My internship position was created as part of a public relations campaign designed last semester in Dr. McCollough’s Campaigns class. At the same time I served as Muscogee County Ferst Foundation Intern over the course of the semester, the campaign that initiated it was being executed in the PR Management class, which I was also a part of. Needless to say, the lines were a little blurred for me. Rather than seeing my internship as a separate entity from the actual Ferst campaign, I saw it as falling within the campaign. Anything I did as part of my internship also benefitted the campaign as a whole. With all of that exposure to nonprofit work, I received a big dose of how things work in the real world.
One of the most valuable things I learned is that in this line of work, there is no other way to accomplish things than to be proactive – you simply cannot be reactive and expect quality work to produce itself. That point was driven home for me during the process of building media relations for the local Ferst chapter.
Back in February, I was tasked with orchestrating a check presentation ceremony when Muscogee Ferst received a $10,000 grant from CarMax. Initially, we had wanted to hold a press conference and invite all local media to attend, but as I would find out, that wasn’t likely to happen. I began reaching out to all media in the Columbus area: print media such as the Ledger-Enquirer, the Columbus Times, Valley Parent Magazine and others, as well as broadcast media like WLTZ and WTVM. From all broadcast media, I got no response. Print media yielded more results, but only by a little. I actually had to send several emails and make several phone calls before the story was picked up, but those who did feature it agreed to run a press release rather than send a reporter to cover a press conference. Eventually, my press release was featured in the Ledger-Enquirer, and Valley Parent agreed to do an actual story about the Ferst Foundation – not just our press release.
As part of the Ferst campaign (executed this semester in Dr. McCollough’s PR Management class), my team attempted to land an interview on the Dee Armstrong show for Warren Steele. I will whole-heartedly admit that my team could’ve done a much better job on this – we weren’t proactive, we were reactive. We didn’t actively contact the Dee Armstrong show and instead merely waited for them to get back to us. This, compared to my success with print media in the area, would turn out to be a huge learning experience for all of us. Clearly being proactive – actively working to make an end goal happen – is the only way to go in public relations, and nearly every other line of work. It seems like a no-brainer, but actually experiencing it myself has taught me so much about how to get things done in the real world. I’m very grateful for this experience.