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Fort Lee Students Learn PR Skills, Promote School Events

A Fort Lee PR professional recently visited her son’s fourth grade class at School No. 1, teaching the students about her profession, reinforcing their teacher’s emphasis on writing skills and helping them produce press releases.

A group of fourth-graders at Fort Lee School No. 1 had the opportunity Friday to learn a little about the public relations trade and how PR professionals communicate with journalists.

Fort Lee resident Anya Grottel-Brown, Executive Vice President and Managing Director of the New York City-based Momentum Communications Group and the parent of a fourth-grader at the school, said she visited her son’s class at the invitation of his teacher, Luddy Serulle-Green.

Impressed by Green’s emphasis on what she called “the importance of connecting what her students learn in class with real world opportunities and careers,” Grottel-Brown taught the kids about media and storytelling and had them write their own press releases about news of importance to them.

“It was a lot of fun,” Grottel-Brown said of the experience of working with the children, who broke into groups and wrote press releases about things like Hurricane Sandy, a day in the life of a fourth-grader, the school’s holiday boutique, which took place last week, and their upcoming holiday concert on Dec. 20.

Grottel-Brown said she’s also been impressed with how Green has emphasized writing skills, and that seeing her son go through several drafts of a story before arriving at a revised and honed final draft inspired her to take the idea of speaking with the children about PR to their teacher.

She said she saw parallels between that process and what she does as a PR professional, and that she had two goals for what she wanted to convey to the students.

“I wanted to, number one, emphasize the importance of these skills, and number two, to just show them that if they stick with writing, it has a place as a future career,” Grottel-Brown said, admitting that the fourth-graders are a little young to be planning careers just yet. “They all love to write, which made me feel really good. I’m not sure how much they understood about what PR is, but they’re certainly aware of news. And they really enjoyed the exercise.”

Although Grottel-Brown is an experienced PR professional, Momentum Communications Group is relatively new, having launched in October with a specific focus on nonprofit, foundation and education-focused clients. Among the firm’s major clients, for example, is the nonprofit Siemens Foundation, which Momentum Communications has worked with on the Siemens Foundation Competition in Math, Science & Technology.

“It was particularly enriching for me to go into a classroom because I do work with teachers, and I really do believe in supporting teachers,” Grottel-Brown said, noting that it was her first time working with students in a classroom.

“Just opening their horizons a little bit and telling them that this is yet another thing that you can do in writing I think was really valuable,” she said. “I spoke to Ms. Green about it, and she was very supportive. I think a lot of the credit is due to her, and she wants to do more with visiting experts.”

Editor’s note: Two of the School No. 1 student-produced press releases are attached.

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