Three years ago, as a more timid young public relations star just starting to spread my wings, I received an opportunity that changed my professional life. I almost missed out on this opportunity because of the fear I felt having very little experience in public relations at that time in my life. More of a fluke than anything, I was given the chance to lead the 2006 Bateman Case Study Competition at my alma mater, Michigan State University. I was scared, excited, overwhelmed and intrigued all at the same time. I wondered why the Executive Board of our Chapter had so much faith in me and if I could really handle this job.
Mistakes were made, but more importantly, lessons were learned. The mistakes I made during that campaign helped me learn more about the field of public relations and, while at the time I thought my short-lived career in public relations was over, it was really just beginning.
Two years later, I had the great privilege of joining the 2007 GM Communications Interns, specifically with Chevrolet communications. In my role as a Chevrolet intern, I saw firsthand how product communications affects the overall picture of corporate communications and was treated as a team member, not a glorified coffee or errand girl. I also had the opportunity to write the 2008 Bateman Case Study Competition on behalf of Safe Kids Worldwide and Chevrolet. Chevrolet has been the corporate sponsor for Safe Kids Worldwide since 2004 after General Motors Corp. had been the primary sponsor since 1996.
Upon receiving this task, I felt like my involvement with the Bateman Case Study Competition finally came full circle. I had a chance to redeem some of the mistakes I made years before and help distinguish the guidelines of the case study to help other students avoid the same mistakes. I think it was great to have a student perspective to voice the outline of the case study. I knew what information would be crucial to those participating and the language to depict it.
Overall, my continued work with the Bateman Case Study Competition helped me grow into the young professional that I am today. At first, it helped me make some of those crucial mistakes that are necessary in order to learn and evolve. Later, this program helped me solidify my skills and help others have the chance to learn through firsthand experience how campaigns work. Now, I am part of the General Motors Corporation communications department and am proud of the continued involvement that we have with the 2008 Bateman Case Study Competition. We were able to help the winners of this competition attend this year’s 2008 PRSSA National Conference: Driven to Distinction and the PRSA 2008 International Conference, to help encourage others to participate in this great program.
Jennifer Ecclestone works in the Communications department at General Motors Corporation and is a member of the PRSA Detroit Chapter.
Join Ecclestone at the PRSA 2008 International Conference: The Point of Connection on Saturday, Oct. 25-Tuesday, Oct. 28 in Detroit, MI!
Great post! I, too, helped lead my school’s Bateman team when the topic was Family Caregiving. My experience in working on this campaign was so invaluable, and I feel that it better prepared me to enter into real world PR than even many of my classes.