A few of the many view of the 10th anniversary PRSSA Washington, D.C. trip (photos: Anna Alyssa McKoy and Jessica Twine)
A few of the many view of the 10th anniversary PRSSA Washington, D.C. trip (photos: Anna Alyssa McKoy and Jessica Twine)

10th Anniversary PRSSA D.C. agency tour allows students to network and learn

Editor’s note: Anna Alyssa McKoy and Jessica Twine are two of the Yarbrough–Grady Fellows for spring semester. McKoy and Twine attended the PRSSA D.C. Agency Tour with their fellow PRSSA members.   

At the end of January, the two of us and seven of our fellow PRSSA members ventured to Washington, D.C., on the 10th Anniversary PRSSA D.C. Agency Tour. We were able to network with PR professionals, communicators and government officials while in D.C. Our peers, accompanied by Victoria Cooper and Bryan Reber visited the American Red Cross, Edelman, Weber Shandwick, Finn Partners and Porter Novelli.   

On the last day of the trip, each student shadowed at an agency or with a government official.  

This trip provided a unique opportunity as each visit allowed us to get a glimpse of the agencies’ cultures through company overviews, Q&A sessions with employees from different positions and tours of the office spaces. It also allowed us to get a feel for the city, where many of us are thinking of living in D.C. after graduation.   

“I knew that I wanted to work in D.C. at some point following graduation, but after visiting and experiencing the tours, city, networking, etc., I knew it was the city for me,” remarked Chis Shea a graduate in the 4+1 program. “I learned a wide variety of tips from professionals ranging from non-profit, agency, govt. Offices, gained countless networking opportunities with UGA grads and industry professionals and realized if you want to work in public affairs, there is no better place to be.”   

On our first day in D.C., we learned about crisis communications from Peter Macias, director of communications for the Armed Forces division. His career and life tips inspired the whole group. At the end of the visit, the entire group completed a media training workshop that concluded with a mock press conference. This was a highlight of the visit as it was interesting to gain hands-on experience in the crisis communications world.   

Later that day, we visited Edelman where two recent Grady alumni work, Emily Johnson (ABJ’17) and Annie Swenson (ABJ’15). Emily and Annie led us in a crisis communications simulation that Edelman does with their own clients. The group also met with different employees at Edelman for resume critiques. Both experiences at the Red Cross and Edelman allowed us to get real-world application of public relations.  

 The next day, our first visit was to Powell Tate/Weber Shandwick. There we were given a presentation on the different specialty practices that Weber works in. Our next stop was to Finn Partners where we met with Grady Alumna, Hadley Dreibelbis (ABJ’14). In addition to learning more about the agency and her role in the higher education sectors, Hadley shared her career journey to joining Finn Partners and how her participation in the D.C. agency tour was influential in her decision to join the agency. To conclude our day, we visited Porter Novelli and learned about the different clients that the D.C. office specializes in.    

On the last day of the trip, each of us shadowed at a different professional in their office. Some of the group shadowed in traditional agencies like Weber Shandwick, Ketchum and MSL Group while others in the group shadowed in governmental offices like the U.S State Department and with Rep. Buddy Carter.   

“Shadowing at the U.S. Department was one of the most exciting opportunities that I have ever had! I was able to get insight on some of the day-to-day operations from a PR standpoint.  It was an amazing experience being able to clip different video clips, preparing tweets and attending the morning meeting,” said Ivy Smith, a fourth-year public relations major. “By observing a day in the life of a PR Professional, I learned what the job is really like. Not only did the Washington, D.C. tour show me what work life was like in different types of PR agencies, it allowed me to build a network among people who work in the D.C. area. I will forever be grateful for this opportunity.”  

Later that night, we were able to network with Grady alumni in D.C. This experience was special because we could ask questions about their jobs in a personal environment. Betty Jones and Reber spoke on the impact of the trip for the students. Jones organized the 10th Anniversary agency tour this year and we, as students, were appreciative for her planning.  

“It was my privilege to direct the Washington DC Agency Tour for seven years,” reflected Jones. “I am immensely grateful for all the program alumni and other professionals in Washington who hosted our students and shared their time and expertise with them for the past 10 years. I look forward to seeing the tour go forward under the leadership of Victoria Cooper.” 

Date: February 27, 2018
Author:  Anna Alyssa McKoy, Jessica Twine,  anna.mckoy25@uga.edu, jessica.twine25@uga.edu