A Hands-On Experience in a Socially Distant World
Following my sophomore spring break from University of Florida in early March, I returned from Bimini to see the United States slowly shutting down in front of my eyes. While my college town of Gainesville, FL seemed unaffected, the news showed coronavirus cases rapidly spreading around the country.
Mid-March, I left my house at University of Florida to quarantine with my parents in Atlanta. I went from going to class every day and living in a fraternity house with 42 other people to being isolated in my house with my family for weeks to come.
One of the harder aspects of quarantine for me was the suspension of professional sports in America. Sports consumed my entire sophomore year as I served as a contributing writer for ESPN Gainesville and a producer for UF’s sports talk radio show. When I was not covering sports, I could be found watching NBA games or playing basketball at the university rec center. In quarantine, I found myself without an outlet for my passion.
For the first few months of quarantine without sports, I completed my semester course work virtually through Zoom lectures and exams proctored online. It took a lot of adjusting and learning to finish off my sophomore year strong, and looking towards the summer, I knew it would be a marathon, not a sprint to the following fall semester.
My first escape from quarantine isolation came on April 3 when I received an acceptance email from Liz Lapidus PR for their Summer LLPR Internship. Even though I would not be able to attend the internship in person, I was extremely grateful and lucky to have the opportunity to work and learn in the middle of a pandemic, especially when the majority of my friends' internships had been canceled.
Despite being virtual, the LLPR Internship program has done a superb job giving me a hands-on public relations experience, despite never once coming into the office. Straight from my onboarding meeting the LLPR team has been available and supportive in sharing PR knowledge and learning opportunities through our regular Zoom meetings. Even though we have never met in person, the LLPR agency has made me a part of the team through frequent staff calls, client meetings, and assigned client work.
Every Monday, my internship week begins with a company staff Zoom call to discuss client information and weekly duties. Liz Lapidus cultivates a welcoming environment, giving everyone on the LLPR team a chance to talk about our “roses, thorns and buds” and to discuss current news and events.
I always make sure to add sports and pop-culture references for the weekly news to add my young, sporty perspective. Allowing me to talk on the Zoom makes me feel like I am in the office and actively participating in company discussions, even though I am sitting at my computer at home.
On Wednesday and Thursday, we participate in staff calls at the end of the day to discuss what work we completed during the previous hours. Liz makes an emphasis to ask how everyone’s day is going in order to connect and engage with all LLPR employees from miles away.
Over the past couple of weeks, I have had the chance to join the LLPR team on several client calls for Compass and Helping Mamas.
During these meetings, I am able to learn how company calls work and specifically how LLPR engages with clients to create long-term relationships. While I may not be in the LLPR office to witness in-person client meetings, the LLPR team has allowed me to witness the innerworkings of public relations, despite being virtual.
Assigned Client Work
From my first day at LLPR, the team has given me incredible hand-on experience doing real work for clients. My daily tasks consist of researching all clients for recent press, clipping articles for clients, checking the HARO, and writing blogs and trend reports about relevant news.
Once I complete my daily assignments, I focus on bigger projects assigned to me by LLPR team members. A few larger projects I have worked on this summer include creating media lists for the Georgia Film Academy and making social media calendars for LLPR and Georgia Film Academy.
I have worked a lot with social media, conducting audits on client and LLPR social media accounts. Social media is a true passion of mine —during the school year, I manage the Barstool Florida social media accounts.
On top of the previous work mentioned, I am tasked with writing a weekly internal newsletter for the Georgia Film Academy on trending film news in Georgia and around the nation. Thanks to this newsletter project, I have a new habit of being mindful and paying attention to current events.
Overall, I am grateful for this engaging internship, especially with a company like LLPR. Even though I lacked much PR experience going into this summer, I have found a true passion in public relations through the work I have been able to complete and the experiences I continue to have at LLPR. Liz and the rest of her team have given, and will continue to give, me a summer internship experience to help me succeed in whatever career path I choose.