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Leading Pro-Am Day with PRSA Dallas

By Nelli Tokleh, Account Coordinator

Since the beginning of this year, I had the privilege to join the 2012 Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) of Dallas leadership board. I serve as one of the two co-chairs on the University Relations committee. PRSA is a wonderful national organization to be involved in, especially as an entry-level employee, because of its diverse networks, educational meetings and leadership opportunities.

My committee hosted the first big event of the year, Professional-Amateur Day, which is known as Pro-Am Day. This annual event connects undergrads and recent grads with seasoned public relations practitioners in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Students are paired up with a professional- who we call the ‘mentor’. The students had a firsthand view of the public relations industry in their desired sector- corporate, agency or non-profit.

Planning this event with the University Relations committee started as soon as the first leadership board meeting was hosted in January. Chase York (chair) Sana Merchant (co-chair) and I made up the team. As the girls and I recruited students to sign up, we also contacted local professionals to volunteer as mentors. With our combined efforts, we recruited 40 students and 25 mentors. Some mentors hosted multiple students in their offices. Our other duties on the committee were selecting professionals for the luncheon panel, drafting tweets, creating post-event surveys and attendance and sponsorship outreach. After the students shadowed their mentors that morning, everyone headed to the Park City’s Club in Dallas for the monthly PRSA Dallas luncheon. Attendance for lunch hit 103 people overall! Brooks and Associates’ account executive Stephanie Santos McLeese was among the audience.

(from left to right) Denise Stokes, Carmen Branch, Scott Allison and Wendell Watson

Working on this project taught me valuable lessons that I can apply to any job, especially while working in the PR industry. Communication is crucial. My team and I set up weekly committee calls to review our plans of action and set deadlines for ourselves. We couldn’t have moved forward so quickly without meeting via phone or sending emails multiple times each day. Also, we’ve all heard of the phrase, “There’s no “I” in team.”That statement is absolutely true. Without my team present and having the additional PRSA Dallas board members available right away to help, the event wouldn’t have been successful. Each board member provided a unique service to Pro-Am Day.

Working with the board overall gave me the chance to meet PR folks in Dallas, and it helped establish new friendships. If you would like to get involved with PRSA Dallas or learn more about the benefits, shoot me an email at