By Joseph Pohl, PR Intern, R&J Public Relations
The beginning of my internship involved a lot of clipping news articles, and posting releases to various Patch sites, but after a couple weeks I was looking forward to taking on a bigger project.
In late February and early March, I got my chance. R& J was asked to help launch the Guardian Angels K9 Fund campaign for the Angels for Animals Foundation, which was inspired by a Police K9 named Judge that, unfortunately, had to be put down because of severe health issues. The fund is designed to provide financial support to these hero working dogs because so many of them suffer from health issues late in life and there is little to no money made available to assist with their care.
I made sure to let everyone know that I wanted to be an integral part of the campaign launch. At first, my part largely consisted of preliminary research such as looking for previous news coverage on Judge. It made sense to try and pitch the reporters who covered the original event, but I never realized how hard it was to find the email addresses for some reporters. I always figured reporters would want to be reached easily, so they can get all the up-to-date news—I was wrong.
Next, I compiled a list of all the Facebook pages of New Jersey Police Departments and any pages that specifically focused on or had to do with dogs, K9s and animals. The number of police departments on Facebook actually surprised me. Sometimes I forget how important social media is to a community and all aspects of communication. You can build such a strong community bond through social media efforts.
On March 13, K9 Veterans Day (which lined up nicely for us), we officially launched the Guardian Angels K9 Fund. I came in early to start to send out pitches to media contacts that I had researched beforehand. I spent hours that morning pitching to as many producers and journalists as possible. I set up an interview with the South Jersey Times and one writer shared the story on her blog. It wasn’t much, but this moment was significant for me because I worked so arduously on the project. I think this campaign was a great first opportunity for me because I really believe in the cause and I want to see it succeed. Now every time I see an article written about the fund, I feel as though in some way it was because of me.
On Saturday, March 14 I went to FOX Studios to watch the exclusive broadcast release of the story on “FOX and Friends.” I sat backstage as our clients prepared for their live interview with the FOX team. When their allotted time segment was called, I followed them into the studio and took video and pictures as they did their live interview. Getting a behind the scenes look, and being there live to see the exclusive broadcast launch of the fund was unlike anything I ever experienced — and all I did was offer to go.
Since the launch of the campaign, I continually write Facebook posts for the Angels for Animals Foundation, send out pitches with different local angles. I’ve received emails back from NBC Philadelphia, Philadelphia Daily News and some bloggers who were interested in the story. I am thoroughly enjoying being an important part of this campaign in every way, and hopefully I get to do more like it in the future.
So all you interns out there, this is my advice to you given my experience: show initiative, talk to your fellow co-workers about upcoming projects and ask to help out with every part of a campaign you can. Offer to do the things that no one else wants to do—like drive to New York at 6:45 a.m. on Saturday. Also, make sure to listen to the people who have been doing this for a long time—you might learn something.