Friday, March 3, 2017

PRSA Dallas Honors Leah Ekmark Williams with Norm Teich Award

DALLAS, March 1, 2017 — The Dallas chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) recently recognized Leah Ekmark Williams, APR, and vice president of C. Pharr & Company, with the Norm Teich Award for her significant contributions to the local community. Along with her active involvement in PRSA and The Real Estate Council (TREC), Williams currently volunteers as a mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters Lone Star (BBBS) and Woodrow Wilson High School (Woodrow).

PRSA established the Norm Teich Award in 1989, one year after Teich's death, to commemorate his meaningful impact on others and his commitment to the betterment of the city of Dallas. Every year, the award is granted to a PRSA member who matches Teich's drive and dedication to volunteerism and community service.

“Leah joins a special group of Norm Teich recipients who epitomize excellence in both public relations practice and community service,” said 2016 PRSA Dallas President Sandra DuhĂ©, APR, Fellow PRSA. “Her dedication to mentoring and caring for others is evident not only in her work, but also in her life. Leah is a true leader exceedingly worthy of this honor.”

Williams has been active in BBBS since 2005, mentoring young leaders of the future as a Big Sister and serving in various volunteer and leadership roles. In 2009, she was elected to the inaugural junior board and served as chairman in 2013, where she recruited additional mentors and raised more than $50,000 for the organization. In 2013, Williams also joined the organization's e-mentoring program, Mentor 2.0, which matched her with a North Dallas High School freshman , whom she continues to mentor today.

In addition, Williams serves as the communications committee lead for the Academy of Finance Advisory Board at her alma mater, Woodrow. The Academy helps East Dallas students learn fundamentals about the business and start-up world. Williams advises students on her committee on how to create and implement communication plans for the academy, plan large-scale events for peers and parents, and, overall, how communications and marketing can lead to a solid career in business.

As a member of TREC, Williams also led the strategy and development of TREC’s social media outreach. She implemented TREC’s first young real estate professionals’ volunteer day, Together We Give, in December 2009 – the inaugural event was attended by more than 80 young executives from eight nonprofit real estate organizations. Williams served as the public relations/marketing chair for TREC’s young professionals group, Young Guns. She was also the publicity chair for Fight Night, the premier fundraising event within the commercial real estate organization.

Williams has extended her spirit of giving at C. Pharr & Co., where employees volunteer quarterly at different organizations and nonprofits in the community. In the summer of 2014, Williams and her colleagues hosted a four-week career camp for Girls Inc. of Metropolitan Dallas, an organization that helps at-risk young women reach their full potential through education and encouragement. Together, they worked with about 20 students, ages 12 to 15, to help prepare them for their future careers.

Williams joined PRSA Dallas 12 years ago and currently serves as the chapter's assembly delegate. She has also served on the marketing and membership committees and was chapter president in 2014.


Friday, January 13, 2017

Reflections on an Agency Internship in PR

I want to describe my first day at C. Pharr, but after a year and a half, I really only remember smiles, quick introductions and immediately getting to work. My internship began on August 27, 2015, and over the course of four semesters, I am so fortunate to say I have seen many aspects of public relations that helped me learn far more than I would in a classroom. I was able to work hands on with different projects for real clients and further my career along the way.

From the beginning of my internship, my supervisors handed over many writing assignments. I'll be the first to say writing is far from a strong skill of mine, but I've learned being honest with your skill set can only help you improve. I put forth strong effort in many of my writing assignments and got out of my comfort zone to work on my weakness. Although I am still far from perfect, I can confidently say practice has helped me improve significantly and led to success both in school and at my internship.

At the end of my first semester with C. Pharr, I was given an assignment to pitch a story about a local teacher at Trinity Christian Academy (TCA), one of the clients I worked with often. I researched who I wanted to pitch the story to and ended up coming across Jenny Anchondo with Fox 4 news. Even though she didn't pick up the story, she had a connection to the teacher through both of them being involved in the KIPP literacy program. She sent the pitch on to her colleagues, and after our winter break in the office, I came back to the exciting news that Clarice Tinsley wanted to cover the heartwarming story on the "Hometown Heroes” segment. You can see the coverage and read more about my experience here.

In the summer of 2016, I was asked to participate in planning an event for a non-profit client, Primary Care Clinics of North Texas. Event planning is a little bit more complicated than they make it seem in the movies, and the work involved more than what was taught in the classroom. I learned event planning requires a lot of detailed planning and I was able to plan ahead by creating a checklist of everything we would need before, during and after the event. It was a great experience and I’m confident I’ll be able to plan my next event with more ease.

As my last semester is coming to an end, I'm proud of all the work I’ve accomplished thanks to my dedicated supervisors I've had over the past four semesters at C. Pharr. I was able to gain a broad range of experience and gain a greater understanding of the diverse industries our clients are in – everything from education to non-profits, commercial real estate and even corporations. Some people decide to have multiple internships, but I think I was fortunate enough to stumble upon this agency to offer the experience necessary to begin a successful career in public relations.

This post was contributed by Elizabeth LaMonte, C. Pharr Intern.