AdPR students tour Atlanta nonprofit agencies

A trip to the Georgia Aquarium was one of the stops.
A trip to the Georgia Aquarium was one of the stops.

A group of students recently participated in the annual AdPR Nonprofit Tour led by Kristen Smith, senior lecturer at Grady College.

This year, the group attended the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, the Georgia Aquarium and the Atlanta Community Food Bank. While each organization was unique in their organizational mission, the commonality among all three hosts was the emphasis on the need for excellent communication and strong relationships.

The tour began at the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, an organization that partners donors and Atlanta area nonprofits that work to benefit the arts, education, wildlife and many other causes. Members of the marketing and communications team each shared their prior work experience and how they had come to work at the foundation. They also shared information about the organization’s recent rebranding initiatives and gave an overview of the campaign the team had just concluded. Throughout their presentation, one point that was continually stressed was the need for effective networking. Elyse Hammett, VP of marketing and communications, specifically suggested joining PRSA after graduating since the opportunities PRSA provides can lead to career defining work and relationships.

From there, the group headed to the Georgia Aquarium. Renowned for both its stunning exhibits and groundbreaking research, the Georgia Aquarium was nothing short of an impressive visit. Paige Hale, manager of communications,  gave a presentation about the strategic communications at the aquarium. Hale emphasized the importance of engaging with audiences in an authentic and transparent way and explained how her team has used social media to form that connection. The presentation also made it clear that in PR, success boils down to effective timing and compelling information. Georgia Aquarium masters these elements of exceptional communication by conveying dense scientific research into understandable videos and social posts to tell all the stories of their beloved animals.

The tour concluded at the Atlanta Community Food Bank. Chaundra Luckett, public relations manager, shared about her move from the world of television into the realm of nonprofit PR. Having a background as a producer, Luckett emphasized how critical media relations are in the success of nonprofit campaigns. She then conducted a Q&A session where she provided great insight into strategies for fundraising, educating the public, and also practical matters like the feasibility of making a living off of a nonprofit salary (which is totally possible, by the way).

Luckett summed up the sentiments of all our hosts nicely when she said, “Nonprofits are a great place to get a lot of experience real fast.” PR practitioners wear many hats and have influence on many parts of an organization; that is even more true for PR professionals in the nonprofit sector.

In addition to learning about industry insights, the tour provided an excellent networking opportunity, and also gave students a way to find out about internships and career opportunities at each organization. PRSSA members are grateful for the experience, and already looking forward to applying the knowledge gained through the tour both in the classroom and in our future career search.