This summer, I was looking for an opportunity to immerse myself in a media production space in the heart of my hometown and was blessed with the opportunity to be chosen for a PBS internship!

After so many years of consuming PBS content as a kid and seeing the practical impact shows like ArthurCyberchaseDragon Tales, and the Magic School Bus had on my socio-emotional and academic growth at a young age, I was so honored to now have the opportunity to interact with the very creatives, leaders, and innovators who helped shape so many of my early childhood memories!

Throughout the summer, I have worked with members from digital, marketing, corporate support, and member stations to create marketing materials not only for our evergreen PBS KIDS content, but also for new shows such as Molly of Denali and Xavier Riddle. Likewise, with the help of my colleague Lexie Wright, we created and maintained a digital discussion board called “Intern Corner” on OurNeighborhood, where we posted questions, uploaded resources, and awarded prizes to interns in order to build a sense of community among our intern class and to keep each other informed across departments. I also developed several online training documents for our new self-directed OurNeighborhood Mentor Program, as well as contributed to the Development Services Timeline that showcases the work our department has done over the years. Perhaps the most important skills I have learned this summer relate to formatting and visual design, as well as learning the importance of extensive feedback in the content creation and finalization processes. Most of all, I have gained so much insight into how a media organization like PBS operates, how branding and marketing play a crucial role in the development of products and services for audiences, and how integral each staff member of PBS is in making our brand sustainable.

The highlight of my internship experience was attending the Public Media Development and Marketing Conference (PMDMC) in the beautiful city of Dallas, TX. I had the opportunity to meet so many amazing people from public media, radio, and television and connected with other PBS Staff and station members over delicious food and engaging activities. It was great hearing from guest speakers like Wharton Marketing Professor Jonah Berger, renowned PBS NewsHour and All Things Considered journalists Hari Sreenivasan and Michel Martin, Blue’s Clues creator Angela Santomero, and so many more powerful role models in public media. My favorite part of PMDMC was learning about marketing, branding, and innovating the PBS brand for years to come, as well as how digital media and streaming models are changing the business strategies that PBS uses to engage its current and future audiences. I also enjoyed working the registration desk with team members from Greater Public and helping set up the PBS KIDS Breakfast for over 400 people. Dallas is such a beautiful city and despite the sweltering heat, our team was able to travel to different Tex-Mex restaurants near the hotel and taste some savory local treats!

In addition to traveling across the country and meeting other PBS staff from across the nation, I have also had the honor of meeting PBS staff here at HQ thanks to our amazing Human Resources team. Such meetings have included a breakfast with President and CEO Paula Kerger, a “Think Tank: Millennials and the Media” session with Programming leaders Zara Frankel and Erin O’Flaherty, a creative information session with Vice President of Children’s Programming Linda Simensky, lunch with Chief Digital and Marketing Officer Ira Rubenstein, and a tour of the WETA Production Center to meet PBS NewsHour icons Nick Schifrin and Judy Woodruff! It was amazing to hear from these leaders across departments as they shared their experience, insight, and sage advice regarding the future challenges younger media professionals will face in maintaining the trustworthiness, durability, and accessibility of public media in such a competitive and complex media landscape.

Thank you so much to PBS for this amazing summer! It has been such a remarkable three months and I look forward to applying my experiences at PBS to my future marketing and media work!

-Casey Pettiford

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