My Experience At 1853 Communications

1853 Communication is a student-run public relations firm that gives students the
opportunity to operate in an office-like environment. Providing real world experience this class
showed me the importance of everyone doing their part to achieve a goal. Before taking this
class I had no idea what public relations actually was and what it was used for. I believed that
PR is just to make something look good so that it will make people want to buy, listen, or watch
whatever that product is but this class has shown me that it is much more than that. Public
relations is informing the public and giving them important information about specific issues. It is
also used to connect companies or people to the public and give an insight of what or who they
are so that they can have the support of the public. This class truly felt like we were working in a
PR firm in the way that we worked together to get work done but also as we worked individually.
Being a student working for a student agency was an awesome experience because it opened
my eyes to a world of public relations and jobs that are available that I didn’t know existed
before. This PR firm allowed everyone to grow in their skill with creating fundraisers, making
newsletters, PR trips, important speakers, and writing fun articles. This student firm has
enlightened me on what it takes to be a part of a well run public relations firm and shape my
understanding of the field.

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.

Agency Life in Public Relations

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
morning.

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
well.

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.

What to Consider Before Graduating with a Public Relations Degree

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
long way!

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.

1853 Communications is a PRSSA Nationally Affiliated Firm

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.

Why You Should Join 1853Communications

Launched in 2020, 1853 Communications was created by 10 students at Arcadia
University. We are a student-run public relations agency at Arcadia University, currently applying
to be nationally certified. We were built on the inspiration of taking a community-driven, modern
approach to help brands reach their full potential. Our goal is to make connections between
clients and audiences, and to grow our experiences alongside the community. Our agency is
open to students of all majors! Here is why you should take advantage of this opportunity and
join our agency.

Hands On Experience with Clients
Unlike other classroom settings where you are learning how to work with future clients, we
actually have a clientele! Clients come to us in need of our services. You will be able to learn
skills that you can further apply in internships and professional work. You will be able to grow
alongside classmates who facilitate fresh perspectives, within a real firm setting. This is the
closest you will get to being a professional while still being a student!

Strengthen your Resume and Portfolio
One of the hardest tasks when leaving college is creating a resume and portfolio that is
interview ready. Though you have completed hundreds upon hundreds of classwork
assignments, it is not always what employers may be expecting. Our agency takes on multiple
projects each semester, teaming up with well-known non-profit organizations and companies in
the area. Each and every student works on the tasks at hand for these organizations, giving you
an opportunity to happily show off your work. For example, here is what my resume looks like
since I joined the agency in 2020.

Building Your Network
As many of us are learning, networking is a huge part of your college experience! Not only will
you be able to make connections with other members of the agency, but you’ll be exposed to
guest speakers, as well as clients! The agency has 1-3 guest speakers per semester, who share
their insights in the communications world and their contact information. The agency provides
you with connections that can lead to future careers!
Tip: Remember, you are sitting beside connections in your classroom everyday! The student
next to you may be the future CEO of a company, or a journalist… Take advantage of this and
network, network, network!

Role exploration
1853 Communications allows all of their members to choose what they would like to work on
when it comes to projects. Whether that is event management, social media management,
content creation, press releases, you have the opportunity to learn! You will never be tied down to one role. This way, you have the opportunity to explore your options, gain experience, and
really see what you enjoy doing with your talents.

Our agency is always looking for new individuals eager to learn. Sign up for Fall of 2022 while
seats are still open!

 

What it’s Like as PR Student Working for a Student Run Agency

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.

Experience
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.

It’s Fun!
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.

PR + Campaign = SUCCESS! (The PR Professional Formula)

A PR campaign is the most valuable tool a business can use to increase brand awareness or profits for years to come, even after the campaign is over. If effectively done a PR campaign will leave an impression on the target audience that will influence their attitudes and behaviors about a particular product, service, or person. However, if the campaign misses the mark or is a total flop it can harm a company or brand. It is harder to change negative opinions about a company once the damage is done, so this powerful marketing and branding tool should only be used by professionals.

Although I am not a successful PR professional yet, with emphasis on YET, I am on my way to pursuing a promising career in Public Relations. Last semester I took an Introduction course to PR, where I had to develop and pitch a mock PR campaign idea to a potential client. The PowerPoint presentation was presented to the students in the class, who served as the company. I had to follow a strict outline using the RACE process (Research, Action, Communication, and Evaluation) while staying within the allotted time frame. This detail was especially important, it made me aware of how planning and practicing are key when pitching ideas. This project required me to use written and oral communication along with public speaking skills such as voice control, volume, and pace. Overall, this exercise and the material we covered in the course helped to shape my career aspirations of wanting to be a PR professional.

This semester I am excited to be a part of 1853 Communications, a student PR firm at Arcadia University. I am getting firsthand experience and working with a diverse team, which I really appreciate because of the different ideas and viewpoints. At the beginning of this semester, we have dived right in by designing logos, budget planning and met with a client to discuss a PR campaign. Now we are in the process of developing and planning an awareness campaign for a non-profit organization, “For Pete’s Sake” (FPS). FPS is a cancer respite foundation that provides adult cancer patients (24-55 years old) and their families “a break from cancer” at one of their respite locations. This plan is still in the developing stages, but we have been covering a lot of ground in a collaborative group, smaller teams as well as being assigned an independent task to complete. This practicum is the perfect follow-up to the course I took last semester (Intro to Public Relations) because it picked up right where I left off. I am getting the opportunity to use the knowledge and skills I learned about the PR field while being able to improve on my skill set. I recommend taking a practicum in a related field of study along with an internship. The experience is different with a practicum course and an internship. Both courses are beneficial and will help build your resume along with providing a great start on your career path, combined they will give you an advantage in the work field.

I am looking forward to executing our PR campaign and it is a success, and YES, I am claiming it as a success already, failure is not an option. This along with the other projects we do will add to our portfolios but pulling off a successful PR campaign that will bring awareness to a great cause is a huge self-accomplishment for all of us at 1853 Communications. No matter where we end up in life, we will always remember this PR campaign as paving the way to becoming successful Public Relations professionals.

Learning from the Philadelphia PR Community

Learning from the Philadelphia PR Community: Presentation from Brian Communications

On February 19th, 1853 Communications was lucky enough to have Ryan Wall and Layne Litsinger from Brian Communications in Philadelphia come to talk to us about working in public relations and establishing a public relations agency.  They gave us practical tips and shared stories about their own journey working in the public relations industry in Philadelphia.  They also explained how Brian Communications works with clients and some of their day-to-day tasks that help them stay current in order to better serve their clients.  We are excited to use all of the information they gave us to better serve our current and future clients.  The free pens were also really great!  Thank you Ryan and Layne!

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