Guest Blog: Meet & Greet with Baldwin-Wallace College PR Students

Walter Ocner, one of our Account Executives, recently had dinner with a group of Baldwin-Wallace College public relations students during their trip to New York City. He had a great time and graciously wrote up this account of the evening to share on our blog.


Right before the holidays, I had the good fortune to meet with a group of students from the Baldwin-Wallace College PR program, located in Cleveland Ohio. These students came to New York City for the first time to experience the sights, sounds and smells of our great city as well as learn about the industry. We met for dinner and drinks at the Marriott Hotel on 51st Street and, after giving them my top recommendations on places to go and favorite places to eat, talked about their hopes and dreams as they embark on a career in public relations. I have to admit that I felt like the old, wizened fellow at the table (being 40 years old and surrounded by kids half my age) but found that discussing an industry I love and feel passionate about dropped any imagined barriers I may have felt.

We talked about what they’ve learned so far in the classroom and found that much of what they’re being taught is old and outdated. The textbooks are several years old and don’t touch on the more high-tech ways of getting the message across (such as social media, blogging, audio and video news releases and satellite media tours). I gave them a crash course on these as well as how they have revolutionized the PR industry. We talked about pitching clients to the media and the importance of keeping your eye on the news cycle to better leverage opportunities. Important points included how to present a pitch effectively, how to find creative ways to make your client or message fit into a bigger story and how to cultivate long-term relationships with writers and reporters. The importance of being in command of the facts cannot be overstated. The PR person’s primary goal is to make the reporter understand why your client/product/issue needs to be covered now.

A major concern echoed by students was about their lack of hands-on workplace experience when they try for that first job. I remembered when I was a college student, I felt exactly the same way and began searching out internships. I got an internship at a music publishing company where, in addition to doing unglamorous work such as making photocopies, filing and logging tapes, I wrote press materials for newly signed bands. It gave me insight and experience in working at an office and allowed me to learn important skills which would prove valuable later on. I told them that even learning how to answer a phone or interact with bosses and co-workers would put them light years ahead of the competition when they begin job searching. Additionally, having that experience on a resume would make potential recruiters sit up and take notice. Affect Strategies has an excellent internship program, to use a prime example. Interns here don’t get coffee and lick envelopes, but instead do invaluable work on PR and marketing campaigns. Interns come out of this office with knowledge and experience that can only attract top-tier organizations the world over.

I have to say that based on the feedback and reaction from the students, they learned a lot and felt sufficiently pumped to embark on what can prove to be a wonderful and rewarding journey. We could have talked for hours more (I am never at a loss for words) but I promised to keep in touch and help in any way I can. Who knows, maybe some of them will come to New York City and intern for us. Given their enthusiasm and energy, I can say that the industry will be in good hands in the future.

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