Things I Wish I Would Have Known

As a current senior graduating in May, I have reflected quite a bit on where I am now, what I have done and where I want to go. Looking back there are things I wish I had realized when I sat down for my first class my freshman year, because what I didn’t realize then was that those next few years would fly by. Therefore, I made a list of the top four things I thought every Communications/PR student should start thinking about day one:

Tip #1: Begin by defining what you want to do. I defined what I wanted to do late in my junior year and by the time my “expected graduation” rolled around, I had fallen short of a couple classes that I needed for graduation. If I had defined what I wanted to do earlier on, I could have been more involved and actively taken advantage of the opportunities available. At the same time, if you are not sure, then begin by joining as many clubs as you can in topics that interest you. You may even be able to include PR in those clubs/organizations (further information in Tip #3.) When you begin to define your career path and goals, you can tailor those activities to suit your needs. But do not do nothing, I can guarantee it will pay off to have participated in these activities in the long run. Experience is everything.


Tip #2: Do Not Be Afraid. College goes by so fast and there are so many missed opportunities that can happen if you are too afraid to put yourself out there and try something new. This is the time to mess up and make mistakes and figure out who you want to be for the rest of your life. It might take a couple of tries but do not be afraid. Apply for that internship you always wanted and work your best to get it, if you don’t it means it wasn’t the time for you and you can always try again. Don’t be afraid to fail because if you never give up, you are not failing.


Make it work for you: Sometimes many students choose or need to work while in school. And while you may be thinking, “I don’t have time to do this or that,” sometimes the places you think don’t need PR, might need it the most- or don’t have it at all. For example, I was a server at a restaurant for my first 3 years in college. It was only after I got out of the restaurant industry and into my major that I realized I could have been doing PR the entire time. I could have worked on their website, I could have developed a Facebook or Instagram page for internal communication, and I could have had a bigger voice and used what I was learning in classes and applied it to the real world. So you do not always have to choose one thing over the other, make it work for you and your long term career goals. It will give you something great to put on your resume and you will still get the bills paid in the process.

Make Lasting Connections Last but not least, make lasting connections. In PR, one of our duties is to build and maintain relationships with clients, consumers, businesses, etc. But before you get in the real world, make those connections with those around you who have the same goals and who are aspiring for the same thing.


I took a study abroad trip to London for an International Seminar in Public Relations and I can say, as good as the class was, the benefit was meeting an amazing group of girls that were just as driven to succeed in the field as I was. They are girls I can call and ask for help on an assignment, run an idea by and girls that I know I can count on when I get into the “real world.”


These are just a few of the many tips I wish I had known when I first came to college. Remember, it is never too late to take that risk, always begin by thinking ahead, make those connections and do not be afraid.

149188_1390391014418_2509937_nNatalia Schiappacasse, Spring 2015 Account Manager

Natalia Schiappacasse is an account manager for NinerNation Relations. She is currently a senior majoring in Public Relations and International Studies. While in her couple of years in college she has been an active member of the PRSSA, has particpated in the Disney College Program and spent a study abroad month in London studying international public relations. She is currently the PR Director for the PRSSA and also has an local internship with a small remote team based out of Miami, FL. Her skills include speaking English, Spanish and Portuguese fluently, organization and her eagerness to continuously learn.


NNR is Back in Full Swing

UNC Charlotte’s NinerNation Relations is proud to say we are well underway into our second semester of our student-run PR firm. This project began in May of 2014 and was spearheaded by Dr. Alan Freitag, APR, PRSA Fellow and also by UNCC Alumn Katherine Faulk.
We begin this new semester with a new CEO, Kathleen Duckworth and a new faculty advisor, Stephen Ward. Included in the team are nine additional team members: Seniors, Sarah Cain and Natalia Schiappacasse are Account Managers. Each Account Manager works directly with Account Coordinators Chloe Watson, Natalie McNeil, Jade Hudson, Wyatt Goodwin, Cady Ray, Dominique Yost and Samantha Kirby. The firm is split into two teams for the current projects we are working on which are for the University Research Conference and University City Partners.The team is excited to continue the fantastic work of the previous team and is hopeful in setting new goals for the future of the firm.
You can reach the team at and someone will get back to you within 24 hours. If you have any questions about the services offered by the NinerNation Relations or would like to request a proposal, please send us an email or contact us through the “Contact NNR” page on this blog.
We cannot wait to begin working with you!
– Kathleen Duckworth, CEO

Kathleen Duckworth, Spring 2015 CEO Kathleen Duckworth is the current CEO of NinerNation Relations and a previous account coordinator for the firm last year. This semester she has an internship with the Charlotte Museum of History as the Marketing and PR intern. Previous public relations experience includes public relations chair for her sorority and social media representative for Rent The Runway. Her skills include event planning, social media management and community outreach.

Kathleen Duckworth, Spring 2015 CEO

Kathleen Duckworth is the current CEO of NinerNation Relations and a previous account coordinator for the firm last year. This semester she has an internship with the Charlotte Museum of History as the Marketing and PR intern. Previous public relations experience includes public relations chair for her sorority and social media representative for Rent The Runway. Her skills include event planning, social media management and community outreach. 

Building and Sustaining Client Agency Partnerships

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Client partnerships are essential when building and sustaining your public relations career. The first agency-client meeting creates a perfect opportunity for both parties to establish a culture between the two. Once you establish a good fit then the relationship begins. Make it your business to know your clients, their values and beliefs, and it’s competition. You also need to study past documents to understand the voice of the organization and how they like their material written, or if that needs to be changed.

Adopting your clients’ communication channels instead of forcing them to use yours helps build understanding and reinforce that you are an extension of them.

It’s very important that your client can reach you any time of day or night. Having face-to-face meetings regularly to go over activities, themes, messages, or just to check-in can save time in the future. Important messages or points can often get lost over email. Multiple contact numbers or email is essential in gaining trust in this relationship. Your relationships should be thought as partnerships, so the scope of works should be general giving you the flexibility to serve without worrying about if it id out of your range.

Public relations professionals should think of themselves as connectors and should apply that skill to their clients. Clients will truly appreciate when you give them access to your network.

Keep and open mind and go with the flow. Client-agency partnership can only be successful of both partners work together to achieve a common goal.

Written by Chelsea Waddell, Account Coordinator.
Upon graduation in December, Chelsea hopes to find employment at a public relations agency or in entertainment PR. If you want to see more of Chelsea you can follow her Twitter page, @_allaboutchels and connect with her on LinkedIn.


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Confessions of a PR Student

As a senior I have been looking back on when I started the pr track at UNC Charlotte. There were some things I wish I understood before I got into my major courses. Going through the communication department’s orientation of the different tracks left me unknowingly in the dark of what it means to work in pr. These are my top ten pieces of advice for all upcoming pr students:

    1. Public relations is not an easy major. There is a misconception that pr is all about following celebrities and going to fancy parties. It takes a lot of hard work and resilience to work directly in pr, and that includes networking, experience, and innovation. For this major, you need to concentrate on enhancing your written and oral communication skills. Without perfecting both, you will not be successful. Being successful in this major is determined by the amount of time you put into your courses and gaining experience as an undergraduate student.
    2. Take your classes seriously. It’s always hard to think about what will be useful in your future endeavors, but its better to take your classes seriously while you can. This includes reading your assigned textbooks; hopefully if you’re in the right field, reading the books will not be difficult. The effort that you put into your classes will affect your readiness for the real world.
    3.  Make your classmates your friends. Your classmates are the future professionals of pr, just like you, and it would be wise for you to get to know them. Plus it’s easier to conquer your classes when you have friends you can ask for help. With this, I have learned it’s better to get to know the classmates that are taking their classes seriously. These are the ones that will get jobs after college, and they can help you grow in your academics and professional life. Additionally, these should be classmates that share the same career goals as you.Nathalie and Friends
    4.  Get organized now. The key to being successful in pr is to adopt organizational skills. If you can’t stay organized, than pr is not for you. Juggling several projects at a time is common in public relations. Its best to start practicing good organization now before you enter the real world.
    5. It’s never too late to start networking. Whether it’s through Linkedin or PRSA luncheons, it is never too late to start those networking circles everyone keeps talking about. Just remember to be confident and humble. Its best to see every opportunity as a chance to network. Networking is easy, all you have to do is get to know a person while letting them get to know you beyond your perfected resume.
    6. Be proactive. If you don’t know something, learn it. Take the extra step and look for extra resources that can enhance your productivity. Being proactive can carry you into future job opportunities because it will show your desire to succeed. (I recently started a blog!)nathalie's blog
    7. Go for the internship. We have all heard it before- experience is everything. Apply for internships early and try to land more than one before you graduate. But if you only have one to put on your resume- make the most of it. Work you butt off and try to get your hands on as many projects as you can. The more you help, the more experience you will gain. Ultimately that is the goal of participating in an internship.
    8. The internship director should be your best friend. Internship Director for the Department of Communications Staci Kuntzman is definitely someone you will want to know. She is effervescent and compassionate. She will help you find the best options for you in terms of internships and your career goals. The internship director knows the most effective internship programs. The more you share with her on the type of experience you want and your career goals, the easier it is of her to help guide you into the right internship.
    9. Meet your teachers for office hours. College professors are hired for a reason. They are experts of their field and its beneficial for you to get to know them. Meeting them outside of the classroom allows you to further investigate your field. I have learned that if you are willing to seek professors for extra help, they are more willing to help you with scheduling, perfecting your resume, or help you understand the course material better.
    10.  Get involved. It’s a lot easier than it sounds. Find an organization or two that you share the same goals and values as you. Whether it’s PRSSA, Greek life, or an Honor Society, the experiences you gain from these organizations can prove to be invaluable. My personal development has grown a lot by being involved in several organizations on campus.

      Agency tour with PRSSA
      Agency tour with PRSSA

These pieces of advice are not the only things that help you become successful in pr. But they definitely will make it easier for you to conquer your career goals. As I am about to graduate, I hope these words can help someone learn how to be a stellar pr student.

Summary by: Nathalie Lopez, Account Coordinator
Nathalie is graduating in December and is ready to see the world while developing a public relations career in Charlotte, NC.  Connect with her on LinkedIn and follow her on Twitter (@natlopez23) or follow her blog.