Tips to a new PR intern, from a PR intern

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Starting an internship can be quite overwhelming. It takes hours, days and weeks to craft the perfect resume and cover letter for countless companies, interview with intimidating PR professionals, and finalize summer plans. But after you’ve sealed the deal and have your perfect first day outfit ready to go, you may be left wondering “now what?”

Not to worry! I’ve created five simple guidelines that can be useful for any type of public relations internship (and many other types as well.)

1. Don’t be shy. Being the new kid in the office can be frightening, especially if you aren’t one that opens up easily in new environments. But a great way to get yourself acquainted with your surroundings is to introduce yourself to as many employees as you can. Making connections with your supervisors is extremely beneficial when it comes to networking, and the more mentors you have looking out for your success, the more successful you’ll be!

2. Be creative. The PR world often requires creative campaigns and strategies to keep clients’ news from becoming stale. As an intern, you are a fresh set of eyes that can be useful for the company in a number of ways. From press releases to monthly goals, dig through your brain for a new way to express something for your client, and offer additional outlooks for difficult projects. You can also check out plenty of articles on campaign tactics for inspiration.

3. Google, then ask. When you get assigned tasks that you’ve never had experience doing in the classroom, you may have a million questions and not know where to begin. Luckily, Google exists! Write down a list of general questions you might have, and then use Google to see what answers you can find. Some companies also have folders on each computer with previous similar projects, or a handbook with guidelines on how to complete the project. If you still have questions after researching, don’t be afraid to go to your boss. Chances are he or she expected you to ask anyway.

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4. Everything matters. Although you may prefer some assignments to others, you should complete each project with detail, love and complete attention. Doing media research and compiling client lists are just as necessary as sending out media pitches and press releases, and if you care about it like it’s a real job- it may just become one!

5. Learn something. Internships are the perfect opportunity to gain hands-on experience in a professional public relations environment. Each day offers something new to learn and extra skills to gain for post-graduation. If nothing else, jot down all of the work you did throughout your time as an intern, and use that as a talking point for future interviews with desired employers.

Each internship may be different, and every company has a unique way of running things, but stick to these general tips and there’s no way you can go wrong!

China’s economic growth drops

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China’s economic growth has made some headlines recently. According to the Huffington Post, “The world’s second-largest economy grew 7.4 percent from a year earlier in the January-March quarter, down from the previous quarter’s 7.7 percent, government data showed Wednesday. It matched a mini-slump in late 2012 for the weakest growth since the 2008-09 global crisis.”

Whether this news is a good or bad thing depends on whom you ask. Whether this is good or bad news for China may also depend on whom you ask… or rather, what you read.

BBC’s headliner gives the impression that this growth is a positive one, saying, “China’s economy grows 7.4% in 2014 Q1, better than forecast.” While the Wall Street Journal paints a different picture with a headline that reads “China’s Growth Struggles.”

They give different opinions from different “experts.” Wall Street Journal remarks, “Some analysts worry the country is vulnerable to a property market collapse and explosion of bad bank loans.” While BBC notes “A sluggish start for the year is not uncommon, due to the Lunar New Year holiday when many businesses and factories shut down operations for about two weeks.”

But once you get down to the nitty gritty, both articles give much of the same information and express positives and negatives about China’s economy.

China Daily seemed to have a strong mix of both positive and negative points to make about the drop, and the story seemed balanced and fair. The story also mentioned “this is evidence that the economy is increasingly moving away from traditional reliance on investment and exports.”

Death Penalty to India Rape Case sends new message

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For the first time in India, the death penalty is being given to a convicted rapist while the victim still alive.

Headlines on many major news sites like CNN, BBC, and Al- Jazeera all read “three sentenced to death” following the new law that sets the death penalty if found guilty of more than one sexual assault.

All three news outlets reported on April 4th that three men had been sentenced to death following the gang rapes of two women in the city of Mumbai last year. Five men were involved; one is sentenced to life in prison and the last is facing a trial in juvenile court.

Violent crimes against women have been in the spotlight in India since late 2012, when a young woman was raped and beaten on a bus. This event spurred many public protests. The Indian media has since focused on these types of events and forced lawmakers to bring them to light as well.

Although the three articles said essentially the same thing, there was one quote on BBC that stood out among the rest. It was from Judge Shalini Phansalkar Joshi that said, “A loud and clear message needs to be sent to society.”

To me that implies that social change is truly happening in India through these trials. Not only are new, strict laws being created, but also being implemented and used to bring justice to women being raped. It’s sending a message to the entire society that these unlawful actions will not go unpunished.

“Shahs of Sunset” stirs controversy with stereotypes

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As Americans, we love to indulge in reality TV every once in a while. But as this type of television becomes more and more popular, shows are continuing to break the mold.

Bravo’s show “Shahs of Sunset” highlighted a group of people who hadn’t had too much airtime in the past- the Iranian-American community currently resigning in California. Around 500,000 Persians moved there after the 1979 Iranian revolution, and many live luxurious lives that Bravo obviously saw as TV-worthy, and gave some of the members of that community their own reality show.

 Whether it’s our society’s new obsession and education on the Middle East following the Iraqi war, or just a very wealthy and unique lifestyle of friends and community members, “Shahs of Sunset” became extremely popular and caused some controversy in the process.

An article from Fox News reported that many Persian-Americans started petitions when the show initially aired to halt the show due to “promoting racial stereotypes.” It also mentioned a comment from a signer of this petition, stating that the show “is racist and only encourages others who do not know Persians in American society to feed into the worst kind of stereotype.”

But the stereotyping that is playing a role in this show could be different then the one mentioned above. A New York Times article says that “Shahs” exploit and “amplify a previously localized phenomenon: the longstanding stereotyping of Los Angeles’s Iranian-Americans as vulgar, materialistic show-offs who don’t fit in among the city’s supposedly more cultured elites.”

Either way, this show is reaching across the country to people that have no prior opinions or stereotypes about the Persians in Beverly Hills. Through this show, schemas and narratives are being made, confirmed, or shifted, and we can only hope it’s more positive than not.

A 9/11 Narrative

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Syed Abbas was 19 years old when he moved to the United States from Pakistan.

He was 38 years old and fully immersed in American culture when the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon occurred on September 11, 2001.

“I was working at home when my wife called and said that a plane crashed in New York. Just as I turned the TV on, the second plane hit and I was shocked. Then I drove to my friend’s house and we watched it together until about noon. At that time nobody knew who was behind it. The whole country just shut down, it was pretty scary. Then later the whole story came out that the hijackers came from Saudi Arabia.”

When I asked him about his family back in Pakistan, he said the reaction there was quite similar to people in the states.

“Everyone knew about it right away and they were shocked too. Some people here think some middle easterners wanted it to happen, but nobody wanted that. They were so sad for how things were being destroyed. They felt the same way as us, thinking the hijackers were bad people. The hijackers gave the Middle East a bad name, even though they have their own separate agenda. After 9/11 almost 45,000 Muslims have been killed in Pakistan by Al-Qaeda. They are still dealing with this terror over there.”

This New York Times article confirms what Abbas says, mentioning that Israelis and Palestinians “also took cold comfort in concluding that Americans would now share more of their fears.”

And this McClatchy DC article also confirms that drones are killing “others” and not just Al-Qaeda leaders in the Pakistani area.

When I asked him about how his life has changed since the tragic event, he was humble and understanding.

“When you’re flying in New York, they usually check where you went if they see you are traveling from a certain country such as Pakistan and make you sit in a specific room. Suspicious countries with a lot of terrorist activity like that are flagged, but after an hour or so you are clear to go. I dread coming and going from there, but I don’t have those issues anywhere else. Even still, my feelings aren’t hurt. I’d rather be safe, and Pakistan does even more profiling then most places, so it doesn’t bother me here.”

“What’s going on in Venezuela?”

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It seems as if media coverage of the political and social unrest happening in Venezuela popped up overnight. National student-run peaceful protests started just this month, and received global attention on February 12th when three people were killed. The death toll has since been increased to eight (according to BBC), and it doesn’t seem as if the situation is getting better anytime soon.

What’s the issue at hand? The protesters want tighter security, food in their grocery stores, and protection of freedom of speech. They also took to social media to tell their stories and spread the word about the horrors they are currently facing.

But the Venezuelan government seems to want the coverage of these events disappearing as fast as they appeared. The government has issued a “media-blackout” and is limiting the investigations by news sources covering the event.

CNN gave readers an easy-to-understand article addressing the main questions people have about what exactly is going on in Venezuela and why. But a recent BBC article explains that Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro has “vowed to expel CNN until they rectify their coverage,” and continues by saying that he “won’t accept war propaganda against Venezuela.”

But now that people know about the situation in Venezuela, or at least see something about it on their Facebook and Twitter feeds, I don’t think they will allow this type of censorship. The Caracas Chronicles wrote a piece about the lack of new coverage on international news sites and basically asked media to “step it up.”

To conclude, many are unaware as to what will happen next for the people of Venezuela. Here’s to hoping that we will actually be able to read about it.

Winter Storm causes misery for many

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It’s been quite a winter season for the east coast of the United States!

Winter storms have been hitting the country and causing a number of problems. Nicknamed “the polar vortex,” these storms have caused major traffic accidents, cancelled and delaying countless flights, and left thousands of homes without power.

According to Al-Jazeera, one of the storms that reached from the south to northeast was responsible for about 20 deaths. They also mentioned that over “75,000 domestic flights have been cancelled since December 1st.”

But now it seems as if this huge storm that has been affecting a large portion of the country has moved up north to Canada. BBC reported that a number of highways in Quebec have been shut down due to the snowfall, and that the worst of was expected to hit yesterday and today.

CNN focused on the people who spent most of their time in the airports waiting for their delayed flights. But they also mentioned at the end of the article “the U.S. had no lock on challenging weather.” They mentioned the heavy snow that is currently hitting Tokyo and the massive floods in the U.K. and England.

All of the separate news sites made note of the number of deaths the storm has caused, although all three had a different number (anywhere from 20-30 casualties.) Needless to say, the winter season has taken quite a toll on many states in the U.S. and it seems as if everyone is ready for the drastic weather to melt away in the sunshine.