Welcome to the first post in WWIB’s new Internship Spotlight blog series! Our goal is to spotlight exceptional women in business at Wellesley, and share their experiences with the community at large. This week we were thrilled to interview Elizabeth Grice ’15, who was a public relations intern at Hearst Magazines during the summer of 2014. (Want to nominate someone you know who has had a cool internship? Send leads to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
A Day in the Life:
8AM: Wake up; eat breakfast; catch train uptown from NYU to Hearst
9AM: Arrive at work; check and respond to emails; pick up weekly magazines at newsstand (The New York Observer, US Weekly People, etc.); read through magazines and daily newspapers for any coverage of Hearst Brands; scan relevant articles and add to media coverage spreadsheet in the shared office drive
10AM: Create media list for ELLE event using online database
11AM: Sort through the list–cross referencing the journalists’ names with their work; synthesize list, making sure that all major media outlets are represented; send PR managers mid-day meeting updates on all current projects
12 PM: Lunch
1 PM: Check and respond to emails; go through new issues with PR managers; select 5 stories in each issue to publicize; write pitches
2 PM: Compile separate media lists for the stories (ex. if it’s a food article, create list of top 50 food bloggers)
3 PM: Check up on media coverage from press releases for media “roundup”
4 PM: Calculate total impressions (# of people who have seen the story) for each story that has been released
5 PM: Send end of the day emails to PR managers; head home
Q: How did you land your internship with Hearst Magazines?
Elizabeth: I knew that I wanted to work in publishing, but I wasn’t quite sure which avenue yet. I applied for an editorial, PR, or marketing internship in my cover letter, and PR was the best fit with my background. I got really lucky! It was a pretty streamlined process–I had a fifteen minute phone interview and exchanged a few emails with my future boss before the invitation was extended. Something that Wellesley students should know is that if you’re applying for a job that requires academic credit to start working out details of an independent study beforehand. I thankfully had one in the Sociology Department, but I have had friends who have had a hard time securing the job after it was extended because of academic credit.
Q: What were your responsibilities as a PR intern?
Elizabeth: I love how fast-paced PR is. Everyday is different! For the most part, I was responsible for pulling, condensing, and researching media lists. I also worked on publicizing the Country Living Fair, an event for Cosmopolitan for Latinas, and an independent project throughout the summer on ELLE DECOR to build my own PR portfolio. I also got to work on a clothing segment on the local news with Redbook.
Q: During your internship, you got to work with brands like ELLE, HGTV, ELLE DECOR, and Good Housekeeping. What was it like to interact with so many brands under Hearst Magazines?
Elizabeth: If I learned anything from working with a number of different brands, it is that branding is everything. Every magazine has a target audience, and it is up to the PR managers to not only develop a PR strategy for the brand, but also to ensure that the strategy meets the magazine’s target audience for the most exposure. For example, when working with Food Network Magazine, we always look for major food reporters + editors alongside food bloggers. When working for ELLE, we look to fashion blogs and daily print magazines like WWD.
Q: What are some unanticipated challenges you encountered during your internship?
Elizabeth: It was difficult coming in without previous “PR” experience. I had never written a pitch or a press release, so it was hard at first to figure out what exactly my supervisors wanted. With that said, we Wellesley women are a lot better at adapting to environments than we may think. Once I learned the format of the press release, etc. it all came pretty easily.
Q: Do you think your major in English has helped you prepare for your future plans of working in the public relations industry? (If so, what classes in particular were especially helpful?)
Elizabeth: Absolutely! There are so many benefits to a liberal arts degree. In particular, I think that Wellesley does a great job of helping students apply texts to the “big picture.” We are also highly analytical, so when thinking about an overall branding strategy, we are able to dissect exactly what needs to be done and do it quickly. Perhaps more importantly though, my English major has taught me to time-manage and multitask. This semester, I am taking a class on the New York Review of Books, a poetry writing course, and working on my undergraduate thesis on Frank O’Hara and the visual and performing arts. These are all very different courses, so I often will work on each for an hour at a time and then rotate to make sure that I get everything finished.
Q: Do you have any advice for other Wellesley students seeking careers in public relations or editorial work?
Elizabeth: Don’t be afraid that you aren’t qualified because you don’t have a “pre-professional” major. If you want something, go after it–particularly in PR. The job is very much about mass outreach with minimal response, so being persistent (politely, of course) is really important.
Q: What are you involved with on campus?
Elizabeth: I am on the Poetry Board for The Wellesley Review and a member of ZA. Last year, I was WWIB’s publicity chair!