Fahlgren Mortine Award: 5 Things I Realized When Applying

Posted by Rachel Esterline on Mar 18, 2009 in Internships, Public Relations

I recently applied for Fahlgren Mortine’s Founder’s Award, which provides a paid summer internship and a $1,500 scholarship to a sophomore or junior. I had to submit a cover letter, resume, application form, two letters of recommendation, two writing samples and several completed assignments.

First of all, this was the most intensive internship application I have ever seen. To be totally honest, it was more work than some classes I have taken.

But, believe it or not, I had fun working on the assignments. The assignments enabled me to show the professionals at Fahlgren Mortine how I used my research, writing and PR skills.

Here are five things I realized (or was reassured about) when applying for this award:

1. Tweet to connect. Through Twitter, I found a news anchor who worked for the channel I wanted to pitch to. When researching, I was having trouble figuring out who exactly I would pitch to. I explained what type of client I was working for and what the pitch was about and she gave me several ideas of who I would contact, if this were a real pitch. Twitter once again is proved as a useful tool for communicators.

2. Brainstorm for ideas. One assignment was to create an event agenda.  I think I could have written a conference agenda with my page-long list. But, by brainstorming a lot of ideas, I was able to pick out the ones I thought worked best.

3. Crazy creative. I can’t completely suggest to be crazy creative, I guess, because I haven’t heard back about the internship. But, I created a logo for the client. The assignment didn’t say I needed to, but I felt the project would look better if it had one. Hopefully they don’t think I’m crazy for putting in the extra work.

4. Research, research, research. When creating the event agenda, I didn’t just choose speakers and activities that I thought would be good. I also researched venues in the city.  I was even able to choose which rooms I wanted to use for my event.

5. Paper matters. Maybe it doesn’t matter, but I felt better putting my materials on nice, thick paper. It looked professional and clean. It might cost more money, but isn’t your career worth it?

Challenges inspire me. I’m not sure if it is because I like hard work, or if I just want to prove something, but I love a good challenge. The Fahlgren Mortine application was challenging, but I saw it as an opportunity to improve my skills. And, maybe I’ll even get an internship out of the deal! It was a great learning experience.

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Allan Schoenberg Award

Posted by Rachel Esterline on Feb 24, 2009 in PRSSA, Public Relations

Today I got a letter in the mail. I opened it slowly, hoping it wasn’t a rejection letter. I read the first word, “Congratulations!” and relaxed. The letter said I was the 2009-2010 Allan Schoenberg Award recipient.

I’m thrilled and honored. I’m looking forward to meeting Allan Schoenberg in person at our PRSSA conference. I’ve gotten to know him a little bit already via Twitter.

The letter said, “The Allan Schoenberg Award was established to recognize an outstanding member of PRSSA or PR Central who shows leadership potentials and commitment to the field of public relations.”

I will be recognized as the winner at the PRSSA Spring Conference, but Dr. Krider and Allan Schoenberg said it was fine to share the news early.

The hardest part of the application was the essay. I had to define my philosophy of public relations.

I wanted to say something Natalie Ebig Scott tweeted to me once: “It’s PR, not the ER. I’m influencing lives, not saving them.” But, I don’t think that was essay appropriate!

So, I wrote, “Overall, I believe public relations is positively influencing people’s ideas and opinions through communication to achieve strategic goals.”

You wouldn’t believe how long it took to come up with that! Coming up with a philosophy is harder than I thought. I talked to the recipients from the past two years and they said they felt the same way.

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5 Things I Learned While Applying for the Daniel J. Edelman/PRSSA Award

Posted by Rachel Esterline on Dec 31, 2008 in PRSSA

Yesterday I finally sent in my application for the Daniel J. Edelman/PRSSA Award. I’m nervous and excited.

The award is for “PRSSA student members who have demonstrated exceptional leadership ability, a commitment to a career in the field and have contributed substantially to PRSSA.”

Here are five things I learned from the application process:

1. Don’t wait until the last minute to print things. I did…and then there was a storm back home and we lost power (therefore I had no printer). And my printer at my apartment was out of color ink. And the university labs were closed. So I ended up paying for printing.

2. Ask for reference letters as soon as you decide to apply. This helped my former internship supervisor and professor to have plenty of time to write the letters.

3. Just start writing. I spent at least 15 minutes staring at a blank screen when I started my cover letter. Then I just started typing. You can always delete and edit, so just get your basic ideas out on paper so you can develop them.

4. Research the company. I spent a lot of time on Edelman’s Web site so I could tailor the cover letter.

5. Be confident! There were a few times when I wondered if I even had a chance at this award. I met many amazing people at the 2008 PRSSA National Conference and I know the competition is fierce. But reviewing my portfolio and talking with friends, I realized I have a lot of great pieces and good experience. So don’t doubt yourself and send in the application!

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