As a marketing major and recent grad with no prior PR experience, I classified myself as a “PR enthusiast.” Now, with an internship under my belt and the promise of an extension, I’d like to call myself an “aspiring PR professional.”
I was drawn to the PR industry for its messaging and communication concepts, which differ from the financial and consumer analysis used in marketing. Throughout the educational journey of my PR internship, there are certain things that I have learned quickly.
In order to be a good public relations practitioner, you need to have excellent writing skills, a respect for multi-tasking, an understanding of basic business strategy, and the ability to thrive under pressure. A sense of urgency gets the creative juices flowing.
In an effort to help fellow “PR enthusiasts,” here are five tips to get the most out of your internship and see whether you have what it takes to be an “aspiring PR professional:”
1. Get to know your manager.
An amazing, knowledgeable, and often underutilized resource, your manager should be your “go-to” person. Ideally, he or she will be your biggest advocate and your biggest supporter, because when you succeed, your manager succeeds. Remember, it was not too long ago that this individual was in a similar position, so he or she certainly can empathize with you.
2. Get busy.
This may be where personal preference comes into play, but I would rather be involved with multiple projects and multiple deadlines than be sitting at my desk attempting to look busy. Don’t have any work to do? Seek people out instead of waiting for a project to be dropped on your desk. Many will appreciate the initiative and remember you next time they need some help.
Take your workload one step further by beginning to understand why you are doing this for a client, not just what needs to be done.
3. Ask questions.
As the saying goes, “there are no stupid questions,” but there is also no such thing as “too many questions.” Asking questions shows that you are involved in the process and are eager to learn. No one wants a sponge who just sits there absorbing everything. Questioning shows that you are critically thinking and engaged in your work.
Above all, the most important question you should be asking is: When do you want it? Deadlines are everything in PR, and you would hate to have one sneak up on you before putting together your highest-quality work.
4. Do the tedious stuff.
Though you might need an extra two cups of coffee just to get you through the day, putting in the time and effort can pave the way for greater opportunities. As the intern, you are assigned the often monotonous (yet totally necessary) tasks of building media lists, compiling news coverage, or combing through pages and pages of Twitter followers to identify who’s an influencer. It may take you the full 9-to-5, but when you get positive feedback—especially from the CEO—it’s an amazing feeling.
These projects present the perfect opportunity. Work hard, and you will be rewarded. By showing that you can put in the hours and deliver a high-quality product, you will surely receive something more enjoyable and challenging to tackle.
5. Write, write, write.
It can’t be emphasized enough—strong writing skills are essential for a job in PR. (I would also recommend getting your vision prescription checked, because your eyes will certainly be hazy after staring at a screen all day.) If you’ve never enjoyed writing, then you might want to reevaluate your career path after your internship is complete.
Keep a blog, ask to draft a pitch, practice good email writing. Like the muscles in our body, an individual’s writing skill is something that must be constantly exercised in order to avoid atrophying. We already have enough stacked against us with texting and abbreviations and character limits.
So, those are my tips. Share them using the below infographic, and share some other ways you can get the most out of your PR internship in the comments section.
Erin Hartwig is an intern at The Hoffman Agency.