June 15, 2021 msuproductions

Hawk Communications: A Stepping Stone

Preparing Students for Their First Industry Role

Stevie Vallellanes Montclair State University

Written By: Stevie Vallellanes

During my time at Montclair State University, I participated in numerous projects that exposed me to the real world of public relations and communications. I have competed in the PRSSA Bateman Competition, developed two comprehensive transmedia campaigns for local companies, and created a strategic public relations plan for Motown Museum, but nothing has been as beneficial as Hawk Communications.

The first semester of my junior year I had a new professor who encouraged me to sit in and learn about the on-campus student-run strategic communications agency. I had no clue what it was and was hesitant about joining because I didn’t have that much experience, but after the first meeting, I knew I was going to join. When registration opened, it was the first course I picked because the professor and students were so passionate about their work.

I have been fortunate enough to have worked in the agency now for three full semesters and I can confidently say that my first semester was like no other. We got started right away, but the coronavirus had other plans. We quickly shifted to virtual learning and client meetings and persevered even though we had no idea how long it would be like that. Although we were thrown off, I was able to create social media content, pitch media outlets, and conduct research for my three clients.

My second semester with the agency was one that I know the team and I will never forget. I worked for the Garden State Wine Growers Association (GSWGA) on the research and planning team and was the account lead for the New Jersey Warriors Hockey. I loved my work for the GSWGA because it allowed me to be creative and think ahead. We drafted a content calendar for the upcoming year and helped develop concept ideas for their holiday season. For the Warriors, I was definitely challenged a bit more. Being the account lead, my team and I made content calendars, created social media content, pitched numerous media outlets, and even placed earned media with CBS, BoldTV, and Sports Illustrated. At times we struggled, but it taught me how to be a better leader and motivate my team to help the organization and veterans tell their story.

This past semester was my third and final time working for the agency. I was appointed the account lead for the Warriors again, but this time I had help and was able to focus my efforts on pitching while two other classmates drove the social media channels. We were able to have a reporter from NJ.com come to the team’s “Veteran Try Hockey Free” event and The Daily Record and News 12 attended ice time at the Prudential Center. The team created content for all of their social media channels based on the earned media. For the Hawk social channels, the team and I highlighted the variety of clients and students on each team, accomplished work from past semesters, and reintroduced the “Tip Tuesday” series. We were able to grow our audience and showcase the amazing work the agency has completed.

This agency has taught me skills that are a must in today’s competitive climate and helped me develop an impressive portfolio. You don’t need experience to join because you will have the constant support of a public relations veteran. From the first day, I met Professor Keith Green he has always looked out for his students and can confidently say that his guidance in the agency has made me a better person in and out of the classroom. The opportunities and invaluable lessons learned in this agency will help me in all of my future endeavors. I encourage all students to enroll because it will allow you to become a well-rounded communications professional.