My Personal PR Path
Written by summer intern, Danielle Faczan.
Freshman year, I thought I wanted to work 9-5 at a newspaper for the rest of my life. But after a six-credit hour course we journalism students like to call "writing boot camp," I realized that particular path wasn't for me and began looking into public relations.
When I say public relations to people, they often don’t know what I mean; and to be honest, for some time I didn't really know either. I thought it simply involved writing press releases and getting clients out of a pinch – you know, relations with the public. Make the client look good when they mess up or have unfortunate things happen to them. And while I quickly learned in my first PR course how much more is involved, my time with Villing & Company provided me with not only the real-life experience of what public relations actually entails, but did so within the context of an overall marketing experience.
Immediately into my summer internship, I sat in on a conference call with the agency’s biggest client: McDonald’s restaurants in the northern Indiana/southwest Michigan area. In fact, most of my time here has been spent working on restaurant events, such as grand re-openings, and McDonald’s local and national campaigns. The rest of my responsibilities at the agency change from day to day; one day I’ll be proofreading a law firm’s entire website in preparation for launch, and the next I’m touring a $500,000 RV at a photo shoot for a client’s catalog.
However, working in the realm of social media – an emerging PR discipline – has been a constant through the summer. I focused on internal PR for Villing & Company, finding posts for the Twitter and Facebook accounts and expanding a Year of the Horse social media campaign. I also helped manage a client’s Twitter account and brainstormed ideas for a Twitter contest. I didn't realize how important using social media was for a company, let alone all the tips and tricks to utilizing it successfully. Now, however, take this knowledge to improve organizations I will be a part of at college and beyond.
And in the meantime, I've learned just how important teamwork is in a firm like Villing & Company. With a variety of skill sets and dozens of clients, individual departments often collaborate on projects. For example, when developing a website, the account executive, after several meetings with the client, provides the background and marketing strategy in the form of a "brief" to the team, after which the art department develops the visual look of the site in conjunction with the web department which designs the navigational structure and functionality and handles the programming. Additionally, others are involved in writing or editing copy for the site as well as proofreading before it launches, a task I was asked to help with. This teamwork allows for a close-knit atmosphere that made me feel welcome and appreciated.
Franklin College requires each student to obtain an internship for credit to graduate. Going into my junior year, I can now say I've had the opportunity to experience four different internships – one as a copy editor, one as a reporter at the Indianapolis Statehouse, one as a writer at the college communications office and now one as a public relations and marketing intern at Villing & Company. While none of these were for credit and therefore don’t “count” toward my degree yet, they certainly count to me.
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