I grew up in southern New Jersey—minutes away from popular beach towns Ocean City and Cape May—with a single mom who, when I left for college, had a severe case of “empty nest syndrome.” To fill the void that comes with realizing your only child is growing up, my mother took a unique path and started her own business: Beauty at the Beach. Beauty at the Beach specializes in handmade soaps and other natural beauty products. The store is one of 16 shops that make up the shopping destination Woodland Village, a picturesque hodgepodge of local artisan shops that tourists love to browse between beach reads.
At the same time my mom was starting her new journey, I was making my way through my first year of college at George Mason University. I had an experience that many undergraduate students go through: it dawned on me I was in the wrong major. I entered my freshman year as a business marketing major, intent on learning everything there was to know about marketing. However, I quickly realized that I had made an error—what I thought was marketing, is in fact, public relations. I quickly made the switch and since have had numerous experiences that have validated that PR is where my passions lie.
This current semester, I have gained valuable experience as an intern for Sage Communications. Past internships have allowed me to get my feet wet, but this experience has been unique in that the hands-on education I have received has already allowed me to quite literally bring home value from the internship. Specifically, I am leveraging the social media, media relations and pitching skills that I have learned at Sage to help my mom to reach her own dreams and bring Beauty at the Beach to new heights:
Social Media Know-How
As someone in their early 20s I inherently have a working knowledge of social media and an understanding of the effectiveness of digital marketing. What I didn’t know too much about prior to starting my internship, was how to structure social media posts with the aim of meeting a client’s business objectives. Now, I look at Beauty at the Beach as a client of my own, and ask myself: How can I develop a campaign designed to meet my mom’s objectives? I have also taken a more active role in managing the social media accounts for both my mother’s business as well as the account shared by every store owner for the entirety of the Woodland Village.
Media List Mastery
I have also learned how to generate earned media by targeting specific journalists based on the industries and topics they frequently cover. The key: building the perfect media list. With this new-found knowledge, I began finding contact information for journalists in New Jersey who covered local tourism, community and regional news stories who would be interested in my mom’s business and community outreach efforts.
Media Relations Extraordinaire
I have also learned how to develop effective pitches to hook reporters. Through SageU—Sage Communication’s internal education program—interns are given classroom-like lectures on various skills necessary for public relations professionals. Because of these lessons I was able to practice pitching techniques outside of work and ultimately build a media list and pitch a community event that my mother had organized.
I am fortunate enough to have an internship experience that far surpasses cliché coffee runs. Because of my internship with Sage Communications, I am not only getting hands on experience with many clients, but also have been given the opportunity to learn about and practice all aspects that make a public relations firm successful. I have been able to practice what I have learned out of work to quite literally bring home value from this internship, as I have successfully earned media coverage for my mother’s first annual community event in the Press of Atlantic City. Having an internship is about more than just fulfilling your duties as told, it is about exploring, adding to, and growing what you are most passionate about in a future career.