New Year, New Job, New Subway Commute

The New Year began with one big change for me: I started a new job at the Rachael Ray Show as its Publicity Coordinator. Wednesday was my first day, and while I’m still getting the hang of things, I can tell it’s going to be a fulfilling experience. I already feel very lucky to be part of that team.

After working as a temp in Sports Illustrated‘s communications department for four months, it became clear that there might not be a chance for longer-term employment there – not for any bad reason, but just because that’s how things go sometimes in a down economy. But, I felt encouraged and grateful for the support of my bosses, who assured me they were in my corner as I looked for a new position. One of them had a connection to the show, knew they needed a new Publicity Coordinator, and I was lucky enough to get the job.

Aside from the work being rooted in public relations and social media, nearly everything about it is different from previous positions I’ve held. After thinking for most of college that I wanted to work in sports, I’m really enjoying the shift to the entertainment industry (if I’ve learned anything since graduating from college, it’s that you shouldn’t be surprised if your idea of a perfect career radically changes). My passion for sports – as a fan – has not dulled, and I’m not ruling out a return to the field somewhere down the road, but having a new focus is refreshing.

I’m also in a new part of the city. My new office is in Chelsea – a departure from the fast pace of Midtown. It’s a painless commute, although a bit longer, but that just means I’m finishing three to five more pages of Team of Rivals each morning.

And while everything about the challenge and promise of a new job is great, there’s another benefit: This is a full-time, real-person, big-kid position. I’m no longer a temp or an intern. It gives some degree of permanence to my time in New York City and a bit of an accomplished feeling, in that I landed a job in my dream city and desired field. Obviously, I still have a lot to prove, but I’m proud of having taken the first step.

Not much else is new for me in the new year, but the job change and a wonderful week home in Portland for Christmas have me looking at NYC in a different light. It’s only January 5, but 2013 is already giving me a lot to love. I hope it’s doing the same for you.

Brief P.S.: I typically can’t keep a New Year’s Resolution past the third week of January, but I’m seriously resolved to write more in 2013. So many thoughts pop in and out of my head on a daily basis, and I’d like to develop many of them more fully right here. We’ll see how it goes.

Lincoln, Perception and Storytelling

After months of anticipation, my sister and I saw Lincoln this past weekend, taking advantage of the movie’s early release in New York City theaters. While I’ve always taken a particular interest in the Civil War when it comes to studying American history, Hope is the real Civil War buff and had been beside herself with excitement for weeks at the idea of seeing her favorite time period gloriously displayed on screen.

To our surprise, she was underwhelmed, while I absolutely loved it. Sure, it dragged a bit at the end, and I found the opening scene (in which Union soldiers recite the Gettysburg Address back to Lincoln during his visit to a battlefield) to be a little cheesy, but I just couldn’t (actually, still can’t) get over Daniel Day-Lewis’ tremendous performance as the president. Not to go all Roger Ebert here, but I have never been so convinced that an actor really was the person he was portraying. Obviously, there is no way of knowing whether he’s doing a spot-on impression of Lincoln’s voice, gait and mannerisms. But assuming tremendous research went into making it as accurate as possible, I don’t know how someone couldn’t be blown away by how real it seems.

Prior to seeing the movie, I decided to start reading Team of Rivals, Doris Kearns Goodwin’s 2005 book upon which much of Lincoln‘s plot is drawn. I still have a ways to go with it, but I’m glad I read a little before seeing the movie (for, say, some background knowledge on characters like William Seward, Lincoln’s Secretary of State) and am finding it easier to digest with some mental image (albeit not the “real” thing) of characters and places described in the book.

I’m on page 142 of 754 so there’s still a lot to digest, but I have been struck by two facets of Lincoln I never knew existed:

  1. Master storyteller. If nothing else, Lincoln is worth  it for the scene in which the president tells a story about Ethan Allen and a George Washington portrait in an outhouse (just trust me). It’s not just worth it because the story is laugh-out-loud funny; the way Daniel Day-Lewis delivers (and, I want to believe, Lincoln delivered) it – timing, emphasis, everything – is riveting. And as I read the book, I’m intrigued by all the mentions of Lincoln as a masterful storyteller. He grew up listening to his father regale friends, neighbors and travelers who boarded at their Kentucky home, carefully remembering every detail and re-telling the stories for his own friends the next day. Goodwin called it a “passion for rendering experience into powerful language.” From what I can tell so far, nearly everyone who made contact with Lincoln was smitten by his stories and the way his face lit up as he told them. I suppose I always thought of Lincoln as a no-nonsense, serious man, but I like knowing he was much more than a stoic face looking back at me from a Mathew Brady portrait.
  2. Savvy PR man. Lincoln believed you only are that which you are perceived to be. No matter what’s on the inside, people will like or dislike you (or vote for or against you) based on who they think you are, not who you think yourself to be. To me, this is a huge part of why companies invest in public relations: They want to control how they are perceived. To Lincoln, it was a driving factor in his political pursuits, primarily because he desperately wanted history to remember his name (mission accomplished), and knew that wouldn’t happen unless he made a name for himself in modern times. He seemed to believe, writes Goodwin, that “ideas of a person’s worth are tied to the way others, both contemporaries and future generations, perceive him.” I love that quote. Whether or not that’s how it should be, that’s how it is, and Lincoln played the political game with that in mind. I really don’t have much interest in modern-day politics, but I’m eager to learn more about how Lincoln’s rise to the top was aided by his deep understanding of perception’s importance.

My copy of Team of Rivals is already littered with highlighter marks and Post-it notes as I organize my thoughts, but I might turn here in the coming days and weeks in order to archive and consider them more fully.

And just for kicks: The Lincoln trailer, if you haven’t already seen it; background on how Lincoln came to life in the movie, from Diane Sawyer’s interview with Steven Spielberg and Daniel Day-Lewis; and if you need to be convinced that this movie is worthy of your time, Ebert’s review.

A Brief Summary of the Last Two Months

Last week, when Twitter unveiled its new profile design, it dawned on me that I hadn’t posted here in nearly two months. As of yesterday, it has officially been two months, and while last week was the “wake-up call” – if I voluntarily share this URL with the entire internet, I should probably keep it current – I’ve honestly started and and abandoned at least ten drafts since I last posted.

Each time I tried to write something, I told myself the post was too detailed, too emotional, too this, too that. I didn’t want it to be a photo album of my summer in New York, and I didn’t want it to be twenty paragraphs on how much my life has changed since I last posted. So now, it’s this awkward “my blog is still here!” post. That’s what I get for being inconsistent.

Anyway, without being too photo-album-y and too emotional, I’ll make it a little of both and share a brief summary of what the last two months have held – if only so I can get past all that information and free myself to write with a fresh start.

When I last blogged, Ichiro had just become a Yankee. I remain traumatized.

Since then:

  • The biggest change over the past two months has been switching jobs. I could go on and on and on about how much I loved and learned from my experience as a Mets media relations intern (and in a later post, I might), but in mid-August, I accepted a temporary position with Sports Illustrated’s communications team. It was the right fit at the right time, and while it was difficult to say goodbye to an awesome group of co-workers and a press-box view for Mets games, I love where I’m at right now. I do a mix of traditional media relations work and social media promotion for the magazine and SI.com. (Shameless plug: Follow us here and here.)
  • Another big move: My roommate and I signed a one-year lease on our apartment. It was probably the most real-life-adult thing I’ve ever done, and it feels great to be settled. It sounds cheesy, but in my mind, signing that lease meant I really made it in New York. Of course, not much about my current situation is guaranteed to last forever, but there was enough permanence about the move to make me feel like I accomplished a big part of my longtime goal to live and work in NYC.
  • I’ve been a little homesick. (Disclaimer: This is the emotional section!) At first, I felt guilty for being homesick. I thought, I’m in the coolest city in the world! Even the worst day here should be better than the best day somewhere else. That’s a pretty stupid way to think, because sometimes it stinks to be relatively alone (compared to the big community I found in college) and away from all that had been familiar for the previous 21 years. I’m feeling more comfortable with New York life each day, but going through some tough bouts of homesickness shifted my perspective on several aspects of living and working in the city.
  • In the past month, I’ve seen my sister quite a bit. She’s in her second year at the United States Military Academy at West Point, located 80 minutes up the Hudson River from NYC, so it’s been nice to visit her and have her come into the city, especially with the rest of our family so far away.
  • What else? Oh, college football season started. The Ducks are 4-0 and #2 in the nation. Enough said.

There are countless other experiences I haven’t mentioned – amazing meals, great talks with old friends, making new friends, exploring the city – that aren’t necessarily landmarks, but moments composing an unforgettable time of transition in my life. I wish I had time to do them all justice with a few more sentences, but there’s too much happening right now to dwell on the past. That’s a big part of why I wanted to write this all down. The past is in the past, and I’m eager to move forward while writing about the people, places, ideas and obsessions I encounter along the way.

First Step into the Future

File under “sentences I never thought I’d actually write”: In a few days, I will be a college graduate living in New York City and interning for a Major League Baseball team.

For weeks, I’ve been afraid to talk about my post-college plans, in part because a) I still feel like I’m only old enough to be a high school freshman; b) there were so many pieces of the puzzle to fill at school (writing my thesis, preparing to graduate, etc.) before I could concentrate on the summer; and c) a handful of people needed to hear from me in person before I blabbed about it online.

All those issues are now taken care of, so I can officially say I’m heading to New York City immediately after graduation to intern in the New York Mets’ media relations department. (And I do mean immediately – my flight leaves mere hours after I graduate on Monday).

My diplomatic, restrained Internet voice tells me to discuss this in diplomatic, restrained terms such as “I’m extremely excited” and “I’m grateful for the opportunity.” Both statements are true, but to be honest, I’m WAAAAY more than excited and grateful. Really, I’m beside myself at the thought of spending my summer at a baseball stadium in New York City, and have to thank a million people who helped open this door for me.

This will only last through the regular season, so a whole new set of “what are you doing with your life?” questions will emerge in a few months. For now, I’m eager to graduate, get to the city, work hard, learn a ton and hopefully launch a career in sports PR. The future feels bright.

I Left My Heart in San Francisco (And Can’t Come up with Clever Post Titles)

Winter term at the University of Oregon can be dreary: cold, cloudy, probably raining, summer still months away.

The pain of late February was eased, however, with a quick trip to San Francisco with my Allen Hall Public Relations pals to tour a few agencies in the area: The OutCast Agency, Fleishman-Hillard‘s SF office and SHIFT Communications. From exploring the neighborhoods of San Francisco to soaking in wisdom from PR pros, it was a BLAST. Yeah, capital letters.

We drove down on Thursday and devoted Friday to visiting agencies. Luckily, it was a beautiful day, and we enjoyed coffee in Union Square before beginning our tour.

Our view of Union Square on Friday morning.

OutCast seemed to embody the hip Bay Area tech PR agency vibe. Their offices are housed in a brick building near AT&T Park and chalkboards with inspiring quotes line the walls. Employees from various levels of the agency hierarchy – including one UO grad and former AHPR member – spoke to us about OutCast’s clients, strategic approach and internship program.

An element of OutCast’s structure that intrigued me was their recently developed media strategy team. While everyone is involved in media strategy to a degree, they have a team dedicated to developing relationships with reporters and consulting individual client teams on media-related projects. One of my favorite parts of my internship at Sports Illustrated this summer was sitting in on meetings in which the communications team brainstormed unique approaches to media relations – how many angles can we find in this story, and what reporters might cover it? To whom can we give an exclusive? How can we play up the most exciting part of this story? It sounds like OutCast’s media strategy team tackles those questions, and I loved learning more about it.

Since OutCast is so close, it would’ve been a crime not to stop at AT&T Park. A few AHPRers on the tour are Bay Area natives and huge Giants fans (their excitement for Buster Posey’s return was palpable), so all the baseball fans made a pilgrimage to the ballpark.

Lunch with the Say Hey Kid.

Our next stop was Fleishman-Hillard, which gave us perspective on the larger agency culture. They walked us through a few case studies of recent work, including a campaign with Callaway Golf. An advertising agency developed a new ad campaign to promote the brand’s new product line, and Fleishman was tasked with drumming up publicity for the campaign itself (not just pitching the products featured in the ads). The campaign featured famous golfers like Phil Mickelson, and took them off the golf course and into Las Vegas, where they made shots from the tops of buildings and into fountains. Hearing how they targeted various media outlets and capitalized on unique opportunities (like having Phil sing the SportsCenter intro music) inspired me to think creatively about media opportunities for campaigns I might work on in the future.

We met with Fleishman-Hillard on the 20th floor of their building, and were treated to this gorgeous view.

Finally, we visited SHIFT Communications, which was especially terrific because we were able to re-connect with the great Karly Bolton (I’m following her footsteps as AHPR’s Firm Director), who now works in their SF office. After a panel discussion about SHIFT’s work, approach to PR and advice for the job search, they hosted a happy hour for us; I know we all loved chatting with the office about PR, statement necklaces, the New York Giants and everything in between.

Warm welcome at the SHIFT-hosted happy hour.

Karly guided us through San Francisco’s coolest neighborhoods that night, and we packed up for Eugene in the morning. There’s something tragic about looking at the San Francisco skyline in your rear-view mirror, knowing all that lies ahead is 500 miles of freeway and a lot of homework. (Okay, that sounded a little more dramatic than I meant it to.) But you get the idea – there are few things more fun and inspiring than a weekend in a big city, surrounded by awesome people. Can’t wait to go back.

(P.S. – AHPR’s Business Development Director, Rachel Koppes, did an AMAZING job planning everything, from reserving the hotel to carrying a clipboard with directions from agency to agency. She deserves a standing ovation.)

Anticipating, Doing, Ending.

No matter how long you anticipate something – a wedding, a birthday, a vacation – that thing always comes to an end. And the end always leaves you with a “where do I go from here?” feeling. Such is the case with my internship at Sports Illustrated, which ended yesterday.

My Oregon-centric cubicle decor (with special guest appearances by a Michael Pineda picture from a recent SI, and two photos of my sisters).

Working at SI had consumed my thoughts from the day I got the internship in mid-March. I remember receiving a call from a lady in Time Inc.’s Human Resources department. She told me that I had been accepted to Sports Illustrated’s internship program, and I think she laughed at how enthusiastic I was while accepting the offer.

When it’s mid-March, “August 5” sounds like lightyears away. It still felt lightyears away when I started work at SI on June 6. But now it’s just another “X” on my calendar (a figurative calendar; Oregon Ducks day-by-day calendars don’t have X’s). The day carried a surreal, last-day-of-school feeling, and leaving was bittersweet. As excited as I am to return home and get back to school, I absolutely loved working at SI. Every day was different, and I was able to diversify my public relations experience. I grew as a person and as a professional, and was lucky to work with a wonderful group of people who graciously offered their support in the future.

From a PR perspective, I learned more at SI than can fit here, so I’ll probably write a few posts over the coming weeks that dive deeper into my experience. I will say, however, that I learned a tremendous amount about social media (and took my first foray into the world of social media analytics) and have a fresh outlook on how to creatively approach media relations. More to come on those subjects and others, but I’m still processing everything.

My friends and I are also in denial about the fact that we only have one week left together in the city. (One of my friends, Chase, has already left. And he gave me a hard time about never actually calling any of my “New York friends” by name on my blog. So, Chase, I hope you’re happy.) Every day, we add five or ten items to our “to-do list” even though we inch closer and closer to our departures. We’ll leave with unfinished business, but it’s an excuse to come back.

Just as I have too many PR lessons to fit into one post, I also have too many good NYC photos/stories/recommendations. So expect a few posts on my favorite places/foods/sights/etc., too.

On that note, it has been two weeks since I last posted. I think pictures could tell the story better than I could (plus I’m feeling too lazy at the moment to write all those stories) so here are three glimpses into the past several days. (And yes, I know one of the pictures is the one of my cubicle, which is also posted earlier. When it comes to WordPress quirks, I pick my battles. And I didn’t pick that one.)

As always, thanks for reading. There’s a lot more to come as I continue processing all I’ve learned and accomplished this summer.

*Also, you should check out my cousin’s band, Brave Chandeliers.

(Almost) One Week Down and Loving It

So much has happened between my last post on Saturday and tonight that I don’t even know where to begin. Eugene, school and finals seem like an eternity ago, but I absolutely love this second go-round in NYC.

I arrived early Saturday morning after taking that trusty JetBlue redeye from PDX. Since I couldn’t get into my building until 8 a.m. (or at least, didn’t want to wake up the RAs before 8), I stopped at the Dunkin’ Donuts near baggage claim  (sorry for two parentheses in the same sentence, but I’m positive it’s the same one my dad and I stopped at when we arrived last summer) and sat for an hour with iced coffee and a copy of the New York Daily News.

On the cab ride into the city, I was pleasantly surprised to find that BOTH of my biggest celebrity crushes, Brian Williams and Jimmy Fallon, currently star in Taxi TV segments.

Sunday was for getting settled, meeting my roommates and timing the walk from my building to the Time-Life Building, where Sports Illustrated’s offices are housed. It takes roughly twenty minutes, not counting my ritual Starbucks stop.

Entrance to the Sports Illustrated office.

My internship began on Monday. I was led to my cubicle on the 33rd floor. On my desk when I arrived: MLB’s 2011 Media Guide (so, yeah, all you MLB beat reporters and PR people – I’m going to start following you on Twitter), a copy of the most recent SI (the Jim Tressel cover at the time), a new notebook, plenty of office supplies and several papers and packets detailing everything I’d need to know as a communications intern at Sports Illustrated. Awesome.

There are six full-time employees on the communications staff, and three interns including me.

My cube. This was taken before I added some pictures and Duck décor.

On Tuesday, I had the thrill of actually sending a tweet from the official Sports Illustrated Twitter account. (Side note – again, sorry for all of the parentheses – SI’s Twitter handle was recently changed from @SI_24Seven to @SInow.) It might not sound like a big deal, but having the chance to combine my passions for social media and sports was very exciting. Now, I’m crafting a few tweets each day to send out based on SI.com content and photos from SI’s Google Chrome app, Sports Illustrated Snapshot.

Speaking of snapshots: this is just a phone picture, but I took it from the room where our Time Inc. intern orientation was held on Monday. There's something very New York-ish about working across from Radio City Music Hall.

Every morning, I attend an SI.com editorial meeting. Most of the editors for SI.com’s departments – everything from MLB to boxing/MMA – meet for a quick rundown of what will appear on the site that day. It’s my job to listen for particular stories or features that would appeal to SI’s Twitter followers, and think of ways to uniquely position the content. We don’t want to just post story after story, but provide a new perspective and ask followers what they think. (And on a major nerd note, one of the hosts of a college football podcast I listen to is at those editorial meetings.)

From a PR standpoint, it’s not only fun to tweet, but also fascinating to see how each tweet is intentionally designed to spark some sort of conversation or plug a certain article on the site.

Other than tweeting, I’ve been spending a lot of time with a program called Critical Mention, which tracks mentions of Sports Illustrated on TV shows. I also track some statistics related to SI’s Twitter engagement and today, I put together an Excel spreadsheet filled with info about various golf blogs.

I’m only four days in, but each day has been busy, fulfilling and fun. Next on my agenda: get out and explore more of New York this weekend.

Since I’m feeling rather deprived of anything but sports news, what’s up in your world?