Summer Intern Insights

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Hey everyone! My name is Solana Tanabe and I have had the pleasure of interning with the Curator team this past quarter. Next week I will be graduating from Seattle University with a degree in Strategic Communication with a specialization in Global Awareness and minor in Interdisciplinary Art- Arts Leadership- it’s quite a mouthful, I know. Telling stories and performing has been something I’ve been deeply passionate about since I was young. My storytelling journey began in classical ballet and since then has taken on many different formats.

I came to Curator in April with a few public relations and communications focused internships in both nonprofit and agency settings under my belt, looking to add more agency experience to my resume. I am so thankful for the Curator team for letting me be a part of their clients’ stories and helping me develop my personal communication style along the way.

As my undergraduate experience is coming to an end, so is my time here at Curator. But before I go, I wanted to share five skills and insights I gained this past quarter.

Researching Media & Building Media Lists

Media lists are a huge part of PR. Knowing this, finding the right journalist for your story and building out long lists can be a test of patience. Many times over the course of my internship I researched journalists and publications for our clients to share their stories with by paying close attention to beats their articles covered and the topics their publications covered, in addition to taking notes on the stories they wrote on.

Last month, for example, I developed a media list of print publications covering fashion, business, and technology in five major U.S. cities with an accompanying list of influencer recommendations in those same cities. Cision was literally my best friend for this project, but I also used Google and Instagram to search for journalists and influencers. Because the media landscape is always changing, maximizing your search capabilities to include all the platforms available to you will help you reach larger audiences and also collect contact information.

Tracking Coverage

Another task I frequently performed was tracking media coverage for clients. Tracking the number of impressions your outreach efforts have received are a key way of evaluating the success of your campaign. In creating monthly recap reports I learned that it is important to be exact with these numbers, and from there how to calculate total impressions. With newer forms of media like Instagram stories, gathering the true number this can be a little tricky but once you figure out that number it’s simple math.

Writing, writing, and more writing

I have been able to author a variety of written materials during my internship and can confidently say I’m a better writer because of it. One assignments I received in my first week was a blog for Smile Brands on flossing tips and tools. Since then I have written on a variety of dental topics, and I’ve come away with a clearer writing style and advanced grammar mechanics. I might be a more consistent flosser, too.

I also learned that not all pieces of writing should be crafted equally and that being able to tailor your writing so that it fits whatever platform you’re writing for will make your writing more compelling. Specific things I learned were; that social media copy has to be short and attention grabbing, always adhere to AP style in press releases and media alerts, and to make blog writing more conversational.

Pitching to Media

One of the tasks I enjoyed most was pitching to media. The process of writing and delivering a pitch can sometimes be a detailed and long process. You have to accept the fact you’ll mostly get responses that tell you no, or no responses at all, but when you do hear a yes and secure coverage for your client, it is so rewarding! I recently pitched a story on the role of technology in today’s dating culture for Curator’s client Three Day Rule to KUOW. I heard back recently that they agreed to the story and will be sharing the story on air soon!

Social Media Management

If you follow Curator’s Twitter, for the past three months you’ve likely read my tweets. I got to share all the work our awesome clients are doing and also learned how to maintain relationships with them and their publics online. The social media sphere moves very fast which requires social media managers to create attention-grabbing content. Since posts only allow so many characters, one major takeaway I learned was to condense messages by writing short, attention-grabbing messages and incorporating emojis to engage with followers. Within all this, I got to play around with posting frequencies and different time to post to increase the number of impressions Curator’s were receiving.

Agencies can be fast-paced environments, but, in my opinion, are totally worth it for developing your communication skills. If you’re a college student reading this and are in the market for an internship, I obviously recommend Curator, but would suggest that you consider an experience in an agency setting. Your work will play an important role in the day to day operation of the agency, and I don’t mean that you’ll be running to grab everyone’s coffee order. You’ll get to produce resume-worthy work, make professional connections, and have fun at the same time. My final thoughts on having a successful agency experience are:

  1. Don’t be afraid to be ask questions. You’re here to learn after all!
  2. Speak up when you need guidance or would like to work on a specific project or task you aren’t currently assigned. The worst your supervisor can say is no, but I guarantee they’ll be willing to give you a chance to try.
  3. And of course, be yourself! Why? Because everyone else is already taken :) Plus, this is a great way to make meaningful connections with others in the office and begin to make a presence for yourself professionally.

Thank you Curator for all the memories. I look forward to taking this experience into my professional career and beyond.