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.
During my last semester at Arcadia, I have been interning at Vault Communications, a
Public Relations Agency in Plymouth Meeting. After experiencing various internships, I have
noticed the differences in agency work versus work for one brand. In an agency, you work with
many different clients, all with different goals and tasks. The diversity of this work can be quite
refreshing and allow one to explore different areas of public relations. It can also provide
opportunities to learn more about the individual needs for specific clients.
Since starting in September, I have worked on accounts such as Takis, Subaru, Party
City, Hologic, Live! Casino & Hotel Philadelphia, and many more. All of these accounts have
different work and goals set for them. For example, Takis partnered with Teracycle, (a recycling
company), and told their fans to recycle their products for a chance to win merchandise. At
Vault, we worked to put together the boxes with different Takis products inside and send them
out to the winners. This helps Takis and Teracycle benefit from each other and create more
marketing opportunities. Another example of work I have done is writing up event descriptions
for Live! Casino & Hotel Philadelphia. I have been given different events to write out
descriptions for. Once approved, I go down a list of outlets on an excel sheet and submit the
events to these websites. This promotes events hosted by or at Live! and makes them more
popular and seen by others in the area.
Vault Communications has taught me a lot, especially when it comes to media
monitoring and media lists. I have worked on many lists using services such as Critical Mention
and Cision. These platforms allow us to find media outlets, articles, influencers, and more. For
Party City, I have been working on monitoring the media for any mentions they may have. On
Critical Mention, there are specific key words programmed to show any and all mentions of
those words with Party City. Since we are getting close to Halloween, we look for things such as
“Party City, Halloween” and “Party City, Balloon” etc. Any important media clips or articles are
defined every day, put into an excel sheet, and sent out to the Party City account team every
Looking at Cision, lately I have been compiling a list of media contacts for Harsco
Environmental. These lists consist of outlets that talk about construction, steel, metal,
agriculture, building supplies, environmentally friendly supplies and more. This list is essential
for finding key outlets that Harsco can promote their business to for more publicity. After
defining all the outlets, I will be pulling editorial calendars to show opportunities for Harsco to
pitch their ideas. This makes it easier to understand what outlets fits and which do not for future
use. These lists are constantly growing and changing, and many other accounts have this need as
Overall, I have learned a lot in my short time at Vault. It has officially been one month
since I started, and I have worked on so many different things. Agency life can be fast paced and
change every single day. You never can truly know what the workday will look like, but that’s
what makes it so much fun. I can’t wait to see what other tasks I will complete at Vault and decide of agency work is right for me.
Public Relations is a super exciting field in high demand of recent graduates. This career is
seen as attractive and exciting (which it is) but often there’s challenges.
Here’s what to consider before starting a career in PR:
Studying communications is an advantage, not a golden ticket!
There is a common misconception that just because you study communications, you are
immediately ready for the work field of public relations. This couldn’t be any more wrong! You
need the ability to cleanly write and communicate, stay on top of news, think on your feet, and
adapt to changes in situations and environments. The best way to get real hands-on experience
prior to graduation is internships! Internships are a great way to dip your toes in the water, as
long as you are applying to the right ones! Remember, this is your time to gain experience
before graduation, not go on coffee runs for account executives. Be picky about where you
apply. They need to value and treat you like a PR professional, not a secretary!
Being tech savvy
Since the pandemic, many firms are adapting a hybrid approach. PR professionals can be
expected to be tech savvy, to an extent. The ability to navigate new softwares and adapt quickly
is required in this new work environment!
The ability to influence people
The power of persuasion is your best friend! You may have wonderful ideas, but if you can’t
persuade a client to love it just as much as you do, this isn’t the business for you. Pitching is a
regular task in public relation firms. Whether it is to your boss, your client, or colleague,
bouncing ideas around to find a perfect pitch is a part of this job. A little confidence can go a
Consuming media like it’s your job!
Sites such as PRDaily turn into “that” friend that sends 15 text messages instead of taking the
time to write their thoughts into one. Notification after notification will come across your phone
everyday and you will take the time to see what’s going on! Consuming media gives PR
professionals a better chance of staying ahead of new trends, crises, and information that could
potentially affect your clientele. This extra effort to stay ahead of the curve will make the
difference between you holding a bachelor in communications and being a true PR professional.
Ethics play a part
The six fundamental values of ethics in public relations are advocacy, honesty, expertise,
independence, loyalty, and fairness. Remember, you are representing companies and
individuals who do not have the same morals as you. There may be times where you don’t
agree with a client’s decision. That is completely normal! This is why you should be picky about who you work for. At the end of the day, you want to work for a company that hears your voice and allows you to pass on a project that makes you uncomfortable.
We are extremely excited to announce that we have been certified by PRSSA as a nationally affiliated firm! This means that our firm “represents the most accomplished and successful Student-run Firms operated by PRSSA Chapters“. Thank you to all of our team members throughout the last three years. Your hard work has made this possible. Special thanks to our current Firm Directors, Julia Neff and Beth Mackey and our Firm Vice President, Meaghan Airey for working on our application. We are honored to receive this recognition and we look forward to working with PRSSA. You can read our acceptance letter below.
When I first heard that we were going to be working with real clients, I was
definitely a little intimidated since I am certainly not a PR professional. However, as
soon as I was told who our client was and what exactly we would be doing for them, it
was pure excitement! Working for a student run agency is like working for a professional
PR agency, but with training wheels. It’s overwhelming at first glimpse but you always
have your peers and professor there to help guide you and learn alongside you, which
is always reassuring to know.
Although the semester goes quickly, there is so much that gets squeezed in that short
amount of time that allows students to leave with an abundance of new knowledge and
really impressive experience. Being a part of a student run agency is a huge resume
booster and really gives students the upper hand. At the end of the semester, all of the
analytics and work done get compiled for students to put straight into their resume. Just
after one semester with 1853 Communications, my resume was already so much
stronger and it helped me when securing an internship.
Guidance for the Future
With experience, comes guidance. Working for a student run agency has really assisted
in guiding me to know where exactly I want to go after graduating. Since the agency
covers such a wide variety of public relations content, I have gotten to test the waters of
the many areas within PR. These areas include event planning, social media,
marketing, crisis communications and more. Personally, I have fallen in love with event
planning thanks to 1853 Communications and the two events I have helped plan and
execute through it.
The best part about working for a student run agency is that it is FUN! Every week I get
genuinely excited about going to class and checking off items on our team’s agenda.
Working for our student run PR agency has been a rewarding experience for two
semesters in a row and I would recommend anyone in the Communications department
to join the team as well! Seeing the gratitude from your client is truly a wonderful feeling.