Adventures of an EPICS Intern: Pitches in the PR Biz

Before beginning my internship, I cannot say that I knew much about what a public relations firm did. All I really knew about public relations was that press releases are sent out to reporters to try to ensure coverage. However, much more goes into a day in a public relations office.

On my first day at Jill Schmidt Public Relations, I was introduced to the concept of pitching, which is the new way to attract media coverage. A pitch is a blurb of maybe five sentences that conveys the beginnings of a story that a reporter can pick up. There are trend pitches, gift guide pitches, and so many other types of blurbs to be written.

Over the past month and a half of my internship, I have been assigned to write a multitude of different pitches for six clients of the company’s. This has been not only an excellent exercise in writing and creative thinking, but also it has been really rewarding to have such large responsibilities. I am tasked with coming up with my own story angles and sending them to reporters, all on my own. This is very unique for an internship, at least in my experience.

What I have learned from pitch writing is that customization and personalization is key to success, in public relations, and outside of the field. Reporters, and people in general, will respond more when they feel like they are significant and their time is valued. The way to ensure this is to email reporters individually, and to only email reporters who cover stories similar to the ones I pitch.

After pitching dozens of stories to hundreds of reporters, I have had a couple of stories picked up. The biggest one was on HLN for CNN. The segment was called “The Daily Share”, and on it, the Vivitar selfie stick was reviewed. Vivitar is one of JSPR’s clients, and they offer a variety of products. The one I focus on is their selfie stick, and after pitching it to a hundred reporters, CNN picked it up.

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It was very rewarding to see my work showcased on television. This tangible feedback is helpful in motivating me to continue to create new story angles. I am excited to see what other stories I am able to get picked up by news reporters. Additionally, I am so excited to continue learning and growing.

Alex Wolfe is a senior theatre major who is interning at Jill Schmidt Public Relations during fall quarter. Follow her through the quarter to get the scoop on her internship!

Work Hard, Play Hard Pays Off

Hello! This quarter I am interning at Jill Schmidt Public Relations – a firm based in Wilmette with clients around the world. This office of eleven (including another intern and I) churns out dozens of news stories and segments daily. However, some days we do more than work.

Team bonding at the Wagner Farm in Glenview!

My second week at the firm, it was decided that we would visit a nearby farm. In the middle of the day.  We all packed into two cars and drove to see some chickens and then get lunch.

As a new intern, this was shocking to me. How could the head of the company possibly think that it was a good idea for her employees to take two hours away from the office? Without knowing my question, she answered it for me.

JSPR, as those who work there call the firm, is a relatively new firm, having opened in February. From the beginning of its life, its founder believed that a relaxed and fun environment would be more productive than a rigid and structured office. Having too many rules is not only not fun, she told me, but also limiting – especially when her employees are tasked with coming up with creative ways to market their clients.

Having the freedom to leave for an appointment, come late, text a bit, and even go to a farm in the middle of the workday, does a few things to the office. It sends the message that our boss trusts us. She knows that no matter what, the work will get done. Secondly, getting a break or two in the middle of a long workday – many employees there work well into the evening – keeps the “creative juices” flowing. Stepping outside briefly, even for a minute, improves productivity by over ten percent, according to one study. Lastly, the laid-back atmosphere of the office makes it a place at which it is fun to be. JSPR employees actually look forward to being in the office.

This idea has been enlightening for me. I have always been very intense and serious when it came to my work, but this internship is teaching me that as a worker and as a leader, it is sometimes better to take a breath and allow yourself or your coworkers to have some fun. The harder they play, the harder they’ll work.

Alex Wolfe is a senior theatre major who is interning at Jill Schmidt Public Relations during fall quarter. Follow her through the quarter to get the scoop on her internship!