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August 18, 2019

An Intern’s Take on Myers Public Relations

We hate goodbyes at MPR, but when they do happen, we write about it!

Guest Blog by Melanie Ford, Myers PR Intern 2012-14

It’s hard to believe that my third summer at Myers has already come and gone. When I first applied for the position fresh out of high school, I truly had no idea what to expect. I remember going home after my interview and thinking, “I really connected [with Billie and Kate], but I doubt I actually got the job.” Imagine my shock when I got an offer a few days later!

My seasonal work after that phone call has truly launched my career and proved to me that office work doesn’t have to be the stereotypical “daily grind” – unless that grind is coffee-related! The staff at Myers has invested in, encouraged and mentored me immensely with a friendly professionalism that pervades their positive work culture.

1664During my first summer at MPR before college, I expressed that I was most interested in graphic design work…and give me graphic design work, they did! Here is one of my first projects at Myers which involved creating advertisement material for a client’s fall festival.


Although I was an intern, I was treated as an equal and encouraged to ask questions, request projects, and participate in staff meetings and professional development events, such as the
Reston Chamber of Commerce’s ACE Awards Luncheon.

IMG_7710By the time I came back for my second summer at MPR, I had decided to declare public relations as my major at school. The project managers at MPR sought to give me an overview of client properties and projects. I independently travelled to, oversaw, and photographed on-site events.

I also helped with social media analytics and event planning research. My best memory from this summer was hands-down calling reindeer farmers across the nation regarding reindeer rentals for holiday events! Unfortunately, reindeer are restricted from many states for health reasons, but this was still a fun, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

reindeer

During my third summer I did extensive research reports to aid in marketing proposals, media relations, and client relations. Most of my work was independent; I was given projects and trusted to take initiative to complete them.

I remember my first day at MPR and Kate asked me to research each of our clients to familiarize myself with the type of work that we do—note: this was also the same day that one of the offices in our building gave free Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to everyone in the building (best first day ever!).

(Taken by Melanie Ford)

(Taken by Melanie Ford)

The type of work that MPR does became abundantly clear as I overheard phone calls (we work in an open floor plan for optimal collaboration), sat in on conference room meetings, and engaged in office culture; the team goes above and beyond to ensure clients’ satisfaction and success.

 

There’s no way to say it other than this: interning at Myers PR is FUN! To recognize special occasions or completion of extensive projects, the office celebrates with lunches, toasts in the conference room, ringing an “accomplishment bell,” or on occasion, a visit to the Reston Town Center Bow Tie Cinema.

IMG_1137Don’t get me wrong, there were definitely some weeks where I had painstaking research projects for which I popped my headphones in and cranked out 40+ hours of work on that project alone. When the work was done though, I was thanked and encouraged profusely, which made it all worth it.

 

The work culture here is one of respect that is unparalleled by anywhere else that I have worked. The unique work ethic of our team is modeled by our founder and fearless leader, Marion Myers. According to this Game of Thrones character quiz which I posted on my Facebook profile a while ago (and the whole office ended up taking), her character is, very appropriately, Daenerys Targaryen the Mother of Dragons – nurturing, but tough as nails.

I sure am going to miss everyone, but we will see each other again!

Fairfax County Home to 100 Festivals

Guest Blog by Henrik Sundqvist, Director of Communications & Programs in the Arts Council of Fairfax County

 

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Patrons visiting the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival, which is produced by the Greater Reston Arts Center (GRACE). Image Credit: Greater Reston Arts Center

Not only do festivals contribute to the quality of life for Fairfax County residents, but they act as a major draw for visitors from both the region and nation. “Tourism in Fairfax County is a $2.9 billion industry,” says Barry Biggar, President and CEO of Visit Fairfax. “Our visitors have numerous opportunities to attend many arts and cultural events, including festivals, and they significantly contribute to Fairfax County’s overall tourism experience,” according to Mr. Biggar. When communities attract cultural tourists, local businesses reap the rewards. A study done by Americans for the Arts found that nearly half of arts and cultural event attendees live outside of the destination, and their event-related spending is more than twice than that of local residents.

“People come to festivals for one thing, maybe the arts and crafts, are then introduced to forms of art they never would have experienced otherwise, and often are inspired to seek out new arts experiences in the future,” said Carole Rosenstein, Associate Professor of Arts Management at George Mason University, who worked on the 2010 National Endowment for the Arts study – Live from Your Neighborhood: A National Study of Outdoor Arts Festivals.

Updated Logo for Website 3.31.14Fairfax County’s diverse offering of festivals showcases everything from the arts, to culinary, to seasonal festivities, to film, and theatre works, nearly every month of the year on an annual basis. Holly Koons McCullough, Executive Director and Curator at the Greater Reston Arts Center helps run the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival which will be held May 16-18. The fine arts festival showcases more than 200 juried artists nationwide and draws 30,000 patrons to Reston. “The festival provides a personal experience; visitors have the opportunity to view, purchase, and interact directly with the featured artists,” says McCullough.

Other community-wide festivals bring locals and visitors together to celebrate our ethnic diversity. The annual DMV Punjabi Mela 2014 Festival, which will be held May 25 at Bull Run Regional Park, draws over 10,000 attendees and celebrates Indian & Pakistani heritage and culture.

“Festivals offer diverse and creative venues for experiencing the arts and create opportunities for meaningful exchange of ideas,” says Linda Sullivan, President & CEO of the Arts Council of Fairfax County.

For more information on the arts and cultural festival listings for the entire 2014 calendar year, visit the Arts Council’s website at www.artsfairfax.org/resources/festivals. Fairfax County’s many events and festivals are published on Visit Fairfax’s website at www.fxva.com.

Why a Diet of Volunteering is Healthy for Your Company

WeHeartProBono_Med_SizeWhen Marion started out in business, 20-some years back, she was working part-time and volunteering for local community groups and (like many young moms) her children’s PTAs. She became recognized for her success in promoting community events and was hired to do the Public Relations for Reston Town Center. Hence – Myers Public Relations was established.

Myers PR employees are encouraged to embrace community service. Myers PR staff members have taken volunteer and leadership roles in: the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce; Reston Association; Friends of Reston; Reston Chorale; Reston Historic Trust; the Greater Reston Arts Center.

A corporate culture that supports volunteering is good business strategy on multiple levels:

  • It helps with the recruitment and retention of quality employees
  • It is a creative way for employees to test drive new skills
  • Volunteering helps foster job-satisfaction and good morale
  • Pro bono projects raise your company’s brand awareness
  • A reputation as a corporation that gives back increases customer loyalty
  • And…. it’s good for your community

Today, Marion averages 500 hours of service annually. She has served on the Boards of: Initiative for Public Arts – Reston; The Medical Care for Children Partnership; the Reston Historic Trust; and is a Past Chairman of the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce. She is a current Board Director for the Fairfax County Council for the Arts and Leadership Fairfax, Inc. Combined, the MPR team donates close to 800 hours a year. Now, that’s a very healthy diet of volunteering. Bon Appetit!

Behind the Scenes of the Holiday Season

‘Tis the season…. The arrival of the Holidays has an energy all its own. And we’re giving you a look behind the scenes to see how visits with Santa, winter festivals, strolling carolers and Christmas tree lightings come about.

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The family, friends and favorite foods may be your responsibility, but planning the festivities, events and holiday “happenings” are usually the responsibility of your friendly neighborhood marketing people. That would be us!

Myers PR planned and produced six marketing events held over the last weekend alone. With the goal to attract visitors to our properties on Black Friday and get our customers in the holiday mood, we offer an “experience.” Research shows that although more and more people will continue to shop online, many shoppers are drawn to centers that offer more than shopping – an opportunity to be a part of the festivities instead of just given holiday promotions.

Reston Town Center Holiday Parade and Tree LightingOn Friday, Black Friday, we started the day in Reston Town Center with the Gingerbread Man Mile – a fun run for kids at 8 AM. The shops and Ice Rink opened early to capture the crowd. The Reston Holiday Parade followed at 11 AM. We drew over 12,000 to 15,000 happy attendees. Our goal was to capture that audience for ice skating, photos with Santa, dining in our restaurants and shopping with a great overall experience. To wrap the evening up we held the traditional Tree Lighting and Sing Along with Santa.

Reston Town Center Holiday Parade and Tree Lighting

Simultaneously, across the Potomac, we entertained children of all ages at Mazza Gallerie in Chevy Chase, offering photos with Santa and his strolling entertainers. The Santa team put in three days of cheer, and will continue every weekend including Christmas Eve. Here’s the schedule!

 

Just across the street at the Shops at Wisconsin Place, our Sprinkled with Cheer event featured more strolling entertainers music and, of course, old Mr. Scrooge himself. It was a chilly day, but the shops were busy and the customers were delighted. Mission accomplished!

MPR_3396On Saturday we crossed the river once again and headed up to Olney for the Fair Hill Shopping Center’s Holiday Festival. Santa arrived on fire truck, with lights a-blazing and Santa a-waving! It was a family friendly event with lots of activities, Choral performers, and of course, photos with Santa. It was a brave crowd who stayed on in the chilly evening for the lighting of the Christmas tree. Everyone was so appreciative and happy to be there. That made all the preparation and work so rewarding!

1457664_204675593049435_1074679647_nEach of these experiences takes months of planning and preparation, reams of paperwork – insurance forms, production schedules, invoices, contracts – and a lot of man hours. Our goal is to make it all seem effortless and fun!

So, here we are six events into the Holidays with another three to go. Sometimes I am asked if it’s hard to be so busy during the Holiday season. I say, if we can create memorable experiences that make people happy to be on our properties – to shop, to dine, to hang out and enjoy themselves – then we have done our job. And to all a Good Night!

 

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