Written by Smoak PR

Internship Reflection

As the fall semester comes to a close, we are reflecting upon what we have learned during our time at Smoak. We are all very thankful for the experiences we have gained, despite any setbacks that may have occurred due to the pandemic. During these unprecedented times, we have learned how to adapt to working remotely both academically and professionally, and we would like to thank everyone at Smoak PR for the opportunities we have been presented to learn about and work in a PR environment.

Madison G:

As I reflect on my time spent at Smoak PR, I have nothing but wonderful thoughts and memories. I remember starting as a doe eyed senior who thought a job in PR was nothing but glamorous. Now, having been an intern for the semester I can confidently say I was not too far off with my original thought. It is just a different meaning of the word glamorous. The glamour is the smiles and joy you get to witness with your clients when you have been successful in your public relation efforts. This internship experience was like none other before due to Coronavirus. I was not allowed to go into the office, except the occasional days where I had to complete a delivery task. During my internship, I was entrusted to write press releases, draft mood boards, create social content, execute deliveries, and model for a client. Beyond these tasks, we were given the responsibility of preparing and leading weekly meetings. As I look forward to my future, I feel reassured in the fact that Smoak PR has prepared me well with the foundations needed for a career in public relations after graduation in May. For this, I am eternally grateful for their wonderful team who taught me so well.

Abbigail:

This semester at Smoak was my first ever internship, so I was not quite sure what to expect at first. Over the semester, I learned about the specific types of clients that one could work with in the public relations field, such as political candidates, small businesses, and nonprofit organizations. I have always enjoyed writing, so I definitely loved drafting press releases, newsletters, and blogs for different clients- but my favorite projects aside from that include creating Instagram Reels for Smoak, putting together mood boards for interior design, and drafting social media captions. I learned how to adapt to certain tones and verbiage when creating content for different clients. I also learned how to collaborate with others along with how to take the lead in meetings and tasks. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, both my internship and my classes were virtual this semester, so another thing I am taking from this internship is the importance of time management and meeting deadlines. I am very grateful for the opportunity to gain valuable experience with Smoak and I will definitely put my new experiences and skills to good use.

Madison D:

At the start of the semester, I knew that my internship with Smoak would be unlike any internship I have done before. With the internship mostly remote, I knew I would need to get myself organized and focused to intern from a distance. I was not expecting to be able to do all the tasks and skills I had expected before interning, but the team at Smoak made this experience incredible and I checked all the boxes on my list of must-do tasks during an internship. We had weekly remote meetings that made me feel like I was part of the team. Each week different Smoak employees checked in on us making sure we were checking off our boxes and getting the experience we hoped for. I also am able to articulate for future employers that I assisted with many virtual tasks in the PR field, such as virtual events, virtual meetings, and overall virtual communication. I am thankful for this experience, especially during this pandemic! 

We all had a very successful internship experience this fall with Smoak PR. This semester presented a set of new challenges for all, however, we all learned how to make the most of the situation in a way that proved beneficial to us as interns and to the team at Smoak. It was a unique time to say the least, but now we are prepared to handle the new normal of virtual meetings, virtual events, and communicating with others with the use of technology. We would like to extend our deepest gratitude to the women at Smoak PR for making the best out of a hard time.

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Written by Smoak PR

How to Make Virtual Events Unique and Interactive for All

In the midst of a worldwide pandemic, technology has proven to become everyone’s new best friend. Our typical in-person meetings, events and activities have completely shifted to rely on today’s advanced technology and virtual platforms to get the job done. Whether it is classrooms for students or celebrations to honor milestones in proper social distancing fashion, 2020 has proven to be a year where all of us, young and old, have pivoted to learn the ins and outs of remaining connected through a screen.

In the public relations industry, event management is a huge part of our typical year-round business and as we know, in-person events were non-existent this year. In a time where we had no idea what three months down the road would bring, we ultimately had to learn how to plan and manage events that were no longer in-person, but 100% virtual. Learning the nuances of virtual events definitely brought challenges, but our goal was attained in helping our clients stay connected with others, during a time when in-person connection was limited. One of the most important takeaways that we learned over the past nine months is to ensure your virtual event stands out by engaging and interacting with attendees before, during and after the event.

Below are some of the main components we have found to be helpful for planning virtual events in the age of COVID-19:

  1. Hosting PlatformThe format of a virtual event or meeting affects not only the attendees’ ability to interact, but also the general feel of the event itself. It is important to discuss the overall goals and objectives for your virtual event with your client prior to making the decision on which platform to utilize. For example, if you want to be sure attendees can interact and talk amongst each other, your best bet is Zoom Meetings. This is probably the most popular platform as it is user-friendly and boasts a variety of interactive features that allow people to virtually connect with one another. If your event is more informative and educational, Zoom Webinar is probably a better fit. This platform is more limiting with its interactive elements that may be a distraction and is intended for more formal, educational purposes. There are many other available platforms, so it is very important to determine what best fits your specific needs and choose the best “venue” based off of that.
  2. Audio Visual TeamWith virtual events being reliant on the performance of the hosting platform and other elements that are sometimes out of our control, it is critical to hire a professional audio visual (AV) team. This will ensure your event is seamless from start to finish. Most AV teams have the technology and equipment such as cameras, lighting and staging to make your event appear like a true production to all viewers. It is much different than setting up a Zoom call and having the backdrop be your living room. This allows you and your client to really make an impact with visual and audio elements that would not have been an option without your go-to AV team. Also, in the case of a technical glitch or emergency it is always nice to have a team at your side to combat any problems that may arise during the event.
  3. Interactive ElementsThe best way to keep an audience engaged during a virtual event is through direct interaction. You can set aside a specific amount of time for your gathering’s audience participation, or you can interact throughout. Some ways of creating opportunities for attendees to participate are through chats, polls, and Q&As. You can share discount codes, downloadable links to information regarding your event, or surveys to hear the attendees’ feedback, which can be extremely valuable for future events. Through live tweets and Instagram stories, you can promote your event and create external engagement as well. Maybe determine a few “surprise” elements that will be certain to keep attendees tuned in for the event duration such as concerts, videos, shout outs and more.
  4. Registrant and Sponsor Mailers – Another creative way to get people excited about your upcoming event is to send complimentary event swag in advance of the event date. For example, a package with items that viewers can use as they watch your event such as a snack, bottled beverage, nametag or custom sign. Anything that can make attendees feel like they are also a part of the event program will generate excitement and make this event stand out from others. If your event has sponsors, make them feel appreciated by sending them a VIP “Celebration in a Box” that can be enjoyed amongst the company. Mimosas, party hats, sweet treats and more, make it fun for everyone! Remember, hold your attendees accountable by sending them items that they can keep nearby to serve as a reminder. As the event host, you have to keep them on the hook because it is much easier to avoid hitting play than it is to not show up in-person.

Virtual events offer a unique experience for both the hosts and attendees. Before the world went digital, virtual events were on the incline due to budget and accessibility reasons. Now, in a more technologically advanced world, hosting virtual gatherings has been taken to the next level through interactive features and upgraded design. While online gatherings may seem like a necessity at the moment, they seem to also be the future of events, so it is a good idea to get a head start in virtual event planning as it becomes the new normal.