It’s October, which means Katherine Lee — our summer intern for 2015 — is back at Northwestern for her junior year. While we miss having here at 3Points, we’re grateful that she was able to help us with so much over the summer, and we’re glad that we were able to provide her with hands-on experience to improve her skills.
We caught up with Katherine earlier this week to get her thoughts on the PR world and what she learned in her intern experience.
What did you learn about the communications/PR industry this summer?
I learned all the technical behind-the-scenes PR operations that I’d been curious about since I first became interested in communications. But I also learned an even bigger lesson, one that made PR and communications all the more attractive for me: I learned that communications constantly demands multidimensional thinking.
First there were the little details: how to design the layout of a certain document so that it would look organized, how to polish the wording on a press release, media pitch, an email blast for internal communication, or even a short Tweet.
Then there was a slightly larger framework of thinking that was required for getting a project to move forward. What were the necessary steps to achieve the goals and plans we had, who did we need to talk to, and for what information? How would we communicate efficiently to make each project, big or small, timely and effective?
Even as we work on various projects and activities simultaneously, it’s so important to keep an eye on the bigger picture — the account partners were constantly communicating with the clients to discuss what kind of image, brand, and reputation for which they want to aim. PR is not just about garnering public attention, but about making the client strong enough to have meaningful engagement with the public.
How did working at an agency compare with working as a journalist?
As a student journalist, I would usually move from one story to another fairly quickly. At 3Points, it was nice to be constantly learning new things about an already existing client, packaging and relaying that information to journalists so they could provide their own interpretation. I liked that a PR agency is in the position to facilitate that communication. Sometimes the relationship between companies and the media can be somewhat uncomfortable, even hostile. But a public relations consultant facilitates communication between the two parties and lets the company engage with the public to further improve itself.
What key skills did you pick up over the summer?
I learned a lot about time management and the aplomb to juggle multiple tasks at the same time, while still giving complete focus to each one. Since I was working for 2-3 different account partners with pressing deadlines, I first had to learn how to get things done on time, and how to prioritize my tasks so that everyone had what they needed when they needed it. Instead of trying to be completely perfect the first time, I learned to communicate my reasons for the work that I did and flexibly adjust the final product based on the feedback I received.
What would you say was your biggest accomplishment at 3Points?
I got to work on a documentary screening that Trading Technologies, one of our clients, was planning to co-host. The documentary is about women in coding, and TT was taking active first steps in promoting women in tech, so I was happy to have been invited to help out. My biggest accomplishment this summer was reaching out to the list of potential sponsors I’d put together and getting the Chicago tech incubator 1871 to co-sponsor one of our events. Working on the event was an achievement for me because I had to step out of my comfort zone to make it work. I was in awe of the work that TT had accomplished in its field, and at first, I was very timid and cautious about every step I took. As I became more invested in the project, though, the urge to connect with people who would support the cause became more important to me than all of my worries and concerns.
What is your favorite memory of the summer?
I don’t know if I can pinpoint a specific memory — thirteen weeks went by so quickly, and by the time I was done, I felt so comfortable and at home at 3Points that I felt like I had just absorbed the whole experience, instead of selecting specific memorable moments to keep. The Blackhawks parade was definitely one of the most eye-opening experiences. It was surprising to see so many people out on the streets to see the Blackhawks, to see that everyone in these separate office buildings had something in common — their love for the Blackhawks. But it’s the little things, too, like how everyone always agreed hummus was the best office snack or how Sam tweeted it from the 3Points account in the hopes of being acknowledged by the hummus company as a brand ambassador. I’ll miss everything about 3Points.