This fall semester I had the wonderful opportunity to work for Casa Comunal, as a digital marketing intern. Casa Comunal is an oceanfront vacation rental located in the Bocas del Toros Province of Panama. The rental property which started out as a passion project for healthy living and surfing is comprised of two adjoining homes, Casa Norte and Casa Sur. The homes, which were built using locally sourced and environmentally friendly materials, create a warm and inviting space with the “intent to promote shared learning, spirited interaction and above all, human connection.” While this property is fairly new (about a year old) it has already been featured on dwell.com, a prominent online and print magazine focused on architecture and design.
As a Strategic and Corporate Communication major entering my final year of college, I believe every internship must be valuable and help promote a deeper understanding of the curriculum I’m learning in the classroom. When looking for an internship I tend to focus on those that involve digital media marketing, or social media marketing, as I intend to start my career in those fields. From my past internship experience, I’ve also realized that my stronger skills include brainstorming/pitching, strategy, copywriting and content creation. This fall I was looking for an internship at a smaller or newer organization so that I would have a better chance of inputting creative and strategic ideas as well as be able to help establish a new brand.
Casa Comunal served as the perfect opportunity, as it is a small organization that had not established its brand or online presence. On its website, Casa Comunal states, “Our mission is to provide our guests a comfortable, well-rounded getaway integrated with activities such as surfing, yoga and a variety of other adventures available throughout the Bocatoranian archipelago while also giving back to the island and its local community.”
While this mission statement had clearly been thought out to fully embody exactly what the Casa Comunal experience is like, when conducting a SERP (search engine results page) on the Casa social media there was nothing to be found. Social media is highly important nowadays, especially for new businesses with lower budgets that need an efficient way to garner brand recognition among its audience. Social media platforms are also helpful in conveying whatever message a brand wants to communicate to their audience, which in the case of Casa, would be pictures and copy emanating all things tropical, health and wellness, adventure, yoga, etc,.
During the first week at Casa (which to clarify, I was not working at the actual property in Panama but from an office space in Los Angeles) my supervisor and I discussed the work and workload I was capable of handling throughout the semester, and what specific projects I would like to focus on during my time with them.
Knowing my strengths and wanting to develop them further, we decided that I would work on creating a strategic digital marketing plan for Casa Comunal, as well as compiling a master list of potential influencers Casa could reach out to in the future for brand partnerships. Lastly, after hearing about the success of the feature on dwell.com, I challenged myself to also reach out to various online and print publishers that specialized in travel, lifestyle, wellness, or architecture and design.
Over the course of the semester, I gathered images of the property and created a content calendar that included copy and the most relevant hashtags. I believed establishing a presence on social media was one the key marketing tools Casa could implement that would hopefully, over time, result in a high conversion rate. I had been working on a digital marketing plan for another course, so being able to implement that knowledge into a real-life strategic plan for Casa was a very rewarding experience.
Since Casa is a relatively new company that doesn’t have the means to pay for search engine programs such as Tagger (a search engine that provides statistics on nearly every public figure’s social media accounts), finding the right potential influencers to reach out to for partnerships proved to be a little more tedious and difficult. In addition, reaching out to publications also proved difficult, mostly due to the fact that I haven’t had any traditional PR experience and wasn’t exactly sure how to go about that process.
Unlike my previous internships, Casa is a very small organization so I was given a greater amount of responsibility and work. One take away I have from my experience is that while teamwork is a very important quality to have within an organization, I should not be afraid or intimidated by doing more than is required (even if I’m not 100% sure on how to do it). With bigger organizations, I’ve learned that you can rely on your coworkers for certain things such as approvals or edits, however at smaller organizations I’ve realized the value of the individual. Learning to think for myself and make decisions without second-guessing or turning to a coworker for their approval or opinion has proved to be a helpful skill, especially in an environment where time is limited or supervisors don’t have the bandwidth to sign off on every single thing you do. After working with Casa Comunal I feel as though I am prepared to take on more responsibility and leadership for any other project or workplace I may find myself at in the future.