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.
What immediately comes to mind when you see a picture of:
Chances are, your immediate thoughts were something along these lines:
- Ryan Lochte – Olympic medalist, party boy, “ladies man,” hot body, not always articulate (JEAH!)
- Nicki Minaj – singer/songwriter, rapper, wild, over-the-top, colorful, crazy fashion sense
- Angelina Jolie – adoptions, philanthropic, global, actress, Brad Pitt
If you Google these people, the stories and pictures that come up in your search results will likely support these perceptions. Am I a mind reader? No. Has Google started tapping into your brain waves to give you the results you expect? Maybe.
The perceptions we have about these people stem from the fact that they have – either purposely or accidentally – developed clear personal brands. Their actions, fashion choices, relationships and words have built what we see as their personal brand. Over time, this personal brand can easily evolve based on your actions, sometimes turning into a perception that is different from what you intended.
Does Ryan Lochte want to be known as a not-always-articulate party boy? From where I stand it appears the answer is JEAH! But chances are he’d rather be known as an incredible swimmer and an Olympic champion instead. Sure, we know the boy can swim, but our immediate perception goes beyond that now (party boy, “ladies man,” etc.) and speaks more to what his brand has become.
If you’re like me, you aren’t famous (YET – we have to keep hoping, right?), and the masses likely wouldn’t be able to list off what comes to mind when they see your picture. But you still have a personal brand. If you haven’t already, think about what you want to be known for. You should know what you want your personal brand to be, so that you can embody it and so people begin recognizing your brand.
Don’t be shocked by your Google results!
Image courtesy of imagerymajestic / FreedigitalPhotos.net
At the beginning of my internship, I listed one of my goals for the summer as improving my writing skills. Now, I know what you are thinking: shouldn’t I already have strong writing skills as an intern at Porter Novelli? The truth is that you always have room to improve your writing, no matter how fantastic your skills. Don’t believe me?
After my first month here, I joined a writing workshop with all the members of PN’s technology practice. Senior VPs and interns alike turned out to refresh their prose. I walked out with plenty of tricks and tips, and pulled out four key pieces of advice to help you out:
1 & 2: Keep it concise; don’t use jargon. I clumped these two together, because excluding jargon and “life sucking” words keeps writing concise. After a few weeks here, I was attached to anything with an “ize” at the end. I wrote about customers utilizing solutions to optimize results. The writing seminar made it clear that unlearning this jargon was the only way forward. There is plenty of marketing speak you will pick up within your first week as an intern, but be careful what you repeat. Every word needs to have meaning and purpose and if there is a simpler way to say it, use that word instead.
3: Find the active voice. Basically, the action is completed by the subject of your sentence. This also helps keep sentences concise. Avoid “to be” verbs, which generally lead to passive voice. To better explain, here is an example from Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style.
“The active voice is usually more direct and vigorous than the passive:
I shall always remember my first trip to Boston.
This is much better than
My first visit to Boston will always be remembered by me.
The latter sentence is less direct, less bold and less concise.”
Side note – a great verb does not need an adverb.
4: If you are stuck, take a walk. Writing is like any other skill; you need to “stay in shape” to perform your best. Try writing every day and don’t multi-task when you write. Focus. If you are focused and still can’t seem to get a word on paper, take a walk outside. Moving around will get you thinking again.
If you are looking for more positive feedback on your next assignment, try these four tips. Afterwards, let me know how it goes. Do you have any additional tips to add?
– Brianna Wagenbrenner, Porter Novelli Atlanta
PR News editorial intern Danielle Aveta recently offered sound advice for future interns on getting the most out of PR internships, and how to make a positive mark in the process. The article featured advice from current PR interns in a variety of organizations, compiled into “7 Tips to Make the Most of Your PR Internship”.
“On a Roll” © June 24, 2012 <rs> snaps’ photos, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license
Since the Porter Novelli Intern Blog features real world advice from interns around the Porter Novelli network, I thought this was a great opportunity to expand the list. Why leave it at seven tips, when it could be 10? So, I’ve put together three more to help interns stand out and grow in that oh-so-important PR internship.
- Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference. Winston Churchill was not speaking directly to aspiring PR pros, yet his axiom applies to you. Many of you will graduate with impressive grades, work experience and student leadership positions. This is a good thing, and worth striving for, but do not let these accomplishments spoil your attitude as you enter the professional world. No longer are you the king or queen of campus; you are now playing on a much bigger field full of veterans. As millennials, we have been accused of bringing a not-so-endearing sense of entitlement into the workplace. Don’t perpetuate this stereotype: show up ready to work, add value and learn from those around you. Now, reference Danielle’s first and fourth tips – don’t be afraid to bring new ideas and show your personality. But, let a positive attitude guide your actions. Be confident, not cocky, and earn the respect you expect.
- Show up early, leave late. A well-known American actor, director and comedian (among other professions) famously said, “80 percent of life is showing up.” Well, I don’t believe that 80 percent of an internship is just showing up, but when you arrive and leave can certainly set the tone for your work. It surprises some new interns to discover that many of the best learning opportunities pop up on the periphery of the 9 – 5 workday. This might mean setting the alarm extra early so you can still snooze, meeting friends a bit later on Friday night or even missing the first pitch of the baseball game. However, those extra hours show you have the desire and the drive to be a part of the team.
- Dress the part. One thing new interns occasionally struggle with is appropriate business attire. Stepping into the buttoned-up office environment can come as a shock to those who, just a few months earlier, rolled in to their final exams sporting sweatpants and hoodies. Research shows dress is critical to establishing positive first impressions…and maintaining them. Don’t forget that an internship is essentially a two or three month interview, so this tip matters from your first day to the last casual Friday. Need help? CBS News and Forbes have some pointers to get you started.
Hi! My name is Brianna Wagenbrenner, and I am the new technology intern at Porter Novelli. I will be blogging about my experiences at PN and little things I learn along the way. Below are a few fun facts about me.
Where did I come from?
I grew up in Roswell, Georgia in a family of seven. I have a twin sister and three younger siblings. I recently graduated from Georgia Southern University (Go Eagles!) with a degree in Public Relations.
How did I get here?
After graduation I knew I wanted to be in Atlanta. Through PRSSA and my classes at Southern, I became obsessed with PR and digital trends. I attended Leadership Rally in Phoenix, National Conference in Orlando, multiple shadow days, PRSA GA’s Real World and spoke with PR professionals from diverse backgrounds. Finally after a few internships, I had my sights set on agency life.
With many decisions in my life, I have made choices based on where I felt a sense of community and belonging. I play volleyball because of the amazing people I meet on the court. I went to Southern for the small town culture. I joined my sorority because I saw personalities similar to my own at rush.
The same is true for PN. During PN’s Intern Open House, we had an opportunity to network with past interns and other employees, and I could hardly stop talking to each person. I knew after graduation I needed a challenging internship capable of providing a real-world education. I found that in the community of people at PN.
Some advice …
If you are still in school, take the time to figure out what you are passionate about. Then research a job that applies your passion. This next step is important: figure out what you need to do to enter that job market, and do it! I have plenty of friends who are waiting to pursue their passions, but I am lucky enough to do what I am passionate about every day. And let me tell you; it is worth it!
I have big dreams for my career. But to find out how the rest of my internship goes, you will have to keep reading. Happy blogging!
I’m an LA girl, born and raised. I even attend college within half an hour of my parents’ house.
Every year, though, I venture east to visit friends in Chicago and New York. This year, my pilgrimage to the Big Apple had a special stop planned: a visit to Porter Novelli headquarters!
Since starting at PN in May, I have worked with some staffers in the NY office, so I recognized many of the names and faces as I strolled through the office.
Notably, I got to sit down with both Amy Inzanti (VP of Strategic Planning and Research) and Erin Osher (VP Consumer) and talk to them about their careers. It was great to hear about their rise up the ranks in PR – and to hear their insight into where the industry will go. They were so gracious, even though I was an intern that had never spoken to them before, and made me so proud to be part of a forward-thinking organization.
As an added bonus, I sat in the office’s lively staff meeting, which, in true spirit with PN’s commitment to diversity, celebrated the unique backgrounds of every employee in the office with heartwarming videos, spotlight interviews and fun skits.
The meeting, which was “The View” themed, only dubbed “La Vista,” pointed out professional achievements, exceptional experiences and the distinct personalities that make PN so special. Everyone was in such good spirits to hear about successful events for clients such as HP and Timberland, share insights into new business as well as the stories of their colleagues. At one point, everyone in the conference room rose to practice bhangra, a spirited folk dance from India.
I left the office wide-eyed and beaming. To be able to listen in to such a vibrant community so receptive to my questions and to see a side of PN I had only heard about and emailed was nothing short of surreal.
As the end of my internship at PN looms, it was just so rewarding to see all the way up to the top. The visit truly inspired me with big city – and big career – dreams.
-Clare Sayas, Porter Novelli Los Angeles
This is the first in a three-part series from Porter Novelli Atlanta HR manager, Tia Jackson. As a former intern, I sat down and spoke with Tia to get college students and recent grads the inside scoop on how to best position yourselves to capture that plum public relations internship after graduating. The thing she emphasized first? Get started now! There is no substitute for strong PR experience, and the best way to show it off is with a compelling resume and complete portfolio – two things that are impossible to assemble at the last minute.
- Based on the competitiveness of the industry, you will want at least three internships. Request letters of recommendation before you need them and keep them on-hand.
- Save records of your best projects as you do them. It is a lot easier to file away that article, writing sample or event highlight reel now than it will be later.
Additional Resume Tips
- Keep your resume to one page
- Try to describe your experience in the most descriptive, positive way. For example: instead of writing “Wrote press releases and pitch letters,” write “Wrote press releases for a Fortune 500 company and successfully secured local media for…”
- Use your cover letter to provide additional details or expound on your experience
- Bring extra copies of your resume
Stay tuned for part two next week!
-Mark Avera, Porter Novelli Atlanta