Music Industry Internship: My Experience as an Amateur

 

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Photo by: Victoria Walenga

Yes, I know it sounds cheesy, but from the time I was born my parents engulfed me in the valuable lessons, music had to offer. From classical to jazz, alternative, rock, pop, metal and so much more I have been able to curate my own values and perceptions of life through these genres. Music swiftly guided me through my painful teenage years and inspired me throughout my long duration in college. I can truly say I wouldn’t be the person I am today without the continued inspiration I receive from music and the industry.

To clear up some confusion, I was never considered talented when it came to playing instruments or writing poetry. I’ve had numerous attempts — all ending in frustration and disappointment. But after some careful consideration, my love for music doesn’t have to be put to a halt because I’m not “musically” talented.

I’ve always been the one who will get the job done no matter what it takes. I take genuine pride in my organizational skills, communication skills, and my perseverance. Through this moment of discovery, I soon realized working within the music industry was what I truly longed for.

 

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Photo by: Victoria Walenga

Summer of 2016 I was finally given one of the biggest opportunities of my college career and was offered an Advertising and Marketing Assistant Internship at The Intersection in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The Intersection was a venue I praised when I was younger, they are well known for booking the best shows in the West Michigan area. At first, I was very timid and reserved in the office — but once I was put on tasks I was set to go. Many of these tasks included: Spreadsheets, running errands, decorating, ticket pick-up and drop-off, making calls, organizing, making small improvements to green rooms, assisting artists at load-in etc.

After a few weeks in the office, my supervisor then gave me the opportunity to get in contact with a woman who was recruiting students to be involved in an internship at Electric Forest Music Festival.

After a few weeks in the office, my supervisor then gave me the opportunity to get in contact with a woman who was recruiting students to be involved in an internship at Electric Forest Music Festival. A few weeks later, I was planning the details of my ten-day internship as a Forest Production Intern.

 

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Photo by: Victoria Walenga

Before Electric Forest I was very skeptical of the EDM festival industry, and what it would entail. Some of my tasks included: Making documents, checking in volunteer workers, cleaning the forest before the gates opened, assisting artists with their art installations, handing out flyers, walking the forest and checking on installations, assisting stage managers during the day, and much more.

For the duration of both internships, I learned more about myself and this industry than I would have ever learned in a college course. I learned valuable tips and information from my supervisors that I will carry with me. After both internships I can now say I appreciate every person, process, and capacity of the industry — and without them, none of this would be possible. I hope to keep striving for a career in this industry — and continue to hold myself to the highest standards possible because anything is possible.

 

Brand New: A Valueable Lesson in PR Tactics

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Photo by: Ali Shutler

Brand New is a highly praised alternative-rock band originally from Long Island, New York. Brand New is known for their release of four albums: The Devil and God are Raging Inside me, Your Favorite Weapon, Daisy, and Deja Entendu. Brand New was formed in 2000 and gained popularity after their first album release of Your Favorite Weapon in 2001. Brand New progressively began to snowball in publicity once they released many mysterious songs, messages, and questionable rumors that caused their fans to go mad:

  • Cryptic & Mysterious Sounds on the album Daisy
    • Daisy was released in 2008 and included many top hits such as Bed, Gasoline, and You Stole. Many of their songs off Daisy has made fans question their use of cryptic noises and what sounds to be interviews or monologs — and their overall meaning behind them. In an interview with Spin Magazine, lead singer Jesse Lacey reveals he found the samples from an estate sale and soon discovered they were of a Texas sermon — he later decided to add them to the album. He still doesn’t admit if there is a deeper meaning to the hidden clips, but it has continued to have fans questioning the context.
  • Updated Website
    • According to an article in Alternative Press Magazine, Brand New updated their website in a very mysterious way that left many people scratching their heads. A ‘mysterious’ button was added to their website that included the words “HYPE” — then was later changed to “NODE.” Both of these links led the user to an external website that was either a music video or an Illuminati website with useless information. “What does it mean? No clue. Honestly, it doesn’t sound too farfetched that the band are just f*cking with us” (Alternative Press Magazine, 2014).
  • Merch with 2000-2018
    • During their 2016 summer tour with Modest Mouse, Brand New was actively selling merchandise with the dates 2000-2018 printed on it leading many fans to believe they were officially announcing their break up. This was later confirmed in an article posted on Consequence of Sound. According to the article, Jesse announced to the crowd, “We’re done. Oh yeah, we’re done, and it makes nights like this all the more special so thanks for being here.”

After reviewing just a few PR tactics mentioned here, I think it’s safe to say Brand New has it all figured out — no wonder they are one of the most well-known alternative-rock bands in the genre. Though they won’t be around for much longer I urge everyone to keep an eye on their branding and media coverage, you never know what is going to mysteriously pop up.

 

 

 

 

Kicking Down Barriers : PR Reflections from a New Lens

As the semester wraps up I always look back at the knowledge I gained with the three basic questions: Was it pointless? Worth it? Did I actually learn valuable information?

This was my first semester at Grand Valley after transferring and I was very intimidated by the APR world, but I never thought I would love Public Relations as much as I do now. Of course, there are plenty of classes ahead of me to satisfy my APR minor, but I feel confident on my newly acquired knowledge base. 

Taking a glance at my first blog of the semester accurately depicts my complete center of knowledge revolving around Public Relations… and as you can see, it’s not much. In the beginning, I thought PR was focused on crisis management and had less to do with publicity and media relations. My assumptions weren’t too off, but rather PR focuses on many components at the same time to fully satisfy the client’s needs. Worrying about primary and secondary research, goals, objectives, strategies, tactics, budgets, timelines, press releases seems like a good recipe for a PR meltdown. Through the long nights, solid research, and proof-reading sessions I am almost done with my first Public Relations campaign and dang, it feels good.

Through the semester, I can say I have grown as a School of Communications student. Walking into this class, I had no idea what I wanted to do, but I discovered the main problem was the fact that I had no idea what the difference was between Advertising and Public Relations. Now I know there is a clear line between the two, and honestly, I couldn’t be happier with my choice. Since I was so busy this year with school and work I wasn’t able to make PRSSA meetings, which I regret. I promised myself next year I will be attending them every other week and I will make it a priority to clear my schedule. This class has helped me reassure my desire for a PR focus in my school and professional life.

Since High School, I’ve always enjoyed social media, blogging, and Tweeting for my own pleasure. It was always my 8th-grade dream to work for a company as a social media manager, and surprisingly, it still is. When people ask me what I want to do with my major (Communication Studies) and my minor (APR) I always say the same thing: My dream is to work at a record label. Once I was introduced to Skelletones, The Orbit Room, and The Intersection back in early middle school I was turned on instantly. Over the past five years, I’ve been focused on my career in the music industry. I applied for many jobs working for publications and thankfully I was able to connect with many journalists and content writers in the Detroit area who were a great help to my beginning in the industry. There have many been up’s and down’s where I’ve convinced myself I will never have a career in music, but here I am once again, fired up and ready to go.

During this semester I wrote a blog about my passion for D.I.Y. bands trying to promote on a budget – which is my favorite blog to date. I feel I can easily apply the skills I’ve learned in this class to many avenues of my life. Regardless if it is in the music industry or not. This summer I will be taking another step in my career and I will be interning at The Intersection. Through the research, blogs, campaign, and reading from the textbook I feel confident on making an impression by my increased knowledge from this class. Sure, there are many things I’m waiting to learn. I am nervous to start a new chapter in my school career, but most of all, I am confident in my abilities thanks to this course.

Visiting back to my first blog, I defined Public Relations to be, “Regulating and overseeing the spread of information between businesses and the public.” Looking back on this definition almost fourteen weeks later, I’m pretty impressed with it, and I believe I was on-track with my definition (even though I wouldn’t believe it fourteen weeks ago).

Regardless, this semester has been difficult. Period.

I am taking some of the hardest courses in my major, learning a new language, and slowly working on my first PR campaign has been a challenge, but thankfully the end in near. This is my third year in college and I hate to say it, but there are many classes that have proven to be useless, but they are requirements nonetheless. CAP 220 has proven to be a valuable tool that many students should utilize while moving their way up the PR ladder. Thanks to the constructive criticism Adrienne had to offer and some needed pushes to keep me on track, I am excited to move forward.

 

 

 

 

 

Hey! What About the Evaluation?

First, a moment of honesty…
At the beginning of this course, I had no idea how important it was to set mutual goals and objectives with your client before progressing with secondary and primary research. These mutual goals can help you in the end result and measure it accurately. Did you meet the expectations? Goals achieved? Are there any tweaks that need to be made to the campaign? Did something not work whatsoever? Do you have numbers to back it up?

As a fresh PR student who is venturing into this world with a blindfold, I think it’s important to keep telling myself there is always room to tweak, tailor and move forward. Not everything has to be 100% perfect at the first try (tell me if I’m wrong). As a student getting on the same page as my superiors have been one of my main priorities, rather it being at work or at school. Mutual understanding seems to be key at this point in my life and it’s just as important to remember when starting a relationship with a client.


 

After looking back a couple of months, it’s rare to find me buying something without glancing at the online review beforehand. Lipstick, shoes, electronics, clothing — check, check, check AND check. When investing time, money and a couple of trips to the mall to return if it doesn’t fit, I want an accurate evaluation. Sure this seems a bit off from evaluating a PR campaign, but in my mind, it seems fairly close…

Evaluation in Public Relations is focused on analyzing the main objectives and goals for the campaign and seeks results– based on numbers, if possible. As I’ve discovered, there are many methods of collecting data and information to support the campaign. According to a blog post by Paul Tustin (2014), social media, in fact, provides great data and resources that are relevant to your campaign evaluation:

“Social media channels also offer a vast amount of data about your target audience and whether your PR and marketing activity has been effective in raising awareness of a product or service, winning support for a campaign, or is starting to change purchasing habits.”

Along with social media data being useful, Kapril Arya (2014) highlights the importance of Google Analytics when analyzing a PR campaign. She explains, “It is an inexpensive technology which lets users evaluate what media channels were delivering outcomes and providing real value.” According to Arya (2014), it is hard to gain data from awareness or other unmeasurable goals, which stresses the importance of a goal that can be supported numbers — but with the increase of these programs to help assist practitioners with collecting data there are now more options than ever.

Along with Google Analytics, SEO is another great option for an entrepreneur who is trying to analyze the success of a PR campaign while being cost-effective. Mel Carson (2015) explains, “SEO (search engine optimization) is hugely important for any PR effort, as most inquiries about your company, product or service are likely to have been kicked off via a search engine.”

Evaluation is an important step that should never be skipped. Evaluation allows for insights you weren’t able to collect during your research– good, or bad. Using evaluation tools that provide data can enhance the success of the campaign. Overall, Tustin (2014) stresses,”Whichever is the chosen measurement criteria, it should be relevant to the campaign and the objectives agreed at the outset, rather than for the sake of it.” The goal of every campaign is to meet the objectives and main goals,along with always keeping the goals in reach and measurable.

 


 

Arya, K. (2013, March 15). How can the success of a pr campaign be quantified? Retrieved April 03, 2016, from http://blog.ketchum.com/how-can-the-metrics-for-a-pr-campaign-be-quantified/

Carson, M. (2015, July 15). 4 alternative metrics to evaluate your pr campaign’s success. Retrieved April 03, 2016, from http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/248191

Tustin, P. (2014, October 7). Six guidelines for measuring the success of a modern pr campaign. Retrieved April 03, 2016, from http://www.freshfield.com/six-guidelines-measuring-success-modern-pr-campaign/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Burritos and Tacos and E. coli, Oh my!

My beloved Chipotle is slowly progressing through an intense Public Relations crisis and has been for months. Over the unraveling of events, Chipotle and the media have unveiled many details regarding the situation; potentially good and bad (mostly bad).

Le’s cover the basics of this issue first— before we get into the heat of it.

The beginning of October 2015 marked many reports of illness (E. Coli and Norovirus) derived from food served at Chipotle restaurants in Oregon and Washington (Madhani, 2015). Upon the initial illness reports, many followed, causing Chipotle to close locations to get a grip on their “food safety.” Overall, residents from nine states were affected (Marler, 2016).

I would like to assume most major food chains have a PR crisis plan up their sleeve in case something such as this were to happen. In the proactive stage, Chipotle kept scanning social media to address any minor issues— illnesses and unsatisfied customers offering reassurance and apologies. This made leeway for the PR professionals to get a grip on their next potential move. Social media, especially Twitter is the main asset to these professionals when addressing a pre-crisis. As mentioned by Schultz, Utz, & Görtz (2011):

“Regarding the technological potential it can be stated that blogs and twitter fit better to the normative ideal of two-way communication within public relations than do classic media or simple websites” (p. 22). These climates of social media allow users to easily engage in the top news that is circulating the internet— and encourages commenting, and retweeting with ease (Schultz et al., 2011).

After scanning social media to target any issues they move on to the next step, the proactive stage.

At this point illness is spreading across the country and reports are being broadcasted on media, leaving families in panic. In this case, they start to throw together a crisis management plan targeting potential solutions and steps to create a safe environment for employees, and overall, customers. I think Chipotle did the right thing by addressing the situation and closing the stores that were targeted. Sure, all at once seemed a bit drastic, but having health code on the line is not funny business. Especially when you have stakeholders keeping a close eye on the company’s every move.

With a crisis plan in hand, Chipotle moves to the reactive stage. The PR professionals start crisis communication by releasing public apologies that were published in magazines and newspapers. Co-CEO of Chipotle made an appearance on the Today show extending his amends to the public— encouraging many customers that Chipotle will bounce back and keep serving after several health code changes in the stores (Stump, 2015).

Next, we move into recovery.

Chipotle publically released a “Five Step Plan” to help their restaurants recover and establish new food safety guidelines (Galarza, 2016). New safety protocol, which requires employees to boil many vegetables before served, and track all ingredients to their source to pinpoint new disease breakouts (Galarza, 2016). Implementing third-party inspectors, thorough audits performed by management, a new promotion campaign (worth $50 Million), continued expansion, and careful investment in staff and management (Galarza, 2016).

You get ‘em Chipotle!

According to USA TODAY, Chipotle’s fourth-quarter income dropped by 44% due to public health scares (Yu, 2016). In a case as serious as this, I think Chipotle did a great job thinking about their customers and closing all hazardous stores to progress with an extensive recovery/crisis management plan. There was a lot on the line, but re-branding and establishing a new campaign has the ability to gain trust with the consumers again, and hopefully, Chipotle remains one of the safest places to eat. 

 


 

Resources

Galarza, D. (2016, February 02). Chipotle’s Recovery Plan, Explained in Five Easy Steps. Retrieved February 07, 2016, from http://www.eater.com/2016/2/2/10900204/chipotle-turnaround-sales-down

Madhani, A. (2015, November 11). Chipotle to reopen restaurants shuttered in E. coli outbreak in northwest. Retrieved February 7, 2016, from http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2015/11/10/chipotle-reopens-ecol-restaurants-oregon-washington/75505514/

Marler, B. (2016, January 31). Chipotle E. coli almost over, but not all its problems. Retrieved February 07, 2016, from http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/chipotle-e-coli-almost-over-but-not-all-its-problems/#.Vrf_SFgrK01

Schultz, F., Utz, S., & Göritz, A. (2011). Is the medium the message? perceptions of and reactions to crisis communication via twitter, blogs and traditional media. Public Relations Review, 37(1), 20-27. doi:10.1016/j.pubrev.2010.12.001

Stump, S. (2015, December 10). Chipotle CEO after health scares: ‘This will be the safest place to eat’ Retrieved February 07, 2016, from http://www.today.com/news/chipotle-ceo-speaks-out-after-health-scares-will-be-safest-t60746

Yu, R. (2016, February 02). Chipotle Q4 income falls 44% on health scares. Retrieved February 07, 2016, from http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2016/02/02/chipotle-q4-income-falls-44-health-scares-drive-same-store-sales-down-146/79711066/