The idea of six degrees of separation means that anyone in the planet can be connected to anyone else in just six steps. While I want to believe this means that I’m somehow connected to the Queen of England, the Raleigh Public Relations Society (RPRS) members come in pretty close. We have all proved that this six degrees of separation is very much true. Most of us have RPRS to thank for our current career paths because of connections made through the society.
Jessica Pope’s RPRS Story
While I was at ECU, I was very involved in their Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) chapter. I was president my senior year where I took the chapter to NC State’s PR Day. One of the presenters that day was Stephanie Llorente who was a RPRS board member. I went up to chat with her after she spoke about an internship she was offering at the time. I ended up not getting the internship, but I got something even better- a lifelong connection.
Flash forward to my first job out of college, I attended the RPRS Sir Walter Awards banquet and there was Stephanie! I went up to chat with her and catch up about what we were both doing. She called me up the next week to tell me about an opening on the RPRS board, I immediately jumped on the opportunity. I found myself looking for a new job about a year into being a board member and was overwhelmed with the support I received from my fellow RPRS members. I gained a connection through Kelly Propst, RPRS president at the time, with her sister-in-law at Harte Hanks onsite at Cisco. I have now been with Cisco for nearly three years and truly believe that this job was made for me.
Hope Torruella’s RPRS Story
While I was at ECU with Jessica Pope, I was also very involved in their Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) chapter. Jessica was president her senior year and I was her supporting secretary (which was my junior year). After developing a strong working relationship and friendship, Jessica convinced me to run for president the following year and I ended up winning.
While fulfilling president of our PRSSA chapter my senior year, I hosted an ECU alumna who happened to be vice president at FleishmanHillard’s New York City office. Long story short, I ended up getting a position in the FleishmanHillard’s New York City position and moved up there shortly after graduation. After living out my middle school dream of living and working in NYC, I decided I wanted to move back to Raleigh to pursue a public relations career. The first person that came to mind, Jessica! After a couple texts back and forth, Jessica invited me to a RPRS monthly lunch meeting shortly after I moved back. Pushing all of my nerves and hesitations aside, I attended, connected with Jessica and then found myself next to Kelly Propst, RPRS president at the time and vice president at Largemouth Communications.
After chatting about my NYC experience and handing over my resume, I received an email from Kelly the following day about wanting to bring me in for an interview that Friday. To put timing into perspective, I went to the lunch on Tuesday, interviewed at Largemouth on Friday, received my offer letter the following Tuesday and started a week later. I have now been at Largemouth for almost two and a half years and couldn’t be happier to be working at my dream job – all thanks to a fantastic college connection and friend!
Lindsay Priester’s RPRS Story
I got my first “real” PR job in the fall of 2010 and shortly after heard about RPRS. The group was having a holiday social and I thought attending would be a good idea. I was pretty fresh out of college and knew no one in the Triangle PR scene, so I dragged a friend along with me. I was also really shy at that time (weird career choice, I know – thankfully, I grew out of it!) so attending the event made me all kinds of nervous. That evening the group announced that they were looking for one more person to complete the group’s board of directors. On a whim, I threw my name in for consideration. Soon I was the new banquet chair for Raleigh Public Relations Society. I may not have known much about PR yet, but I felt like I could plan a party. And the rest is history!
I served as banquet chair for a few more years, moved on to awards chair, served a year as vice president and now get to call myself president (while our incredible board of directors makes me look like I know what I’m doing – I’m in awe of this group every day). I went from not knowing a single person in public relations in Raleigh to calling some of them my best friends. The network I’ve made through RPRS is incredible – they’ve referred new clients to me, given me feedback on ideas and inspired me to look at things from a fresh perspective when I’m in a rut. I can truly say jumping out of my comfort zone and joining RPRS eight years ago has been one of the most essential and valuable tools for advancing my career and helping me to develop both as a PR practitioner and person.
Olivia Easly’s RPRS Story
Originally from the Raleigh area, I attended Appalachian State University and graduated with a degree in communications, public relations. After graduation, I decided to jump at an internship opportunity across the country and leave behind my home in North Carolina. Once I completed my internship, I was ready to move back and be close to friends and family again, but I had sort of shot myself in the foot – I had no connections to the PR world in the Triangle. The reality of adulthood and job searching was setting in, fast. I attempted to connect with a recruiter in the area, but we just couldn’t seem to get ahold of each other over the phone or in person. I was feeling so lost in a place I had always known as home.
Thankfully, a childhood friend reached out and told me about the Raleigh Public Relations Society. Setting my fears aside, I decided to attend a luncheon and see what it was all about. That very first luncheon led to the beginning of my career. The recruiter I had been longing to get in touch with was in attendance and interviewed me on the spot. I had a job a couple months later and am currently thriving as a marketing manager doing exactly what I love every day. I now proudly serve on the board of RPRS, sitting right next to that childhood friend, Hope Pittard.
Lindsay Poe’s RPRS Story
At the time, I was currently in between jobs. I heard about RPRS through a mutual professional contact. I decided to check out an event, in an attempt to make some professional connections that would hopefully lead to a job.
My first event was the Christmas social where I ended up knowing an attendee, a fellow PR college graduate, Olivia Easly. That night I found out about upcoming openings on the RPRS Board and expressed interest right away. I was a part of PRSSA in college and knew the benefits of joining forces with a professional organization like RPRS.
I’ve met some incredible contacts through RPRS and through this web of professionals, I’ve received valuable advice and support as I’ve since begun my own communication agency.
Lisa Jeffries’ RPRS Story
I wasn’t invited to be a member per se by connections to existing members, but once I found my way here the connections have been incredibly valuable. As a small agency owner, I’ve found great “therapy” moments with other senior-level decision makers. They have been gracious in sharing resources they’ve found valuable, quality vendor recommendations, and the occasional “you’re not alone!” – which is always appreciated in our crazy industry.
I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have fellow members reach out to my team to offer sub-agency support in areas that we have strong competencies when they have needed to temporarily “scale up” their own operations and abilities for large client undertakings. Membership in RPRS pays for itself over and over again and I’m proud to call this one of my most valuable professional associations.
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