As I sat in class in early January 2018, I thought this day would never arrive. I was terrified of the requirements of the course and can honestly say I had no clue how to conduct a situational analysis, had only limited experience designing, distributing and analyzing data, and had no idea how to build a campaign plan, let alone pitch said plan to a client. Atop all of those worries, I also was stressed because I had to lead a team of women through the process as I learned myself. Honestly speaking, I heard horror stories about this course before entering it. I heard the hours put in were misearble and would make you hate the major.
As I type this reflecting on the client presentation, and the semester at large, I am proud to say I experienced no such horrors. While it was stressful at times, it ultimately remained fun. I had an amazing team who were willing to do their part and beyond if needed. I learned a few invaluable lessons, both personal and professional, throughout the process that I am honored to share below.
- A Public Relations campaign is a fancy title to give a simple concept: a solution. I realized much too late that what we were tasked with doing was simply solving a problem, not pulling off a miracle. While there were necessary steps that were tedious to go about solving the problem, reminding myself that our task was to propose a solution to the problem allowed me to relax and prioritize.
- I work best within a casual team dynamic. My team were my friends coming into the semester and our relationships with one another have only grown throughout the semester. During easier times, we were there to laugh and have fun. During the stressful times, we encouraged one another instead of lashing out and accusing. I believe this made all the difference in the semester. I heard horror stories about teams that did not get along in past semesters and prioritized a healthy team relationship. Again, I could not have asked for a better team.
- Finally, clients are people, too. I was so nervous to present A Grand Gesture to Mary-Frances and Shannon when I should not have been. All of our proposed strategies were based in research; there was no reason I should have been scared to pitch, but to me, these women seemed like divine beings. In reality, though, they are peers in my field. They have more experience than me, surely, but we are trained in the same ways and we are passionate about the same things. I need to remind myself going forward that clients are pulling for, not against, me. They want my success and realizing this instills needed confidence in me.
At the beginning of the semester, Dr. Merle encouraged me to grow in confidence. I am no longer the scared pupil I was in January. If I received another client tomorrow, I am confident in my ability to repeat the process in an even more efficient way. This course is the hardest course I’ve taken and as promised, I am leaving it a stronger, more confident professional. I cannot wait to show the campaign plan to future interviewers and potential employees.