My time at Multimedia Marketing Group was filled with numerous opportunities for me to gain real-world experience in the field of advertising. Since I took this internship halfway through my educational career, I was still not completely sure about which area of advertising I wanted to specialize in. For a good portion of my college career, I had always believed I would end up in creative. However, the two strategy classes I took in my spring semester of sophomore year ignited a spark of curiosity for a different side of advertising. Strategy, I came to find out, allowed me to not only utilize my creativity, but to also apply my logical thinking skills to solve communication problems. Having mostly been in creative roles in my clubs, I knew I needed to explore strategy. So when I began my internship with Multimedia Marketing Group, I made sure to not only put myself in a position to try out strategy, but to also develop my skills as a creative.
When I began my internship, I was asked to define three SMART goals to work towards during my time with MMG. My first goal was creative-related. I wanted to learn the Adobe Creative Cloud, but I knew I would have to focus on one or two apps, so I chose Premiere and Photoshop. I also wanted to become more well-versed in creative, which would help me regardless of whether I become a creative or a strategist. My second goal had to do with strategy. I wanted to create between one and three good strategies that would immediately spark the creative process, leading to great campaigns that achieve what they intended to do. My third goal was general and pertained to advertising as a whole. I wanted to become a well-rounded advertising professional who could successfully integrate academic skills and practical skills in everyday work. I wanted to be efficient. Most importantly, I wanted to gain confidence in myself and the skills I possessed. In the end, I think I achieved these goals in some form; even perhaps in an unconventional or unintentional way.
The first project I worked on was a documentary video that would highlight all the great services Multimedia Marketing Group provided. I stepped into the project shortly after it had begun. It was still in the planning stages, but it lacked focus. As the designated strategist for the project, I took control and began doing my own research on the company. After looking through the website and having many conferences with Joe, I began to understand what the pillars of Multimedia Marketing Group were. One key theme emerged from all the information swirling around: Multimedia Marketing Group pays careful attention to the quality of the work it produces. And, they never settle for less than their best. This idea called to mind an old phrase I used to hear a former teacher say. The phrase has an unknown author, although it is commonly misattributed to St. Jerome. It reads: “Good, better, best. Never let it rest. ‘Til your good is better and your better is best.”
To me, this phrase captured the essence of MMG’s business model. So, I decided to use the phrase for the strategy behind the project. I opted to emphasize one specific part of the phrase: “Never let it rest.” Thus the strategy was born. I then gathered more data from my MMG colleagues to both support the strategy and the video. I asked them what extra step they were taking to make sure their work was the best. I used this information in conjunction with that which was already on the website to write a creative brief and a content brief. Once the briefings were approved by Joe and Serena, I began working on the script. I followed the audio/visual template that Joe provided me with. Once I had a complete script, I had it sent off to my creatives, Jake and Blake. After a few revisions, the script was ready for production.
Jake, Blake, Serena, and I met at Multimedia Marketing Group for production day. Joe stopped by to help set up the lights. Jake and Blake were in charge of filming, Serena was both a supervisor and the voice actor, and I oversaw the execution of the project. For the most part, I thought filming went smoothly. There were issues with memorizing the script, and I think I could have perhaps shortened the copy or made it less complex. In the future, if I do end up writing a script, I think it would be good to work with an actor so that I can write a more accessible script.
Once filming and voice recordings were completed, the project was passed off to Jake and Blake for post-production. Due to some unfortunate time constraints, the video was not completed before the conclusion of my internship. Although it is disappointing to not see the end result, I am still grateful for the hard work the two of them put in. I am confident that with proper planning and a better time frame, the project would have turned out great. I know I put my all into the research, strategy, and creative. So, I know it would have been a quality documentary.
This particular project was an excellent opportunity for me to practice strategy. I took over the majority of the campaign process, and I learned a lot by doing much of the work on the front end. And, it forced me to step up and work on my leadership skills. While this was not at all easy to do, I learned a great deal about team dynamics and management styles. This will, of course, benefit my future career. As a strategist, I will have to be able translate research into idea-generating briefs. I will have to lead creatives in a way that does not infringe on their creativity, but that also stays on strategy. I know I will likely be put into other leadership roles, so I am happy to have some real-world experiences to fall back on. I look forward to working with so many talented creative people—wherever I end up.
For the remainder of the internship, I worked on three blog posts for MMG’s blog. I wrote about new business strategy, psychometrics and personas, and a retrospective post on the first phone call. I always made sure to read whatever I needed to fully understand the content I was going to write about, and then I outlined each post before writing them. I was given general directions for the posts, allowing me the creative freedom to make the post my own. I ran each post past Joe, Serena, and Susan, and they helped me revise the post to both fit their vision and mine. I curated the pictures so that the post was easier on the eyes, so that they fit the same aesthetic, and so that they made sense with the copy.
Writing blog posts on a consistent basis was a great way to maintain my writing skills. Coming into this internship, my writing ability was likely my strongest skill set. However, I had never written blog posts for commercial use, so it was new territory for me. By the sounds of it, I did an excellent job with each post, which boosts my confidence in post writing. Regardless of what I end up becoming, I think this is an important skill to have, considering so much of today’s content can be enriched by a blog post. And, generally speaking, any exercise in writing is beneficial to the overall development of my writing abilities. Writing well is important in whatever area I land in. In this way, practicing a creative skill had applications to other disciplines, and, by extent, my life as a whole. This is invaluable, and I am glad I got to practice it and develop it further.
I was also involved in some smaller projects towards the latter half of my internship. Joe sent me a video he made on digital marketing and asked what I thought of it. I reviewed the video and suggested some copy changes that would be more powerful and clarifying, and I was then asked to make those changes. The final version of the video was better; it could capture and engage the audience in an authentic way. Making these changes was another chance for me to “never let it rest;” to ensure the best possible work was being produced. It was yet another opportunity for me to embody my own strategy—and the essence of the MMG way.
I also had the chance to accompany Serena to a Multimedia Marketing Group production at Blackhawk Community Center. This was a wonderful experience because I got to work with one of our clients firsthand. It was eye opening to hear the stories of the students of Launch My Future. It filled me with a lot of hope and gratitude for the services Rockford Housing Authority provides. And, it allowed me to interact with our client’s and their customers. I was able to gain so much understanding of who RHA and their residents are. This type of understanding is critical as both a strategist and a creative. Knowing the audience is the key to making a great campaign. Personal anecdotes do not cut it. To make a good campaign, advertisers need to know the people they are talking to, not just know of them.
Looking back at this summer, I am so happy with the growth I have made. In regards to my SMART goals, they were nearly all realized in some way. Although I did not have an opportunity to learn more about Photoshop and Premiere, I was still able to add to my skills as a creative. Having practiced blog post writing, my skills as a copywriter grew exponentially. So, while I did not make much progress in the Adobe Creative Cloud, I still gained new skills as a creative, which helped me become more knowledgeable in the area. I was able to come up with one stellar strategy, which, in my opinion, is better than three mediocre or just “good” strategies. I was able to even write a thorough creative and content brief, which really forced me to thoroughly plan my strategy, not just simply come up with an exciting creative concept. Lastly, I had many opportunities to synthesize academic and practical knowledge. I was able to achieve that active reciprocal relationship between the two I had so often spoken of. Constantly using my academic and practical experiences enriched my experience and allowed me to gain important advertising skills.
The most important thing I gained from this internship, however, was not new experiences or new skills. Rather, it was confidence. Confidence that I am in the right field. Confidence that I have what it takes. Confidence that I can be successful in such a competitive industry as advertising. Learning advertising in practice is nothing unique. It can certainly be accessible to nearly anyone who tries hard enough to get an opportunity to learn. But, an internship that instills confidence in yourself is life-changing. It is precisely this intangible gain that has the most profound effect on one’s future career. So many times I have wondered if I was where I needed to be; if I had what it took. Granted, this is only the first step into a crazy, ever-changing industry, but I was able to feel like I was where I needed to be and that I can get to where I want to go.
For example, it was humbling to see parts of my own creative brief and content brief appear on the website in areas not related to the video. I knew that my “Never Let It Rest” strategy seriously contributed to MMG’s brand strategy, not just an internal marketing campaign. Knowing that I hit the nail on the head with that strategy was a great indicator that I could be successful in strategy. Having not had any experience in strategy outside of class projects, it was so important to me to prove to myself that abandoning creative was not a bad thing. This showed me I still had a place in advertising—just as a strategist.
I believe that competence then follows from this confidence. What is competence without confidence? It does not achieve much. Confidence, then, launches careers. And I feel like I have achieved that in my short time at MMG. I am so thankful for the many opportunities I had to develop as a professional over the summer with Multimedia Marketing Group. I am proud of the impact I had, and I am proud of the work I did. I am already applying what I have learned to the classes I am taking, and I plan to continue this reciprocal relationship between academia and practice well into my professional career.