Nonprofit Arts Center, Ames, IA

Throughout my senior year of college and into the summer of 2020, I worked as the Public Relations and Marketing Intern at the Octagon Center for the Arts. A a non-profit community art center in the heart of downtown Ames, Iowa, their mission is to encourage interaction and creative self-expression by providing inclusive opportunities and spaces that bring people together through art, because art matters. 

My primary roles as the PR/Marketing intern were running social media accounts, content creation, photography of Octagon events, galleries, artists, shop art, etc., writing blog posts and press releases, and creating marketing/social media campaigns, all with the goal to increase brand awareness within the Iowa State student body.

Social Media

The main social platform I worked to improve was Instagram. As my primary goal was to increase brand awareness within college students, I knew the Instagram presence had to improve. Through a more regular posting schedule, creating a more cohesive look that was visually pleasing and true to the Octagon's brand, updating the highlights and posting more stories, creating giveaway contests, and having a nice balance of photos and graphics, I was able to increase the following on our Instagram account by nearly 400. Below are some screenshots of the account while I was running and managing it. 

I also started a Pinterest, which you can check out


The Octagon Online

In early March 2020, our offices, galleries and shop shut down due to COVID-19, and I had to go back home to Illinois to finish my internship fully remotely. As a little non-profit art center with core values of community and connection, this lack of actual, in person connection was difficult to navigate. To compensate, the staff at the Octagon launched "The Octagon Online" in an effort to stay connected to our target audience. With this came a strict posting schedule and lots of research and information gathering. I posted daily to Instagram following the attached schedule, and learned a lot about how to effectively connect with your key audience through social media, and just how crucial that is, especially in a time of no physical connection. During this time was also when we gained the majority of our followers, which says a lot about our efforts.

Content Creation

25 Days of Gifts Campaign

A big part of the Octagon is the Octagon Gallery Shop, a retail shop connected to the galleries and offices which sells original works of over 175 local and regional Iowa artists. I created this holiday social media campaign to increase shop sales during the holiday season, and also to continue to increase brand awareness. Still focusing on college students, I thought of this idea to put together gift "themes"to help people find unique gifts for every special person on their shopping list. I created each theme, gathered and photographed each item, made the graphics, and posted daily on the Octagon Gallery Shop's Instagram. To cross promote and get more exposure, I then shared every post plus additional photos on the Octagon's Instagram stories. You can view those highlights


Gallery openings



You Belong

During my internship I was also able to launch the Octagon blog, something that had been in the works for awhile. The goal behind the blog is to create another space to connect with our audience and be able to share content that is unique and different from what we share on our socials, like artist interviews, behind the scenes at the Octagon, staff profiles, fun things to do at the Octagon, and more in-depth information on all that the Octagon has to offer. You can check out the blog below, and be on the lookout for more posts written by me in the future. 

follow along!

© 2020 by Maddie Leopardo