A Look Back: 5+ Years at CGPR

We all know that saying, “Time flies when you’re having fun!” In public relations, though, time doesn’t just fly. It zips by in the blink of an eye.

I remember my first day as an intern at Common Ground PR – April 25, 2012, to be exact. Walking through the door that morning, I was nervous but excited to jump into the professional world of public relations. I remember meeting members of the team, settling into my desk space and participating in my first all-team brainstorming session. Little did I know what the future had in store for me.

Fast-forward to Jan. 1, 2013, when I became a full-time CGPR employee. It’s hard to believe it’s been five years! And while no day has been the same, each has taught me something new that I carry with me to the next day and beyond. Here are a few great memories and lessons learned:

One of the first big projects I assisted with was the groundbreaking (and later, the grand opening) of Taubman Prestige Outlets in Chesterfield. Between handling invite lists, making runs-of-show, helping coordinate media segments and even researching top-of-the-line confetti cannons, I learned a lot about the importance of teamwork in successfully executing major events. (They don’t say “there’s no ‘I’ in team” for nothin’!) I also realized just how special my CGPR team was and how lucky I was to learn from the best. (A sentiment that remains today!)

I am honored to have been part of the celebration of the Gateway Arch’s 50th anniversary. What started as a recognition of a historic monument quickly escalated to a golden birthday party for the ages. From working with the National Park Service (NPS) and Bi-State Development to plan a community-wide b-day celebration (complete with live music, a Boy Scout-led flag raising ceremony, remarks from NPS and City of St. Louis leadership, and free anniversary-themed cupcakes), to working with NASA and NPS to record a happy birthday message from an astronaut stationed in space, there were so many moving parts to ensure the Arch’s 50th was a happy one.

Wanting to give media a unique opportunity to experience the Arch like never before, we allowed them “pop out” of the top of the Arch via a small hatch. Seeing their faces afterwards was quite rewarding – and watching Natalie Morales of the “Today Show” having the time of her life from 630 feet in the air was just the cherry on top of an incredible media relations campaign. It was then where I saw firsthand the correlation between thinking outside the box and achieving incredible results.

What do you get when you mix bourbon, food drives, motorcycles and a road trip across four states? A weeklong adventure that will never be forgotten. Rebel Yell Bourbon hosted a custom motorcycle giveaway, and as part of the campaign, the makers of the motorcycles drove their bikes from St. Louis to the Sturgis Buffalo Chip motorcycle rally in South Dakota. As media leads for the program, Maggie and I coordinated TV segments in St. Louis, Kansas City, Omaha and Sioux Falls, S.D., and followed the caravan’s route to the rally, making pit stops along the way for the TV opportunities and food drive events where folks could check out the bikes up-close.

What we didn’t expect was the unexpected. We saw a tornado form out of the sky during the Omaha food drive (subsequently leading us to take cover in a supermarket’s walk-in fridge and later get caught in a torrential downpour), and experienced multiple driving mishaps (including a rogue shopping cart incident due to aforementioned tornado).

While the unexpected made the trip very memorable, I learned an important lesson that definitely translates to all aspects of PR (and life): Something is bound to go wrong with whatever it is you are planning. Just take a deep breath, rethink your approach and roll with it.

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