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Weber Shandwick Seattle takes an integrated approach to communications. We engage, always. We spark conversations, keep them going and turn ideas into global movements.

Nail the Essentials for a Successful PR Internship

September 2, 2011

This post is part of our intern blog series that aims to help young professionals land and make the most of their PR agency internships. For the next few weeks, expect to find useful advice and first-hand experiences from our bloggers and very own whiz-bang team of interns.

Over the past few weeks, colleagues ranging from hiring managers to interns have posted some incredibly helpful insights and advice as part of our PR Intern Blog Series, (#PRIBS). But before we get too far ahead of ourselves we feel it’s important to take a step back. On the road to rockstar status, there are some essential skills that no PR intern should take for granted, even if they may seem basic.

Research

Finals are over! So is the homework, right? Not so much. The day you are hired as an intern, is the day you get to be an expert in whatever field your client works in. Clients are looking to your team for advice, so you need to immerse yourself in the issues. You may be a PR or Poli Sci major, but chances are you’ll be tasked with knowing something completely different, such as a specific type of software technology or mobile app. Make cheat sheets of acronyms, Google every word you don’t know and keep a list of them, read the history of the client along with its competitors and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Taking those extra steps will make your life easier and elevate you to that rockstar status.

Read The News

As PR professionals, we must know what’s going on in the world daily. Watch the news while getting ready in the morning. Read the New York Times on the bus on the way in to the office. Grab a trade magazine over lunch and scan through your RSS reader of industry relevant blogs. It doesn’t go unnoticed when an intern makes the effort to learn the industry, get a grasp on trends and competitors and is able to utilize that knowledge in daily work/discussions.

Make the Most of Your Work

Sometimes internships aren’t the most glamorous jobs in the world, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make the most of everything you do. Proactively ask to own specific tasks, and when you’ve completed them — ask for more!  From coverage reporting to drafting media materials, always go the extra step and think to yourself, “If I was reviewing this, what would I correct? What additional information would I need?”

See the Bigger Picture

No one in PR works in a silo and interns are crucial members of account teams. That’s why it’s important to think through every step when completing assignments and to always keep in mind the larger project. If your manager asks you to compile a list of health reporters, don’t be afraid to ask more questions about why the project lead needs the list and clarify the focus of the story. Is the story focused on global health? Health care reform? Consumer health? Without getting additional context, it’s hard to deliver the best product the first time around. You’re not a mindreader (even though it might feel that way at times), so ask the questions!

Ask Smart Questions and be Resourceful

There are no dumb questions.” Well…a question might not be dumb because that’s kind of harsh, but there are definitely smart and not smart questions. Definitely don’t be afraid to ask questions, but do use all resources available to you as well. Here’s a contrast of questions:

Smart Question: What key learnings did the team come away with after this announcement last year? (explanation: You could do all the Google searches in the world and not find this, and it’s important to know!)

Not Smart Question: Who is the CEO?  (explanation: You should know who the CEO is walking into your first meeting, and if you don’t, check Google!)

*This article was co-authored by fellow teammate Krystal Franklin. You can follower her on Twitter @krystalfranklin.

Image courtesy of herlitz_pbs.