I’ve learned a lot in my short stay at The PHA Group about the world of PR and for that I’m incredibly grateful.
So, if you are thinking about a PR internship, here are five quick pointers:
- Be curious about the bigger picture: One of the things that makes PR so interesting is its complexity. More is constantly going on than meets the eye. Always deliver on a brief but be sure to ask about the bigger picture and where it fits in with the strategic goals of the clients and the agency. Knowing this will also motivate you to do the ‘mundane’ tasks and, take my word for it, doing them fast and well will get you far enough.
- Don’t think “sell-in”, think “pitch in”: When I was first told to sell-in a story, I didn’t really feel up to the task. I thought I had to master some kind of sales skills and that put me off. Turns out I had the term down wrong; to “sell-in” is to chat with a journalist and convince them that your content will enhance their piece or publication. So rather than a sales call, you should think about it as a persuasive dialogue. Also, be sure to discretely eavesdrop when an account manager or someone more senior is pitching and study them (without staring creepily though…)
- Less is more: If you’re moving straight from academia, you probably use words like ‘ameliorate’ where ‘improve’ works just fine. Of course you do – essays are more about expanding than condensing. To make the leap to PR, you’ll need to make your content short and snappy. Put it this way, you’ll have a journalist’s attention for less than 20 words or 15 seconds (if that). Make them count!
- Make friends: This may sound obvious. You want to have a good time and all that. Who wouldn’t right? That’s all well and good but what friends have to offer other than fun is guidance and crucially, backing. If you like the company and you think you’re well-suited for a role, make sure you take time to build relationships with the whole team and you’ll hopefully have more than just yourself making a case for you.
- Ask and take risks: Ask questions, and make sure you’re getting enough feedback to improve on your writing, time-management skills and pitching-in. But be grateful and understanding when people take the time to walk you through a task and show you’ve mastered it the next time around. It is useful to volunteer for a task that is more challenging than your previous one – this shows you’re growing and listening. Internships are short and if the learning curve isn’t steep and a bit scary, you’re not doing it right.
Image: Thomas Edwards, flickr.com