Though I am studying in the field of communication at school, I have always found myself interning in the marketing industry. It seems to have this dynamic and ever developing attribute that I find very attractive in a job. The constant development of projects and accounts seems to keep my creative edge sharp and active. Brand Influencers certainly offers a great learning experience within the marketing madness…each new week yields at least one or two new projects! In our boss’ office there is a black-white-board covered in neon dry erase marker listing various projects and to-do list tasks, which we check-in with multiple times a day. With all the active accounts at a marketing firm such as ours, I have learned that it is absolutely necessary to stay organized to be on top of the game.
The next step is the big one—actually sitting down and writing the pitch. For some of the pitches this part was easy and the words flowed from my pen onto paper (or rather from my fingers onto keys). But others didn’t come as easily and I really had to coax the words out; I think this really all depended upon how compelling the story I was trying to pitch was. Those that were interesting enough that I just had to write them down were simple and fun to write but those I had to word carefully to ensure it didn’t come off as “So what?” were much more difficult.
The important thing to remember when writing a pitch is who you are writing to. Let’s say I’m planning to pitch to four reporters at four different papers about the same intern. Odds are, I’m not going to send the same pitch to all four. One may be a college newspaper so I’ll write that one focused around why a college community would want to read an article about the intern. Another may be a bigger paper so I may choose to pitch to the Education section but for another smaller paper I might forego Education and pitch straight to News/Features because that would be newsworthy for a paper of that size. Reading previous articles by the reporter will help you in writing the pitch as well because it gives you a better understanding of that reporter’s style and what they tend to focus on.
I include the following in each pitch:
• Subject line. This is extremely important because your subject line needs to give the reporter a reason to open the email.
• Greeting personalized to the reporter. This is important: you don’t want them to feel like they’re just one of the many. Never just write “Dear Editor” if you know their name. Taking the time to personalize instead of copy/pasting will go a long way.
• Presentation of the story with a catchy lead. Many email programs such as Gmail allow users to see the first 10 or so words and you want these to entice the reporter to look at the email and not just delete or disregard it.
• Why they should write an article about the intern and what the readership will gain from said article
• Offer for more information and to set up an interview with the intern along with email address and phone number to make contact easy.
As you can see, the first three steps really build to this step. I couldn’t have written the pitch without having first spent time on gathering the information, finding the story and targeting the reporter.
I have had the unique opportunity of working with the Vineyard Vines retail brand. A company founded on the ideals of the American dream and one that has grown substantially throughout the past 10 years. After a highly-selective application process I have been fortunate enough to join the company as a Brand Communications Intern. My daily responsibilities include handling marketing aspects of the company and assisting with whatever is needed within my designated department. I arrive to work every morning at 9am, grab a cup of coffee, and see where the day takes me. The thing I love about my internship is that I actually have a say in some of the decisions the company makes. I appreciate an organization that values an opinion from an employee in such a low-position. Vineyard Vines has shown incredible growth over the past 10 years and opens new retail/wholesale locations on a monthly basis. This company attracts a certain type of demographic that I consider myself as well as most of my fellow students of High Point University apart of. I consider this summer internship a great compromise for myself and Vineyard Vines. Not only do they provide me with a fantastic summer program that supplies me with real-world experience and first hand visibility to the retail industry, but in return the company receives opinions and feedback from a key targeted demographic. Not only do I love the clothing they produce, but besides the appearance, it is the knowledge that I take away from this company that will benefit me down the road. I am thankful for such a great internship and would suggest any student interested in marketing, public relations, or event sponsorship to look into the good life of Vineyard Vines.
This past week I had the opportunity to go on my first “business trip” which fortunately felt more like a vacation. The Ulman Cancer Fund has a program called the 4k for Cancer, that has college students run or bike across the country with the goal of offering hope, inspiration and support to cancer communities along the way.
I had the pleasure of traveling out to Missouri to meet with the Run team to see how they were doing, record video and take pictures. Thankfully, I have had some practice at High Point University with shooting on site, in less than optimal conditions and I have learned how to make the most of the opportunities presented to get the best shot possible.
I spent a large portion of each day hanging out the window of a van as it drove down the rural back roads where the participants were running. I even had the chance to do a little running myself, though I was definitely not capable of running as much as those people did every day. We were also able to cook dinner for cancer patients and their caregivers at the Kansas City Hope Lodge. It doesn’t feel much like work when it so gratifying! I enjoyed supporting these runners as they made their way closer to their end destination of Baltimore.
This trip was a great break in the normal routine, although I am looking forward to getting back into the office and catching up on work!
The third step in my Hometown Stories project is deciding who to send each pitch to. The first and most obvious thing to do is figure out which newspapers cover news about the area each intern is from. This is the easy part—it just involves asking the intern or a quick Google search. Then you have to figure out to which reporter it would be best to send each particular pitch. This involves visiting the Contact Us section of the newspaper’s website. Sometimes, the only email address available is new@ or the editor, but frequently you can find contact information for a number of reporters either listed all in one place, on the reporter’s information page or on an article the reporter has written. In some instances choosing the reporter is easy—especially if it’s a paper that reports on a number of different towns and therefore has reporter assigned to specific geographical beats (e.g. my newspaper has a specific reporter who covers the Poolesville/Boyds/Germantown area).
In other instances, especially when the newspaper only covers one town, it is a bit more complicated. To narrow down the reporter pool, I search key phrases like “internship” or town names to read sample articles from a variety of different journalists and choose the one whose work most reflects the type of story I plan to pitch, because even if a reporter isn’t assigned a specific beat, it’s likely that they tend to favor a specific type of story topic. If the pitch I plan to write has a heavy emphasis of what an educational opportunity the internship is, I’ll want to focus on Education reporters. If my angle focuses more on “Look at what a local student has accomplished,” I’ll focus more on community reporters. I may even change my story angle if I realize it wouldn’t fit the publication or if I locate a reporter I think would be drawn to an alternate angle. In this way, Steps 2 and 3 are intertwined and therefore cannot be completed in an entirely linear manner.
I was surprised with how much I have enjoyed this portion of the project. I was dreading compiling media lists because it seems so daunting, but being able to get this experience of compiling a media list on a much smaller scale has been a great way to introduce me to the things that should be considered and the way it should be handled.