Shayne Maister here. My summer internship at Agency|51 has been a very rewarding and fulfilling experience. I’ve learned so much about the advertising industry and how I can contribute to the industry by tapping into different skill sets I had not explored prior to embarking on my internship journey.

I wanted to use this post to talk about one specific account I worked on, Secret Meals for Hungry Children. I feel the challenges I faced while working on this account in addition to the work I did for the account itself provided me with a great amount of insight into several aspects of the advertising world and has shaped me as both an individual and someone looking to be a part of the advertising field.

Secret Meals for Hungry Children is a non-profit organization set up by Alabama Credit Union, one of our clients. Secret Meals’ mission is to provide nutritious meals to malnourished children in Alabama for the weekends (i.e. when they’re not in school). Teachers and counselors distribute the food secretively into children’s backpacks, who they have reason to believe are underfed, for them to take home for the weekend. This was the first account I was assigned work to. My role in the account was to come up with a signature campaign/event for them and develop a messaging strategy and content calendar for their Facebook page.

Coming up with and working on a signature campaign for Secret Meals was ultimately my first assignment at the agency. As a creative thinker, I was immediately able to come up with an idea that I felt aligned with the objectives outlined for me and could potentially be really engaging. I called the campaign “Secret’s Out.” “Secret’s Out” entailed people anonymously submitting confessions of good deeds they’d done in their community via online or in-branch at Alabama Credit Union locations.  I spent a lot of time dialing up my first pitch, getting really excited over what I was fleshing out, and really taking on the mindset of the brand. My mentor/immediate supervisor told me she liked it, the client told me they liked the idea, but the account manager and the VP of Agency 51, my boss, thought it came up short and may not be exactly what Secret Meals needed for their brand. Thus, “Secret’s Out” was not executed.  Through this, I learned that sometimes hard work on one proposed execution of a project for an account isn’t necessarily going to be the one that gets executed in the end. I also learned that strategy and the functions of the account side of the industry play a much bigger part than I’d thought in the execution of a campaign. In addition to all this, this experience taught me that getting a pitch denied is a common occurrence in an agency, which will better prepare me for the real world and my future endeavors.

Working on Secret Meals’ Facebook enhancement was also a very eye-opening experience. Keeping in mind this was my first account and I’d never really done work for a non-profit in my advertising classes before, especially one with such specific goals as Secret Meals, working on this account was a challenge. Kait, my mentor, showed me work she’d done for Secret Meals’ Facebook before to give me a better idea of how to take on the task, but the task itself was still a huge challenge. Coming up with an overall messaging strategy wasn’t too difficult; I decided to center all posts around  Secret Meals’ dedication to the Alabama community and bettering the lives of everyone in it. Coming up with posting subjects that aligned with this messaging strategy took some effort, though. Since I had spent so much time dialing up “Secret’s Out” and did not want that work to go to waste, I decided to incorporate ideas from that into the social strategy. The posting subjects I came up with were comprised of Weekly Challenges (which contained ideas from “Secret’s Out”), Real Life Connections (personal stories or quotes by people who have been involved with or touched by Secret Meals), Community Speaks (prompts the audience to weigh in on informal topics in their community and trending topics), ACU Engagement (shared posts from Alabama Credit Union Facebook referencing Secret Meals and ACU shoutouts to help bridge the gap between ACU and Secret Meals, one of our objectives), Promotions/Contests, and Photos from Secret Meals events. I also scripted out specific posts for each respective category. Through working on Secret Meals’ Facebook page enhancement, I learned a lot about the strategic effort that must go into developing a brand and enhanced my strategic abilities. I was also able to tap into my ability to speak with the same tonality as a brand and create content based on the brand’s personality and goals. The fact that I was able to incorporate ideas from “Secret’s Out,” a pitch that didn’t make it to the execution stage, taught me that hard work really doesn’t go to waste and ideas that may not have previously worked out should not just be thrown out and disregarded; they have the potential to be incorporated into other projects.

All in all, my experience interning at Agency|51 provided me with more experience in the agency world than I could have ever asked for. My work on Secret Meals, especially, along with the challenges I faced and realizations that came with working on the account, gave me a lot of insight into just how large a role advertising plays in the development of a brand. It also showed me a lot about the ins and outs of the field and that there really is so much more to advertising than I realized. On top of all this, doing work for a non-profit charitable organization made me fee like I was doing something really worthwhile in the world. I will take the skills and insight I learned at Agency|51 with me in the rest of my endeavors in the industry.