Our Senior Intern Wins Big at URI with PR Excellence Award

posted on April 12th 2019 in blog & Intern Posts & PR with 0 Comments

Caster is thrilled to congratulate our senior intern, Hayley Keen, for her well-deserved award win with University of Rhode Island’s Harrington School of Communication and Media.

How Hayley found Caster

Hayley has been a member of the Caster team since October 2017, when she crossed paths with Kimberly Lancaster. The two met when Hayley applied for a childcare position. Having just declared herself a PR major, Hayley reached out to Kim for an informational PR interview, citing that, in applying for the childcare job, she had done background research and realized Kim was the owner of Caster.

Kim cannot ignore ambition, so the two met. Even though Caster already had an intern for the fall semester, Kim—keenly aware that ambition, resourcefulness, and a baseline skillset are all needed to succeed in PR and at Caster—saw a spark in Hayley and decided to call in the bright ingénue for a quick-turn-around, high-demand project.

Hayley was swift to set her own trajectory from there. Throughout her tenure at Caster, Hayley has consistently demonstrated a keen attention to detail and an impressive learnedness, proving herself a true asset for her valuable contributions to PR projects, social media work, research, and even pitching.

A PR internship—what it takes

Internships are reliant on two things: the people who take them and those who provide them.

At Caster, we touch all sides: We have hired our interns with no PR experience; we have hired interns based on outside internships; and we have worked with URI to develop a curated PR internship program. It’s been a commitment.

Admittedly, we’ve had good years and bad. Sometimes, it’s on us. Sometimes, we just can’t carve out the time or resources to deliver the goods, and sometimes we’ve found we just can’t deal with those who lack ambition (e.g., those who call in sick and then run into Kim at the local coffee shop or those who fall asleep at the conference room table). Just as 90 percent of startups fail, so do internships—but that also means 10 percent of them succeed.

Hayley might have crossed our path by accident, but her internship here proved incredibly purposeful—for her and for us. Hayley’s internship helped us develop a stellar learning-incubator to act as a dedicated training path for becoming an account coordinator at an agency (because we’ve learned that nearly every account person we’ve ever hired has lacked agency exposure). Simultaneously, our relationship with Hayley and URI has helped us advocate our internship program to other PR students, building our recruitment initiative to develop a stronger bench.

The results have been incredibly rewarding for all of us.

A perfect PR match

From the start of her internship, Hayley quickly became the go-to at Caster, because she is responsible, reliable, and can pivot to perform a variety of duties with ease. Hayley perseveres and achieves the goals of a project, and she is genuinely excited when she learns something new. She has continually proven that she can own more pieces of projects and has demonstrated, without a doubt, that she is someone who will have her teams’ backs.

As much as Caster would love to lay claim to all of this, all we did was nurture the PR maven inside an already incredibly bright young person—and URI recognized the same things Caster did.

Each year, the Harrington School at URI awards students in the school’s communication and media program to recognize their unique accomplishments across a range of categories. Hayley was originally nominated in the Outstanding Internship category for her 18-month program at Caster; however, she was quickly recognized for her broader body of work and PR experience and ended up taking home the PR Excellence Award in the Leadership category.

This award honors a PR student who has embraced key qualities associated with leadership: intuition, perseverance, integrity, dedication, responsibility, critical thinking, and compassion. Hayley emulates these virtues—but then also doubles down by demonstrating how they correlate with PR.

Hayley Keen (left) with Lisa Bergson, Lecturer, Public Relations, Communication Studies, University of Rhode Island

“I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to build my skills in PR here at Caster,” says Hayley. “Caster taught me the true definition of public relations and opened my eyes to researching, planning, being strategic, and building a brand for a client.”



Hayley Keen, URI PR Excellence Award

From left: Carley Gomes, Lexie Gardiner, Patrick Keating, Joshua Reyes, Christopher Alves, Olivia Ross, Nina Toscano, Julija Paulius, Alex Jarmatz, Dean of the Colleges of Arts and Sciences Jeannette Riley, Hayley Keen, Communications Studies Chair Norbert Mundorf and Juliana Dellamarggio. (URI Photo/Michael Salerno)

With her natural tendency for leadership, Hayley even took on the training of two new interns at Caster in her final semester at the agency—a solid demonstration of her firm grasp of what it takes to make a public relations internship meaningful, as well as the start of a new legacy for the Caster PR internship program with URI.

Every member of the Caster office can attest that there could be no better recipient for this award. Hayley will be missed greatly in our RI-based office, but we appreciate her ambitious draw to New York City. We wish her great things on what is sure to be a striking career ahead.

Congrats, Hayley!

Photos courtesy of URI, Michael Salerno.

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