Advertising senior Gerard Smith advanced his public relations career with his internship at the Hoffman Agency this past summer. The 30-year-old technology PR agency is located in San Jose, California and specializes in digital communications, content marketing and public relations.
Smith wanted to take the summer opportunity to explore outside of Michigan. A summer internship is a great way for students to discover different cities and challenge themselves away from their home states. Smith was referred to as the “Michigan Man” at his internship because of his relocation.
Smith underwent writing assessments and phone interviews for the PR intern position. His passion for the PR and tech industry advanced him in the interview process, and got him the summer internship in California.
“I want to work in PR because it combines all aspects of marketing that I enjoy,” Smith said. “PR combines marketing strategy, writing and relationship building. In PR, you are the voice of your client and have to create a way to push their message to the public."
Working with the CEO
Smith’s role within the agency included writing and researching for agency accounts. Among various tasks, he also worked with the CEO of Hoffman Agency, Lou Hoffman. Smith was prepared for the tasks at hand due to his education at MSU and long-lasting internship at the MSU Innovation Center.
“MSU has prepared me to thrive in a team-focused environment and handle multiple responsibilities at a time,” Smith said. “My advertising major and PR minor has made me a better writer and collaborator through press releases, surveys and situational analysis assignments.”
Smith researched different media listings for the CEO for agency blog postings. He worked on different media platforms including written publications, Twitter and Google.
“My research varied with all the assignments that were given to me by the CEO,” Smith said. “I went to the San Jose Library to read through archives of newspapers for a blog posting. We also did a piece on Sean Spicer being fired. I had to do a coverage scan on interesting takes on the story.”
Building a Portfolio
A good resume, cover letter and portfolio can be extremely helpful in getting a job. Internships are a great way to build your portfolio with published work. Smith published an article for the agency’s site, Ishmael’s Corner.
“I created a recap of a PRSA event, which was a challenging assignment,” Smith said. “The event featured three prominent journalism figures who discussed technology trends, PR and politics.”
As an intern, the article was a milestone for Smith as Ishmael’s Corner predominantly features work from the CEO. Although a challenging assignment, Smith received great feedback for his work and has a great addition to his portfolio.
Smith was the first intern of the Hoffman Agency to host the national agency-wide monthly meeting. A host is selected each month to lead the meetings and to create an interactive presentation to update everyone on the recent happenings of the firm.
“Being selected to host the weekly meeting was the cherry on top of my internship,” Smith stated. "I took the opportunity to give my thank-you's. I was referred to as the Michigan man, so I gave a quiz on Michigan trivia for a meeting activity.”
Smith was able to do 30 coverage and story scans, 30 LinkedIn postings, and 15 media listings during his 3-month internship.
Smith plans to continue a career in PR as a strategic writer in an agency setting. He also aims to become more engaged in philanthropy and volunteer work in the upcoming year.
By Brooke Segal