My Journey as an Intern in the PR World: What I Have Learned

By Lindsay Silverman

I never knew what I wanted to do with my life. As a child, I was one of those kids who ran around the house pretending to be an FBI agent or recording news segments on my desktop computer (does anyone have those anymore?). I played every sport and never stuck with just one. But one thing remained consistent, and that was my ability to read a room and connect with people. When I got to college, I once again was on a path of not knowing what I desired for a career. The pressure was astounding. But when I walked into my very first PR class junior year, I knew: I am supposed to tell people’s stories.

During spring break, I applied to 80 internships (Yeah, I know, the Gen Z mentality is a bit hyperbolic.) I made sure to personally email all of the places I wanted to apply to — no job boards allowed.lindsay silverman, intern, pet friendly office, RLF Communications

However, when I first stumbled upon RLF’s website, I knew it was the place for me. From its motto of being respected, liked, and feared, to its design work — I was obsessed, to say the least; and I hadn’t even met these people yet!

And then the interview happened. I was completely out of my comfort zone, this being the first virtual interview I had ever done. My voice was shaking and I was unsure of my answers, speaking to the 4 faces on the screen in front of me. All of these faces were so kind and engaged, and I felt like a fish out of water.

Towards the end of the interview, it was just me and two Communications Managers. I asked them why they do what they do, and they said: “Because we yearn to tell people’s stories. The look on someone’s face when you impact them can’t be compared.” And that’s when I knew: I had to work at RLF. I made sure to narrate that I felt the same way, and in those moments, I had never felt more connected to people through a screen then I did right then.

My experience at RLF has proven how important storytelling ties into the work that we do. Our clients give us the opportunity to shape narratives and change lives. I’ve really examined that in my coworkers here at RLF, in that each of them has an intense desire to make positive change. It is truly inspiring to work with such a dedicated, intellectual bunch who genuinely care for each other and their clients.

Throughout my first time at RLF, I have uncovered new skills and elaborated on my existing ones. I have discovered the hidden mysteries of pitching to national media, and how to pick the brains of journalists. I have learned how to use media database Cision to do extensive research and keep track of media coverage, which is something I didn’t know I would enjoy. I have perfected my writing skills by writing press releases and extending my creative freedoms with our social media postings. All of these things, I have done with success thanks to the confidence that the environment of RLF instills. In the time remaining with RLF, I hope to become as respected, liked, and feared as the rest of my coworkers at the hardworking agency I now call a temporary home.

Note: Lindsay has accepted a part-time position at RLF as she completes her senior year at Elon University.

Monty Hagler Speaks to COVID-19 Communications

CEO Monty Hagler led a Q&A session with more than 100 Greensboro Chamber of Commerce members on best practices for communicating with key audiences during the coronavirus crisis. Key points of the discussion included:

  • Deliver a consistent message. Work with your company’s leadership team to come up with a unified message, then tailor it for different audiences. Consistent messaging and visuals show you are in control of the situation.
  • Expect criticism. No matter how perfectly packaged your message, someone will disagree. Be respectful, listen and adapt if needed. Expect that everything you write will become an external document.
  • Think about the long term. How can you plan ahead for six months to a year from now? Think about how this crisis will affect your marketing strategies going forward. Use any down time to work on projects you wouldn’t normally have time for.
  • Prepare for jagged re-entry. Companies will return to normal operations at different points. Where is your industry on the curve? Check will suppliers, employees and other stakeholders about their timelines.

The full conversation can be listened to here.

Be Prepared

By Monty Hagler

The snow is falling fast in Greensboro, North Carolina as daylight fades away and the temperature drops. It’s been more than two years since we’ve seen snow, and I’m sitting in my office looking out the windows as my dog Nigel snores in his bed beside my desk.

I need to be handling client work, but I’m still processing the news that the Boy Scouts of America has declared bankruptcy in an effort to deal with sexual abuse lawsuits. It’s been a slow downward spiral for Scouting over the past few decades and it makes me sad, even though I have not been involved in Scouting since high school.

A significant part of who I am today was forged in Boy Scout Troop 147 in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Our troop was big, active, boisterous. We camped, hiked, rappelled and explored the state. We took on community projects, learned new skills for merit badges and developed a deep respect for God, Country and serving others.

I vividly remember our adventures. Planning for a 10-mile hike on the Appalachian Trail that turned into a 20-mile slog because of rain, fog and detours. Exploring the southern U.S. during a three-week bus trip to hike and camp in New Mexico. Uncontrollable laughter after leading new scouts on a Snipe hunt. Warming numb hands over a roaring fire while camping at Cane Creek in a bitter January cold snap. Pride in becoming an Eagle Scout in front of my parents, friends and church congregation.

There is no question that the Boy Scouts of America failed many boys by failing to protect them from sexual predators who masqueraded as caring adults. I feel deeply for their pain. But I also know that there are hundreds of thousands of young men who, like me, owe a tremendous debt to the leaders who gave their time, talents and knowledge to serve as troop leaders. Men who deserved and honored the trust we placed in them.

To Bill McKenzie, Henry Springer, John McPherson, Dave Marquis, Bruce Fowler and other Scout leaders from my past … Thank You. I will raise a toast tonight in your honor and memory as I watch the falling snow. Change comes to all organizations and institutions, and I do not know what the future holds for scouting. I do know the world needs more men like you and more people who aspire to the ideals of scouting’s oath.

On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country. To obey the Scout law, to help other people at all times, to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.

I don’t remember how to tie a bowline or sheepshank knot any more, but I can recite that oath without hesitation and I deeply believe in the Be Prepared motto. The core values of scouting are ingrained in my view of the world. Which is not to say that I don’t fall short in living up to them. I do. But I know where the North Star is, and Scouting taught me the tools, skills and determination to get back on track when I stumble. For all of our sakes, let’s hope Scouting finds its way back on track as well.

Super Bowl Commercials of 2020

With a 30 second commercial in this year’s Super Bowl costing an estimated $5.6 million, advertisers once again wanted to make sure they created something memorable and buzzworthy. Along the way, there were some definite winners and some that missed the mark — and based on personal preferences, everyone has their own lists of which commercials fall into which categories.

Here is a look at some of the commercials our team felt hit the right mark, whether that was for generating a laugh, making us cry and causing us to look at something in a new way.

Angela Freckleton, Communications Specialist

For me personally, Super Bowl commercials don’t get much better than the absolutely ridiculous “Smaht Park.”

Smaht Pahk is, to put it quite simply, an experience. It’s the type of commercial that feels like a sitcom. Maybe it is, somewhere—perhaps in a different universe where the sun always shines and everything is perfect. I think what works most for me is, obviously, the casting. I never knew I had such a need for John Krasinski, Rachel Dratch and Chris Evans arguing with each other over the self-guiding abilities of a Hyundai Sonata in hilariously overexaggerated Boston accents. Plus…Rachel’s “this is a ghost car” line really made my night.

Kristina Martin, Communications Manager

Typically, I am one to go for the funny commercials, like “Before Alexa” by Amazon and “Jason Momoa” by Rocket Mortgage, but this year funny paled in comparison to New York Life Insurance’s “Love Takes Action.”

The beginning the commercial’s scenery, lighting, cleanliness and transitions invoke a feeling of closeness and simplicity, the feelings that come with the first three kinds of love: philia, storge and eros. Then there is a shift, the scenes become heavy and the narrator begins speaking of the most admirable kind of love, agape, a selfless love requiring one to give of their being for the betterment of someone else’s.

Did this commercial overcome me with intense feelings and cause me to shed a tear? Yes. Will I be switching to New York Life Insurance? No, but I appreciate the commercial and the message it sends.

Michelle Rash, Vice President

As the mother of a daughter who dreams of being an aerospace engineer, I personally appreciated and was touched by Olay’s “Make Space for Women” commercial. However, my favorite commercial of the night was Jeep’s “Groundhog Day” commercial.

I loved that Jeep took advantage of the timing of the game, on Feb. 2, and the premise of this movie to have a little fun. While it has been years since I have seen the movie “Groundhog Day,” the plot is certainly memorable, and offers a unique chance to highlight the many uses and functions of the Jeep. I loved this new approach and watching Bill Murray, and his furry buddy, exploring the world from the front seat, while keeping the same comedic edge the original movie offered.

Greg Monroy, Creative Director

I’m not sure I can pick a favorite OR a worst. This year it seemed like no one had any really great ideas. The consensus seemed to be, throw everything you can into it. The numerous ads with multiple brands didn’t seem to be a win for any of them.  If anything I was just reminded how few companies own everything we consume. I’m honestly surprised you can’t buy Cool Ranch Tide™.  If I had to pick a couple I enjoyed I’d have to say the Pringles Rick and Morty commercial because it was completely unhinged. Or the Porsche commercial which was whatever but it included what appeared to be a 906 in the Gulf livery. It’s the simple things that get me.

If I can mention one other thing that caught my attention it would be the Olay and the Michelob Ultra commercials that provided a way to donate to a good cause. That was probably the smartest advertising I saw the whole game.

LinkedIn: The Networking Confidence Booster

By Taylor Faust

“It’s all about networking.” That seemed to be the key takeaway from every business visit I went on this summer. After a while, it became a running joke between my friends and I because almost every professional that spoke to our group had the exact same advice for our career development: network, network, network.

But, if you’re anything like me, going up and introducing yourself to a stranger with the sole purpose of trying to get ahead in your career can be daunting. It can be especially intimidating when you’re reaching out to someone that has much more industry experience than you do.

However, there are ways to get over that networking nervousness so you can get in contact with the industry professionals that are in a position to change your career trajectory.

First and foremost, don’t underestimate the power of LinkedIn. The social network for professionals has a wealth of knowledge about companies and employees in an incredible amount of industries. Once you’ve decided on a company or city, you can send an employee a connection request. In my experience, sending a message along with your request works well, and that way you’ve already started the conversation.

During my business visits, I was given another important piece of advice: Taking the time to build a relationship is an important part of the process. Don’t go into networking too focused on the end goal. In other words, don’t come right out asking for a job. If you take the time to get to know the other person, they will be much more likely to help you, and you may receive important advice by learning about their career path.

With any luck, the person you are connecting with will take an interest in you and your skills and will pass along your resume. Or, maybe they’ll put you in contact with someone else in the office that is in a better position to evaluate what you bring to the table. Either way, having the vote of confidence of your new acquaintance can only help you during the hiring process.

LinkedIn networking really works, and my position as an intern here at RLF is proof. When I decided to apply to the internship program, I reached out through LinkedIn and was given the Internship Coordinator contact information. From there, we set up a call where we talked about the program, expectations for interns, and what I could be doing at that moment to be better prepared when RLF began accepting applications. I truly believe that participating in that phone call was a major factor for why I’m here now, and I couldn’t be happier.

The more you reach out on LinkedIn, the more your confidence will grow. You’ll soon learn the best way to phrase your initial messages for an increased chance at a response, and, as a result, you’ll have more practice at the in-person and over-the-phone meetings. You’ll feel empowered take further steps to get out there and meet other people in your industry. Networking is a lot like playing sports: The more you practice, the better you get, so don’t let your nervousness stand between you and your dream job.

Striking Travel Campaigns

By Piper Anderson

At RLF, we spend much of our time brainstorming and executing smart ideas that solve our clients problems creatively. We value our own ideas, but we also like to take the time to appreciate – and sometimes be inspired by – the interesting and engaging ideas that come from other agencies.

Some of the more creative and engaging ad campaigns in recent years have been promoting destinations. But I’m not talking about the typical dramatic travel video. (You know the kind– brightly colored and shot with perfect panoramas and sweeping architecture. The kind that gives you goosebumps as the narrator’s voice lilts in tune with the sweeping arc of a bird’s wing… that kind of ad.) These typical travel videos are nice, buy they’re also cliché. And in the oversaturated tourism market, you need a bit of spunk to stand out.

That’s why I chose five travel campaigns over the last few years that have caught my eye with their creativity and messaging. From cities to states to whole countries, these destinations dug deep and stood out.

Australia: Dundee

Campaign credits: Tourism Australia

A major hit at the 2018 Super Bowl, this ad tricks people into thinking it’s a blockbuster movie trailer until the very end. Graced with superb casting (read: Chris Hemsworth) and a delightfully comedic tone, this ad doesn’t just make viewers smile: It defines Australia’s tourism personality. The ad curates an Aussie vacation as one navigated by a playful, happy-go-lucky spirit amidst gorgeous landscapes and contemporary cities. It also doesn’t hurt that the ad hearkens back to Crocodile Dundee, an 80s film that introduced countless movie-goers to the land down under.


Graubünden: The Great Escape and Village Phone

Campaign credits: Graubünden Tourism with agency Jung von Matt/Limmat

This campaign takes the award for most creative. Graubunden, a rural region in Switzerland, drew attention to its pastoral tranquility with two interactive stunts that blended technology and locals’ personalities. The first campaign set up a livestream at a Zurich train station, where passers-by could chat with a friendly man sitting in front of a mountain landscape. He even printed people free tickets to the region so they could visit– and many did.



The other effort took place in one of the quietest towns in Switzerland. To prove this designation, the town installed a phone booth in its square and invited people to call– insisting that any one in town would be able to hear it ringing and come running to answer it. More than 30,000 phone calls came in over 6 days, leading to free trips and conversations with locals. These innovative tactics generated a lot of buzz for a little-known region.


Oregon: Travel Oregon 360°

(Campaign credits: Travel Oregon with Wieden+Kennedy)

With fantastic branding and endearing print ads, Travel Oregon has always been a great model for tourism PR done right – but its 360° campaign really stands out. How could it not, when a robotic talking salmon takes the leading role? He stars in videos where viewers can virtually explore the landscape, all the while listening to his comical advice on everything from dune riding to wine tasting. The 360° campaign is quirky and memorable in the best way.

The 360 introduction video is below.


If you’re interested in more trailblazing content, check out their gorgeous website animation that seeks to encapsulate Oregon’s magic.

Los Angeles: Everyone is Welcome

Campaign credit: Discover Los Angeles

Sometimes, the best part of PR is when it has a fulfilling purpose. The team behind Discover Los Angeles’ “Everyone is Welcome Here” campaign must have felt similarly, because the ads take a firm stance against the Trump administration’s controversial travel ban. Their videos, which follow a floating paper airplane through LA, celebrate diversity and tell travelers that people from any and all countries are welcome in the City of Angels. The vibey song and youthful feel of the videos position LA as accepting – a perfect place to let your guard down and make memories.


Toronto: The Views Are Different Here

Campaign credit: Tourism Toronto

Toronto’s stunning campaign incorporates fresh typography and tantalizingly short clips in a mélange of a video that highlights Toronto’s multiculturalism. The title of the ad is a sly nod at Drake’s then-new album, and the rest of the ad gets only more relevant with references to gay pride and the LGBTQ community (“love is love is love”). The piece moves fast and fluidly, sucking the viewer in with enticing glimpses of iconic architecture and exciting experiences. After watching, the viewer is left with a conviction that Toronto is cool, diverse, and a solid bet for adventure.



Honorable mention: Sweden, which listed itself as an entire country on Air BnB. Talk about cross promotion!

Greenlighting bold ideas is risky for clients, but the campaigns shown above demonstrate that a little strategic risk-taking can be incredibly rewarding. These travel videos are different, and that’s what I like about them. After all, different is the whole point of travel. You visit new places to see different cultures and landscapes and taste different foods. Sometimes, you visit new places with the hope that you will be different, that you will come home with a new perspective, wise and weathered, colorful stories in tow.

Opportunity Greensboro Has Me Sold

By Jenna Barone

A 2013 UNC-Greensboro “State of the City” report revealed the number of young professionals in Greensboro had increased by only one percent since 2000. In terms of overall population growth, Greensboro still trailed behind other North Carolina cities like Charlotte and Raleigh when it came to attracting young professionals. But in the last three years, efforts to revitalize the Greensboro landscape and encourage young professionals to settle in the area have started to see results.

Since 2001, a nonprofit called Action Greensboro has taken on a “leading voice in urban livability, civic engagement, educational advancement and initiatives to attract and retain young professionals in Greensboro.”

This summer, I had the chance to participate in one of Action Greensboro’s many initiatives—The Opportunity Greensboro Fellows Program. College students in the area intern with a Greensboro organization to gain industry experience while developing leadership skills, engaging in the community and establishing mentorships.

By participating in the program, I learned about recent city developments and encountered several other initiatives designed to improve Greensboro’s culture and increase its desirability among young adults. The following list describes a few unique attributes that play a role in the city’s evolving identity:

  1. Revolution Mill: The second event I attended for the Opportunity Greensboro Fellow’s program included dinner at a restaurant in Revolution Mill. As I drove by the first flannel mill in the south, I couldn’t believe its large size (and realized finding the restaurant may prove more difficult than I thought). In 1930, Revolution Mill housed the largest exclusive flannel manufacturer in the world, a huge economic driver for the region. North Carolina’s decreasing manufacturing forced Revolution Mill to close in 1982, but the historic property’s makeover, which started in 2012, has made it into a destination campus. The Revolution Mill now includes businesses, conference facilities, loft apartments, performance spaces, art galleries, restaurants and trails, and continues to grow. A “hub for creative work and active living,” the Revolution Mill has created a unique community within a community available to the public. As a leading Greensboro hotspot, the Revolution Mill has shaped Greensboro’s personality and busy cultural scene.


  1. Lime bikes: Monty and I traveled to our mentoring lunch at Undercurrent restaurant with two Lime Bikes we located about a block away from RLF’s office. The bikes are easy to find (you can’t miss the bright neon green) and even fit thematically with Greensboro’s efforts to encourage environmental friendliness. Not to mention, it fits thematically with the city’s name. Get it? Greensboro. Bikers pay a small fee to ride the bike anywhere in Greensboro and then leave it in a responsible, reasonable area for the next person. The bikes fuel a sense of community by encouraging sustainability, fitness and trust—three key factors important to many young professionals’ lifestyles.


  1. Passport to Summer: At the beginning of the Greensboro Fellows Program, I received a goody-bag with freebies from sponsors that included a blue paper “passport.” Several Greensboro businesses, restaurants, galleries, etc. participate in the Passport to Summer program, which rewards you for actions like visiting certain businesses or engaging with them on social media. When you complete the required task set forth by each Greensboro organization, you receive a stamp. The more stamps you collect, the more chances you have to win prize drawings at the end of the summer. Anyone can participate, and I found the passport a great way to learn about restaurants and shops unfamiliar to me in the downtown area. I love seeing local businesses team-up to support economic growth and success for the entire community.


  1. SynerG: Yes, we have another play on words here! A group dedicated to Greensboro’s young professionals, SynerG is another initiative under Action Greensboro that creates opportunities to attract, engage and connect the under-40 community. By providing both a professional and social network, young professionals engage in leadership opportunities and use the organization as a “clearinghouse for information.” Young professionals often complain about the difficulty of making new friends when moving to a new city. SynerG makes it easy and fun for young professionals to quickly join the Greensboro community and find opportunities to grow personally and professionally.


  1. Survey: In March 2018, Greensboro public officials released a survey to the public, asking residents to help make a new vision for the city a reality. The survey responses will provide Greensboro with public input regarding the $25 million Downtown Greensboro Streetscape Master Plan. Greensboro plans to invest in several streets and areas of the city to make the downtown more accessible for bikers and walkers. Though shops, restaurants, and businesses have sprung up downtown in the last few years, the area has struggled to secure new residents. By continuing to seek public opinion and ways to improve, Greensboro has made a long-term commitment to create a thriving community. The survey encourages residents to have a stake in the outcome while creating a sense of unity. A transparent local government dedicated to serving the public good is an attractive trait to any young person looking to settle.



Summer Intern Spotlight – Piper Anderson

RLF offers a competitive internship program every summer and semester that teaches aspiring PR professionals the skills necessary to succeed in a career in strategic communications. From writing news releases and pitching reporters to compiling media lists and drafting social media posts, our interns do it all. This summer, we welcome Jenna Barone and Piper Anderson. Our second intern spotlight is on Piper.

“I was born in Long Beach, California, and moved to North Carolina in 2006. I love both coasts; the wild beauty of the Pacific is just as much a part of me as the peaceful waters of Lake Norman. I adore food, reading, clothes, and expressing my creative side– whether that be through making a poster in Photoshop or writing a short story. I attend UNC-Chapel Hill, where I major in English and minor in public relations and creative writing. As my specializations might indicate, I love writing, and plan on going into public relations or the magazine industry after graduation.”

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The Art of the Pitch

By Taylor Lord
Pitching. It’s the reason that reporters have a love-hate relationship with PR specialists. A trick to improve your media relations lies in effectively pitching media outlets without hounding reporters. When thinking of a story idea, make sure you remember to consider tactics to accomplish the three pitching steps: the “before,” the “during,” and the “after.”
Media relations don’t begin by picking up the phone to call an outlet about an intriguing story. You need to establish a relationship first. Just think of the name: “media relations.” It implies a connection between you and the reporter. Before even thinking about dialing or clicking send, plan for the pitch.


1. Research

Imagine that you are working on a pitch for a new hire release. You create a media list and settle in for a long day of calling. The first outlet answers and, whoops, they only want product releases. If you keep contacting this publication to pitch new associates rather than new products, the reporter begins to think you are simply wasting their time and will ignore you when you do have a new product to pitch.
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The Bookshelf – When Words Lose Their Meaning

By Monty Hagler
As RLF packed up the office space we occupied for nine years, I faced difficult choices on what to keep, give away, recycle or trash. That is particularly true when it comes to books. I’m old-school print, with hundreds of books in the office and thousands on the shelves at home. Sinceimg_5279 childhood, literature has fueled wonder, discovery, laughter, suspense, adventure and knowledge in my life. It’s easy to gather, much harder to discard.
When the dust settled, 20 books made the move to the new office. This Orange Slices post marks the first in a series about each book that opened my eyes to a broader world or taught me lessons that still resonate. I don’t distinguish between reading for pleasure or business, but I do follow a cardinal rule to put a book down if I’m not enjoying it or finding value from it in the first 35 pages.
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