#UDPRIntern: The Five Do’s and Don’ts of Interning for a Small Business

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When did you realize you were meant to work in public relations?

This past winter, I interned for The SuperNutritionist (SN), a nutritionist business based on Long Island. My favorite part of the experience? Getting a rush knowing I was helping a small business owner thrive in today’s economy through my social media strategies. That rush was my light-bulb moment; I knew from then on I was meant to pursue a career in public relations.

I happen to love developing social media campaigns for small businesses. Unlike working at an agency, at a small business you have only one client and only one brand to define, making it easier to invest all of your energy into achieving the owner’s goals.

Interning at a small business also provides a chance to test out all facets of a public relations career. I know my internship with the SN prepared me to handle everything from data analytics, to scheduling tactics in a content calendar, to even getting behind the camera and shooting videos!

Interested in looking into the small business internship market? Here are my top 5 tips for being the best public relations intern a business owner can have:

1. Do Develop a Social Media Plan and Content Calendar. Think of writing the plan and the calendar as creating the instructions for a new board game; they must be so foolproof and detailed that anyone can follow them without your help. These tools ensure that even when your internship is over, the business will have a consistent stream of fresh and varied content.

2. Don’t Ignore to What the Owner Is Looking For. Listen to what the business owner sees as their branding strategy or their selling point. Although you are in charge of developing the social media strategy, you need to make sure your boss’ vision is expressed. Once the plan and calendar are compiled, explain how every tactic contributes to overall awareness of their company and their brand.

3. Do Discuss ROI with the Owner. Business owners often crave immediate results from social media- more likes, more followers, more money, etc. It is critical you explain that social media is not a short-term process, it’s a long-term commitment. Let them know ROI is also measured via impact, influence, and most importantly, engagement. While you should still evaluate metrics the owner cares about, also make sure to evaluate the ones you believe will create the most results in order to prove what works and what doesn’t.

4. Don’t Execute Something That’s Busy Work. Small business owners don’t have large budgets or amounts of time to dedicate towards managing a campaign that doesn’t generate results. Do your research before you implement a campaign or suggest new types of content to curate. You can never guarantee results, but backing up your ideas with research gives them a better chance of actually creating meaningful impact.

5. Do Introduce New Platforms to Optimize Reach. I introduced the SN to Instagram and Pinterest, providing her brand with desirable multimedia content. More platforms also equal more target audiences for the business to reach (for example, the SN can now target older women on Pinterest versus the young adults on Instagram).

It may not be a glamorous agency experience, but working for a small business teaches you a lot about meeting a client’s social needs. As an intern, you will not only learn, but you will also leave a small business better equipped to tackle the ever-changing worlds of social media marketing and public relations.

And if you weren’t already convinced that PR is the career for you, executing all of these tasks for a small business will definitely help you figure out what you want. Go ahead, have your light-bulb moment.

By: Paxton Mittleman

Paxton Mittleman is a sophomore Communications and English double major with an Advertising minor. When Paxton isn’t attending PRSSA-UD meetings or writing for the blog, she is volunteering with the sisters of Gamma Sigma Sigma, planning events with the UD Honors Program Senior Fellows, or tweeting up a storm on her Social Media Ambassador Twitter account. Feel free to connect with her on LinkedIn!

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Everything You Need to Know About Informational Interviews

For many students, choosing the perfect career path is a daunting and nerve wracking experience. Communication majors have a plethora of job opportunities, but some do not know their perfect fit or how to pursue them. A little, overlooked gem called the informational interview, however, is a way to open students’ eyes and put them on the right path to success.

The information interview is not an interview conducted in the hopes of landing a job with the professional the student meets with. Through the informational interview, students and prospective professionals can meet with professionals in the industry to gain insight on career advice, the industry they work in, and the corporate culture of their own company. Job seekers can also be unemployed, or employed and considering new options.

This is the perfect opportunity to ask any questions the student may have about jump starting their own careers. Students or current professionals can find employment leads, and expand their professional network. The employed professional from whom the potential candidate seeks advice and information also learns about a new potential colleague or hire and builds their own network through the conversation. 

In order to make the connection with a prospective employer, students can connect with alumni or professionals through LinkedIn or can ask colleagues to make introductions.  Jennifer Winter of The Muse, noted that an informational interview “is a request most people would feel flattered to accommodate.” So anyone interested in obtaining one should not look at it as a cold call, but as a “reporter calling an expert to research an article. Send the person a friendly, concise email that gets right to the point.” Winter suggests opening an email or phone call with a message such as, “I’m thinking about a career change and would love to pick your brain about your experience.”

According to a blog post written by Marci Alboher for the New York Times, if a person is willing and able to meet for an informational interview there are several things to keep in mind:   1. Informational interviews are simply a tool for building relationships and expand one’s professional network, not as a way to get a job – the point is to learn. 2. Wait for the right time for both you and the employer you are looking to speak with. This means leaving the ball in the employer’s court to choose a time that works for them. It also means properly researching the company the person works for prior to calling or meeting and have questions ready beforehand. 3. Never overstay your welcome. It’s always better to signal the meeting is ending and let the other person say he or she is open to continuing the discussion.

Alboher also provided potential questions one can ask when partaking in an informational interview:

1. What do you like most about what you do, and what would you change if you could?

2. What are the types of jobs that exist where you work and in the industry in general?

3. What are some of the biggest challenges facing your company and your industry today?

4. How do you see your industry changing in the next 10 years?

5. How has writing a book (starting a blog, running a company, etc.) differed from your expectations? What have been the greatest moments and biggest challenges?

 

By: Nicole Sullivan

Nicole Sullivan is a Mass Communication Major with Advertising and Journalism minors. She is the Vice President of External Affairs for the Public Relations Student Society of America as well as a Senior Reporter for the University of Delaware’s independent student-run newspaper, The Review.