May 5, 2020 msuproductions
Theresa Tumminello

How A Small Student-Run PR Agency Tackled Coronavirus Obstacles

By Theresa Tumminello

I never thought that the world could shut down in a matter of days. Boy was I wrong, as I saw the Coronavirus make its way across the globe. I watched China struggle with the effects of the virus but never imagined it would affect American business the way it has.

Business objectives change all the time, especially in the public relations/advertising field. Granted, those changes are not usually as drastic as we have seen recently with the Coronavirus pandemic. Our whole agency dynamic shifted as we transitioned to online meetings and our client needs also changed. No longer were we promoting events and asking for donations, but instead we were just simply trying to get exposure.

My team and I were now tasked with trying to pitch in a very crowded digital space. It felt as if we were trying to squeeze an elephant through a door frame. After all, who wanted to hear about anything other than what the governor had to say about COVID-19? Our approach and method changed as we had to find a way to break through the Coronavirus news and promote an amazing nonprofit. With more people taking to social media for forms of entertainment and new past times, my team and I looked at current social trends and how we could somehow get our client to stay relatable, despite the gloom and doom that we seemed to be surrounded by. After brainstorming and taking a step back to look at best practices, we decided to power through and re-work our media pitch to position the story as a ‘feel good’ sports story in a time where both of these news story trends lacked coverage.

The importance of flexibility within the communications field is the key to success. Being able to go with the flow is one of the biggest learning curves of being in this ever-changing industry. Whether it is as severe as a global pandemic that basically shuts the whole world down, a budget cut, bad press or an exciting opportunity, it is important to be versatile in objectives. The willingness the Hawk Communications team showed during this time was inspiring. As a client lead, I was extremely impressed with my team’s willingness to do what it took to carry out previously defined goals. I genuinely enjoyed watching myself and my teammates grow personally and professionally through this unprecedented time.

As a graduating senior, being a part of Hawk Communications has provided me with the opportunity to be a part of something more than just a class. Although I originally took the class to fill my schedule, I soon realized that it would provide me with much more than just credits towards graduation. I have had my fair share of internships, but being able to participate in real-world campaigns and make decisions where I normally wouldn’t have had the chance to has given me more confidence than I could have imagined. I am grateful for the clients that took a chance on this student-run agency and were patient with us, allowing us to sometimes take a trial and error approach on certain campaigns. HAWK Communications has shown me that I am capable of surviving in the real-world as I look to begin my professional career post graduation.