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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

An Intern's Perspective

By Guest Blogger & vitalink Intern Adrienne Bryant

When I began looking for an internship this summer, I was a little nervous from the many stories I’ve heard about interns getting stuck behind a desk and made to do all the grunt work. The first couple of interviews went okay, but nothing jumped out at me until I sat down in the vitalink office and began talking to Jeanne and Mary Ann. I couldn’t have wished for a better company to intern for. Here at vitalink, I’ve been allowed to actively participate in multiple projects for clients including research and creative work.

One of the creative projects I was assigned recently was to take photographs of an automobile accident scene for the cover of a book called Wrecked. The whole process was extremely fun. One of the first things I had to do was find old broken car parts I could use to create the scene, so the morning before the shoot I picked up an old headlight from a local body shop. As I was contemplating how exactly to bust it up, smashing it with a baseball bat kept replaying in my head, one of my good friends texted me. The conversation began with the typical, “What’s up? I’m good, how are you?” and changed when my friend said, “I’m okay, I got in a car accident yesterday and my car is destroyed.” Thinking about it now, I probably didn’t respond in the most thoughtful manner when I said, “OMG that’s awesome! Do you have a broken headlight?” After explaining myself, she agreed to let me have her busted headlight and I was now prepared to set up my accident scene.

When I got home from the office the day of the shoot, I quickly changed clothes and grabbed the headlights and my baseball bat. I set the headlight down in the middle of the front yard and got ready to swing. I was pretty excited since I hadn’t swung a bat since I had stopped playing ball a few years ago. After a few hits, the headlight was busted but not into small enough pieces. I had to think bigger, I glanced over at my car and decided to put all of the headlight pieces in a plastic bag, place it in the middle of the street, and run over it with my car. I probably should’ve done this in the first place because I successfully smashed the headlights into tiny pieces and the momentum from the car spread the pieces out perfectly over the street.

So many cars drove by while I was shooting pictures that I had to continually stop and wave them around. A lot of people looked at me like I was crazy standing in the middle of the street with broken glass, headlights, and a camera, but some people actually stopped to ask if I needed any help. I got tired of explaining and soon adopted the short explanation of, “school project.”

I started taking photographs from multiple angles, but one of my favorites was with the camera positioned low on the street so I could get a longer perspective. I arranged the headlight fragments in a few different ways to get multiple scenes. In one particular series, I used a bigger piece of the headlight in the foreground. I feel like this gave a focal point for the eye and allowed for the viewer to understand and take in more of what was going on in the scene. In some of these shots, I tried to achieve a balance by having the bigger piece in the front left and a shot of the speed limit sign in the back right corner.

Overall, the shoot was a lot of fun and I loved that it allowed me to use more of my creative side. It’s kind of surreal to me that I was allowed to do all of this as an intern and that one of pictures I took is actually going to be used on a published book cover. I would’ve never gotten the chance to do this at a larger company. I’m extremely grateful for all the opportunities I’ve gotten at vitalink; to have hands on experience, learn new things and use the talent and knowledge that I have.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Do Your Press Releases Attract Media Attention?

With the decline of traditional news reporting and the increase in number of individual contributors providing information, it can be extremely difficult to capture the attention of the most influential media players. At vitalink, we write and distribute countless press releases and media kits with varying results.

Over the years, we have compiled some “best practices” that we would like to share. Even for our clients who continue to use our PR services, these guidelines may help you to determine whether or not an event would be newsworthy so that you may let us know to proceed with a PR. Here are some thoughts:

  1. Is the item unusual enough to warrant the attention of the public? A milestone business anniversary, revolutionary new product, free seminar offering, acquisition of another firm, or the fact that you won a big case would likely all be of interest. On the other hand, if you write a blog post about a subject that has been covered by a hundred others before you, it is likely not press worthy.

  2. Is the notification timely? Many businesses—especially if they are large—struggle with getting communications out the door quickly. With the pace of information flow these days, old news is just that. Plan ahead whenever possible and react quickly if there is no prior notice.

  3. Does the item position the firm in a positive light? Ideally you want to showcase news events such that the firm benefits. There are exceptions, however, so if there is a negative item that should be addressed with a public statement, get it out there quickly. Controversy can generate a lot of discussion!

  4. Is the news item a “feel good” people story? People like to know who you really are on a personal level. Showcasing employees as they give back to the community or if they have a positive event can help with relationship building.

In short, items that are interesting, relevant—and sometimes even controversial—will generate media attention and, with luck, that elusive notice by (and conversation with) customers and prospects. We'd love to hear what types of press releases you've found generate the most interest. Let us know!


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