By: Madeline Crocenzi, 2016 Summer Intern
Public relations and journalism don’t mix. As a journalism major, that statement was as ingrained in my mind as the AP Stylebook. Words like spin, publics and earned media are dirty words in a journalist’s world. That’s why I was a little skeptical when I began my summer internship at La Torre last year.
The public relations world was a whole new experience. Suddenly I was the one calling media outlets about our client’s event. I was drafting a month’s worth of strategic social media when, previously, the longest I’d ever spent on social media was trying to think of a clever Instagram caption. I felt like a fish out of water.
Despite the learning curve, I settled into public relations work quickly. There was more of a frank honesty than the spin I was expecting, and I even felt a sense of pride when I collected earned media. Deep down there was a sense of guilt because, we all know, journalists aren’t supposed to enjoy public relations work.
The truth is, I did enjoy the work and that changed everything for me. Before my internship at La Torre, I had only considered one career path: journalist. I knew that I wanted to travel and that I loved to write. Those two passions converged into one career for me, a foreign correspondent or a travel journalist.
Things changed when I started interacting with La Torre’s clients. I wrote Hospice of Central PA’s social media and thought about the hospice workers who made my grandpa’s final days bearable. I got excited when the media recognized the Pennsylvania State Troopers Association for all their work in the community. And, most of all, I realized how much I enjoy making a difference in the nonprofit sector.
One day during my internship, Jill and I went to visit the Joshua Group. We had just worked on a brochure for them, and we were also checking in on their website progress. The visit was eye-opening. It’s one thing when you’re working behind the scenes for a client, but at that meeting I felt like we were on the front lines with them. Because of the public relations work we were doing, Joshua Group had the opportunity to reach more families, receive more donations and provide more services to kids in Harrisburg.
I also picked up important skills along the way. I learned how to write a succinct press release and how to create different social media “voices” for each client. I also learned more corporate skills, like working with a team. I even grew my confidence level as I pitched ideas, took on bigger projects, and spoke to important individuals in Harrisburg and beyond.
Not only did these skills help me with my class work and other internships, they helped me prepare for my future. I no longer envision a future as a foreign correspondent or a traditional journalist. Now, I want to combine my passion for journalism, public relations and marketing into a communications management position with a nonprofit specializing in economic development.
My internship with La Torre showed me how public relations could positively impact people and organizations in our community and beyond. Thanks to that experience, it’s now my goal to continue that diligent work in my future career.