PRES in Poznań: the place for self-expression

Do speaking in public, leading presentations and creating successful PR campaigns seem like pure magic to you? Or do you feel insecure about promoting your own organisation without spending too much money? Well then, PRES is just for you!

This year the 19th edition of AEGEE’s PR European School took place in Poznań, Poland. Hosted by the local antenna, all participants were taken care of with great compassion and consideration. Participants were hosted throughout the week in a hostel in the city centre, where everything was within a 15 minute walk. A three course meal was offered every day and the participants had the possibility to explore traditional Polish cuisine.

The most significant part of the weekly program was of course the training itself.  For six days in a row the participants had the possibility to be engaged in campaign development and to study in detail the components of success.

The workshops were divided into themes: day one consisted of a general introduction into the topics of PR and branding, lead by the lovely Zsofia Komaromi (AEGEE-Budapest), Mayri Tiido (Projects and Communications director) and Ksenia Lupanova (AEGEE-Moskva). The following day was especially dedicated to analytics – how to analyse the media you use, your competitors and how to manage your organisation’s profile on social media moderated by Bálint Tóth (AEGEE-Budapest) and Zsofia.

But what is all that worth when you’re unable to present your organisation the right way? Paulina Inez Wenta (AEGEE-Toruń), Mayri and Bálint dedicated their time to making presentation pros out of the trainees. The session included improvisation and short presentations, prepared by the participants themselves. By that point, everybody knew where their NGO stood in the social media pecking order and possessed the ability to make themselves noticeable. But what do we actually present? What are our tools to show the world who we are?

The answer was given by Ksenia and Gerardo García Díaz (AEGEE-Oviedo) – video materials, posters and logos: a full two days training in Photoshop, CorelDraw and Adobe Premiere with the possibility to put what was learnt into practice. Branding and marketing were also vital points for this session – well-known brands were analysed and their strategies were modified for NGOs.

The participants were given the chance to express themselves also in a non-formal environment. Every evening case studies took place. The trainees were divided into working groups, developing their own projects throughout the whole week. One of the groups was given the special task of creating a working PR strategy for AEGEE-Poznań as a way of thanking the organisers for the effort they put into making PRES happen. The KEY studies allowed all the participants to put to use the knowledge they had gained – to see in real life situations how they can apply the theory of PR.

Through this a wonderful campaign was born – the so called “Banana Project”. Max Reitmeyer (AEGEE-Dresden), Folckert van der Molen (AEGEE-Utrecht), Anna Bortoletto (AEGEE-Udine) and Aivar Yorick (AEGEE-Tallinn) put their creative minds into a wonderful long term project to present Poznań with the help of bananas. The idea enchanted everyone and the bananas became the mascot of PRES 2014.

The participants also had the task to maintain the social media profile of PRES – another way to be interactive and creative. Many good ideas were born in the process, for example an interview with the president of AEGEE-Poznań Ola Domejko.

Of course, as all of you know AEGEE is never only about work. The social program was at its peak every night. Trips to clubs and bars were organised for the participants, allowing them to blend in with the locals and experience the Poznań nightlife first hand. The cultural aspect was not missing either. An interactive Poznań tour was arranged for the trainees so they explored the old and new part of town.

By the end of the programme, when the time came to go our separate ways once more, one could not see more sad faces in one place. The people that arrived a week ago as strangers were now friends. The insecure participants were now standing straight up with confidence in their eyes. PRES was not only a training course in PR, it was an event that allowed people to feel more secure in their social and cultural interactions, to enrich their point of view and see how colourful the world is. And once you are part of that, you can never go back.

Written by Lilia Georgieva, AEGEE-Berlin