May 18, 2020 msuproductions
Julia Higgins

Thought Leadership

By Julia Higgins

Throughout my time at Montclair State University, I have been granted amazing opportunities to gain real world experience in the Public Relations field. Most recently, I joined Hawk Communications, a student run public relations firm. The agency works with real clients who have real needs and team members also have the opportunity to network. This year, I was lucky enough to work on three accounts. Public Relations is such a huge part of my life, I decided to take on an account lead role for our client the Autism MVP Foundation. I knew this leadership position would be challenging but extremely rewarding.

Autism MVP is a nonprofit that works to increase the number of autism focused educators and therapists in order to meet the future needs of students on the autism spectrum. They work to provide scholarships for students and training for future educators. The organization is composed of all volunteers who have a common goal, bring forth the MVP, or the “Most Valuable Prospective Students” and encourage them to be autism-focused educators.

As an account lead, I was in charge of gathering all the necessary clients’ needs and also dividing up team work. Our clients’ needs included building media lists, pitching, social media work, and working towards sponsors for its annual Autism Walk Event. Our group met weekly to discuss strategies such as social media plans, researching ideas, and pitching media, but when the Coronavirus came and closed down our school, being an account lead became much more challenging.

During this difficult time, our team did an excellent job adjusting to our new virtual meetings. One thing we focused heavily on throughout this new normal is the importance of communication. As account lead, I reached out directly to our client to alert them of the current challenges we were facing such as lack of communication and looking for a new direction. Our client did an excellent job at creating a task list for our team to follow. Through this list, we were able to create our own document of research. We were able to create social media ideas such as highlighting past scholarship winners and researched potential new board members. While our direction as a team changed, we were able to adjust to the new normal and create successful campaigning.

Through my time as an account lead, I learned invaluable lessons such as communication skills, leadership abilities, and how to manage client relations. I was in constant contact with my client and team. While our methods of communications changed from face to face to virtual, we adjusted and carried on with our client work.

I also worked on other accounts. Our Center for Corporate Media team worked heavily on creating a voice and brand for its newsletter through social media. We worked to create this voice through hashtags and Instagram stories. The Center for Corporate Media asked us to give its newsletter a voice, and online or in person, our team worked to cater to their needs. Our other client account, the New Jersey Warriors Hockey needed help with pitching. Our team was able to craft a general pitch that could be used and tweaked for new media lists. We edited and worked on this pitch through Zoom and also Google Docs. While the in-person encounters were taken away, our collaboration with each other was only strengthened through our new virtual connection outlets.

Looking into the future, being able to adjust to new platforms and new communication methods is key. Agencies and brands are looking for students who are leaders, can work in a team, and are willing to take the extra step to succeed. Being able to go through this crisis in an agency has helped shape my work ethic and teamwork skills. The experiences I have received through Hawk Communications have helped further my education and career.