A guest post by Mikinzie Stuart.
My trip to New Jersey was inspired by a bland class assignment for my public relations course at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan: job shadow a public relations professional for a day and write a five-page paper about the experience. Shortly after moderating #PRStudChat in January, I thought this could be a great opportunity to venture out of Michigan and connect with #PRStudChat co-founder and one of the greatest minds in the PR 2.0 movement, Deirdre Breakenridge. She was completely onboard with my proposal, going above and beyond my request: I got to spend not just a day just with Deirdre, but three.
And now I am here at the Mango! Creative Juice office writing this blog post.
Most public relations professionals will tell you that watching a day’s work is like watching paint dry on walls, but not with Deirdre. From the first day to the last day, her and I acted like old friends: the commute to the Mango! office never long enough for our entire conversation, the mascara never strong enough to survive our fits of tearful laughter.
When not preoccupied by electric conversation and infectious laughter, I sat in on a several client meetings with Deirdre including one at the PRSA national headquarters in New York City. Listening to her talk digital strategies with the VP of Marketing and PR manager put everything I’ve learned about public relations into perspective. During the meeting, the PRSA boardroom quickly became a PR think-tank, each person working together and building upon each other’s ideas for creative strategies to accomplish an objective. Observing the vibe of creativity and teamwork flowing through the room was incredible to witness. It reminded me of what we in PR love to do: reaching common ground through effective communication.
Other meetings I sat in on included calls with Hugh Macken of VMR Communications and host of Blogtalk Radio and the International Repossession & Remarketing Group. Deirdre also took me to visit the BurrellesLuce New Jersey offices where I met fellow #PRStudChat co-founder, Valerie Simon and her colleagues, Colleen and Lauren. After our visit, Valerie, Colleen and Deirdre showed me what New Jersey is famous for: its diners. We also mingled with other like-minded people at the first #PRStudChat tweetup and the North New Jersey tweetup (#nnjtweetup).
Though most of my visit was smooth sailing, I got the opportunity to experience a speed bump that can typically occur in a PR office: problems with technology. The first day at Mango!, the phone and internet was down in the entire building an hour before a client meeting. However, much like any crisis, Deirdre worked with the Mango! team to figure out a solution, quickly contacting her client to reschedule. In the end, this problem was a great learning experience for me because it gave Deirdre time to take me step-by-step through her pitch before observing the actual client pitch later in the week.
During my visit to New Jersey, I got to know Deirdre both on a professional and on a personal level. I also got a good sense of the inner workings of a hybrid agency. Even though it was not just a day with Deirdre, it wasn’t just three days with Deirdre either: it was the beginning of a great friendship that I will never forget.