Virtual toasts and social media posts: WMU advertising students tap into digital marketing internships with Bottles Nation
“It’s one thing to use social media in your daily life. It’s a whole other ballgame when social media drives the success or failure of your business,” says Haworth College of Business alumna Blagica Bottigliero (pictured right, with Michael Bottigliero).
As cofounder and head of marketing for Bottles Nation, a company founded on offering in-person, customizable tasting events with top sommeliers, cicerones and mixologists, she is no stranger to the impacts of an effective digital and social media marketing strategy.
But as the pandemic took hold, the company pivoted toward a new business model—one that focused exclusively on offering online tasting events. The new plan: Deliver libations to clients right in their own homes, so they can experience the joy of great wine, beer and spirits with top experts virtually.
As their business strategy evolved, a shift in digital and social media marketing efforts became essential. Bottigliero wanted to bring talented individuals on board who could help set the tone and voice for digital conversations. She recalled her time as a student in Western’s advertising program and came up with a solution. By offering internships to WMU students, she could build professional relationships that would benefit both her company and her alma mater.
“I always felt that my time at WMU Haworth prepared me for my career in more ways than I could imagine,” Bottigliero says. “I had a solid business foundation along with valuable internship experience to start me on my career path. I’m a big believer in being a practitioner of learning. There’s only so much a student can learn from a book or case study. Applying those lessons to a hands-on internship is huge.”
Bottigliero reached out to Dr. Karen Lancendorfer, director of the advertising and promotion program, about the opportunity and was soon connected with three students who matched the criteria for the positions. Ellie Heinz, Lauren Kison and Abby Macchiarolo soon joined Bottles Nation as interns, crafting digital strategies but discovering ed so much more from the experience—including what it was like to work creatively and as part of a team, to having the guidance of a mentor. Here, the students—who all graduated in spring—speak about their individual experiences.
Ellie Heinz, Social Media and Marketing Intern
Responsibilities: “In this role, I collected and analyzed week-to-week social media metrics, developed content for tweets and other posts, and scheduled regular posts through Hootsuite.”
Most memorable project: “During the middle of the internship, we were tasked with revamping Bottles Nation’s website. My team asked me to take the lead since I learned how to create and optimize a website in a digital marketing class offered at WMU Haworth. Applying my skills, as well as my knowledge of the organization’s brand persona and key performance indicators (KPIs), I was able to create a mock website layout with specific page format recommendations and calls to action. The project was incredibly fun, and our manager was so impressed with what we presented. It taught me that before you present recommendations to a client, you have to dig deeper—showing the brand’s persona through an engaging story that connects with target audiences.”
Biggest takeaway: “I currently work as an associate, digital activation, on the National Army account at OMD, specializing in programmatic advertising. Bottles Nation taught me how to make optimization recommendations backed by performance metrics to meet KPI benchmarks—skills that I use daily in my current role. On top of the technical skills, working with such talented individuals taught me just how important teamwork is.”
Lauren Kison, Creative Intern
Responsibilities: “I worked on the Bottles Nation Instagram page, crafting posts each week that aligned with a content strategy that we created. Additionally, I researched hashtags, YouTube and TikTok videos, influencers, wine clubs and more to see how these resources could help leverage the Bottles Nation brand.”
Most memorable project: “At the beginning of the internship, we took on the task of developing brand guidelines for Bottles Nation. We developed a visual identity and voice to guide the company’s online presence. This resulted in a cohesive look and tone for the website, social media and other marketing materials. We had total control over the project, and Blagica loved the outcome!”
Biggest takeaway: “Working with Blagica Bottigliero was a great experience. She was clear with what she wanted the internship to be, and since she has been in our shoes before, she was understanding about our school schedules and availability. It was amazing to see how her success helped with our own success! At the end of the internship, I let Blagica know I had really enjoyed working with Bottles Nation and would love the opportunity to continue working there after graduation. This internship was the perfect transition to my current role as marketing coordinator for the company!”
Abby Macchiarolo, Account Executive Intern
Responsibilities: “I was responsible for coordinating projects between the interns and keeping Blagica in the loop about what we were working on, as well as reviewing work before submitting it for approval.”
Most memorable project: “We created a series of posts with the theme, ‘What drink are you, based on your zodiac sign?’ It was interesting because we had to do some quick research on each sign, as well as specific drinks that might correlate with those characteristics. It was the most fun I’ve ever had creating social media posts. That’s when I felt like Ellie, Lauren and I were becoming more than coworkers—we were becoming friends.”
Biggest takeaway: “Working with Blagica was amazing. She was not just our boss, she was our mentor. She helped us learn about the backend of a website, how to use Google and Facebook analytics, Hootsuite and so much more. I am currently an associate planner on the Ferrara account at Mindshare in Chicago. Working with Bottles Nation taught me a lot about managing a team and creating the best work for a client, which has helped me immensely with the work I am doing now.”
An invaluable experience, uncorked
Bottigliero says she hopes the internship experience was as invaluable for the students as it was for her company—and that they acquired new skills in the process.
“I’m hoping that the team’s time with Bottles Nation helped them make the connection between any given piece of content to a consumer decision,” she says. “I’m confident that they received a better sense of how metrics can complement creative and advertising work. What impressed me most about these students was their understanding of how important hands-on learning is. There was absolutely nothing I could throw at them that wasn’t taken on with vigor.”