30 Oct 2020

Completing a PR Internship During the Pandemic

Hi! I’m Frankie and I’m a final year English literature student at the University of Birmingham. When I applied for this amazing opportunity, I imagined that the pandemic would likely compromise my chances of being able to complete the internship. However, moving the placement online, I have been able to gain a unique insight into the reopening of Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery (BMAG) at a crucial time for arts institutions across the world.

Having volunteered for Birmingham Museums Trust since my first year of university, I jumped at the chance to further my understanding of the heritage sector. Working specifically within marketing was a new experience for me and involved adapting to a particular style of writing. Communicating with the team via emails and online meetings, I have created press releases and social media content for events such as the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition and half-term Halloween festivities.

I learned to draft press releases using clear, objective language that could easily be accessed by journalists, and to add a bit of flare when creating blog posts for visitors. Crafting the reopening press release was an exciting moment, as I had to emphasise why visitors should return to the galleries after almost 7 months, whilst also reassuring them of their safety.

The project I am most proud of is the 'Highlights Blog' that I created for Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, detailing 11 key objects and artworks for visitors to explore. This idea emerged from my research into other cultural institutions, such as the V&A and British Museum, who have been using object trails to help with reopening. The Marketing team and I put together the 11 highlights, including some of my favourite Pre-Raphaelite paintings, and the iconic Lucifer statue that stands proudly in the Round Room.

This internship has also enhanced my understanding and love for the city of Birmingham. Researching into the history of Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, I learnt about the crucial role that the museum played in educating the working classes when it opened in 1885, celebrating local artwork. This linked well to my studies in 19th Century English literature, and I was able to explore objects and artworks that inspired the likes of Oscar Wilde.

With the time I have left on this placement, I would love to continue to navigate the reopening and encourage as many people as possible to engage with Birmingham Museums Trust. Whilst I would have enjoyed being based at the BMAG office, I do not regret that my internship has taken place online, as I have had the privileged opportunity to contribute to the reopening of a major museum, which I see as a historical moment.

The support I have been offered from the marketing team, particularly my supervisor Zoe, despite the museum being shut has been tremendous. I would highly recommend this internship to anybody looking for heritage experience, especially during these uncertain times, as it not only teaches you vital skills, but also provides a reassurance that the Arts can, and will, survive this crisis.