Lexington-based Kentucky Utilities serves more then 543,000 customers in 77 Kentucky counties and five counties in Virginia. KU falls underneath LG&E, a company based out of Louisville. I spent 160 hours shadowing KU’s media relations manager, Cliff Feltham. I learned a lot about how a corporate communications team works across two different companies and how it interacts with surrounding communities on LG&E-KU’s behalf.
With KU, I wrote two articles for their internal website/newsletter “The Grid.” After receiving the red copy of my first article back, I noticed my lingo and style was too formal for their internal audience. Lauren Shemwell, the editing communications specialist, changed it to make the news story more casual. However, they empowered me as a writer by highly complimenting an article I wrote about a new iPad application the IT department created and by using it externally. I can now put it on my resume that I have been published in five different publications.
I also helped coordinate two community outreach projects (LG&E-KU Day of Caring activities), update information sheets in the company website news room and researched KU’s archives in order to collect pictures and news articles for a mini-documentary LG&E was putting together for the retirement of the Green River power plant. Looking back through the decades of employee newsletters, it’s amazing how internal communication has changed over the years.
Cliff Feltham was excited to teach me as much as possible in the short period of time we had together. We have a lot in common: he was a public information officer in the Army (same job I currently have), he was in the broadcast business (a job I do in the National Guard) and we have similar work ethics and outlooks. I believe I have learned more information that I can apply to my own life and career in 160 hours working at KU then I have in a whole semester of classes.
During the internship, I got to pick Cliff Feltham’s brain on his career, media training, how to network with reporters, and many other tips and tricks he discovered along the way. One of the most important things I learned from him was the delicate balance KU had to keep in order to work successfully under LG&E, and to stand on its own when it came to branding and the surrounding community. Many Kentuckians outside of Louisville recognize and trust the KU brand, which makes the KU logo and how he interacts with reporters and the public essential to their business.
As an added bonus, I also got to see how operations run for both of Mr. Feltham’s office-mates. Jeff Rhoads, the graphics guru introduced me to using Adobe Acrobat and Photoshop to create interactive documents and fillable flyers. He gave me several tips on how to use Illustrator to compile a newsletter. He also showed me how he archives and tracks his work, which will be useful knowledge to me later in my career. Darin Carr is the LGE-KU web designer. He showed me how he tracks customers on the website and fix issues that they may have. He also showed me how he uses the same software to improve on the website to make it more customer-friendly.
Overall, I really enjoyed this internship. I have much experience in communications working in the guard, but the compare and contrast between the two organizations actually helped me understand the big picture on a whole new level. I also discovered something about myself which may affect my career path. Before this internship I said I definitely didn’t want to work for a corporate communications office. Now I can honestly say a corporate job wouldn’t be so bad
–if I can figure out how women wear high heels every day without getting blisters!