The Valiant Virtuoso

The story of an Advertising intern at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

A Typical Work Day in MarComm at the Kennedy Center

I suppose this blog title is a little bit of a misnomer. While I certainly do work in the Marketing-Communications Department of the Kennedy Center, I am interning more specifically in the Advertising Department. After speaking to my friends and family members about my internship position, I have heard similar assumptions and misunderstandings—”Oh, so you do market research!” or “Oh, are you looking at data and creating strategies for future Kennedy Center goals and initiatives?” Well, not exactly—keep reading if you’re curious as to what I actually do on a given day.

Email Marketing Campaigns

As an Advertiser, my main assignments are normally email campaigns, which are basically marketing projects that advertise, promote, and inform audiences about upcoming performances at the Kennedy Center. They can also be used as outlets to thank patrons, inform patrons of subscription packages, etc. While I am currently working on four other emails, here is a campaign for the upcoming theater season at the Kennedy Center. In this email, I am promoting The Color Purple (which comes to the Kennedy Center on July 31), and the improv-comedy show, The Second City’s Generation Gap (which is performing now until August 12).

TCP and SC

A theater email campaign advertising for The Color Purple and the Second City’s Generation Gap.

Basically, the marketer (who has a better understanding of the target audience, pricing, etc.) relays the information in the Editorial Communications schedule, which you can see in the image below. After seeing this, I am charged with creating the copy—or messaging—in order to compel readers to purchase a ticket. On a more personal level, however, I use the emails as a site to educate, inform, and inspire readers about the empowering effects of theater. As writers, we have a responsibility to share the emotional and transformative power of the arts. This is why I love what I’m doing here at the KenCen. If you were interested in the email above, click here to see the final product—it was deployed to over 600,000 email subscribers, so it was pretty high-stakes!


Here is what our “ECOMM” schedule looks like. As writers and marketers, we use this to understand the assignment & the expectations attached.

Print Pieces (brochures, postcards, etc.)

In addition to email campaigns, I also work on print pieces. Between you and me, this is probably my favorite type of assignment because I love seeing the final product. As of now, I have completed three print brochures. Unfortunately, they do not go to the printer until late July/early August, so I do not have an example to show you now. However, here is an example of what a past brochure looked like:


The cover art and messaging for the 2018-2019 Ballet & Dance season.

And here’s a look inside of the brochure:


The graphic design and copy for a dance production in the 2018-2019 ballet & dance season.


Cover art and copy for 2018-2019 ballet & dance performances from the New York City Ballet.

These brochures vary by genre. At the Kennedy Center, the main genres are Ballet & Dance, NSO (National Symphony Orchestra), ComedyHip Hop, Jazz, WNO (Washington National Opera)Theater, and other programming for special events. Within these genres include more “subgenres.” For example, in NSO, you have chamber music; in Theater, you have international theater. After writing the copy for the print pieces, I send them to my boss for feedback who then sends it to her boss, and then to other internal sources in the Kennedy Center, for further comments. When I receive the draft, I collate the feedback, make the necessary revisions, and then pass on the digital version to the graphic designers, who create the imaging, design, and illustrations (they do such amazing work!). It’s a lengthy process, but it is important to not miss a step because we always need another set of eyes to observe our work. Remember this during your next peer-review session!

Print brochures, like the email campaigns, are pretty high-stakes. However, whereas emails can warrant errors (now and then, not too often!), print pieces are different because they are a hard-copy version, costing over $16,000. Therefore, when it comes to writing the copy, we, as Advertisers, have to be picky because we want the messaging to be clear, concise, and easy to understand. After all, we do not want to confuse our readers as this would only upset them, and perhaps prevent them from buying a ticket and supporting future Kennedy Center initiatives.


Although I only wrote in-depth about two of my main assignments (email campaigns and print pieces), I also assist with Kennedy Center outreach initiatives in the D.C. community, produce and record radio spots (which I will write about in another blog post), and attend large-scale meetings surrounding the organization’s strategic plan, institutional goals and initiatives, genres, etc. In summary, it’s always a busy day at the Kennedy Center.

But to be honest, I wouldn’t want it any other way.

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  1. Patricia Hougland July 5, 2018

    I cannot say too many times how proud Memaw is of you and your many accomplishments.

    • ValiantVirtuoso July 6, 2018 — Post Author

      You are the best! Thank you so, so much!

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