Rise and Chime: It’s never too early

When clocking hours after my first full week as an agency intern, I realized after some quick math that I will spend more than 90,000 hours of my adult life working. Pair that knowledge with the fact that most workplace award mechanisms are still tenure-based — 82 percent according to a recent Forbes article — and it would seem I’ve got miles of timesheets ahead before I’ll experience the kinds of recognition I’ve enjoyed reaching for in school.

Meaningful, inspiring employee engagement is something many of my fellow Millennials and the Gen Zers right behind us seek. We want all those hours to count for more than just a paycheck. So what’s a young PR pro to do to bridge the recognition gap that emerges when we leave campus life behind?

I propose we don’t sit around and wait. Why not begin working towards the goal of winning an award now? The PR Club’s upcoming 51st Annual Bell Ringer Awards presents the perfect opportunity for New England-area communicators to do so.

Being nominated for and competing with other PR professionals for the Bell Ringer would give me a rare opportunity to measure and analyze my work against ongoing industry practices and my contemporaries. The desire for that of course goes all the way back to the classroom.

It was in school that I first learned how to be strategic in setting and reaching communication goals. Every account team has a PR plan, but do we young professionals have one for ourselves?

We are our own brands and I don’t lose sight of that when I’m building my networks and credibility across various channels. That includes everything from creating value-add LinkedIn conversations, attending networking events to seeking mentorship and contributing my best to all projects that cross my desk.

What brand wouldn’t want a prominent award like the Bell Ringer as a feather in its cap? One of my favorite truths is that you get what you ask for. Don’t self-select yourself out of opportunity simply because you’re only a few thousand hours into your career.

And I also call on established PR pros to work jointly with young professionals towards such aspirations. Senior leadership can be extremely resourceful here in acknowledging their juniors’ achievements by promoting and nominating us or partnering with us to chart the path ahead. A win for the individual is a win for the company.


  • Connect with former Bell Ringers to learn what they did to win.
  • Ask your leadership team for guidance and highlighting interests.
  • Design a timely roadmap and look for opportunities that can contribute to it.
  • Collaborate with managers to track progress and improvements.
  • Maintain a kudos file and remember to mention them when it matters.

They are ringing the bell for the 51st time, will you for the first?

–  By Riti Shah, a recent master’s graduate of the Boston University College of Communication’s public relations program. She has worked in PR for Weber Shandwick, BU PRLab, and Colette Phillips Communications. She’s passionate about learning contemporary PR practices like thought leadership and influencer relations as well as acing the core practices in media relations, crisis communications, investor relations, and social media strategy.  Connect with her on LinkedIn to follow her one of a kind global PR journey as she pursues her next venture post grad-school.