Small towns, large donations

Last week, I was lucky enough to take my first work field trip to Reynolds, Ind., where our client, Walmart, presented a donation to Western Indiana Sustainable Energy Resources (WISER).

For those of you not familiar with WISER, it is a BioTown USA educational initiative promoting the use of renewable energy technologies.  Because of Walmart’s commitment to sustainable energy, the Walmart Foundation generously donated $25,000 to the cause.  The money will be contributed to computer systems for the WISER Education Center.

While awaiting the check reveal, I couldn’t help but think how lucky I was to be apart of such a monumental day for WISER, especially because it was only my second official day as an intern!  Not only did I learn a lot about WISER and their mission, but I felt inspired by the passion that the board members expressed when speaking about the cause.

Prior to moving to Muncie, Ind. to attend Ball State, I had lived in Chicago for all my life.  And not just your average suburb of Chicago, but right down the street from O’Hare International Airport! One may call my town chaotic, but I find a background of airplanes and car horns to be comforting. This fast-paced lifestyle filled with constant noise and traffic is all that I’ve ever seen, which is why traveling is so interesting to me!  Having the opportunity to see new places as a part of my internship is more than I could ask for and visiting Reynolds was quite the adventure.

Finally, I had the chance to see the town that hosts all the large windmills surrounding I-65.  It may sound silly, but the windfarm is my favorite part of the drive to and from Chicago. I remember my first trip to Ball State when I was introduced to the windfarm and ever since then I’ve wanted to get a closer look.  The sheer size of one windmill blade alone left me speechless for half the trip!

I also loved how small Reynolds is. Upon arrival, I immediately thought of the old TV show, Cheers, because Reynolds is definitely a community “where everybody knows your name.” Because I never had that experience growing up, I was really aware and excited about the sense of comfort that was ever-present throughout the town.  It may have been a little too quiet for me, though.

The best part about small towns: mom and pop diners.  David and Marilyn love mom and pop diners so I was excited to finally experience my first one.  When we arrived at the diner, the thing that initially caught my eye was an American flag-themed scarecrow.  Already, I was impressed with how much personality the restaurant displayed.  Even more, the food was delicious and I’ve never had such friendly service.  If you’re ever in Reynolds, I recommend the USA Restaurant, Inc.!

Even though the day was long, it was ten times more rewarding. I can’t wait for all the adventures that are sure to come with my internship at Shank Public Relations Counselors.


Welcome our Fall/Winter 2012 intern!

   Meet Reese Horel.  Reese is the newest addition to our team serving as the Fall/Winter 2012 intern. We’re happy to have her and excited to see what she’ll accomplish this semester!

Name: Reese Horel

Age: 21

University: Ball State University

Hometown: Chicago, Ill.

What’s your favorite part of public relations?

The best part of public relations is meeting and working with different types of clients. In PR you can work at a non-profit, a firm, a corporation, in entertainment; the possibilities are endless. Your interests can be directly related to the work that you decide to do, which makes becoming an adult a lot less scary.

What are you most looking forward to during your internship with Shank Public Relations Counselors?

Everything! To name one specific thing would be impossible. I’ve only been here a week, but already I have had the chance to travel a little bit and even sit in on a client meeting. Everyday I’m learning so much from David and Marilyn and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the semester brings.

One thing that I have learned so far during my internship is that I have the opportunity to dabble into all aspects of PR. From social media to special events to writing news stories, I’m allowed the opportunity to perfect all my skills, and for that I am extremely thankful.

What advice do you have for students looking for PR internships?

Research the company!  When applying for an internship with Shank Public Relations Counselors, I read their entire website to make I was an expert on the company before my interview.  I also read blog posts and tips on how to score an internship so that I knew what the firm found acceptable or unacceptable.

Every company is different and you don’t want to make the mistake of sending a generic cover letter and resume to each one.  Take the time to find out what’s important to each organization, firm, or company you apply for. It may sound like a lot of work to do for each internship that you apply for, but trust me, researching pays off.

My last blog

It’s hard to believe I’m writing my last blog as a Shank Public Relations intern. Back in May, when I was still adjusting to adult life, it seemed like the time was going to drag on. Of course, like the last 21 summers I’ve lived, it sped by before I even knew what was happening.

I’m getting ready to start my senior year at Ball State University, and unlike most, I’m dreading graduation. College has been the most fun I’ve ever had, and I’m sad to see it go.

But while I’m sad about college ending, I’m no longer scared about what the future holds. Before my internship I wasn’t confident in my abilities as a public relations professional. The thought of not only getting a job, but being good at it, left me reeling. I paid attention in class, I got the grades and I was proud of my resume, but I often asked myself, how much knowledge was I actually retaining? Would I be able to apply everything I was learning in the real world? How do I stack up not only against my own classmates, but PR grads from all over the country?

All it took was a little hands on time to realize that I’m not terrible at this. At Shank Public Relations I feel like I’ve gotten the whole gamut of public relations experience. I’ve written releases, I’ve made contacts with the media, I’ve worked events, I’ve created social media plans, I handled some crisis elements and in a lot of instances, I found myself really “relating to the public.”

What I think I liked most about my internship was that I actually enjoyed the things I was doing. Art exhibits, charity work and school open houses were all things that felt more like fun than work. I think some internships can be tedious, but mine was fulfilling.

I really admire David and Marilyn for the business they’ve started and the way they run it. In today’s crazy world, sometimes a paycheck is worth more than morals and that’s unfortunate. The Shanks run their business with class and ethics, and I’m lucky to have worked with people who were able to show me dignity is more important than extra zeros on an invoice.

It’s also evident to me that the intern program here is not just a way for them to have a temporary extra set of hands. The Shanks genuinely care about the profession and its future. Since I began here, I’ve been able to think of them as teachers rather than employers. A mentor like that is invaluable to an intern.

I wrote a blog earlier in the summer and I mentioned that an internship is the best way to learn a profession. That’s true, but I know now that the right internship will teach you much more than that. Mine taught me to be optimistic, more confident and it honestly helped me grow up. I’ve also gotten two great role models to hold myself to as a young professional.

I’m so happy that this was my first internship experience, and although I’m sad the “real world” is so close, I’m not scared about it. I’ll definitely take with me everything I’ve learned as a Shank Public Relations intern.

Big checks, charities and old-fasioned public relations

Last week David and I woke up bright and early to travel to the Kokomo Walmart. When I say early, I mean that I was at work by 6:30 which is probably the first time I’ve ever done that. It was all for a good cause though, because we were traveling to Kokomo to hand over $50,000 to some really deserving charities. Writing out four different $12,500 checks was also a first.

The need for the money in Kokomo was made apparent by a Facebook contest held in the spring to win money to combat hunger. The money went towards purchasing a refrigerated truck that will provide tons of food for the Kokomo area in the long run. In the short term, however, there’s still a great need to feed Kokomo’s hungry people. Luckily Walmart stepped back in to help, because the need was apparent to me after spending just a few short hours at the Kokomo Walmart.

The four organizations receiving the money couldn’t have been more different: The Salvation Army, Kokomo Rescue Mission, Samaritan Love Center Food Pantry and Zion Church. All of the organizations hold different values and serve a different purpose, but one thing they do have in common is the desire to fight hunger in their community. It was touching to see the way everyone came together despite differences in faith and belief to share their common goal. Many of the recipients spoke of hunger as an epidemic in their area, and I’ve never seen people so grateful to receive a check. In a world that can somet

imes seem so bleak and divided, the event was actually kind of refreshing.

It was also really inspiring to hear the way the store manager spoke of Walmart, and to see how enthusiastic he and the associates were about charity and goodwill. I had never been to a Walmart “big check” ceremony before, but it was surprising even to David when dozens of Walmart associates came to see the presentation and offer their support. Aside from the food donations they give out, the Kokomo Walmart associates volunteer their time together at charities in the area. I even got to see the Walmart Squiggle! I wouldn’t be caught dead doing a dance like that, but it was fun to watch. If you haven’t seen it, I suggest you give it a whirl on YouTube.

The final stop was to the Kokomo Tribune to do some good ol’ fashioned, face-to-face PR. The newspaper doesn’t normally cover presentations like that, so they didn’t send a reporter. But you know when you really want something you’ll do what it takes to get it? Well, we REALLY wanted some media attention from the Tribune. David and I went to speak to the Tribune’s editor, and explained that the real story isn’t the big check ceremony, which can be kind of dull. The real story comes from the organizations and the way they will spend the money to help those in need. The Tribune’s readers will be able to see how the contribution will help the community, and in some cases, themselves. We ended up with great front page coverage that highlighted the organizations and the ways they will continue to fight hunger.

As tired as I was, it was a good day and an experience I’m glad I had. I’ve said it before but it’s worth repeating, days spent away from the office and in the community are what I love best about public relations. In those instances, you’re truly relating to the public.


Kokomo Walmart manager Harold Kushniak addressing the crowd

Representatives from Kokomo Rescue Mission

Representatives from Zion Church

Representatives from Samaritan Love Center

Representatives from The Salvation Army

Representatives from all of the receiving organizations

Walmart Associates who came to see the “big check” presentation