A lot of people will remember Thursday, January 19, 2012 as the day that the Eastman Kodak Company, one that dominated the photography industry and the Rochester area for decades, filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy. Few people will remember it as the day that James Mignano began his internship at the George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography and film.
Nonetheless, it was, and the ironic timing definitely made it a great day to start my semester-long journey with the museum’s PR department.
First, let me dispel a commonly made mistake. The George Eastman House has no affiliation with the Eastman Kodak Company other than a small amount of funding (which, I predict, may not continue anymore…). Regardless of that fact, the close relation between the organizations led to more than one news outlet having a bit of confusion.
Unfortunately for my boss, Dresden Engle (A PR superstar), she was faced with the task of talking with people from the BBC around 2:30 in the morning. Her day didn’t slow down or get any easier, either… and on her daughter’s birthday, no less!
By the time I got to the Eastman House at 1pm (and received security clearance), there were still many reporters and news outlets to give official statements and photographs to. Obviously, there wasn’t a ton of time to introduce me to the office or get me started with much of an assignment, so I was lucky enough to have a front-row seat to the show that unfolded before me.
Amid the endless assault of phone calls and emails, we were faced with the task of declaring an official statement online.
“Perfect,” I thought to myself. “I can finally put my obsession with Twitter and Facebook to real-life use.”
Most of the time I spent at the Eastman House was spent responding to tweets, some of which proclaimed that our organization was actually sold off by Kodak weeks ago. It was more difficult than you would think to respond to such an incorrect statement in a manner that was respectful to Kodak while still maintaining our independence from the company and also having a personal, friendly tone and not a super official, Public Relations team response. We did not want to seem like an emotion-less brick-wall, in other words.
Although a little bit stressful, due to the circumstances, I could not have imagined a better way to start my internship this semester. Nothing could get me excited than jumping head-first into a real life scenario, where I could put to work all of the things that I have learned in PR classes. Whether dealing with diverse, international news outlets like Al Jazeera or tweeting to local Rochesterians, I know that I could be energized in this kind of setting.
Even if I’m woken up in the early hours of the morning!
What kind of first-day experiences have you had? Can you imagine a better way to start at an organization?