Mia Chai (pictured top row, second from right) with her Dress for Success team at PRoBono. Mia is a sophomore at Boston University studying public relations with minors in business administration and political science.
Recently, I had the opportunity to partake in PRoBono, a hack-a-thon style communication charity event hosted by Boston University’s PRLab, a student-staffed public relations agency, at the College of Communication. Students volunteered to stay overnight to work on creating, developing and designing deliverables for non-profit organizations. The annual event was held on November 4-5, 2022 from 6pm to 10am and featured five different local Boston charities.
Students were assigned to teams of approximately eleven students and then given a client to work with. The groups were also overseen by two to three students from PRLab and the PRoBono leadership team, who serve as the account executives. My team’s client was the Dress For Success Boston Nonprofit. Dress for Success is a worldwide organization whose purpose is to help give women the tools they need to become financially independent, and break the cycle of poverty. They primarily provide professional attire and interview preparation to those in need.
At the beginning of the night after opening ceremonies, we were able to meet with our client to discuss what they were looking to achieve and get out of this experience. Dress for Success, in particular, wanted to primarily focus on their social media strategy and media relations coverage to increase their nonprofit awareness in order to reach women who may need their services. The client was also interested in developing a newsletter for their investors in order to thank and maintain a positive relationship with their donors. Each organization and PRoBono experience is unique depending on your client and their needs. The other non-profit organizations featured at the event were Boston Cares, Food for Free Boston, Minds Matter Boston, and the Science Club for Girls.
While we worked, the 16-hour day and night were packed to the brim with guest speakers, prizes (e.g. gift card to BU bookstore), and activities (e.g. games such as mafia) at every hour to keep us alert and awake. The event also provided participants with plenty of delicious food such as banh mi sandwiches, pizza and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream for dinner and then Canes’ chicken tenders and fries as a midnight snack.
In between the events and at the start of every hour, our team was further divided into subcommittees to work on the different deliverables for the client. Then the next morning at 8am, we met with “coaches” or working professionals in the communications industry who gave us constructive feedback on our presentations before we presented to the client at 9am.
Overall, PRoBono was an incredibly rewarding but exhausting experience. Seeing the reaction of our genuinely grateful and appreciative client during the presentation made the entire experience worthwhile. Knowing that my team, in such a short amount of time, was able to make a difference for this organization that does so much for others, is what PRoBono is truly all about. Altogether, PRoBono provided 919 hours of work and approximately $113, 695 in value of public relation services to these nonprofit organizations. I am incredibly thankful for my PRoBono experience and I cannot wait to do it again next year.
Written by Mia Chai