Communications

I am a part of 1853 Communications, a student-run public relations firm. It all started in an animation course when a Global Media student started talking about being a part of a Public Relations Practicum. As a Computing Technology major, my classes mainly focus on graphic design and programming. I knew I wanted to get outside my comfort zone and do something that challenged me on a personal level. A class that encouraged me to improve my public speaking and networking skills. One thing led to another and before the course registrations opened, I knew what practicum I wanted to join: CM120B, a 2-credit class, which runs 1853 Communications.

However, as an outside major, I did not know if I had the right qualifications to join. Before I officially signed up, I reached out to Professor Christine Mullin, who teaches the course and is the faculty advisor for the firm, with some of my questions. My main concern was if I needed prior experience in public relations, or meet certain requirements to register? I learned that this practicum is open to all majors and that for the Spring 2024 semester, 1853 Communications would be participating in the Donate Life College Challenge. Hence, my origin story working at a PR agency for the first time had finally begun. Although it was something I have never done before, I was excited and ready to learn from this new experience.

This course has given me the chance to make new connections and feel part of a community. With each planning of an event, the PR agency is one step closer to achieving the goal, which is bringing awareness to Donate Life on campus. I am grateful to be a part of a team that is open, friendly to newcomers, especially those who have no prior experience in PR. Being able to participate in discussions, express ideas, and hear different perspectives since day one has allowed me to grow as a professional as well. I had the opportunity to do amazing things such as hand out goodie bags on Valentine’s Day to classmates, meet the President of Arcadia University, and work with an incredible group of people during donor drives. I have had fun spreading a message of life and hope to others. It has been a life changing course, CM120B, that continues to show me what is beyond my limits and that I am capable of handling different challenges that come my way.

1853 Communications Enters the Students Save Lives Challenge

The Gift of Life Donor Program is the largest organ donation organization in the country. The program organizes an event called the “Students Save Lives College Challenge”. This challenge encourages college clubs, and organizations to spread awareness for their campus communities to register as organ donors. The prizes for the challenge include $1000 for first place, $500 for second place, $300 for third place, and a $500 bonus to whatever organization can get the most new donors. In 2021 our team at 1853 Communications came in 2nd place!

This year our goal for the challenge is to register new organ donors either at Arcadia or the surrounding community. We also want to create awareness for organ donation and why it is so important in saving lives. We will be hosting seven different table donor registration drives on campus to help spread awareness and register new donors in the community. We will also be hosting a special event on Arcadia University’s Haber Green on April 9th. We will also be asking teams on April 12 (National Blue & Green Day) to wear blue and green at their practices or games to show awareness for National Donate Life Blue & Green Day. 

Organ donation is the giving of an organ or tissue to someone who requires a new one for a transplant. The decision to donate organs can save up to eight lives and there is no cost or charge to the donor’s family, a single donor can also change over 75 lives with tissue and cornea donation. Organ donation gives families and individuals another chance to live their lives, there are currently over 106,000 men, women, and children on the donor waiting list currently.

The Benefits of Joining PRSSA

The Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), is the leading organization for students in public relations or communications. Started in 1967, PRSSA has helped many students further their career by giving them access to scholarships, educational programs, and networking opportunities. This organization has also provided students with mentorship opportunities, connecting them with professionals that can help guide to them into a career in the communications fields. As a member of PSSRA, you will have access to countless opportunities to broaden your portfolio and career. The website provides you with links to see potential internship opportunities, upcoming events and PR competitions, and even applications to scholarships and leadership awards. As a member, you would also have access to their blogs, newsletters, publications, and case studies.

PRSSA has over 11,000 student members from universities across the country and even outside of the United states; they have advocate heavily for ethics and diversity in the field. These students all come together under one common interest; public relations and communications. With many career options, we start with a college education. PRSSA since their creation, has provided standards of what a degree in public relations looks like. As a member, you get access to fellow students and graduates, people who are studying the same things as you, and could be your future coworkers. You also get access to programs that can help you before you begin the job search, using their Certificate in Principles of Public Relations program, that can help your resume stand out when applying for jobs. This program can be done completely remote, and can help you stand out amongst other candidates.

The end of your academic career is not where the benefits stop; this membership will help you well into your career path. The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), will continue to help you after you have finished your degree. The membership will give you access to lists of available jobs, and places to meet and talk to other people just starting out in the field of public relations. The membership costs 55 dollars for the year, and is definitely a worthy purpose for anyone who is pursuing a career in public relations.

The PR Crises of the Future

There’s a branch in public relations that often goes overlooked, that important emergency button used in the most dire of circumstances, that usually isn’t thought of until absolutely necessary. While companies tend to avoid the thought of crisis PR, public facing crises are an inevitable part of any company’s future. While crisis PR is often overlooked, it is a fast-paced, high-stakes field that takes years to understand and even more to master. As the landscape of business-customer interactions have changed over the past several decades, so too have the needs of crisis PR actors.

If we take a look at some of the crises facing modern businesses, it becomes apparent that crisis PR is no longer just an important back-pocket tool for when a crisis might arise, but an ever-evolving constant that should be utilized to mitigate risks as they develop. Although we are hardly through the first few years of the 2020’s, the landscape of business and technology has changed dramatically during the decade. The meteoric rise of social media apps like TikTok have made public-facing companies even more vulnerable to crises, as negative press can spread like wildfire more so than ever before. In addition to social media communication allowing for constant contact between potential consumers, technology is playing a new, unique role in shaping modern day crises.

Artificial intelligence has had a groundbreaking year. Breakthroughs in AI have brought the power of technology to a level previously only thought to be possible through science fiction, and that power has only recently been made available to the general public. With these extraordinary breakthroughs come changes throughout all parts of our society, and public relations is no different. Earlier this year the apparel brand, Levi’s, experienced backlash for its use of Ai-generated models to display new clothing on its website. The intention, as Levi’s stated, was to generate inclusivity by using AI-generated models of all backgrounds. The crisis began when customers began to ask if it was really inclusive to remove all diverse models from its website in favor of AI-generated mimicry.

In response, Levi’s has restated its position, claiming that AI models are not the sole solution to problems of inclusion, but has not changed its plans to use AI models for its website.

The lessons we can take away from Levi’s are less in its response to the backlash, and more in the greater picture this paints for PR professionals. In a world where information can be disseminated online at incomprehensible speeds, advances in technology and the use of AI should keep crisis PR professionals on high-alert. This is not the same as other potentially controversial decisions a company could make. As AI presents new ethical challenges to humanity, it does the same to businesses hoping to use it.

The use of AI in any company should be assessed by crisis PR professionals who are well-versed in both the company’s reputation and their clients’ potential views on artificial intelligence. The worlds of technology and crisis are changing, and public relations professionals are no exception to that.

Thankfully, there are ways to assess the public’s opinion of AI use. Where Levi’s went wrong was by appearing blind to the real reason behind DEI, and presumably using AI as a shortcut to real diversity. When consumers didn’t agree, Levi’s didn’t equivocate. Instead, companies should look at AI as a tool to promote professional goals within their offices, using AI for efficiency without overlooking the human aspects of their missions.

Ultimately, consumers are still human and while AI has exploded into the cultural zeitgeist, the populus is still wary of its use. PR professionals should keep this in mind when considering AI’s use and the ethical implications. Technology has changed PR and its cousin, crisis communications, immeasurably over the last several decades, but just as quickly as AI changes, so too must the professionals who use it.

How To Be A “Good” Collaborative Team Member

It is almost a universal experience having to work in a group or a collaborative environment throughout school. This continues in adulthood with careers that may rely on communication between coworkers or superiors. Additionally, I think everyone can remember a time when someone in their group may not have attributed as much or when they had a coworker they dreaded working with. No one wants to be that person. These are some tips I can provide to be a “good” team member whether that is professionally, socially, or collaboratively.

#1 Communication

As a PR Professional, many of us have background education in communication. Even if not, we have to communicate at some point throughout our days. Having a group member who is open about their work, whether it is that they are struggling to get it done or simply need ideas is much more appreciated than someone who doesn’t.

Lack of communication causes anxiety between members which can then lead to tension and unnecessary barriers to work. But communication can ease those anxieties and especially in a college environment when there are enough stressors, I can appreciate and understand when someone is having an issue.

#2 Reliability

This ties into my previous point a bit, but nothing is worse than a coworker or group member that is unreliable. Reliability stems from the ability to perform or appear in relation to responsibilities given. The urge to procrastinate may happen here and there, but simply warning other participants that you may be late turning something in or appearing for a study session eases anxiety.

#3 Organization

Life can get overwhelming, but establishing some sense of organization will not only make things easier in your personal life but also can be used in your professional life to keep you on track.

Some suggestions:

  • A weekly/daily planner. These are typically more detailed than monthly calendars and allow more planning for day to day life.
  • Google calendars. A good digital alternative to a physical planner.
  • Alarms!! As someone who often will forget something, another digital reminder apart from calendar dates are alarms that will ring when I need to do something.
  • Accountability partner. Similar to a gym partner, having a friend with similar classes or activities as you who can help remind you of due dates and upcoming events.

Hopefully these tips can be found useful in your journey of becoming a better team member in whatever aspect of your life that may be.

Twitter Blue: Crisis or Opportunity?

Elon Musk is no stranger to crises occurring within his businesses. From exploding Tesla cars to failed SpaceX rockets, the billionaire is all too familiar with dealing in crisis management. With his recent acquisition of the Twitter company and app, he’s been seeing more and more criticism regarding his handling of these situations. With his most recent decision to monetize the blue verification check on Twitter through a new subscription called Twitter Blue, users have been in uproar. But the question remains: Is the tumult surrounding these changes truly a crisis, or will Musk’s already tainted reputation remain unaffected?

Before delving into the complexities of crisis communications, it’s necessary to understand what a crisis truly is. Defined in terms of management, a crisis is any urgent situation or circumstance that affects a company’s stakeholders. That is to say, a crisis is dictated by stakeholder opinion and reaction. As the CEO of Twitter, Inc. and self-acclaimed businessman, Musk does not have the capacity to claim an incident as a true crisis or not, but often uses his own platform to unabashedly share his opinion about the arising situation regardless.

When Twitter Blue was launched, the app’s users were divisive. Some believed that verification was a process used to protect celebrities and influencers as well as their audiences from fake accounts, and should not be bought and sold. Others thought that the subscription was a smart business move and that something as important as verification should be a paid service. Many verified users decided to, after the launch, remain un-checked in revolt of Musk’s new rule. Some users, despite not having a public following, purchased a verification check as soon as they were able.

Musk himself has been using his personal account to communicate with both sides of the issue, arguing with those who find this new subscription ludicrous, and praising those who purchased it. There have been suspicions of Twitter Blue subscribers being algorithmically prioritized on the Twitter feed and underneath Tweets, although this has not been confirmed. Musk’s personal beliefs have also seemed to influence users to leave the app and create discourse surrounding things such as his political beliefs and past/current relationships. All of this turmoil has led to a drop in users, with many deleting their accounts and/or moving to different yet similar apps.

An important question to ask as a crisis communicator while analyzing this case is: Who are Musk/Twitter’s stakeholders? A stakeholder is anyone affected by a company’s decisions, so one could assume that includes any and all Twitter users, checkmarked or not. However, many could argue that those who are not paying for the service should not be considered stakeholders, and it is this section of users that seem to be considering the Twitter Blue launch a crisis.

Musk’s image has been in a downward spiral for years now, without major financial effect on his many businesses and corporations. His stock has been unreliable and ever-changing, making it difficult to discern how his stakeholders truly view him and his choices. He is seemingly untouchable, making it through fiasco after fiasco and still managing to come out on top. So, are all of these situations actually crises?

I believe that it is a matter of opinion. The general perception of Musk and his companies are negative, but my view might be biased based on what media and content I personally consume. He still has a huge audience of supporters who worship him and his mind, regardless of the negativity that may cloud his name in certain parts of the Internet. Public perception of an individual is always factored into crisis communications and management, but it is not the end all be all for whether or not that person is facing a crisis.

In the end, there are still thousands of users who have subscribed to Twitter Blue, some who even openly oppose Musk and his antics, but still valued the verification over their personal issues with the CEO. At the end of the day, Twitter is lucrative and still one of the most popular and long lasting social media apps that we have today. It, and its dejected billionaire owner, will not be going anywhere anytime soon.

How 1853 Communications Changed My Life

The college experience is only what you make it.

These are the wise words of a freshman admissions counselor I met in 2019. Such a small saying, with greater meaning than past-me could ever understand.

I entered my freshman year as a psychology major with the hopes of making a career in music therapy. A major I genuinely thought would be my passion. After one semester, I knew it wasn’t right for me. After dragging my GPA through the mud and contemplating dropping out, I found the Media and Communications department. With the aspiration to dip my toes in the water, I enrolled in the Public Relations Practicum for the spring 2020 semester. I was not expecting what came next.

Every Tuesday from 4:00 to 5:30 pm, I sat in a room with established third and fourth-year media and communications students. I felt out of place, with little to no experience in anything being discussed. Yet, they welcomed me with open arms. Through collaboration, we built the first-ever student-run public relations agency at Arcadia University.

The agency’s birth was full of creative ideation sessions. We would sit in Murphy 108 to draft firm names, mission statements, and services until they were perfect. We voted hundreds of times until we came up with the right combination. My passion for public relations was born, and I declared my major and concentration. Finally, we began working on our first client, Donate Life. The process came to an abrupt stop when COVID-19 hit. I felt like my world was crumbling. I had finally found my path and I felt stripped away of that in-person experience.

We continued the practicum online but it did not feel the same. In retrospect, a huge part of our agency’s services was to hold on-campus events for our clients. I did not let this affect me for long. As I sat in my room and logged into Zoom class after Zoom class, I realized the practicum was the favorite part of my week.

Throughout my college experience, I enrolled for the Public Relations Practicum seven times. I helped create the application for our national affiliation through PRSSA. I worked on over nine client campaigns in three years. I gained valuable hands-on experience that internships would have never competed with in that timeline. This experience allowed me opportunities for an internship outside of my studies during my third year at Arcadia. My resume consists of over three years of entry-level experience in the communications field, which is unheard of prior to an undergraduate graduation. I was given the opportunity for my second internship, which turned into a two-term offer, and has led to a job offer.

I recently envisioned a fantasy conversation between past-me and present-me. In this interaction, I assured her that focusing on gaining valuable experience in the Public Relations Practicum was worth it. We received a job offer before we even graduated, and we would not have been able to do it without her dedication from the start. We could not have done it without 1853 Communications.

The college experience is only what you make it.

If you are a Media and Communications major, take advantage of this practicum. It was built with love and will help you reach goals you thought were unimaginable. It will give you a space to call home. I know it did for me.

PR Through the Lens of a Bio Major

The world of communications and public relations was not something I had ever thought about branching into. As a biology major, joining 1853 Communications seemed like a decision that was completely out of left field. However, the more that I had sat with my choice to become a part of the agency, the more it made sense. I have always had a love for social media and connecting with people, so the ability to integrate these interests into a more professional setting was an experience that I did not want to miss out on. The only thing that I worried about was feeling completely out of my comfort zone as I deviated from my science background, but, as time went on, I learned I really had nothing to be afraid of.

Of course, the first few times meeting with the agency consisted of a lot of listening and learning. I made myself akin to a sponge as I absorbed as much information as possible. One of the main takeaways I have gathered is that it is all a learning experience. It is okay to not know and to have questions! There will always be peers and mentors who you can lean on.

My time here in the agency has been filled with acquiring new skills and garnering new experiences. As I have spent most of my academic career enveloped in test tubes, flasks, and various bunsen burners, I never had the opportunity to build and express my creative side. With the agency, I have learned ways to be creative even when in an academic atmosphere. Despite having no prior knowledge or ability, I was quick to gain an understanding of how to use the graphic design platform, Canva, for creating materials like newsletters and social media posts. I have also been given the opportunity to meet and interview individuals who I would have never crossed paths with otherwise.

I have come to learn that there are similarities between PR and the field of biology. Developing a pr plan using the RACE acronym is quite comparable to using the scientific method when designing an experiment. This synthesis allowed me to thoroughly understand the RACE model and helped me better contribute to the conversation when planning for our clientele.

PR is Behind Everything

Whether you are a sports fan or not, I am sure that the topic of the 2023 Super Bowl came up more than once or twice in past few weeks. Along with the NFL marketing team, we have Public Relations to thank for that.

The Super Bowl is one of the most anticipated events in sports. It is the biggest stage for the best of the best in the NFL to compete for the championship. This year, the Philadelphia Eagles and the Kansas City Chiefs faced off for the title.

The Chiefs ended up taking home the Lombardi trophy, and for the Eagles, it was a heartbreaking end to an otherwise incredible season. Their last Super Bowl win was in 2018 and fans were counting on them for another. When it comes to image, the team relies on their in-house PR unit to keep the Eagles name known in a positive light.

The PR teams of both the Eagles and Chiefs helped promote the Super Bowl in a variety of ways this year. They wrote press releases, managed media relations, and organized press conferences. They also worked to build relationships with key journalists, and other stakeholders to help spread the word about the upcoming event. Additionally, PR professionals created content for social media campaigns, developed creative strategies to engage audiences, and monitored media coverage to ensure that the Super Bowl was being represented accurately. Even after the loss of the Eagles, strategies for positive social media posts have helped fans keep their loyalty to the team.

The Eagles’ in-house PR team has helped the outcome of the loss of the Super Bowl by focusing on the accomplishments of the Eagles throughout the season, highlighting the great plays and successes the team had, and looking towards the future and building excitement for the next season. The PR team continues working to create positive press and coverage of the team, highlighting the players, coaches, and staff that worked hard to get the team to the Super Bowl.

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