Summer Entrepreneurial Experiences

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Week 8: Finishing Strong

Saturday, August 27, 2016 7:42 pm

It was truly an honor working for Azione this summer, and I am excited to have discovered a real passion for PR while doing so. I’m extremely grateful that I was able to work directly with a female entrepreneur who has taken the PR industry in an entirely new direction. By the end of my ten-week internship, I completed all my long-term research projects and was extremely successful in compiling the entire Holiday Gift Guide List that the CEO had requested.

Perhaps most rewarding, I was treated like any other team member. My ideas were valued and always taken into consideration, and I felt like I was able to make a real contribution for my company. One of my biggest takeaways was that you must always approach projects and client requests with a creative mindset. By the end of my internship, I was able to target a specific market a client should utilize, and was also able to pitch our clients’ products to the media by myself.

It was very exciting to see a mid-stage startup continue to flourish, landing exciting new clients, and expanding in size. I could not have asked for a better internship and look forward to seeing what exciting things are in store for Azione!

Week Seven: What Entrepreneurship Means To Me

Thursday, July 28, 2016 2:52 pm

It has been extremely rewarding working in an industry I’m passionate for, as well as being mentored by a woman entrepreneur. I continue to be very impressed by how our CEO balances running a company with having an 8 month-year-old son. While at Azione, I have learned the importance of differentiating your brand from others and attacking each project with a creative mindset. I feel fortunate to be part of a PR agency that does not take the traditional approach but rather looks to create something completely new and innovative for their clients. It has been a great learning experience as an entrepreneur helping Azione transition to the next growth phase of its business. I was able to assist in landing new clients, as well as elevating our existing clients within their respective market places. Throughout my 10 week internship, I have seen our company expand, acquiring a variety of exciting and new clients. Azione has also started interviewing candidates in the hopes of building a bigger and more versatile team.

Perhaps most exciting, this week I sat down with our CEO and she assigned me a project of high priority that must be completed before my end date. It involves compiling media contacts and reaching out to them, asking who is in charge of this year’s Holiday Gift Guide. This contact list is extremely vital to our company and clients as we must pitch the appropriate contact in order for them to include our client’s brands in their “most wanted items” for the upcoming Holidays. I will continue to reach out to Editors and follow up to insure that I produce the best possible list. While it was hard at first to balance this large project with my daily workload, I now designate a few hours a day to working on it and believe I am making great progress.

One of my biggest challenges this week was the departure of my intern supervisor to another company. She was my go-to person for all projects and concerns, and her absence this week was hard to adjust to at first. However, in such a positive and open environment like Azione, I had no trouble connecting with my other team members to stay on track with all projects, tasks, and client requests. Working at Azione has been invaluable to me as both an entrepreneur and aspiring PR exec. I have learned the importance of authenticity, creativity, and not being afraid to take risks or fail. Each mistake and success are equally important to me. As I learn from my mistakes and continue to build upon my successes, I make myself a stronger candidate for the PR industry upon graduation next year.

Week Six: Overcoming Challenges

Sunday, July 24, 2016 8:30 pm

As a boutique PR agency competing against the largest, most well established PR agencies worldwide, Azione must constantly find ways to be innovative, nimble, and establish a strong cliental list. Because the Azione team is extremely small, consisting of 10 people in NYC and 6 people in New York, utilizing our available resources is vital. Fortunately, our co-founders are extremely connected within the industry and have forged an exceptional list of clients over the last few years which has helped establish Azione has a powerhouse in the PR industry. I have been fortunate enough to witness, and assist in the addition of a variety of new clients ranging from fashion, consumer products, and beauty this summer (including one of my favorite clothing brands!).

While my daily responsibilities remain the same, I have become more involved with event planning as well as creating pitches to send out to media that promote our clients’ brands. Having the freedom to create my own pitches is truly a privilege as I enjoy being part of the creative processes, and feel that I am able to make a real impact in generating more exposure for our clients. A few of the pitches I made this week involved “Back To School” clothing ideas that I believe are relevant: “athleisure” and denim on denim. In regard to planning events, I helped Azione with their annual “boss babes” party. This event celebrates our female clients and their success in their respective industry. I helped locate the event space, send invites, and order all the necessary accessories/food/drinks for the night of the event. Once again, I was able to work the door which allowed me to immediately connect with these fabulous women.

This week, I was also able to supervise video and photo-shoots for a few of our clients which was an amazing experience. I interacted directly with the media and was able to form contacts that will be extremely beneficial to my future career. First, I went to the InStyle headquarters where I assisted our client ModelFIT, an exercise boutique, on a Facebook-live event in which they discussed exercise routines you can do at your desk while working. Perhaps most interesting, later in the week I was given complete responsibility to supervise a photo shoot with future Olympians for our client Corkcicle, a water bottle company. It was truly an honor to work with these future Olympians, and that my team had full confidence in me to supervise a photo shoot by myself.

Working for Azione continues to be an incredible experience as each day is different, and I am getting exposed to every side of this exciting business. I have found a real passion for PR, and look forward to my remaining two weeks.

Week Five: Azione Culture

Tuesday, July 12, 2016 6:00 pm

Azione has a fast-paced environment, with constant client meetings and team brainstorming sessions. While I have very little downtime during the day, I find that I thrive in such an energizing environment. Each team member heads an account, while simultaneously working on others. Therefore, the head of each account is responsible for all final pitches, decisions, and outreach to clients. As I mentioned before, I am fortunate enough to work on all accounts and therefore am involved in a variety of meetings. While this can get extremely hectic, my multi-tasking skills have improved dramatically. I enjoy working for a company that strives for a healthy balance between team and individual work.

I have been fortunate enough to witness some incredible successes with new clients, as well as old, this summer. I have been able to assist with restaurant and store openings, and help prep for pop-up events for various clients such as our skin care line, Frank Body, and soft serve client, Chloes. This involved my first experience “working the door.” We held a private event in the Chloes store in Union Square and invited various media outlets ranging from Health Magazine, Well+Good, Glamour, Cosmo, and famous bloggers/instagramers predominant in NYC. My job was to greet each guest at the door, which is a great way to make connections in the industry. Our guests were able to taste the new dairy free soft serve and as a result, we saw an amazing media turn-out through social media posts and stories. This was an incredible experience as I enjoy working directly with the media to promote our clients.

I continue to work on various long-term research assignments for each client, as well as my daily tasks of media clipping, reporting, and pitches. I cannot believe how fast my internship is going, but am thrilled that I have found a real passion for PR!

Week Four: Time Flies, Almost Halfway

Wednesday, June 29, 2016 3:28 pm

Azione continues to exceed my expectations, and reaffirm my passion for PR. I am now extremely confident in my responsibilities and projects, both daily and long-term, and have gained valuable insight into the industry. I have grown accustomed to the fast-paced environment and enjoy the variety of tasks I am assigned each day. Rather than being assigned to specific accounts, I am exposed too all of them, and enjoy taking part in brainstorms for pitches. I continue to build media contact lists, conduct media placement clipping and reporting, and monitor current events and trends related to clients. Long-term, I have been working on competitive set research for a variety of our clients that will ultimately help elevate their place in the market. Recently, I was assigned a new task that involves media monitoring for all of our clients first thing in the morning, as well as reaching out to our LA Team to highlight any media outreach and coverage as a result. This is a huge responsibility as I must identify outlets that include our clients’ brands and send it to the appropriate account heads before they finalize it and send to the clients.

Perhaps most exciting, this week I was involved in my first off-site project. One of our new clients is opening a trendy Japanese restaurant in Chelsea mid-July. I took part in supervising a photo shoot of the restaurant/food dishes prepared by a former Top Chef contestant. This was an incredible experience as I acted as the buffer between our client and the media (and was ultimately able to taste test the delicious food!). Next steps include monitoring listings and making sure opening night runs smoothly. We are currently in the process of organizing a celebrity seating and the appropriate entertainment for the restaurant opening night.

I was surprised to be given so many responsibilities equivalent to any other team member, but am proud that my work is making a real impact on the company. I feel truly honored to be part of a company that supports other start up brands and entrepreneurs with a unique background story, and look forward to continuing to learn what else PR has to offer.

Week Three: Overcoming Size

Monday, June 20, 2016 3:49 pm

Michele Thomas and Leland Drummond founded Azione PR in June 2010 in the heart of Hollywood, leveraging on their previous experiences and client relationships to start their own business. Both women already possessed more than twenty years of experience in public relations and marketing combined. They were able to identify an area of opportunity in the sports industry that they felt was under supported in the existing PR world. From the beginning, both women realized that their approach to PR was different, and they strove to be much more than just the “traditional” PR company.

Although Azione still maintains some of its original clients including Skullcandy, Volcom, and PacSun, they have expanded to many other areas over the last few years including health and wellness, beverages, active-wear, beauty, and so much more outside of the action sports industry. From the start, business was good enough for Leland to move back to New York to start a new office in the SoHo area, with Michele heading the other office in LA. One of the main goals in the industry is to help the brands you represent create something new and innovative. However, the PR world can get very hectic with clients, reporters, and deadlines taking a toll on time and energy. In such a small company with fewer team members than traditional bigger agencies, managing so many different brands can be extremely difficult. While Azione initially struggled with balancing a plethora of clients, they were extremely successful in differentiating their brands from others, constantly striving to make them authentic in their respective market. Building relationships is key and Michele and Leland possess an impressive list of connections in the industry that has helped them discover new clients as well as maintain old ones. It takes a certain type of person to be able to balance the demands a PR industry requires and I am beyond thrilled that I am able to contribute my own knowledge and insight while continually learning new skills that will help me develop a solid foundation in PR.

Week Two: Our Motive

Monday, June 13, 2016 11:05 am

Azione defines itself as “creators, innovators, and brand builders that inspire and empower.” Azione’s name, which means action in Italian, is indicative of how the Company approaches public relations: it promotes authenticity and is truly an extension of their client’s brands. I feel extremely fortunate to be interning at Azione as I am considered as much of a contributor and participant in the Company as any other employee. Azione has two offices, one located in LA and the other in NYC. Based in the Manhattan office this summer, I work in a close-knit group of 10 team members, each possessing their own unique approach to PR. In addition, I am able to work with our CEO and founder, a visionary female entrepreneur who has taken the PR Industry in an entirely new direction.

This past week, I met with each team member individually and they explained the accounts they were on, providing me with a variety of daily tasks to help them with, as well as long-term projects. So far, my daily tasks involve media placement clipping and reporting, updating media contact lists, and monitoring current events and trends related to clients. I also assist the team with a variety of lifestyle clients across fashion, health and wellness, fitness, consumer products, beauty, and more. Perhaps most valuable, I take part in team brainstorming and creative thinking sessions. My long-term projects involve competitive set research to help raise awareness for our client’s brands. Therefore, I conduct research on competitors and help our client’s develop a plan and identify outlets to utilize for their products.

After meeting with my team members, I found it extremely interesting that the majority of our clients are also start-ups, each possessing a unique background story. Azione looks to help elevate their clients in the marketplace and grow their position to directly effect revenue. The company brings key relationships, firsthand knowledge of brand success stories, and go-to market strategies that can truly help brands dominate in their respective space. Azione stresses how maintaining a consistent voice and overall authenticity is extremely crucial, as well as understanding the market that you’re trying to target. I am truly grateful to be part of such a passionate and driven team and company, from which I have already gained so much insight into the PR industry.

Week One: Azione Means Action

Sunday, June 5, 2016 9:28 pm

Azione, a mid-stage startup doing cutting-edge PR work, posses a unique, take-action approach to promote visibility and exposure for their clients. Instead of taking the traditional route with a well-established PR firm this summer, I found Azione to be a unique opportunity. Co-founders Michele Thomas and Leland Drummond are both self-starting entrepreneurs who firmly believe in supporting like-minded visionaries. This summer, I look forward to helping Azione navigate to the next growth phase of its business, while simultaneously exploring the career field of my interest.

The first week I familiarized myself with all of the company’s clients—the majority of which are startup brands. Azione holds weekly team meetings so that all the members of the team are caught up on the different accounts each member is responsible for. Because the NYC team is compromised of 10 team members, I get exposure to the many aspects of working in PR, gaining insight into each stage of the client relationship. So far, my responsibilities include creating media clippings and social media content, updating media contacts, and monitoring current events and trends related to clients. I have also begun to work with the rest of the team on idea generation and content creation for clients. Perhaps most rewarding, this summer I will be able to work directly with one of the CEO’s of the company.

I feel extremely fortunate having been selected to intern at Azione because of its groundbreaking approach to PR and the opportunity to play a pivotal role in helping the company to succeed and grow. My tasks will provide me with the opportunity to improve my writing and public speaking skills, organization and time-management, and learn to think in non-traditional ways. I will also learn to work in a high-pressure environment, understand and balance the needs of customers, and develop interpersonal skills. I greatly appreciate that I will have the opportunity to serve as an integral part of a dynamic team and to make a personal imprint on a dynamic, cutting-edge, mid-stage startup.

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