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7.11 Tara Summers ArticleOn July 8, my Tara Summers interview went live on The Daily Quirk, you can read it here: http://thedailyquirk.com/2013/07/08/tara-summers-interview/. It also officially marked month number one on the job, and what a month it’s been! Full of lessons learned and plenty to do. I had mentioned in my last post that I wanted to save my Tara Summer’s experience for later and this is why. As a warning… this one is going to be a long one!

The day before my interview with Tara Summers I had spoken with Gildart Jackson. That interview went extremely well, so well in fact I was surprised. It was my first time interviewing anyone of celebrity status, and I expected it to all fall apart. When it didn’t, I felt a slight sense of relief. Well, needless to say my second time interviewing a celebrity didn’t go nearly as smoothly.

The day started with her publicist calling me asking to move the schedule back three and a half hours because she had a last minute appointment come up. That was fine by me, it gave me a little more time to prep and I of all people understand that stuff happens.

When she finally got around to calling me, I felt relaxed and ready to tackle the interview. The conversation lasted about 20 minutes in total, and at the end of the interview I was excited. All the great information I had gathered seemed to be fine because I completely understood her during the interview. When I sat down to start the transcript? My heart sank and I felt anxious. The interview was falling apart and I could barely understand her. Worse still, it wasn’t like I could just call her back up and go, “Hey, this messed up. Take two?”

Let me explain to you what went wrong. Tara Summers is British, and she had a fairly thick accent compared to Gildart Jackson (who was also British). I’ve never had a true problem with understanding people who have different accents, especially if they speak clearly. The problem I ran in to was this: when she started to speak about things she was more comfortable with, she spoke quickly and sometimes the words would jumble together.

Then, add that on to the fact she was calling from her car on a blue tooth speakerphone, and occasionally what she said would cut out. And finally, to top it off, my recording made this terrible crackling noise every time she spoke, which made it even harder to understand.

While I initially thought the transcript was going to be a giant wreck, in the end it turned out fine. So here’s what I learned from this experience that I hope can help other people who experience similar problems.

Firstly, always make sure to stay calm. If you just conducted a great interview, and then you find out that your recorder didn’t record or the quality is just bad, the one thing you shouldn’t do is begin to panic. If you act out of fear and panic, you could end up making the situation worse. So take a deep breath, and email whoever you think will be best suited to fix your problem. For me, I emailed my managing editor and said, “What do I do?” She emailed me back asking for the file, and after running it through audio software, she cleaned it up enough to let me get just a little more from the jumbled mess.

Secondly, make sure to always have a backup. If this means saving three files, having two recording devices, or even holding the interviewee over their time to ensure everything has recorded right, do it. Next time I record an interview, I’ll make sure to keep enough space between the phone and the microphone. I know this was my primary issue, and it was something I couldn’t have known or learned without this interview.

I want to make sure I stress though, none of this was Tara Summers’ fault. She did everything she could, and it sounded great to me from where I was sitting. Unfortunately, when it got to the microphone, that’s when the problems happened. Speaking with her was a great experience, and she had such a great story to tell, it just seems that technology didn’t want to cooperate with either of us two weeks ago.

In my next couple of posts, I am going to talk about some great news I received from my managing editor late Monday night and how my interview went with “Whodunnit?” contestant Melina. Stay tuned!

 
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7.10 BlackboardThough 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.

 
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6.19 AmyStep 4: Write the pitch, targeting it to the reporter and newspaper.

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.

 
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Published on July 9, 2013, by in Internships, Journalism.

7.9 OprahI thought I’d share a fun story that seems straight out of a movie.

I’m at two magazines but my very first day of interning for the summer was at O, The Oprah Magazine. I arrived early, got a tour of the office, and was sitting with the other intern talking about “what if Oprah came in?” The thought itself seemed so far-fetched that we were laughing about our completely exaggerated reactions.

Well what do you know…we had a rare visit from the woman herself less than an hour later. She was in the office shooting a cover before jetting off again that afternoon and I was lucky enough to catch her. Everyone kept coming up to me telling me I picked the best day to begin my internship!

I sit directly outside of Gayle King’s office (Oprah’s best friend, O Editor-at-Large, and co-anchor of CBS This Morning, aka a force of nature.) Oprah kept walking behind me, in and out of Gayle’s office. I told myself if I didn’t say anything, I would never forgive myself so I managed to say hi as she walked by and she smiled back and said hello to me!

As if that wasn’t enough for me to die happy, a bit later she was preparing to give a pep talk to the office. Everyone was gathered around, cramming close, but from my desk I had the perfect up-close-and-personal view. As she was walking behind me again, she tapped the back of my chair, catching me completely off guard, and said “Best seat in the house, huh?” and winked.

Yes, it certainly was.

 
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AlexI 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.