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A Balancing Act

Claire Kirner is an undergraduate at the University of Notre Dame, pursuing a double degree in English and Visual Communication Design. She served as a marketing and communications intern with Notre Dame Press during 2022, from early May to late August. In this blog post, she explores the various projects she completed during the summer months, including importing metadata, creating social media graphics and copy, drafting emails and flyers, creating book trailers, working on a summer sale, negotiating prices for digital ad space, and pitching authors to local bookstores for events. She credits her supervisors for their support, for giving her enough space for independent work, and for being there to guide her when she needed a clear path of action.

Over the course of my time as a Marketing and Communications Intern with Notre Dame Press, I had the privilege of working alongside Michelle Sybert, Kathryn Pitts, Steffi Marchman, and Wendy McMillen in the Marketing and Production teams at the Press. These incredible women have surpassed my expectations of support, communication, and leadership that I was hoping to receive during my first internship experience. I am grateful for the extended amount of experience I was given at ND Press, stretching from early May through late August, which allowed me to take on long-term projects, and settle into my roles in marketing and design. 

Claire Kirner

My first month with Notre Dame Press was an introduction to the basics of marketing and design for a university press. During this time, I learned about the publishing process, importing Metadata into Consonance, creating social media graphics and copy using InDesign, and how to use Hootsuite to schedule social media posts for campaigns. Additionally, I was building my communication skills by drafting emails and flyers for twenty-six authors to share information on event booking. This experience not only taught me about cohesive branding and InDesign packaging, but about how to effectively communicate a message through my own words and my design skills. In this way, I was able to take the design guidelines of fonts, color schemes, and logos, and learn how to create graphics that fit in with ND Press’ current modern style, with text hierarchy that was effectively promoting events and books within the press. In working with Hootsuite, I learned how to best organize and promote social media content by creating graphics that adhered to specific sizing guidelines and writing engaging, effective body copy. 

During my second month as a Marketing and Communications intern, I was able to take on larger, more challenging projects. First, I created a Book Trailer for Wes Jackson and Robert Jensen’s An Inconvenient Apocalypse. For this project, I learned how to use Keynote, matched video design to past NDPress book trailers, and used appropriate transitions and effects that effectively promoted the book. From this experience, I learned how to accept criticism and make changes to music, graphics, and copy that would benefit the audience. During June, I was also able to create the Summer Sale Social Media Campaign from June 15th through August 15th by creating social media copy and creating customized InDesign graphics for twenty-two days, all the while promoting my handpicked books alongside the sale. During this time, I also gained experience writing copy for blog posts and press releases, such as the New In Paperback Fall 2022 blog post, Foreword Indies 2021 Finalists Press Release, and the Summer Sale Top Picks blog post. These experiences taught me how to write with clarity and precision, while including essential information smoothly into my work.

Additionally, my experiences negotiating prices for digital ad spaces with Mother Jones, Christian Century, and Commonweal taught me about how to communicate with marketing managers successfully in digital spaces. I would like to thank Kathy Pitts for guiding me through this process and for her clarity and patience as a manager. I was also able to improve my written communication skills by promoting five authors to bookstores in their local areas by interacting with event planners, explaining a general reader’s interest in the book, and promoting the author’s speaking skills.

One of my favorite parts about this experience was interviewing authors to create Book Shorts for the Notre Dame Press YouTube channel. I organized and led interviews with George Hawley, Maya Sonenberg, Norman Wirzba, and Kelisha B. Graves to record pitches for their books: Conservatism in a Divided America, Bad Mothers, Bad Daughters, Agrarian Spirit, and Nannie Helen Burroughs, respectively. 

This project taught me how to lead a meeting in a professional environment while explaining the goals and procedures of recording the meeting. Additionally, I learned a lot about persistence and precision from editing these book shorts and working with the Marketing team on critiques and revisions. This environment pushed me to perfect my editing skills, leading me to use multiple programs, such as Keynote and Adobe After Effects to edit video clips. Even when I ran into issues, such as a recording glitching in multiple places because of a lag in the wifi or struggling with navigation of a new program, I was able to turn to my managers for guidance, and collaborate on ways to solve these problems. I am proud of these videos, and am excited that they are available for public viewing on the Notre Dame Press YouTube channel. 

My favorite project in July was working with Michelle Sybert to create two brochures to advertise Course Adoption and the Student Discount Programs for NDPress. I used Canva to create outlines of the design I wanted, then used InDesign to formulate well-organized, cohesive, brochures that fit with University color scheme, fonts, image regulations, and branding guidelines. This project taught me the importance of design in promoting information through text hierarchy, and I really enjoyed creating two different brochures that will be able to be used by faculty and students to learn more about what Notre Dame Press has to offer. Thank you to Michelle for giving me so much creative freedom with this project, as well as the Inconvenient Apocalypse After Effects Book Trailer.

Overall, the best part of working as an intern with Notre Dame Press was the open, kind, and supportive managers that I had the pleasure of working with. Particularly on the Marketing side, where I rotated between three different areas of marketing per week, as well as design, I found that the enthusiasm, willingness to teach, and support that I received every day was a highlight of my experience. I was constantly surrounded by individuals with incredible patience, who made me laugh and feel included as well as important on the staff, while teaching me so much about the process of publishing and strategies in marketing. Many thanks to Steffi Marchman for answering all of my marketing questions with a smile, and Wendy McMillen for being so supportive with teaching me about design! Whether I was writing blog posts, creating social media graphics, designing brochures, or communicating with authors and bookstores, the support of NDPress was behind me, to give me enough space for independent work while being there to guide when I needed a clear path of action.

In the future, I am planning on working with brand identities as a graphic designer, and I believe that my time with NDPress—building relationships with the staff, honing my design skills (particularly in InDesign, After Effects, and Photoshop), and learning about marketing—has given me foundational skills for a successful future in design.

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