Two years ago this month Claire Tonneson was in her senior year at the University of Oregon, and she was accepted to the Institute on Political Journalism summer program in Washington, DC. She had prepared herself well- she possessed valuable social media skills, was the president of the Public Relations Student Society of America on her campus, worked as a press and media consultant for a local Marina, and was the top salesperson at an upscale boutique.
All of these factors made Claire a natural fit for an internship with one of DC’s most exciting up and coming strategic relations firms, kgobal. After interning with the organization the summer following her college graduation and completing the Institute on Political Journalism, Claire was hired by kglobal in the fall.
District GPS caught up with Claire recently for a brief interview:
Tell us about kglobal?
“In short, we’re content creators who operate in the world of creative nonfiction. Whether you’re trying to promote the importance of public research institutions, protect an American icon, or introduce Congress to a foreign leader, we work outside the box – taking it to the streets, small screens and digital airwaves – to inspire action around the issues that most affect your bottom line. We are a team of storytellers, digital artists and politicos who help our clients influence public policy issues or increase their market share with campaigns that combine social media, grassroots and public relations into one powerful punch.”
What are your responsibilities at kglobal?
“My official title is Strategic Communications Account Executive. My primary client responsibilities are public affairs-related, so I spend a lot of time working in the media. This could mean monitoring client press, drafting content (news releases, editorials, tweets), or coordinating with reporters. But one of the benefits of working at a smaller agency is that I am able to work outside my service area to build new professional skills. I have been involved with the kglobal marketing committee and business development efforts, and I also manage the company’s internship program.”
What was the most interesting project you’ve worked on?
“One of my most interesting projects by far, was working for the current Prime Minister of the country of Georgia and the Georgia Dream coalition. Essentially, a billionaire philanthropist came out of general obscurity to form his own political party and challenge the president who was taking Georgia farther away from the promises of democracy. Engaged to elevate this story, we worked on the campaign for nearly a year that culminated in a victory for our client – he became prime minister, his party holds a parliamentary majority, and the election marked the first peaceful transfer of power in a post-Soviet country. It was a compelling campaign, and I’d encourage anyone interested in learning more to start here: http://kglobal.com/results/country-of-georgia.”
How did the Institute on Political Journalism impact you?
“I hope this doesn’t sound too cliché, but my participation in IPJ changed the trajectory of my career in ways that I could never imagine. Most obviously, it placed me at the company that would give me my first job, and my first promotion for which I am so grateful! I also recently became a fellow in The Fund for American Studies’ public policy leadership program.”
What is your favorite thing to do in DC?
“When the weather warms up, I love spending an evening out at the Nationals Park. I’m not the biggest baseball fan in the world, but anytime the DC professionals can drop the policy chatter and come together over a hot dog and beer is fine by me!”
Any advice to potential DC interns?
“Find a mentor – having someone who looks out for your best interest, offers career advice, etc. is invaluable!”