Today’s guest post comes from Lauren Gray, a young woman I met via Twitter/my blog a year or so ago. As some of you probably know, I’m pretty involved with younger professionals, speaking at local colleges and universities from time to time (I’m speaking at my alma mater here in a few weeks) and heading up HAPPO. And while I haven’t met Lauren in person, she seems like the kind of young professional I tend to gravitate toward. Hard-working. Not afraid to speak her mind. Passionate. Let’s hear from Lauren about how PRSSA has played a key role in her development–and making her the woman she is today.
Joining any organization is exactly what you make it and you get out of it what you put in it. As the current Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) National President, I’ve put a lot into this incredible organization and, in return, I have gotten a lot out of it. It has not always been the easiest journey, but it is been worth it.
From a student perspective, PRSSA helped me develop my leadership skills and my leadership style by leading my Chapter at a local level and now leading the whole Society on a national level.
When you are on a National Committee of ten students and five professionals scattered across every time zone in the United States, communication can be a little tricky. Our biggest tool we use is Google Groups communication. Email is huge and we hold ourselves to a 24-48 hour response rule.
Conference calls are important for us too. Not everyone will be able to make every single call, so it’s important to remember that and schedule the best time where the most people can meet. It’s also important to stay in touch with each other. We don’t all talk every single day, but we all know what is going on with each other and have a secret Facebook Group for internal communication too.
One of the first things I learned about leading students, not everyone is the same type of leader as you and everyone handles conflicts differently. For PRSSA, we have encouraged leaders to do a “leadership assessment” of your fellow executive board members. This assessment helped me to better understand who I was working with, how they deal with stressful situations and how to deal with them when a conflict arose.
For me, I’m an expressive! I’m very assertive, direct and responsive. I show a lot of emotions and I’m always involved. I’m persuasive, enthusiastic and spontaneous. I like to be reassured in decisions, so my leadership style is to ask for a lot of feedback. For my fellow Committee members, learning how their different leadership styles and how to best communicate with them has helped us succeed as a whole.
We might not always agree on every single issue we face, but we’re all on the same team working toward the betterment of our Society – that is what is important.
Being a leader can be hard, especially when everything falls on you. Not everyone is going to like you and conflicts always arise. I’ve done my best to work around conflicts and work through conflicts.
I’ve let a few conflicts consume me and that was not the best thing to do. I dealt with a two-year conflict that seems so ridiculous now. I had to learn to move past things, not let the small things get to me and move toward the overall big picture. It is hard moving past a situation, but I think everyone is better in the end when you just learn to let things go.
I still have people rooting for me to fail every single day, but it is not them I focus on. I focus on PRSSA, my strengths, my successes, my friendships, my connections, my relationship and my future. It does no good to dwell on the past, but I certainly learned from it.
One of the best things about PRSSA is our huge network! I have gotten internship and job leads through PRSA and PRSSA connections and conferences. I got my current, paid internship by going to a local PRSA Georgia conference and handing out my resume to Trevelino Keller. You don’t think people at career fairs look through resumes, but they actually do. I also have received internship and job recommendations to other top companies and firms through PRSSA connections from people I helped, met or influenced as they moved through their college career. Some PRSA members have also recommended me to various jobs as well.
Connections and job leads aren’t everything though. Most of my closest friends are in PRSSA. I can honestly say Amy Bishop, the FORUM Editor in Chief for the 2011-2012 year, is my closest friend. We originally met on Twitter in 2010, became friends, served on last year’s National Committee and worked together very well. She’s my closest friend and I call her about everything.
One of my other closest friends, Tara Rosenbaum, I met at the 2010 National Conference and we’re still close. Vanessa Perkins, Haley Higgs, Chris Bailey, Catherine Koonce, Ian Crumm and Drew Mitchell are also some of my closest friends. I talk to them all on a regular basis and we’re all in PRSSA together. These incredible friendships make me who I am.
Even though I may only get to see these people 1-3 times a year at various conferences, events or when I travel, they’re still my closest friends and we would do anything for each other and I owe them a lot.
I wouldn’t be where I am today without PRSSA. PRSSA really advanced me as a student, as a friend and, as a future life-long PRSA member, I know PRSA will help advance my career.
Lauren K. Gray currently serves as the PRSSA National President for the 2012-2013 year and as an intern with Trevelino Keller Communication Group in Atlanta, Ga. She is a senior public relations major at Western Carolina University and will graduate in December. Outside of work, Lauren spends free time with her friends, making regular Starbucks trips, attending local events and enjoying Atlanta.
Reprising a post I ran last year that highlighted 7 millennial PR pros to watch here in the Twin Cities area. This year, I thought we’d go national and look at 15 PR pros to keep your eye on in the year ahead. With a twist.
Since I didn’t want this to be a baseless list post, I thought we’d put some meaningful context around it. So, I’m providing my input on local folks I have first-hand experience with–either through my work with ACH Communications, or volunteer efforts through HAPPO, MN Blogger Conference and other opportunities. The other rub: These folks are all under 30. To round out the list, I’ve also asked some friends and colleagues across the country for their recommendations–same rules apply. They must have first-hand knowledge of their work. So, basically, this list has some teeth–and credibility.
Take a peek at the 15 up-and-coming PR pros to watch in 2012:
Sarah Reckard, Select Comfort
Yes, Sarah’s a client. So you could say this one’s a bit biased, and you’d be right. But, it’s not because she’s a client. It’s because she’s a rock star. She’s ambitious (she’s currently pursuing her MBA). She’s smart. And, she’s a fantastic partner. What more could you ask for in an employee/client? (Recommended by Arik Hanson; Note: The other Sarah I work with–Sarah Panus–at Select Comfort is pretty darn smart, too. But alas, she’s not under 30.)
Lauren Melcher, Weber Shandwick
The first time I met Lauren, I could have swore she was 32. OK, now she’s going to kill me. But, that’s a testament to her maturity and the way she presents herself in a meeting. And, that’s huge when you’re consulting for a firm with the clout and reputation of Weber Shandwick. I worked with Lauren as she headed up last year’s MIMA Summit here in the Twin Cities, which went off tremendously well, under her guidance and leadership. Just a fantastically smart woman all-around. Shandwick’s lucky to have her (and I think they know it). (Recommended by Arik Hanson)
Ellen Hudson, Braun Intertec
Another client–and another smart young woman. After spending some time at Weber Shandwick, Ellen decided to try her hand at the corporate side. And, in working with her, I might say she’s found a great fit. Ellen’s a great leader–but she’s also a good collaborator. That’s a nice mix for a younger professional. And, one that will help her along the way in the years ahead. (Recommended by Arik Hanson)
Amanda Oleson, Magnet Street
Before Amanda landed her current job at Magnet Street, she did some subcontracting work for me. Her work was always on time. It was clean. And it was error-free. Truth be told, I liked Amanda from the moment I met her a few years ago. Maybe it’s our common passion for the Vikings. Maybe it’s because she’s down to earth. Or, maybe it’s just because she’s a pro who actually delivers on her promises. Time and time again. Whatever the case, I think she has a pretty bright future. (Recommended by Arik Hanson)
Jillian Froehlich, Target
I’ve known Jillian now for probably five years. In that time, I’ve watched her grown from an AE at Carmichael Lynch Spong to a leader for the social media team at one of the larger Fortune 100 companies in town. And, that hasn’t surprised me at all. I met Jillian while co-chairing a MN PRSA committee a number of years ago and we’ve become good friends since then. Jillian is smart. Ambitious. And, she’s a joiner (like me). But, I think what I most respect about Jillian is her honesty. She’s never been afraid to ask for advice. She’s humble (and not entitled in the least). And, in my opinion, she goes about her business the right way. That’s a solid combination that will serve her well at a company like Target. (Recommended by Arik Hanson)
Bridget Monroe, Bellmont Partners
There are lots of reasons I think Bridget has a bright future. Unique skill set. Joiner at heart. And, she’s a great writer. Like Lauren, I highlighted Bridget’s good work earlier this year as part of the PR Rock Stars series. I work closely with Bridget now on a few different clients, and she not only delivers on promises and hits deadlines routinely–she’s consistently raising the bar for quality work. (Recommended by Arik Hanson).
Stacey Acevero, Vocus/PRWeb
Stacey Acevero is social media manager at Vocus and PRWeb. She’s the heart and soul behind the popular #prwebchat. She personifies young PR pros who bridge from traditional PR to social media. She recognizes the need for listening backed up by a willingness to make things happen with any number of new social media tools. Her attitude is usually “Why not?” Definitely a PR 2.0 pro to watch. You’ll find her blogging at PRWeb making thing happen at #prwebchat or @sacevero on Twitter. (Recommended by Jeff Domansky)
Lauren Gray, student
Lauren Gray is a senior at Western Carolina University in North Carolina, majoring in Communication with a concentration in Public Relations and minoring in Marketing and Leadership. Lauren, who is also Vice President of Public Relations at PRSSA and the National Director of PR and Marketing for the WCU Student Government Association (recommended by Deirdre Breakenridge)
Harrison Kratz, MBA@UNC
Harrison Kratz is a social entrepreneur who is passionate about the responsibility of empowering others to do good in the new world of social communication. Harrison is the founder of Tweet Drive, a global social good campaign dedicated to using social media to collect toys for under-privileged children. He’s also the community manager for
@MBAatUNC and the founder of #SoGoodChat (recommended by Deirdre Breakenridge)
Tyler Orchard, Parliament of Canada
While Tyler is in Canada, they’re our sister country so I think he should be included. A political communication rockstar, he’s quickly making a name for himself in the social space because of his really smart blog, at Talking Points (recommended by Gini Dietrich).
Mikinzie Stuart, Peppercom
Mikinzie Stuart needs no introduction. She’s a young superstar who took the bull by the horns and got herself a job in New York City, so she could leave the Midwest and get some different experience. She isn’t afraid to try new things and, if she finds some results, recommend them to clients (recommended by Gini Dietrich).
Molli Megasko, Arment Dietrich
This one is a little bit selfish because Molli Megasko works for me, but she has been with Arment Dietrich since she graduated from college and has found herself rapidly climbing the ladder. In the most recent months, clients have told me working with her is like working with me. She is forward-thinking, she doesn’t wait for direction, and she’s willing to take some risk. I call her “Mini-Me” (recommended by Gini Dietrich)
Nicole Weaver, iostudio
The truest test of a talented PR pro is to take them out of their comfort zone. In just a few short weeks, Nicole Weaver left the New York fashion PR scene to join iostudio in Washington, DC. To launch their PR services, Nicole translated her high-fashion career to the fast casual restaurant and non-profit scene, while being a PR evangelist at her new agency, which had never had an in-house public relations pro before. She proved in 2011 that she is a versatile, skilled professional – and one to watch in 2012 (recommended by Mike Schaffer).
Veronica Brown, Gibraltar Associates
A vice president at top pubic affairs firm Gibraltar Associates, Veronica Brown is a leader in the Washington, DC, PR community. She has gained executive-level respect from high-level clients at such a young age by being excellent at her job, day-in and day-out. Veronica is the secretary of Washington Women in PR (WWPR), a regular attendee of the DC Flacks Meetup group, among other associations, making her one of the most visible, influential presences in the industry (recommended by Mike Schaffer).
Lizzie Younkin, i.d.e.a.
Senior Reputation Manager at i.d.e.a., Lizzie Younkin has risen through the ranks continually impressing management with her strategic thinking, calm demeanor and fantastic client counsel. She is a strong communicator with killer media relationships. Through the years Lizzie has secured placements in almost every major local, regional and national outlet for her clients. She is creative in her thinking and a strong mentor and coach to her team (recommended by Indra Gardiner).
Anyone you’d add? Share in the comments (make sure to include WHY!).