The 9th annual Grunig Gala gave students at the University of Maryland an opportunity to develop and connect with public relations professionals and learn about pr in the “real world.” Attendees included professionals from National Geographic, Ketchum, Edelman, and even Under Armour. The event consisted of good food, but even better company.
My favorite part of the the Grunig Gala was how we were able to talk to public relations professionals and ask them about their jobs. At the roundtable discussions, I first found myself with Crystal Brown, Chief Communications Officer for University of Maryland, College Park. Immediately, she started off my asking if anyone at the table watches the show “Scandal.” Being an avid fan and binge watcher of the series, I knew exactly what Mrs. Brown was going to say next, “I am Olivia Pope.” My heart sank. For those of you who are don’t watch “Scandal,” Olivia Pope is in charge of crisis communication for the White House. Basically, I was sitting next to a real Olivia Pope for the University of Maryland! It was truly amazing to ask Brown about her job, and some of the problems she deals with on a daily basis, one of which she dealt with in the parking lot prior to the gala.
The real spotlight of the night wasn’t the speed dating with public relations professionals, or the food, but keynote speaker and “Measurement Queen,” Katie Paine. Paine discussed how in today’s world, public relations isn’t about trying to sell something to a client, however the relationship with that client.
Relationships are vital, especially for social media. I liked Paine’s analogy when she related trustworthiness in relationships to friending and de-friending on social media accounts. When we unfollow someone, we have an issue with them and don’t trust them. Personally, I do this a lot. If I am angry or have a problem with someone, I remove them from my social media accounts. However, if I make a new friend, or build a relationship, I “friend” them.
Paine also spoke about how the friendships we build with clients and businesses are how we develop prospective connections. After my internship over the summer, I immediately connected with my co-workers on LinkIn, a great way to stay up to date and connected to employers and clients over social media. Paine closes her speech and leaves the gala with, “It is about the relationships with that tribe that will help you in the future.”
Overall, the night was a huge success. I not only gained insight how public relations works after college, but also learned how important it is to keep building and keeping relationships along the way.