PR Students Intern with the Chicago Auto Show

February 8, 2012

For the 10th consecutive year, six of Dr. Ron Koperski's public relations students are interning at the Chicago Auto Show. These students spend a week behind the scenes and on the floors of the largest auto show in North America and blog about their hands-on learning experience.

Blog Three

by Katie Odon

Our last two days at the Chicago Auto Show, we saw the newer side of public relations, social media.  For both days we were posting and tweeting about anything and everything going on at the auto show.  We interviewed consumers attending the show and handed out prizes.  We also had the opportunity of choosing what we thought was unique and interesting at the show and writing blogs about it.                   

Marissa Salinas, '12, wrote about the 2012 SMART ForTwo by Mercedes-Benz.  This car comes with a "smart Expression" tool where a consumer can choose the design and paint color of the car's exterior.  I chose to write about the 2012 Ford Shelby GT500.  Attendees had the chance to hear its supercharged 5.4-liter V-8 engine rev up every hour of the show.  For people that do not attend speed racing events on a regular basis, this was something very special and unique to experience.  You can see all of the interns' blogs at

Besides writing what was going on at the show, we also had the chance to talk to the people attending this show.  Jessica Coulter, '12, Molly Geraghty, '12, Karla Carr, '12 and I interviewed attendees as they were waiting in line to buy their tickets for the auto show.  We asked them why they were attending and what they were interested in seeing.  We then tweeted about their answers from the Chicago Auto Show Twitter account.  As a small reward for those willing to speak to us, attendees received one free ticket in to the auto show.  It was like Christmas morning for those receiving the ticket, and we were Santa Claus. 

After all of our hard work was completed, our supervisors, Mark Bilek, Chicago Auto Trade Association Internet Director, and Michelle Ferm, Chicago Auto Trade Association Communication Specialist, took us out for delicious dinner at Hard Rock CafĚŠe on Saturday night.  This was a tremendous way to unwind and end a week of long hours and rewarding experiences.  We all developed a great relationship with Mark and Michelle we all appreciated the professional advice they gave us.

All of the interns can agree when I say that interning at the Chicago Auto Show has been one of the most gratifying experiences that we have had while at Bradley.  A professor can make you write a million articles, plan various mock events, and train you to cope in different atmospheres, but they cannot prepare you for working for a real company or event.  We are all grateful for this awesome opportunity and want to thank Bradley's Department of Communication for setting this all up.  It's back to Bradley for us six interns and now time for four more Bradley Interns to take over at the Chicago Auto Show.

Blog Two

Katie Odon, '12

We have now been immersed in the Chicago Auto Show culture for only three days, but you wouldn't know it by seeing us!  We have been attending press conferences, writing about the conferences, and assisting with media credentials.  The only complaint we as interns have is that our feet hurt- we are always on the move!

I was very nervous writing my first actual press piece for a company, but my experience from Bradley reassured me that I had all the tools I needed to cover an event.  The first event I covered was with Allison Barkley, '13.  We covered the Midwest Automotive Media Association breakfast.  President and CEO of Volvo, John Maloney, was the keynote speaker.  Maloney spoke about how the automotive industry is growing and that Volvo's long term goal is to have no person killed or seriously injured while driving a Volvo by the year 2020.

After the breakfast, Allison and I went right back to the Media Center to write our story.  The only catch is that we had to have it done in less than an hour! Sure, both of us have had plenty of writing assignments while at Bradley, but nothing to this extent.  With our Bradley writing experiences and knowledge at hand, we went right to work.  The article turned out to be easier than we thought and we easily finished within the time constraint.  Each of us interns completed at least seven articles within the two Media Preview days.

After all our hard work during the Media Preview days, it was time to get fancy at the First Look for Charity event.  First Look for Charity is a black tie event hosted by the Chicago Auto Show benefitting eighteen different Chicagoland charities.  In our formal attire, we walked on to the show floor enjoying a variety of hors d'oeuvres and posing in front of luxurious automobiles.  The night ended with an awesome performance from the Blues Travelers. 

Seeing such an extravagant event really made me think of all of the logistics and planning that went into First Look for Charity.  Chicago Automobile Trade Association Director of Dealer Affairs, Erik Higgins, has been planning for this one night event since May of last year.  Organizing the different charities to be benefitted, settling all of the food vendors, choosing the entertainment, and advertising the event are only a few of the checks on Higgins' list to prepare for this night.  Without seeing first-hand how much went into this event, I wouldn't have appreciated it as much.

These past two days have been unlike anything else I have experienced.  I remember going to the auto show a few years ago thinking that the event was probably put together a month in advance, but never would have thought that one department needed to do so much work year round to pull off this event.  This is another aspect of communications and public relations that I wouldn't have been able to experience with only my classroom knowledge.  The other interns and I can't wait for what the Chicago Auto Show has in store for us for the next few days!

Blog One

By Katherine Odon '12    

When anyone thinks of the Chicago Auto Show they think of the newest luxury automobiles. Little do they know all of the behind the scenes work that goes in to preparing for one of the biggest automobile trade shows.  Six Bradley University interns experienced all the hard work that goes into the making of the Chicago Auto Show first hand"_ as soon as we set our bags down.  

The media internet director welcomed us with open arms to the media center and put us right to work getting the center in top shape for the madness of the media preview days.  We put together lanyards, and organized media giveaways.  We were introduced to the Chicago Auto Show database where we will be posting blog entries and registering media professionals.  We even got to create our own credentials which allow us into any part of the auto show. 

The communication specialists for the Auto Show took us on a tour of the entire Chicago Auto Show area including the actual show floors.  We visited the behind the scenes rooms and met other people that work for the auto show. 

We were some of the first few people to see 95% of the vehicles that were to be on the floor before it is open to the media or the public.  Don't be too jealous though, the show floors were nowhere near ready for the public or media to view.  The carpet was not down yet, wrapping was still on cars, and some manufacturers were setting up displays.  In order for the show floors to be set up for the media preview on February 8, the McCormick Place and Chicago Auto Show workers will work through the night to make the show floors look its absolute best.  

Even though today was a lot of simple clean up tasks and orientation to the event, we really learned how much it takes to be the biggest automotive trade show in the country.  It showed us how much little details mean and how much coordination goes into large events.  I know I can speak on behalf of all the interns, when I say that we are really excited to see the outcome of our work tomorrow morning.  It's off to bed for the interns for a 7:00 a.m. start for the first day of the media preview!