In the summer of 2017, I was lucky enough to complete a second internship at WEEI in the Digital Content department. Throughout the summer, I learned how to manage social media accounts, operate an organized website, and reach different audience through content promotion. The experience was unforgettable and is honestly one of the best internships I could’ve asked for. Not only did I refine some of my journalism skills at a professional outlet, but I also learned skills in media relations through the use of social media and email messages. Over the past three months at WEEI, I learned several valuable skills that I believe will be useful towards my career.
On the first day of my internship, I was trained on proper strategy for scheduling social media posts. My boss, Scott McLaughlin, discussed how the Facebook algorithm works as well as the amount of times I should be tweeting and which times work best for scheduling stories. The social media training also covered ways to grab a larger audience with short and sweet posts for Facebook and Twitter. Encouraging reader involvement was a major key for Facebook, sharing links and phrasing the accompanying post as a question for the audience. On Twitter, the big emphasis was tagging shows and authors of pieces in order to increase traffic to the website and create a bigger following for all shows and personalities at the station.
The other day I worked during the first week of my internship was focused on photo training as well as learning how to use the website. Photo training modules took a few hours to complete and were very comprehensive, covering topics such as copyright and sourcing. Other training included how to handle record labels and sponsorships on the air as well as more twitter and Facebook specifics. Following my completion of these modules I was given a company email address and access to USA Today and stock photo databases. Scott then walked me through how to use the website, explaining everything from photo cropping to tags and more. Since WEEI had just released a new website, Scott had me familiarize myself with it by going through and clicking all the links to make sure they worked. If there was a problem, I alerted Scott and he showed me how to fix it if I ran into a similar issue again.
After week one of training, the next few weeks saw my responsibilities increase. Each day, my main task was to monitor WEEI’s social media accounts by making sure stories were tweeted correctly as well as ensuring a frequency of posts and traffic. Upon arrival in the morning, I was assigned to schedule several posts from the day before on twitter for the morning hours and set up for a steady flow of afternoon traffic. On the Facebook end of things, my job is to make sure every article or piece of show audio from the website has been posted throughout the day. If anything from the previous day wasn’t posted, I would go back and find the article to post. I was taught that Facebook drives in a steadier stream of traffic from social media than twitter, so my priority was to make sure there was an article posted to the WEEI Facebook page twice an hour. Occasionally, the internship required me to work from home by making sure both social media pages were operating according to plan. Other days when my boss was not in the office, I would do my normal daily duties from home as well, constantly communicating with my boss via email and text
Another avenue for driving site traffic was WEEI’s award-winning email newsletters. When days are heavy on content for one team or specific radio show, a newsletter is a perfect way to combine the best articles and audio in one place to be sent to subscribers. Using the internet application called “Second Street”, I compiled seven headlines with images and descriptions that link to the stories. Two versions for each newsletter are created and pitted against each other in a test. I am in charge of creating two unique, eye-catching subject lines, each sent to 5% of the subscriber based. A winning headline, chosen based on number of read messages, is then sent to the remaining recipients. Crafting newsletters has taught me about layout and the importance of capturing the audience with a terrific headline. It’s also a great way to reach your audience directly by giving them exactly what they need to know.
In addition to written content and radio show audio, WEEI also pushes out several podcasts each week. One of those, Soccercast, is produced and hosted by Ben Kichen, one of the producers for the afternoon weekday show. Ben is good friends with my boss Scott and upon realizing I liked soccer, invited to me to join him pregame for a New England Revolution match to help him produce a live podcast. He showed me the ins-and-outs of the software he was using as well as the recording device he was using. I got to sit in on the show, help arrange guests for Ben and his co-host Russ Goldman to interview, and even got to speak for a few minutes on the podcast. It was a terrific experience to see how a podcast was run live and to help it go smoothly.
Throughout the summer, I got an opportunity to cover various events as well. The first of which was Boston Bruins rookie development camp. I was there on Day 1 of 4 and it was an opportunity for the organization to scout its draft picks and non-roster camp invitees as means for judging young talent. It also helps the players get accustomed to an NHL-style of coaching. The event was basically a two-hour practice including a lot of drills and some mini scrimmages. Afterwards, the reporters went to the locker room to interview players for their stories. Working closely with the WEEI Bruins beat writer Ty Anderson, I came up with two feature story ideas on camp invitees. I drafted my stories while watching the practice sessions and interviewed each of them one on one in the locker room. With the practice facility a block from the WEEI offices, I walked back to finish my stories there. It was the first true piece of writing I had done for the site and my editor Scott seemed pleased with my work.
One of the most special experiences of my summer was covering a Boston Red Sox game. On Thursday July 20, the Sox hosted Toronto in an afternoon game. I showed up to Fenway Park at 10 a.m. and made my way up to the media booth. Up there, I met WEEI’s Red Sox beat writer Rob Bradford who showed me around and brought me to the manager’s pregame press conference. He told me all the details of what happens pregame before Red Sox manager John Farrell spoke. I recorded all of what Farrell said and listened astutely listening for major points. At the conclusion, Rob and I determined two main angles and I got right to work writing a pair of articles before the game. In the media dining room, I was given the opportunity to network a bit, which included meeting Toronto’s TV announcer who is also named Dan Shulman. When the game began, the other WEEI Red Sox writer John Tomase told me to keep score of the game and look for any major happenings. As we went down to the locker room for postgame availability, he gave me one story idea about the struggles of the Red Sox starting pitcher that day and I came up with another on the fly on a guy who had just made his MLB debut. I conducted my interviews, wrote my stories, and after nearly nine hours on the job, walked out of Fenway Park.
There were several written projects Scott also had me work on in the office. During the MLB All-Star break I created a multimedia story about the Red Sox’ ten best moments of the season embedding video and writing paragraph introductions. Another Red Sox project I spearheaded was an American League East division trade tracker. In the week before the trade deadline, I formatted an article that listed every big move the five teams in the AL East had made so far during the summer. For the week prior to the deadline, I checked every day to see if any major moves had happened and would add them to the list.
My final task was helping with coverage of The Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon from Fenway Park in mid-August. Throughout the week before, I scheduled various Facebook posts and tweets to promote the upcoming event which raises money for cancer research. On both days of the event, I was stationed at the WEEI satellite studio inside Fenway Park, continuously updating the tote board on the WEEI website and posting several photos and interviews to Facebook and twitter. My main task was to ensure that the photo galleries on Facebook and the WEEI website were constantly being updated. I also was frequently editing the Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon page by writing recaps for each of the three shows by linking to each of the interview audio and videos on YouTube. I was in communication with both the studio and the company photographers to know when and which photos were being uploaded into Dropbox folders so I could add them to galleries, tweet them out, and feature them on the website.
Overall, my summer internship at WEEI was extremely fulfilling and taught me a lot about back end practices in journalism. My writing, I feel, improved throughout the summer and I was able to craft better headlines for my stories that better attracted in the audience. The use of social media on several platforms became paramount and I was able to see how to use the likes of Facebook, twitter, and even emails to reach audience easily and effectively. The opportunities I was given to cover major sporting events at WEEI were second-to-none and made the internship experience all the better. I gained tons of valuable experience at WEEI and I really feel I can benefit from it in the future.