During my time at Montclair State University, I had the privilege of being part of the Hawks Communications course, which mirrors the structure and work in a real-world public relations/strategic communications agency. While working with the New Jersey Warriors and the Montclair State University School of Communications I was finally able to put the real-life skills to use that I had learned about in my classes.
The experience was educational and illuminating, and I am truly grateful for the opportunity to work with local clients and my fellow classmates who were some of the most determined and proactive students I have ever met.
For my last semester, I was looking for courses that would prepare me for what lies ahead but what, quite frankly, fit into my busy schedule. I stumbled upon the Hawk Communications course and my advisor, Dr. Todd Kelshaw reassured me that it was something worth trying. That turned out to be an understatement.
What I did not know was that I was about to step into an environment that almost entirely mirrored agency life, which is something that I wish to pursue. Working with the New Jersey Warriors, for which I managed the Twitter account and conducted media research and pitching, I learned much about social media in relation to sports marketing, and how that can differ from other organizations. I also learned about the importance of capitalizing on every possible opportunity. In the beginning the team had a few practices and events, so we had to make the most out of every opportunity to capture the attention of audiences. Although in the beginning it was difficult to find content to post, it gave us an opportunity to focus on pitching the large events that were scheduled. Ted Curtin, one of the leaders of the NJ Warriors, shared great advice that helped with the process; to pitch the story as if we were doing them a favor. This changed my perspective on media pitching as a whole and led to more effective pitches to media contacts.
Working with the School of Communications was an entirely different experience. We focused on utilizing more traditional forms of communication like posting flyers around the school, creating interactive lawn signs, and creating billboard-like displays throughout the school with our “Hawk-With-Sign” photoshoot, which we coordinated with Rocky the Redhawk, our school’s mascot. This was very useful because living in a digital age, we often forget how effective more traditional modes of communication can be. This came with more interpersonal communication as well, as we had to collaborate with many different people who work in the University to accomplish our goals.
The experience that the Hawk Communications course provided me a better understanding of the public relations field, but it has given me a leg up in terms of experience–making me a better candidate for future employment. The diverse needs of my clients gave me the opportunity to work with both social media and media outreach and more traditional communication tools. I am very grateful for the opportunity and experience this course has provided.