Read about what you need to know before entering a public relations internship told by the PRSSA Blog Team.
By: Bianca Esposito
Congrats! You landed a public relations internship! Or maybe you’re like me and
you’re still in the application process. Either way, not to worry! Here are some key things to know and expect before you enter the office.
Last summer, I had the privilege to work as a Consumer Intern at 5w Public Relations, located in New York City. Because this was my first internship, I was initially nervous and didn’t know what to expect. By the end of my internship, I feel that I gathered enough information and truly learned how to be a rock star intern through my own trial and error, and watching and learning from top executives at the agency. Being a part of PR office on a daily basis has granted me a much better understanding of how the public relations industry actually works and what information is critical to know. That’s why I want to tell you the things you should know and expect before you start your internship so you can enter with the confidence and knowledge necessary to be the best intern that agency has ever hired.
1.Know the Company
It takes more than just knowing the agency’s and CEO’s name. It is important to actually research the company before you start. View the agency’s website and look at their mission statement, values, clients, case studies and current employee profiles. Knowing this information before you enter already gives you an advantage over many of the other interns. Being able to walk into the office on the first day and tell your supervisor you really liked the strategy the agency used for a specific client in a case study sets you apart from the start. Not every company has the same work environment, mission or values, and they certainly all don’t have the same clients, so it’s important to know this before you enter so you are able to contribute valuable work and ideas that seamlessly match their style, values, and expectations.
- If You Have No Idea How to Write a Press Release or Pitch, Learn. Now.
You don’t have to be a professional press release or pitch writer, and no one will expect you to be, but be familiar with this kind of writing before your internship. This is one of those things that if you have NO experience in at all, you will immediately feel a little overwhelmed. You need to be familiar with proper AP style, press release format and a basic understanding of how to write either a long or short pitch. If all of this sounds foreign to you, not to worry. There are tons of online resources and books to review to help you gain a better understanding. Look up examples on sites like PRNewswire.com and CBS News which has a great article that you can view here: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/how-to-write-a-press-release-with-examples/
- Know How to Be a Team player
I learned through my internship experiences, that most work done at PR agencies is often a team effort. Sometimes you will be placed on a team with people who are difficult to work with, but as a PR professional you must learn to work dynamically with others by communicating and remaining professional at all times. Attend meetings with an open mind, listen to everyone’s ideas and understand that you cannot solely control every decision made in the team.
- Learn to Condense Your Words, Not Your Thoughts
While I’m sure clients and agency executives appreciate the fact you know big words and can fluff up any sentence, spare them. If you are writing a pitch, round-up, press release or any sort of media blast, people want to know the key facts in a clear and concise way. Beating around the bush and using too many adjectives sometimes drowns your pitch or main point and causes the reader to toss your hard work into the trash. Grab attention, be creative, but always be concise.
- Use Your Resources
There will be a time when someone assigns you a large and time consuming project, or an assignment that you simply have no idea how to do. What I learned to do is to show no sign of fear and agree with confidence. Sound crazy? It shouldn’t and here’s why. Google is a magical place and doing your research on how to perform a task or to find examples has saved me many, many times throughout my internship. Another thing I learned was to not be afraid to ask other interns or employees. Sometimes another intern may have experience with that kind of assignment and can give you some pointers before you begin. In many cases, just emailing an employee in the office and asking for clarification on a deadline or how to complete the assignment is all it really takes and is 100% acceptable. At the end of the day, the person who assigns you the task wants the assignment done correctly, meaning, it’s okay to ask them for help or clarification in a way that still shows that you are capable and confident.