Reflections on Being a Diversity Fellow at MP&F

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MP&F was thrilled to work with Bryan Byrdlong during his time as MP&F’s first diversity fellow. Bryan spent six months at MP&F, and the following blog shares highlights from his experience. Click here to learn more about our diversity fellowship program, or visit www.mpf.com/careers to apply. The deadline for our 2016 fellowship is April 1, 2016.

Fellowship

1: community of interest, activity, feeling or experience

2: the state of being a fellow or associate

To say that my time as MP&F’s first diversity fellow has been invaluable both personally and professionally would be an understatement. It is difficult to summarize a six-month fellowship in a single blog post. Beyond “doing great work, having fun and making money,” I was able to contribute real value to clients and work with some of the best in the PR business.

I worked side by side with MP&F’s interns, and I noticed that many of our experiences were similar. In November, while sitting at an MP&F speaker event featuring Alexander Wolff, I realized that the critical difference between the fellowship and the internship programs was time. More time allowed more opportunities to improve my writing, the ability to work with different clients, the chance to experience different leadership styles and the satisfaction of seeing a few more long-term projects through to completion. In addition to promoting diversity in the PR world, this fellowship allows time to learn about the work and (equally important) serving others.

MP&F is big on service inside and outside the company. I was able to attend Mike Pigott’s memorial services and learn, among other things, a bit about who he was, what made him so exceptional, and what drives MP&F. When my grandmother passed away in August, Pat Ackerman in accounting was able to help me write a eulogy in French (my grandmother’s native language). George Largay became my mentor, and he was able to give me advice on buying my first used car (a Toyota).

Many things have changed at MP&F in the last six months. I’ve seen changes in processes and policies. I’ve watched the office space evolve, and in the process, I’ve grown too. (I’m definitely more adept at writing press releases and making media calls than I was when I first began.) And, I’ve had to learn how to roll with it all. (Sometimes a mailing error can be the most stressful thing on the planet.)

I have keepsakes from working with Mayor Megan Barry’s inauguration and The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s “Light The Night Walk” to remember my time at MP&F. But when it is over, I will also have something else – a true community and a change in perspective. Public relations isn’t just about the press release or the hashtag. It’s reading the paper every morning. It’s ironing your shirt before coming into work. It’s being able to examine things that are difficult to notice, the intangibles. And, if you can do that, then you are in for an amazing experience.

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Bryan Byrdlong, left, with MP&F’s 2015 fall interns, Jenny Van Konynenburg, Sarah Hunt-Blackwell, Elizabeth Ea and Dee Harleston.

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