One of my favorite things about my job is coordinating the BG PR internship program. As I search for our newest intern, it got me thinking about what new pros, college graduates and students vying for an internship need to know. I even asked some of my Twitter friends and mentors (in 140 characters) for advice to share with you.
Here were some common themes:
Integration is where it’s at– When I received a tweet from Deirdre Breakenridge (@dbreakenridge ) offering her advice to new pros, I knew I had hit social media gold. The author of “Putting the Public Back in Public Relations” and an adjunct professor, Deirdre said, “Grads should know that communications can’t work in a vacuum. It’s very important to be hybrid working with other marketing disciplines. And, in order to educate our brands we must be embracing social media, staying on top of technology and constantly educating ourselves.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.
Embrace Math – The age old, “I majored in communications because I hate math” no longer applies. Measurement and ROI are words we hear often in conversations with clients and among our peers. We are always asking how we can attribute our PR efforts to an increase in sales, awareness and bottom line. Brands are looking to each other to decide if allocating resources to a public relations and social media strategy is worth it. Jay Baer, (@jaybaer),author of “Convince and Convert” & “The Now Revolution” thinks “the most important thing for new PR people to know is math and data analysis. Whomever keeps score, controls the budget.” In other words, “show me the money.”
Write Well- This was a common theme throughout my discussion with @PRProSanDiego, @BlockGreg, @RockStarJen and @hattrickscore. Writing is at the core of what we do as PR professionals. We should know how to write well and use appropriate grammar, punctuation and spelling. Gayle Falkenthal APR, president of the Falcon Valley Group (@PRProSanDiego) said, “Good writing is like good form in athletics. It is the foundation for success. No substitute for it. People notice.” And Mike Rose, vice president at Nuffer, Smith, Tucker (@hattrickscore) commented, “I wish newbies in PR would be passionate about writing. It’s the foundation for what we do.”
Manage your personal brand – Remember, what happens in Vegas stays on (insert your social media platform of choice here). Our profession continues to evolve as the world of social networking continues to grow. There’s a strategy behind it and it’s critical that new pros understand the basics of blogging and blogger relations, Twitter, YouTube, Linkedin, Facebook, Flickr, etc. Show us that you’re engaged, interacting and networking- not just posting pictures of what you did on Friday night at the frat house. Melodie Tao, social media consultant & online marketing educator (@mymelodie) says, “Make sure your own ‘PR’ is optimized online to demonstrate your PR skills & experience.”
Start networking – It’s all about who you know now and who you don’t know yet. So much of what we do involves networking and relationship building…not only with media, but with our peers. The PR world is small and you never know who you’ll meet and how they may help you down the road. Indra Gardiner, our founder & COO (@bgindra) feels, “Not developing and fostering relationships both off and online is a miss. Take the opportunity to meet people and really get to know them. It’s so easy to stay in touch with contacts now with Twitter and Facebook.”
Listen & learn. And keep listening.- We graduate from college and think we know everything. But in reality, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Jim Brazytis, brand architect at Liggett Stashower (@jimbrazytis) says, “Continue to learn, learn and learn. Plus, no job is beneath you – gain from every experience no matter how minor.” Along the same lines, Rachel Kay, president of RKPR (@rachelakay) commented, “You won’t get a full time job without internship experience. It’s competitive right now.”
New pro Katie Levien, account coordinator at BG (@katielevien) encourages others to “enter with an open mind and eager attitude. Also, read A LOT about what’s going on in the industry, news, etc.” Meredith Ann Epp, assistant account executive at Daum Weigle Inc. (@Mereepp) reminds those just starting their careers, “We need to remember we don’t know everything. You will probably get put in your place a time or two.”
The final piece of wisdom comes from, Jen Wilbur, principal at Rockstar Communications (@rockstarjen). She tells new pros, “As with everything, go with your gut.”
Thank you to all who contributed to this post. Your tips are invaluable. If you have any additional thoughts, I would love to hear them, whether you be a seasoned professional or someone just entering the workforce.