Lessons Learned as a PR Intern

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This summer taught me many things. This was my first taste of the real world, in a one-bedroom apartment in an unfamiliar city, doing a 9-to-5 at a PR agency. I felt like I was playing grown-up, but the best part was that I actually liked it.

Photo courtesy of the Miami New Times

Photo courtesy of the Miami New Times

What I learned about living in Miami:
I’ve developed patience for dealing with Miami traffic, because while you might hate how everyone drives like an animal, you start doing the same just to survive. I’ve learned that cooking does not come naturally, although groceries stores now sell vegetables that you can steam in the microwave! And I even got to use some of that Spanish I learned in high school (though by no means am I bilingual.)

Photo courtesy of The Guardian

Photo courtesy of The Guardian

What I learned about the workplace:
Being an undergrad in college, most of my prior work experience never involved the classic office environment. I’ve discovered that having two computer screens on your desk are completely necessary, and it’s a wonderful way to work efficiently. I’ve learned that simply being friendly can go a long way, whether its getting comfortable with your surroundings, questions for superiors or just making friends. And I’ve finally understood what the big deal is about coffee (besides the fact that it warms you up in seemingly freezing office.)

Photo courtesy of Max Borges Agency

Photo courtesy of Max Borges Agency

What I learned about Public Relations:
Wow, where to begin? I learned how to write press releases and media pitches, create media kits, draft brand research documents, research and craft media lists, and so much more. I definitely became proficient in excel (because that’s a requirement for every job description ever), word, power point, and various PR software websites like Cision, Compete and Quickbase. And most importantly, I found what it means to work at a PR agency. I grasped the day-to-day processes like securing hits and making reports, handled numerous projects for multiple clients with deadlines, and saw the dedication and valued interest that goes into being a successful PR specialist.

So to sum it all up, I think it’s safe to say that my summer internship was a success. When I decided I wanted to dedicate my last summer of undergrad to gaining real-life experience in my chosen field, my desired goals were to have a fun summer, learn as much as possible about PR, and create long-lasting connections with the people I worked with. I’m happy to report I achieved that and more!

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My Go-To Guides for Public Relations

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There’s no easier way to gain knowledge on any desired topic than through the beloved Internet. So as a college student looking to gain insight (and then give insight) on the Public Relations world, I try to keep up with some blogs and websites that specialize in all things communications. After all, what kind of aspiring PR professional would I be if I didn’t follow some top-notch PR blogs?

Here’s a quick list of my favorite blogs to follow:

nyc PR girls: This blog is written by two girls documenting their experiences with PR in New York City. I love that this blog has a “guide” section, with links to articles for the basics, one’s for girls still in school, a section for new graduates, and even for those wanting to switch careers. It’s a one-stop shop for all things PR.

The Bad Pitch blog: Honestly, the initial reason I starting reading this blog was the funny title. I kept coming back because they have articles covering every tiny detail of PR, from the importance of word choice to hacks for editing images. And I’ve even used one of their articles on pitching to help with my own pitching article!

Mashable: Mashable is one of those websites that’s just impossible to ignore. From entertainment to business, from technology to world news, Mashable has it all. The “social media” tab is my favorite, because in today’s PR culture, social media knowledge is invaluable.

PR Daily: Ragan’s PR Daily is the classic go-to site for PR enthusiasts. They have tabs for social media, media relations, crisis, marketing, writing and editing, and more. It doesn’t matter who you are or what type of PR you specialize in, you can’t go wrong with this website.

So if you desperately need something to read while I’m not posting new content, or just want to gain some smarts on everything public relations, check these sites out!

5 Fabulous PR Campaigns

If you’ve read any of my recent articles, you know I have a thing about “Top 5’s”. So I decided to keep the trend going with five of my favorite PR campaigns. These top five campaigns made the cut because whenever I need to get some creative juices flowing, I look back at these campaigns and try to bounce off their ideas.

Photo Courtesy of the Huffington Post

Photo courtesy of the Huffington Post

1. Dove Real Beauty: Dove took being a soap company to the next level with their extremely popular “real beauty” campaign. Almost every person has seen one of their commercials with real women showing off their bodies, or having strangers sketch portraits of everyday women. Dove took a popular topic and made it even more popular, with countless celebrities and magazines now denouncing Photoshop and dieting.

2. World’s Toughest Job: Making a video go viral is a quick, easy and effective way of achieving press in today’s Internet culture, and American Greetings cards did just that. They created a fake job and interviewed strangers for what’s viewed as the toughest job in the world. The job? Being a mother. It’s quite an unusual way to get people to go out and by Mother’s Day cards, but it’s safe to say it worked.

3. Torches of Freedom (Lucky Strike): Okay, so this one is possibly the first PR campaign created. In 1928, Edward Bernays’ job was to get more women to buy cigarettes for his client- the American Tobacco Company. So during an Easter Parade in New York City, he had debutantes walk through proudly holding cigarettes and publically advertised it. Creating social change and sales- check!

4. Red Bull 23-mile skydive: Red Bull is known for sponsoring somewhat reckless and extreme events, but having someone skydive from space on live television tops all other stunts. When people find out about someone freefalling faster than the speed of sound, they take notice (I remember watching it at my job!) Although this doesn’t actually promoting buying the energy drink, it gets their name way, way out there.

Photo courtesy of Twitter

Photo courtesy of Twitter

5. Share a Coke: Coke’s latest campaign involves selling bottles with the logo replaced by popular names of Millennials. It’s simple, and honestly I didn’t really think it would catch on. Then I saw my Instagram feed of people drinking out of their personal Cokes, or jokes on Twitter of people with unique names not being able to find theirs. Paired with the hashtag #shareacoke, it’s a great use of social media.

There you have it! I think these five campaigns are each so unique and different that they round out the various angles to take when trying to come up with something new and fresh. If you combine a few factors from each (famous actor doing the 23 mile jump, maybe?) you may just strike gold.

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!