Client relations, planning, writing and team decision-making. Now that’s a PR internship with substance.
Internship horror stories exist where the students’ primary tasks involve coffee pots and copy machines. For Hannah Shirley, a senior advertising and public relations major, her experience as a summer intern at Gooden Group PR in Oklahoma City was more like a fairy tale. Hannah was encouraged to immerse herself in the office culture which included sitting down with supervisors to brainstorm plans and strategies with many of the firms 75 clients.
“It can be intimidating when a supervisor asks for your honest opinion on something. But I found that when I was honest and explained my reasoning for thinking a certain way, each and every person I worked with explored that idea and they gave me feedback.”
Between meetings and consultations, Hannah also wrote press releases, updated media lists and created PR plans. Since she wasn’t stuck behind the scenes, she was able to establish relationships with clients and learn about their PR and social media needs. In addition to sharpening her listening skills, she also learned the most effective way to pitch ideas to clients. Using skills she learned in COMM 433: Strategic Writing for Advertising and Public Relations, Hannah was able to tackle a variety of writing assignments. Most notably, she brought her AP Stylebook to work everyday to support her work as a writer. Now that’s a clue that Hannah is ready for a PR career.
Hannah’s summer wasn’t all work and no play. One of Gooden Groups clients was OKCFest, the first musical festival hosted in Oklahoma City featuring more than 40 musical acts. Big name acts such as Lady Antebellum and Dierks Bentley played the main stage, while smaller local bands played at one of the five free stages.
“It required a lot of long hours and hard work, but it was such an rewarding experience because we were able to see firsthand how successful we were!”
Now that she is back on campus, Hannah enjoys practicing yoga to help manage the stress of her campus leadership roles and responsibilities. She got hooked on yoga in high school when a yoga studio allowed her to attend a few classes at no cost. Now it’s her passion and she hopes to one day become a certified yoga instructor. This year she is vice president of event planning in the Pi Beta Phi Fraternity and is a senior class representative on the Student Government Association. Both of these positions, as well as her summer in OKC, have helped Hannah strengthen her communication skills and enhance her readiness for the post-graduate opportunities that require a voice at the decision-making table.