It’s that time of the year again. Students and soon-to-be graduates across the country are updating their resumes, highlighting their experience and trying to score dream internships for the summer. But, as you work to make a positive impression, be sure to think ahead to the skills and tools you want to fine tune once you land the job. Taking ownership of this will help steer your experience and the skills your gain during your internship.
While an internship can serve as a stepping stone between school and full-time employment by helping you hone the skills you have already developed, it can also serve as a launch pad for new opportunities. Are there non-traditional areas of public relations that intrigue you? Have you ever worked in the digital space, designed graphics or edited video content? If you land in an organization focused on employee development, your internship may be the perfect chance to learn how.
This desire to grow can also serve as a talking point during interviews. As an aspiring PR pro, you may not know exactly where you want to take your career, but pointing to new skills or experiences you want to gain is a great way to demonstrate that you are thinking ahead. And sharing this desire with internship coordinators and managers can help you secure learning opportunities that will make you a more complete professional in today’s evolving communications landscape.
Seek out new projects during your internship. Exercise your creativity. Don’t be afraid to ask experienced colleagues around the office for tips. You never know what types of skills you may acquire by taking the initiative, thinking outside of the box and offering to help!
If you’ve worked at an agency supporting two, three or even five or more clients, you know that multitasking is a very valuable skill. Yet, while we may all strive to be master multitaskers, there will be circumstances when you will have multiple deadlines all at the same time – and most likely in the next hour.
Now, you don’t possess super powers (if you do, this blog probably isn’t for you). Neither do we. So, here are a few tips that worked for us to manage your time effectively and meet expectations.
When you are supporting countless clients, accounts and projects across multiple team members:
- Communicate clearly with your manager and team to understand expectations and set realistic deadlines.
- Create a weekly to-do grid to share with your manager or team at the beginning of every week. As many interns support several accounts or even practices, managers may not have oversight on all your activities and deadlines. It is your responsibility to let your team know what you have on your plate. (Check out my sample to-do grid below)
- Accept that you can’t do it all. Prioritize your to-do list and plan deadlines accordingly, ensuring that you leave “wiggle room” for crises or immediate requests that may arise.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. But be sure to flag any issues ahead of time so that your team may be able to assist.
- If multiple people ask for your help on time sensitive projects and all are due at the same time, be sure to flag it to your teams who can then determine how best to prioritize. In some cases, the deadlines are “soft” and can either be pushed back or another person can help you.
- Lastly, take your time. Quality over quantity. Sometimes faster is not always better; it will actually take more time to edit, fix or re-do an assignment than to take your time and do it well. Don’t forget to proofread.
Last but not least, don’t forget to take time and enjoy your internship! It is our job to give you the tools and experience to help you succeed in your early career.
Can it be that I’ve worked in PR, marketing and communications more than half my life? That’s 25-plus years for those bothering to do the math.
Wow! That’s both kind of cool and scary. So much has changed. For example, I did my graduate thesis on an IBM typewriter with that awful yellow correction tape. A quarter century later, I use web-enabled mobile apps to guide my life; a smart phone for 24/7 everything; a laptop to work from anywhere; a cloud to access and print documents; and social media to do life.
And, compared to some, I’m actually very low-tech.
Yes, much has changed, but the fundamentals remain the same. Ours is still the ultimate “people profession” because the essence of what we do is connect organizations with their respective publics through an array of communications and channels. And while we often concern ourselves with metrics proving we reach the multitudes, I equally enjoy it when we make a difference with individuals, one-on-one and face-to-face.
Maybe that’s why I’m grateful to work with an office full of talented, energetic colleagues. And, judging by their smiles, they appear to genuinely like one another. Actually, I think that’s a key to our success, both as individuals, as teams and as a broader company.
People laugh a lot around here, even when dealing with stress, deadlines, long hours and the rigors of our business. It’s hard not to have an extra bounce in your step when a friendly smile greets you walking through the front doors or calling in through the front desk.
While a quarter century has brought significant change to how I do my job, it hasn’t changed what I enjoy most about my profession. Simply stated, I like connecting organizations — their causes, products, services, solutions, ideas and campaigns – with people who matter to them. But to do that, I first have to connect with the people who matter most to me.
So, my advice as you embark upon your PR career is to surround yourself with brilliance, but not just in terms of experience and intelligence. No, strive to be part of a group whose members are equally brilliant in character, spirit, humor and humility. They will make you smile, and in turn, you will return the favor!
-Wayne Roberts, Senior Vice President, Porter Novelli Atlanta
Details, schme-tails. The only people that need to pay attention to details are accountants, lawyers and physicians, right? Wrong. If you are looking to land a job at a PR agency, being detail oriented is not only an asset, it is a necessity.
First and foremost, clients demand high-quality services, about 90 percent of which involve some type of writing or presentation creation. If you hand over a PowerPoint presentation meant for a C-level executive with grammatical errors, informal tone or worse yet, incorrect information, not only will you not get high marks for performance, but the agency’s reputation will suffer a hit as well. Not cool. After all, if a client can’t trust you to spell, why should they trust you with their business?
It may seem obvious, but check your work, check your work, check your work.
Second, perception is everything. It may sound trite and old-fashioned, but it really is true. Providing deliverables that are spelled correctly, formatted consistently and address the audience accurately will enable you to stand out from the competition and position yourself as a professional that can be counted on for quality work. Agencies have high standards and if you have a grammatical error in your resume or cover letter or have misspelled something in an e-mail, your name will likely get pushed to the bottom of the pile. Plain and simple: paying attention to details makes you look good.
Third, there are multiple PR Internship openings across the Porter Novelli network right now, and the application deadlines are fast approaching. Before pressing “send” on that application, recheck your grammar, style and spelling. See the above two items. Seriously.
One thing we like to do on the Porter Novelli Intern Blog is answer your questions. Recently, a forward-thinking intern candidate asked when the 2013 Summer Internship Applications are due.
Here you are: one answer and one piece of advice from a former summer intern turned Porter Novelli PR pro:
- Deadlines will vary from office to office, but are typically mid-spring. For example, the Porter Novelli Atlanta Summer PR Internship applications are due by March 1, 2013. Many Porter Novelli offices are now accepting applications for summer internship positions – you can apply by clicking on “Internship Program” on the orange bar at the top of this blog for more information and direct access to the Porter Novelli Careers portal.
- I encourage you not to wait, but rather apply as soon as possible. Remember that a key to landing your dream PR internship is standing out from the crowd: be early, never late; focus on your accomplishments and prepare yourself for the professional culture of a global agency. Need help? Scroll through some of our older blog posts to point you in the right direction.
Have a question you’d like to ask a current or former intern? Click the “Ask us interns.” button on the right, and don’t forget that we cannot reply directly to your question if you ask it anonymously.
If you want to pitch better, pitch smarter. That’s the message that Porter Novelli’s Jodi Fleisig delivered in January’s Marketing News. We took her insights and created this cheat sheet with five tips on how to pitch reporters and get results.
While you probably won’t pitch journalists as a PR intern - no matter where you work - these 5 tips for pitching better and smarter are nuggets you can take with you through your career.
A former senior executive producer at CNN, Jodi is now senior vice president of media strategy at Porter Novelli in Atlanta. She has won five Emmy Awards and was named the 2012 Media Relations Professional of the Year by Bulldog Reporter.
Brainstorms are a major component of working on a team in any PR agency. They are the times when team members come together, get their creative juices flowing and generate winning ideas for their clients. Often times it is intimidating for interns to speak up during a brainstorm, especially when they are surrounded by experienced, senior level PR professionals. A common question that interns wonder is “how can I significantly contribute to a team brainstorm?”
To help ease your worries, I have put together 5 helpful tips to combat those feelings of nervousness and allow you to be a shining star:
It is important to research the topic surrounding the brainstorm prior to walking into the meeting for a couple of reasons. First, you should be knowledgeable about what you will be discussing in the meeting. Second, you should have a mini-brainstorm with yourself in order to crank up your creativity. In addition, bringing your research and sharing it with team members while you are stating an idea provides them with a visual of what you are trying to convey.
Although you have already conducted research into the brainstorm topic, it is necessary to listen to what your team members are saying during the meeting. This allows you to learn more about the topic from fellow team members and learn how your ideas will fit in with the direction that the team is going. It also allows you to build off of others’ ideas.
- Be Proactive
In brainstorms, next steps and to-do’s are often called out from multiple team members. The number one way to stand out as an intern is to be proactive. Whether asked to help or not, just volunteer and be the first one in the room to raise your hand to take ownership of tasks.
- Respect your team members
As an intern, you aren’t expected to know everything about PR or the client. Showcase your talents in a respectable manner that shows your willingness to learn, but does not seem obnoxious. Allow your team members to speak and do not talk over them. Brainstorms are a sharing of ideas, not a competition.
- Bring something to the table
The saying, “it is better to have something, than nothing at all” applies in this scenario. One thoroughly researched and creative idea can set you apart. In order to make your mark in a brainstorm, challenge yourself with the notion that the quality of the idea is worth more than the quantity of the ideas.
Show your team that you are a valuable team player. Use brainstorms as a time to shine, don’t let your intimidation outshine you.
-Alexandra Ebanks, Porter Novelli Atlanta
Attending a networking conference as a student can be a harrowing experience. The nerves set in and you find yourself worrying: how do I make myself stand out?
This week, Porter Novelli is joining future PR pros from all over the Southeast at the University of Georgia’s regional, integrated communications networking event called ADPR Connection 2012. There are countless events like this for PR students all over the country.
So, there you are, at ADPR Connection or some other PR conference, surrounded by hundreds of your peers dressed to impress. How do you leave your mark on those you meet and get the most out of your time at the conference?
Below are a few tidbits on how to leave a lasting, positive impression on not only the professionals, but your peers and future colleagues as well.
- Make a good first impression
First, dress the part and do your research. Have a relevant story to tell that will leave each professional remembering your name and face. That elevator speech is key!
- Be prepared
Show up with informed questions, ready to introduce yourself to a panelist (or two!) and discuss what you enjoyed about the session. Know who’s presenting and what companies will be in attendance before you arrive. The more time you invest, the more you will get in return.
- Follow up
Write a blog post detailing what you learned at the event and share within your network. Also, be sure to send a quick, hand-written thank you note to those professionals with whom you had a meaningful conversation. A thoughtful thank you note goes a long way.
- Develop relationships with your peers
Networking with professionals is great, but consider networking with your peers as well. Get to know each other, because your peers will soon be your colleagues, and you never know how those relationships will help you in the future.
Conferences and events are great opportunities to grow as an aspiring PR pro, so just remember: relax, be yourself and be confident! As professionals, we are just as excited to meet you as you are to meet us.
- Michael Gray, Porter Novelli Atlanta
Sometimes, old school is better than new school. Now, I don’t propose that we break out typewriters or completely take the office back to the 1960’s, but I have learned over my internship that occasionally it is more efficient to pick up the phone than to send a message over that new-fangled internet.
I have to admit that in this technical age, our generation is a little too comfortable sitting back behind our glossy computer screens, buffered by firewalls and spell check, as opposed to picking up the receiver and having a direct, real-time conversation-offline. I too have been guilty of a slight phone-phobia, occasionally even ordering my take-out online.
My roommate and I sadly realized, however, after waiting an hour and a half for our Chinese food, that online systems can be unreliable when it comes to time sensitive matters, such as ensuring your won ton soup and moo goo gai pan arrive before the end of the primetime lineup. This holds especially true when you are on a deadline in an agency environment.
Why send an email that might be ignored for days when a simple question could be answered in minutes over the phone? A quick, two minute phone call could save hours of digging through confusing websites or waiting on responses to emails, making you a PR hero in crunch time.
- Sarah Colgrove
In my years of internship experience, I have often wrestled with one question: what is the key to loving what you do? I know that I love PR in and of itself—writing, media relations, creating—so I’ve never doubted that I chose the right field. The main question I ponder is if it is more important to love the clients you represent, the tasks you are completing or the people you work with?
My past internships included a little bit of everything—from working with a client I loved but doing very little real PR work to doing tons of traditional PR work for clients that didn’t exactly pique my interest. One thing I have found at PN, is a great combination of clients I can easily get excited about and ones that require a bit more learning to fully understand. But ultimately, it is the culture of our office and the professionals I am surrounded by every day that get me excited about coming to work every morning.
I believe that a major part of PR is learning—if you ever stop learning at your job, it’s probably time to move on. A challenge keeps you fresh and whether it’s learning new skills or learning about new industries, agency work has a way of keeping you on your toes. A major part of my PN internship has been learning new industries and applying my skills to new fields.
A firm or corporation is far more likely to be successful when its employees are satisfied. A corporate culture that I can mesh with is something that I have come to value more and more the longer I am in the working world. I feel very lucky to have found a firm where playing kickball, being on walking teams and having spontaneous fun are not such foreign ideas.
You spend a majority of your time at work, so it’s important to enjoy—dare I say love—it. Everyone looks for different things in a job, and like me, for most it is probably a combination of factors that make the job a good fit. As you begin looking for jobs and internships, it is important to know what you are looking for. For me, doing valuable PR work with people I enjoy working with and a sprinkling of cool clients is the perfect equation. What’s yours?
By: Amanda Coppock