Your Guide to PRLab’s 10th Annual PRoBono.

By Mei Coble

As winter approaches, PRLab is preparing for the bustle of their annual overnight PR hackathon-style event, PRoBono, happening this Friday, November 5 at 5:45 PM to the following Saturday at 10 AM at Boston University’s College of Communication (640 Commonwealth Ave). This year, PRoBono is back in person and you won’t want to miss this opportunity to collaborate with your peers, improve your resume, and volunteer to do good for nonprofits in the local Boston area. 

What is PRoBono? 

PRoBono is PRLab’s annual overnight PR hackathon-style event, where students of all colleges and majors can volunteer to create valuable public relations work for deserving local nonprofits. 

  • History 

PRoBono was founded 9 years ago, by a former PRLab President of Operations, Julia Lytle, who saw a unique opportunity to engage her peers, and enhance her public relations skills, all while doing good for the local community. In the Fall of 2013, PRLab held its first PRoBono night with only 30 student participants and 5 clients. 

Since then, PRoBono has been held annually every Fall, hosting 5-6 clients and seeing anywhere from 30-130 student volunteers come together. This year, PRLab will be hosting its 10th iteration of PRoBono, organized by the PRLab Executive Board and led by  Director of Events, Julia Monz. 

  • Purpose 

PRoBono was founded with the intent to give back. Traditionally held towards the end of the year, PRLab offers the opportunity for students to volunteer their services to deserving nonprofits and gain valuable skills and experiences for a career in the communications field. It’s truly a win-win. 

  • Awards 

Over the years, PRoBono has been recognized by PRWeek, the PR Club, and more, for the amazing efforts and contributions that students have made over the years. 

What can I expect from participating in PRoBono? 

  • Structure & Teams

Students will be broken down into a total of 5 teams, one per client, which will likely consist of 20-30 people. We try our best to pair you with your friends to make sure it’s a comfortable and fun experience. 

  • Schedule

Beginning. Check in at 5:45 PM on Friday evening, followed by a welcome address and dinner. Then, we’ll kick off the night with our keynote speaker before breaking into teams. There, you’ll split off into different rooms and meet your clients. You’ll spend some time learning about your clients needs, materials, and guidelines before they leave for the night. 

Middle. In your teams, you’ll do some client work and we’ll have some games/activities organized to break up the night. The games will be optional and will run throughout the whole night. You can also take a break for a mid-night snack, coffee or water run. We’ll make sure to keep you motivated, energized, and happy all night long. 

End. At around 7 AM, we’ll have breakfast. Clients will come back around 9 AM where you’ll regroup into your teams, pass off your materials, and present the work to your client. That wraps it up and we hope you’ll take the rest of Saturday to sleep. 

  • Benefits 

If you’re looking to gain more experience, PRoBono is a great opportunity to get a crash course in public relations. It’s also a huge networking event where students will have the chance to collaborate and network all throughout the night. PRoBono is also a great way to improve your hard/soft skills for your resume and to create tangible deliverables that you can include in your portfolio. Not to mention, you’ll be able to brag about all the work you accomplished in an interview.

How do I prepare for PRoBono? 

  • Prepare your mind.
    • Pre-sleep. Planning to stay up all night can be a lot to anticipate so we recommend getting a good night’s sleep the days prior.  
  •  Prepare a bag.
    • Mask and Green Badge. Make sure to have a green badge for the evening and a few extra masks. All clients and students will be required to follow all BU and state mandated COVID-19 protocols. 
    • Business casual. Dress it up for the client. Come in your best business casual attire. You’ll need these clothes for the beginning and end of PRoBono.
    • Something comfy. Bring a comfy change of clothes or a blanket and plan on getting comfortable for the rest of the night. 
    • Toiletries. Bring a small bag of toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, facewash, new masks, etc.) in case you want to freshen up. 
    • Laptop, phone and chargers. Most of the work will require you to have your laptop and a charger so don’t forget to bring those.
  • Prepare for an unforgettable experience. 
    • Hungry. Come hungry to work. We’ll be providing you with all the sustenance you’ll need to power through 16 hours. From dinner to breakfast, to all the snacks and coffee breaks in between. Rest assured, we will not run out of coffee. 
      • Get excited. We’re so excited to finally be back in person so start looking forward to some dance party, karaoke, scavenger hunts and other fun activities that we have planned. 

    How do I stay updated on PRoBono? 

    Make sure you check the email that you signed up with leading up to the event and follow our Instagram  @prlab_bu to stay up to date on the latest PRoBono news. 

    Where can you sign up? 

    You can sign up here

    Special thanks to PRLab Advisors, Professor Amy Shanler, Professor Justin Joseph, and Director of Events, Julia Monz, for helping me put this together.