Illinois State University PRSSA members headed up to Chicago on Friday, Feb. 3 for the first agency tour of the spring semester. Our members had the opportunity to visit Porter Novelli and Walker Sands Communications.
Our first stop on the agency tour was Porter Novelli. The Porter Novelli office welcomed us with open arms and a warm energy, along with some breakfast foods and coffee (which was much needed after the drive from Normal to Chicago). The office had a modern and chic vibe, while still providing an environment that incorporated the organization’s culture and boutique atmosphere.
Account Executive Meghan Schulze led the tour, along with several other staff of various positions. The presentation began with a general overview of Porter Novelli and the work the organization does as a boutique public relations agency to make an impact in consumer brands, health and wellness, food and nutrition, as well as technology.
The presentation continued with a discussion of the difference between agency and corporate public relations and developed into tips and tricks for landing an internship or job. A key point that Schulze highlighted about internships is that it’s okay to intern after graduating; many companies design their internship programs to help new grads become acclimated to the company atmosphere.
A unique element to the tour was presented by Senior Counselor Rich Jernstedt, who dedicated an “Interview 101” section to the presentation. Jernstedt has extensive experience in public relations, and had advice on how to prepare for an interview, how to act during the interview, and courtesy acts after the interview. He offered to look at our resumes for critiques, which was an awesome resource for our members!
Porter Novelli was an excellent host and provided us with valid insight on, not only their company, but the public relations field as a whole.
To continue with the tours for the day, our members walked a couple blocks south to Walker Sands. The tour was broken up into three parts. ISU and PRSSA alum Andrew Cross gave an overview of the agency and several larger projects that generated much success for the company. As a technology based agency, Walker Sands works with business-to-business (B2B) operations, providing them with a unique edge compared to other agencies.
After walking us through the basics of the agency, ISU alum Brittany Martin went over the organizational culture of Walker Sands and the fun environment that the agency exhibits both in and out of the office.
Next, members broke into small groups led by Walker Sands employees to pick their brains about life at the company. This informal setting gave members the opportunity to ask questions on a more personal level and really conveyed the unique, family-like organizational culture that the company is based upon. It was beneficial to have this small group experience so members could really get to know what Walker Sands has to offer.
Both tours gave members a great opportunity to see two different Chicago public relations agencies. Members were able to get a glimpse into the professional world while networking with the agency employees who participated in the tour. The tours offered by ISU PRSSA are a great opportunity to network and gain valuable insight to public relations as a professional field!
Written by Anna Cachares
PRecisely PR is the blog of the Illinois State University Chapter of the PRSSA. We write about Chapter events, the public relations industry, member profiles, and more.