In my case, I saw a tweet (yes, the power of social media!) looking for a PR and content marketing intern, so I emailed the boss, arranged for an interview, and TA-DAH – I scored the internship!
It has been a couple of months and a series of learning experiences working in a growing agency in Singapore. For all you other PR intern wannabes, here are four important highlights of my initial experience.
1. Media Pitching – Stay hopeful and don’t give up
Expectation: I’m going to get so many good hits the first time around. It’s an interesting pitch, with a good press kit and it’s totally gonna be picked up by all mainstream media by morning.
Reality: Oh my goodness, I’m sending so many emails, I better get some good hits. I am spending an awful lot of time on the phone following up. But it’s okay, it’s working. But it’s not as easy as sending out an email!
Pitching is an art, I’ve learned. Even if your email pitch is on point, you’re going to have to get on the phone and follow up, and then again, and then again…
While my number one tip would be to always bcc (God save the poor soul who forgets this), the other golden rule is to get used to personalising your email pitches. Nobody wants to feel like they are ‘just another journalist’. Make them feel special, address them, and show them you’ve done your research into why this story and this client is of interest to their audience.
It’s tough when you receive a “Thank you for your email, however this is not what we are looking for”, which is really a very polite “Thanks, but no thanks”.
2. Know your client inside-out
Pitching is one thing, but following up and answering questions from journalists as they decide whether or not your client is worth covering is another. What you know about your client off the top of head could be make or break their decision.
This is one reason why you need to personalise your pitches, as mentioned above, and why you should only pitch to relevant media. It’s also a good reminder that you are here not only to help your client, but to make the journalist’s job easier.
Journalists receive tons of emails a day, and dozens of press releases. Naturally, they will only pick up stories that are relevant to their sectors. They will thank you if you’ve done half their job for them. Score some brownie points along the way. *wink*
3. Build and maintain relationships with journalists
Expectation: Oh man, journalists are scary. I’ve heard so many horror stories about mean journos screaming down the phone. Will they like me? Will they be nice? I’m going to be sooooo awkward.
Reality: Oh. Journalists are actually human. They’ve been incredibly nice when I strike up a conversation. They’re not monsters after all. Phew.
I went to my first networking event about one week into my internship and was pleasantly surprised at how fun it was. The journalists were cool, and interesting, and I realised just how important that connections are going to become. It’s all about the people – not, ahem, just the drinking – and every person you meet could be a potential client.
Another important practice is remembering your name card (yep, don’t leave that baby behind), and getting into the habit of continuing the party once it’s over. No, that doesn’t mean taking the party back to your place – it means dropping your new acquaintances and the organisers an email when you’re back in the office the next day (not hungover at all.) Say thank you, and that it was nice to meet them. Manners go a long way in this industry.
4. Media monitoring
Expectation: I heard interns have to flip through dozens of newspapers and magazines every single day. How many articles do I have to clip? This is going to be DULL.
Reality: Oh my god, software exists that helps me create media lists and follow up on media placements?! HOORAY. You are now my soul mate and my best friend.
Because the client is paying for a service to get their company/word/brand out there in the market – and they’re competing with so many other companies to do this – it’s important they can see how their money is being spent.
Overall, the biggest takeaway from my internship to date is that every industry and every job has its challenges. What I’ve experienced may not be what all PR interns experience, but stay open-minded, be proactive to learn, and always be kind. You have to start from somewhere, even if it’s the bottom.
Interested in the PR world? Drop a message to [email protected]