Porter Novelli Intern Blog | PR Internships

Improving Your Personal Brand: Making a Great First Impression

At a young age, I wasn’t afraid to reach out and speak to my peers or teachers.  I truly enjoyed being the friendly girl from up the block.  This characteristic stayed with me over time because my attitude hasn’t changed, and I look forward to meeting and greeting new people every day.  I’ve found this assertiveness very necessary in my current public relations internship with Porter Novelli (PN).  I was interested in the PN internship both for the opportunity to use my natural people skills and to hone my editing and writing ability.  

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I truly believe a first impression is made with every initial form of communication, making speaking and writing two essentials to successful client, media and public interactions.   This 10 week internship has truly put my communication skills to the test, but I’ve learned a lot, particularly how to make a first impression a great impression.  

I work with Diana Valencia, senior vice president of the PN New York Multicultural Communications department.  Working with Diana, I’ve learned how to navigate a corporate environment, interact with new and driven individuals and plan ahead for projects more effectively while getting assigned work completed.   Mastering these skills means the impression I give to others in the office, as well as team members I’m working on projects with, is strong from the start. 

Some important lessons I learned about making a good impression during my internship were: how to dress for an office job, and how to operate in a corporate office.  I learned how to dress from watching the female professionals at the agency.  They were all very stylish, and I admired that very much.  I knew I had to find clothes in my closet that were similar for the work environment.  When you start work at a new place, I always recommend taking cues from those around you.  See how others dress, when they go casual and how they get involved with the organization. These can be great clues as to how you can also be successful there. 

When operating in a corporate environment, it’s best to always be honest about your workload to your supervisor.  If you need more time to complete a project, say so.  If there is a problem, errors or complications with a given task, make sure to inform your supervisor with a plan or strategy to solve the problem.  Make it easier for your boss.  After you stated your solution, see what he/she has to say then follow through.  With this work ethic, your supervisor will gain trust that you are willing to put in effort to get your work done efficiently and correctly.

For those of you starting an internship or entry-level position, I’ll leave you with five tips on how to make a great impression.

  • When emailing your supervisor, fellow intern or a client, maintain a professional tone at all times.  Short-hand English is not acceptable, particularly in PR where writing skills are key.
  • Don’t rely on spellcheck.  Practice reading your work out loud.  Sometimes you’re able to hear your mistakes.  Ask another intern, friend or supervisor to proofread your work after it is done.
  • Be mindful of your multicultural environment.  Dress and conduct your speech and behaviors to that setting.  What may not be sensitive to you can be sensitive to others.
  • Speak up.  Don’t be shy to get to know and learn more about someone.  Relationships are always important, especially in a PR firm.
  • Don’t forget to smile.  How you represent yourself in front of others shows your character.

-Negesti Brown, Porter Novelli New York

Inside Look at PR: Agency Life According to a Journalism Major

Accepting an internship with Porter Novelli was simultaneously thrilling and nerve-wracking. As a rising junior and Magazine Journalism major at the University of Missouri-Columbia, my resume consisted of a marketing firm internship, as well as working as a columnist at various publications at my university—neither of which dealt directly with public relations. I wanted to gain experience from another side of the industry to expand my knowledge and perception of the communications world. With that came the benefits of working in a city among other interns my age and getting professional office experience. 

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View from PN New York

What I’ve found while working in PR is not necessarily something I could prepare for. Entering this internship, I thought PR focused solely on writing press releases, creating campaigns and planning events. On the surface, yes, this covers a lot of what PR does. But I’ve discovered that PR goes so much deeper than that.

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High-res 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.

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.

High-res 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. 

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. 

Help Yourself Stand Out: 4 Things You Must Do at PR Conferences

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.

  1. 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!
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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

When Utilize and Optimize met Agonize …

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? 

PR Interns - Improve Your Writing

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

3 More Tips for Becoming a PR Intern Rock Star

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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. 
  3. 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.

Let the “Real World” Adventure Begin

For me, it just clicked. It was two years ago and there I was, on the edge of my swivel chair in a large conference room, captivated by every case study and comment presented to me at a Porter Novelli shadow day. The passion, intelligence and friendliness of everyone I met caught me off-guard. I hadn’t expected to feel so connected to a firm’s values and work after just one shadow day. But while visiting the office to explore the world of PR that day, I realized that an agency like PN was exactly where I wanted to start my career.

PN Atlanta Summer 2012 Intern - Katie

My name is Katie Strasberg, and as a recent graduate of the University of Georgia I couldn’t be more excited to start life in the “real world” working in the consumer practice at PN Atlanta. Many internships and classes later, I like to look back on that shadow day a few years ago and realize how much I have experienced since – studying until all hours of the night, interning at what at the time seemed like the break of dawn, organizing numerous PRSSA events and reports… the list goes on and on.

But, over the past few weeks of interning, I’ve realized that even though I’ve grown since, what initially sparked my interest in PN two years ago still intrigues me and is truer than I imagined. Sure it’s one thing to hear someone present about how everyone in the office is talented, hard-working and supportive, but it’s amazing to experience it.

So for those of you in my shoes a few years ago, I encourage you to get out there and test the waters at companies, firms and organizations that spark your interest. Go to shadow days. Reach out to professionals for informational interviews. Participate in PRSSA or IABC networking events. You never know which encounter will click with you and lead you on a path to your dream internship or job.

Hopefully during my time as an intern I can give you a taste of what clicked with me here at PN as my “real world” adventure begins.

Find Your Passion

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. 

Brianna Graduation - PR Intern

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

Why PN?

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! 

What’s next?

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! 

Media Relations 101: Make Your Pitch Work for You

Photo from: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1280072

By Amanda Coppock

In my time as an intern at Porter Novelli, one of the areas I came to love was media relations. While some enjoy this function of PR more than others, at one point or another it is a skill that we will all have to master. Like any skill, with media relations, practice makes perfect. Sure, at first it can seem like an overwhelming and daunting task, but once you begin establishing relationships with reporters, it becomes more comfortable.

Through my experience with media relations, I have developed a few key steps for writing pitches:

Developing a Tailored Pitch

1.    Identify reporters and outlets that have covered similar stories in the past.

2.    Develop a pitch that is specific to the reporter, especially if they have covered a similar story in the past. If the reporter has covered a related story, call it out at the beginning of the pitch to let them know why your pitch is relevant to them.

3.    Identify the story idea from the beginning of the pitch – do not make them search for it by placing the information too far down in the pitch.

4.    Make the pitch work for the reporter – let them know why it is relevant to their audience, what interview opportunities exist and how they can get more information.

Developing a General Pitch

1.    Start with the story idea – let the reporter or editor know what you want them to do from the opening of the pitch.

2.    Grab the reporter or editor from the beginning – use statistics, provide an interesting fact, make a local connection, etc.

3.    Don’t forget the important stuff! – see number four above

The pitch is where you catch the reporter’s attention and make him interested in what you have to say. I find that the strongest pitches are those that are tailored to a reporter or outlet with an interest or recent coverage related to your topic. Sometimes, tailoring a pitch to a previous story may not be possible, so a general pitch will be the route you have to take. Either way, you have to hit the high points and grab the reporter’s interest.

Your internship is a time for you to gain a wide variety of experience, and pitching is likely to be a part of it. One of the reasons I was able to do a lot of media relations as an intern was because I expressed my interest. Don’t be afraid to let your manager know what you enjoy and to ask to do more in that area – you might just become an expert along the way!