PR Institute: Three ways the trademark PRSA Philly program delivers 06/19/2012
by Rachel Olenick, marketing and communications specialist at Adler Institute for Advanced Imaging and member of the PRSA Philly News and PR Institute committees
At the PR Institute Awards Happy Hour at Triumph Brewery last week, participants celebrated the completion of an intense training program with their families, bosses, mentors, board members, Institute alumni, and fellow Chapter members.
The winning team members received a certificate, engraved plaque and customized PRSA Philly portfolio. Beyond these tokens of recognition, all Institute participants took home career development skills in PR strategy.
Here are three big ways that the PR Institute benefited its participants this year:
1. The next level of networking
Networking with other PR professionals goes beyond exchanging business cards- participants build lasting relationships. “My Institute teammates were fantastic,” Kim Ciesla, of Anne Klein Communications Group and a member of the winning team, said. “We got along really well and already have plans to get together outside of PRSA.”
PR Institute participants not only network with other team members, but also with their team mentor and the judging panel. “What I love about this program is the quality connections you make with senior PR professionals,” PR Institute Co-Chair Michele Painter said. “You get real ‘life lessons’ over the course of the program that you normally get over the course of a few years.”
“My supervisor was a mentor for PR Institute during the last session and saw first-hand what a great professional development program it was,” Ciesla said. “He knew I was looking for ways to get involved in PRSA and encouraged me to join PR Institute.” In turn, Ciesla has her own recommendation: “Sign up for Institute if you want to network, strengthen PR skills, build your resume, take a crash course in PR, or want an opportunity to put together a plan from start to finish for a deserving client. Everyone can benefit from some aspect of the program!”
2. High level feedback
Each team presented their strategic plan to a judging panel comprised of client executives and PRSA board members. After a question and answer session with the team, the judging panel shared personal feedback for participants to build from when making future presentations. “The constructive criticism after my group presentation was the most memorable aspect of the Institute,” Arlacia Tisdale, communications coordinator at Health Partners, said.
Tisdale heard about the PR Institute from her supervisor Felicia Philips. Philips completed the program three years ago and has since encouraged staff members to get involved.
National PRSA Chairman Gerard Corbett, who was in Philadelphia for the day, was among the senior-level participants on the judging panel.
3. Making a difference
The PR Institute is designed to help local PR professionals make a real impact for a local client. While Ciesla was thrilled that her team won the competition, she was even more excited that the client, The Support Center for Child Advocates, has plans to start applying some of the ideas the teams recommended. “It was challenging, but the long hours were worth it, knowing that Child Advocates will likely implement many of our suggestions,” she said.
Becca Barker, PR Institute co-chair, emphasized that it’s not only the client who benefits, but also each participants’ careers. “This year’s Institute gave 15 up-and-coming pros the opportunity to put it all on the table and matter to a real client.”
Winning PR Institute Team (left to right): Kathleen Udasko (New Jersey American Water), Kimberly Ciesla (Anne Klein Communications Group), Alex Calukovic (OCF Realty), Abrie George (Fox Rothschild), Janeen Poulson (DLA Troop Support), and mentor Arthur Ellis (WHYY)