Some people may think an internship only consists of making copies and coffee for the staff, however, Erin Donnelly knows what it takes to be a “key player” at a non-profit organization. Erin is a senior public relations major at Westminster College. She interned with the Sweetwater Center for the Arts in Sewickley this past summer, and is currently interning with New Castle Regional Ballet (NCRB), a non-profit, pre-professional dance company located in New Castle, Pa. Erin obtained this internship through an experiential course this semester and will assist NCRB in all public relations and social media efforts until the end of December 2013. She manages NCRB’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, and is currently planning a fundraising event for “The Nutcracker” performances on December 7th and 8th. Erin is also in the process of creating a YouTube account for the company. I conducted this interview with Erin because she is efficient with social media and understands how to engage with a specific target audience. The section below, “Interning with Purpose,” will enlighten you on the ups and downs of social media for a small non-profit organization.
Interning with Purpose
Why do you think social media is important for non-profit and corporate organizations to have? Social media is everywhere. The internet is a growing tool that the majority of society is using today. Social networks are one of the top promotional and advertising techniques that professionals are using for their organizations. Non-profit and corporate organizations absolutely need social media to enhance their brand name and reach out to audiences on a personal level. This shows that the company’s main concern is the satisfaction of their customers and audience.
How much time do you spend managing social media for NCRB? Do you think you need to spend more or less time? I manage social media every day for NCRB. I spend about a total of two to three hours each day scanning the media and posting on Facebook and Twitter. I think I’m spending the right amount of time managing the social networks.
Have you noticed a change in engagement with targeted audiences? Have ticket sales for “The Nutcracker” increased yet? Yes, I have noticed a change in engagement with targeted audiences. Before I took over managing Facebook and Twitter, there was not much interaction with the people who “liked” or “followed” our pages. Now, we are receiving more likes, favorites, comments, and interactions than before. Ticket sales are at a steady pace; nothing too extreme yet.
What is your main goal or purpose for your social media campaign with NCRB? My main goals for this internship and social media campaign for NCRB is to increase ticket sales for “The Nutcracker,” ensure that more people in the area are aware of the dance studio and the yearly performance, and to create a positive, cheerful spirit among target audiences about NCRB and “The Nutcracker.”
Have you ever received negative feedback from the targeted audience? If so, how did you handle this? Yes, however, this negative feedback wasn’t anything too severe. We had a situation where a parent of a dancer at the studio didn’t receive the correct amount of tickets she had ordered in the mail. I was able to apologize for the inconvenience and give her the missing tickets at a discount.
When receiving positive feedback, do you respond to it immediately? How does this make you feel? Positive feedback is always a good thing. I usually respond as soon as I get notifications on the computer or my iPhone. I will “like” the comments, “favorite” the tweets, and usually always respond back with a positive comment. Receiving positive feedback on social networks makes me feel like I’m doing my job correctly and efficiently.
Do you post the same things on Twitter as you post on Facebook? Why or why not? I try to post some of the same things on both of these networks, but I do like to have variety across the platform. If important information needs to be said, then I will post the same thing on both Twitter and Facebook. I usually like to switch up the posts or tweets so the audience doesn’t have to read the same thing twice in one day. Like I said, important information that needs to be repeated will be posted on both sites.
Why do you think it’s important to create a YouTube account for NCRB? What type of videos will you be creating to enhance audience engagement? I’m really excited about creating a YouTube account, however, I really don’t have much experience with this platform. I think it’s important because NCRB has never had something like this before, and it has the possibility of attracting the audiences’ attention. Videos will include clips of dancers from rehearsals, pictures from previous performances, and informational title slides.
Do posts or tweets with pictures seem to receive more attention than those without? People love to see pictures with posts. I have found that when a picture link is posted on Twitter, followers look at it no matter what. People are curious to find out what picture has been posted. This usually results in a favorite or a retweet. On Facebook, a picture with a status update catches the eye on the newsfeed. I believe that pictures do receive more attention that posts without them, however, I wouldn’t recommend posting a picture with every single tweet or status update because then your page will look cluttered.
Have you included a value proposition in your social media campaign for NCRB? I have not yet. This is something that I will think about for my social media campaign. I do think having a value proposition will be beneficial.
What aspects do you like and dislike concerning social media? This one might take a while for me to think about! I really like that social media is very flexible. You can manage it from your computer at home or on the run by your smart phone, anytime and anywhere. Social networks can reach so many people at once; it’s truly incredible. One click and tons of people can read what you have to say about your organization. However, I really don’t like the fact that everyone is a reporter on social networks. By this I mean that status updates and tweets can spread like wildfire, and sometimes this isn’t always a good thing.
Who is your target audience for the upcoming fundraising event you’re planning, and how do you plan on promoting the event through social media? The target audience for this fundraising event consists of a primary and secondary audience. The primary audience consists of the dancers at the studio and their family and friends. The secondary audience consists of local business that have sponsored “The Nutcracker” in the past and this year. I plan on creating a separate page for this event on Facebook. I’m not going to create a new Twitter account for it, however, I will tweet regulary abo
As an intern, do you feel as though you are making a difference at NCRB through social media? Coming into this internship, I really thought it wasn’t going to be beneficial to my public relations experience. I was wrong. I am gaining hands-on experience managing NCRB’s social networks. I really enjoy being the liaison between the company and the target audience. I feel as though I’m benefiting NCRB through social media because I reach out to different people every day.
What social media aspects do you think you will use in the future from this experience? Did you learn anything new that you didn’t know before? I think I will use every social media aspect that I learned from this internship. Even though I was familiar with Facebook and Twitter before NCRB, I now know techniques that the audience responds to. I am currently learning about YouTube and creating videos; something that I never knew how to do before!
What do you hope to gain at the end of this internship? I hope to gain a beneficial experience and portfolio pieces that I can use in future job interviews. I want to be able to demonstrate my skills in social media and in public relations in general. I hope that the fundraising event I’m planning turns out to be a success.
In conclusion, I’d like to thank Erin for interviewing with me and sharing her personal experiences with social media. I’ve known Erin for the past three years, and I know she will be successful in her future endeavors with public relations and social media. The growing aspect of social media with academic courses, internships, and careers can take companies and organizations to a new level of brand development. More businesses are benefiting from social media each day by reaching out to audiences on a personal level. I hope those of you who read “15 Questions with Erin Donnelly: Interning with Purpose” learned something new!