My Freshman Internship Experience and What I Learned

hope-house-press-leather-diary-studio-PJzc7LOt2Ig-unsplashBy: Rachel Ornstein

We all know how challenging it is to land internships, especially as an underclassman. With the help of the PRSA website, I was lucky enough to find a small and local Public Relations and Event Management company. The owner was willing to bring me on board for an unpaid internship, and I have already learned more this summer than I could have ever imagined!

I have had several responsibilities at the company. First, I frequently worked on spreadsheets. For one event, I was assigned to input information about all the vendors that had attended.

Another task I was given was to create a media/outreach list for an upcoming event. I also got exposure to pitches and the process that a pitch goes through. Since I learned about press releases and pitches this past year through PRSSA, I get a kick out of seeing my company’s press releases to the media, and how they are crafted in just the way we learned!  

I also had my first introduction to the event management world; my boss told me to research some venues in a designated location for a client’s event. I was assigned to research dinner menus, available rooms, and venue photos. I then placed all this information into a separate spreadsheet. It was very important that I knew how to create a spreadsheet! 

I also spent a lot of time communicating with clients. Personally, I am a bit shy on the phone, so calling clients was a little intimidating. To help me, I decided to write a brief script to read while on the phone. With this, I included details about the specific event so that my mind didn’t go completely blank on the phone! I used a similar strategy with email; I wrote one general email that I sent to many addresses. However, I did have to craft follow-up emails individually. 

The most valuable part of my freshman internship was listening, observing the staff, and asking questions. Sometimes, I was able to hear my boss communicating with clients for upcoming events, which I found very interesting. The behind-the-scenes details of PR and event management companies were very interesting to discover. My favorite thing about my internship was the encouragement my boss gave me to attend the events that we all planned. I did hands-on work, such as helping tape out and designate numbered spots for vendors, mapping out where certain things would be on the grounds, and checking in with the vendors throughout the event. The experience of seeing the event come to life after working behind-the-scenes of it was so rewarding!

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Entering the World of PR: A Chat with Mindie Barnett

BY: MARISSA DIGIACOMO

On Monday, May 13, our chapter of PRSSA got to meet with Mindie Barnett, a previous IMG_2963.jpegbroadcast journalist and current author and founder of her own PR firm, MB and Associates. Her organized and energetic presentation shared tips on How to Crack the Code and Enter the World of PR, Must-Do Moves, and Knowing the Industry.

Mindie started out working in journalism, which she shared as being a helpful factor in learning more about the field of PR and dealing with the media. Consuming media such as newspapers, magazines, television, and podcasts, her favorite being “Glambition IMG_2965.jpegRadio” with Ali Brown, has been helpful in all aspects of her career. Her book, titled Intermission, shares information about managing her personal life with her work life and details about how within the world of PR, it’s important to always be upbeat.

As for professional advice, she shared an interesting tip for interviewing by saying one of her potential interns was dragging her feet with accepting a position at Barnett’s firm for too long, so Barnett went ahead and retracted the position. This can be important to keep in mind when juggling multiple different job offers in the future.

Our audience during the meeting had some insightful questions to ask including an example of one of Barnett’s pitch’s for a YouTube influencer, Alexa Curtis. Curtis’s mission is to raise awareness for mental health among teens, to which Barnett did some research and found an article pertaining to high teen suicide rates driven because of social media. Barnett explains she had to “pull the news nuggets” out of the article to position Curtis as a thought leader. She finds that the most fulfilling part of her job has been helping people in less fortunate situations get their message across, including a time when she helped an accident victim get in touch with one her medical clients to perform surgery. Barnett ultimately stresses personality, people skills, and looking the part.

For more information on Mindie, find her on the web here!

PRSSA-UD in NYC: Spring Field Trip Recap

BY: FAWN BARTOK

On May 3rd, our chapter visited two PR firms in New York City; Derris and Momentum Communications. This field trip served as a great opportunity and extension to our general meetings. These two agencies introduced us to the real world of public relations and how PR firms operate. We were able to interact with a range of employees with varying responsibilities.

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At Derris, we had the opportunity to speak to the CEO as well as Account Coordinators, Assistant Account Executives, Account Supervisors, etc. The introduction of various employees and their individual roles was extremely beneficial. Learning about the day-to-day responsibilities of different positions gave a more in-depth explanation of how those in the industry work with their clients. At Derris, we were able to sit down with the CEO himself, Jesse Derris, and ask questions about his firm in particular, but also other questions about the industry. Some topics discussed were entertainment PR, client pushback, integrated marketing, and interpersonal communication. The conversation with Jesse allowed us to understand the PR industry in a more hands-on setting and we each had the opportunity to ask questions. It was a refreshing and a one-of-a-kind experience to sit down and pick the brain of the firm’s CEO.

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At Momentum, we also had the  opportunity to have an open discussion and ask questions about Momentum Communications, their mission, and the PR industry as a whole. Momentum’s focus is on non-profits.This is a specific area of PR that I knew little about prior to this field trip. Learning about non-profits, their mission, and their public relations needs was interesting and shed a new light on the PR industry. While at Momentum, we did an activity where we had to create a “good pitch”. This activity I found extremely helpful because a large part of working in PR is working with journalists. Therefore, creating an effective pitch is a crucial skill.

The Steps to a “Good Pitch”:

  1. Attention grabber (the subject line is very important!)
  2. Data (include statistics)
  3. Background information and brief mention of client (do not make your client the center of attention – this will appear as too self-serving!)
  4. Include questions the reporter can ask the client
  5. Include ideas for b roll (what the reporter can film, or take pictures of) – include details of what will be included in video and how you plan to get views
  6. Include a link to client’s website – reporter may want more information
  7. Keep it short
  8. Individualize pitches (do not blast)
  9. Ask a colleague to read it before sending
  10. Make it human

Overall, this field trip was extremely valuable. The opportunity to sit with professionals in a field I aspire to work in, and ask them questions, tips, and advice was an experience that I will treasure.

Making Connections from Coast-to-Coast

BY: JENNA NEWMAN

After being on the executive board from PRSSA Delaware for two years, I had still not attended National Conference or any other PRSSA national event and honestly, WOW, I was missing out. This spring, I finally had the opportunity to attend PRSSA National Assembly in Portland, Oregon. Before I talk about my key takeaways from the conference, let me talk about a little bit about what National Assembly is and what we did.

What is PRSSA National Assembly?

PRSSA is a pre-professional, international organization, with chapters not only all over the U.S., but also internationally in South America. Then, beyond each individual chapter, there is a group of students that are part of the PRSSA National committee. Their job is to connect all of the chapters, manage the PRSSA National social media, send out all the emails, collect dues, and so much more! Each year, one member from each chapter is invited to come to some city (this year Portland), and vote for the new National committee. Saturday was our primary day of voting, where we heard candidates talk about why they are qualified to serve PRSSA on the national level. We also went over new proposed by-lines, including adding in a new VP of Diversity and Inclusion position on the committee. Some people call this the “boring” day, but I found it so interesting!

What did we do (beyond voting)?

Beyond voting (which was only one day), we had a mix of other keynote speakers and break-out sessions. Our keynote speakers included amazing, influential PR pros such as Trisch Smith, Global Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at Edelman and Matt Prince, Sr Manager, Public Relations and Brand Management at Taco Bell Corp. I could talk about all the wisdom that our keynotes shared each in a separate blog post, but I don’t have the time for that, so I’m just going to keep going! Our break out session included meeting with other students in similar executive board positions at their respective PRSSA chapters and talking to them about what has been successful and what has not.

Key Takeaways

Get involved. 

There are so many different, incredible opportunities to get involved with PRSSA at either the chapter level, regional level, national level, or even the international level. As I finish up my junior year, I only wish I got involved sooner and I’m grateful for next year to continue expanding my influence.

We have the power to make a difference.

There were over 100 students in a Marriott hotel in Portland talking about Public Relations. We are the future of Public Relations and because of that we have the power to make a difference on the industry moving forward.

Put yourself out there.

Most students at the conference were the only ones from their chapter (like myself), so that meant that you were either alone all weekend, or you made friends. By putting myself out there, I was not only able to network, but to build friendships that I’m going to carry to International Conference in San Diego and probably beyond that.

National Assembly was AMAZING and now I’m just counting down the days to International Conference (184Days!!)!IMG_3353.jpeg

A Chat with Joey Silver: General Meeting Recap

BY: MORGAN ZYSMAN

On March 18th, Joey Silver, a UD alumnus, joined us via skype. He discussed his time at UD and what he was involved with on campus, his past experiences, and his current position as a Data Account Manager at PINCHme.

Joey said what makes him unique and sets him apart from others is how he took advantage of his time at UD. He did this by being a part of a variety of clubs and organizations on campus. He told us to do the same and to do as much as we can in order to make ourselves unique and to get the most experience that we can while we are still students.

Joey gave us great interview, career, and professional advice. His valuable knowledge and positive attitude kept everyone engaged and eager to learn from him. Below are his interview tips and early career advice.

Interview Tips:

  • Eliminate “like” and “um”
    • Using these words, or any other crutch words, will affect how people perceive you. You always want to have mindful communication, especially during an interview, so that you are communicating the best version of yourself and appear confident.
  • Know the answers to the “basic” questions
    • For example: tell me about yourself, why should we hire you, why do you want to work here, etc.
    • These are questions that are almost, if not always asked. These are questions you have time to prepare for before-hand. Since they are expected, your answers to these questions should be perfected.
  • Align your answers with the job description and requirements
    • You should try to use the same wording used in the descriptions to describe yourself and your abilities. Do not make it completely word-for-word, but make sure you are definitely showing you have the skills and abilities the company is looking for.
  • Look the part
    • Whether you are in person or interviewing over video, the way you dress will affect how you portray yourself, how you will act and how you will speak. Be the best dressed in the room and you will feel more confident in yourself, too.
  • Smile!
    • A smile goes a long way. First impressions are half the battle. You should look like you want to be there. An enthusiastic person is someone people are going to want to work with, so make sure that person is you!

Early Career Advice:

  • Always say yes!
    • When first starting out, always be willing to jump in and help out. Be the first one to raise your hand to volunteer. This will help you be more present, set an impression, learn the most that you can, and leave a positive memory. This will lead you to become the “go-to” person for future help on projects!
    • Dress-Code
      • At your interview, read the room of what other people are wearing. You want to be overdressed at the interview, but if (and when) you get the job, dress how everyone else does.
    • Don’t be afraid to ask questions
      • Ask your peers, supervisors, managers, even CEO’s. Have questions ready for the higher-up people.
      • Most people in the room have the same question as you, but are afraid to ask.
    • Get to know other people in the office, even if you don’t necessarily work with them.
      • Use breaks as an opportunity to start conversations with people in different departments that you don’t normally work with or see day-to-day.

Thank you, Joey, for sharing your experiences, giving us fantastic advice and important professional tips. I definitely feel more confident and prepared going into the next chapter of my life! Feel free to connect with him on LinkedIn if you have any questions!IMG_1088.jpeg

Media Pitching Skill Slam Recap

BY: GILLIAN ZUCKER:

As public relations and communications professionals, having strong writing skills is essential to our craft. It isn’t uncommon to apply for a role in the industry and be expected to provide a portfolio of samples or to complete a timed writing task even before scoring the coveted interview. On the job, as I’ve learned from previous internships and from networking with my peers and professionals, it’s paramount to be able to create engaging yet concise pieces, such as media pitches, press releases, and media advisories to increase buzz and coverage surrounding an event (essential to the role of any professional in the media).

Being a senior, as I look back on the classes I’ve taken here at UD, I can say with full confidence that one of the most valuable and highly recommended for sharpening my writing skills was COMM311: Public Relations Writing, taught by the brilliant Adjunct Professor Jon Buzby, who serves as the Director of Media Relations and Program Innovations of Special Olympics Delaware, a Sixers Insider for ESPN 930, Sportscaster for Fox Sports 1290, and a Sportswriter for the Newark Post. From day one, we learned everything from the essential elements of strong public relations pieces (such as the aforementioned press releases, advisories, pitches), recorded our own public service announcements, and even worked on a hypothetical crisis situation to test our skills with responding to negative press and emergency scenarios. IMG_0706.jpeg

Overall, I can’t thank Professor Buzby enough for not only teaching me the tricks of the trade but also for inspiring in me a greater passion for writing and for the non-profit sector of public relations. In an effort to inspire our PRSSA-UD members to strengthen their writing skills for the future, I planned and held our skill slam workshop on Monday, March 4th, focused around an overview of public relations writing, from the structure to the applicable uses in real-world scenarios. After giving everyone a background on each piece and sample templates, we launched into our media pitch contest, much like how our class activities in Jon Buzby’s class ran. For the contest, members split into groups of four, devised a pitch based on a real-world scenario, and then emailed their completed work to me as if I were a journalist for the Newark Post. After the skill slam, I was delighted by all the positive feedback I received, as members told me they truly felt that they could bring the night’s experience to a future opportunity.

In all, I hope that future public relations professionals remember how important these writing skills are and that they can always be learned in the classroom setting if one lacks prior experience and of course, refined by taking on publishing opportunities (such as writing for the PRSSA-UD blog).img_0707.jpeg

Meeting Speaker Turned Internship Opportunity

BY: MARISSA DIGIACOMO

This past fall semester, University of Delaware’s PRSSA chapter had the pleasure of hosting our general meeting speaker, Lauren Hess, the Director of Social Media and Partnerships for bloom Daily Planners. She intrigued our audience while discussing loom as a company along with how she manages promoting the company, engages social media viewers, and increases brand awareness. bloom (always spelled with a lowercase “b”) is so much more than simply a stationary brand designed for women. It is an outlet for helping empowered women reach their goals through staying organized along with giving back to the less fortunate in the process.

Lauren told PRSSA about the importance of sharing content that your followers are asking to see along with reaching out to brands and companies that share the same demographics. She told us she is always looking for influencers and other brands to collaborate with. For example, she reached out to Sweet Ambs, an Instagram account that creates uniquely iced cookies. The page crafted a planner shaped cookie in order to increase promotion while also promoting Sweet Ambs.

After Lauren’s visit, I was able to find out more information on becoming a social media intern with bloom. I applied and received the position as the winter social media coordinator and I have PRSSA to thank!  

While working for bloom, I’ve learned a significant amount of professional skills along with social media tactics that I plan to take with me throughout my career. I remember meeting Lauren at one of the career fairs hosted at UD and then meeting her again at the general meeting, which I believe helped me gain her as a connection for this opportunity. The internship has taught me to always keep your mind running with content that will then lead to posts, including listening to podcasts, following inspirational accounts, reading email newsletters and novels. Another piece of advice when managing social media is to engage your viewers whether that be asking them to comment on a post or hosting a giveaway.

This experience has been an incredible opportunity with an even better work environment that I am so thankful to have discovered. You can find bloom on Amazon, eBay, at trade shows, in various book stores throughout the country, and their website: bloomplanners.com!