Hi! My name is Elizabeth Poole. I’m from Savannah, GA, and a 2017 graduate of the University of Georgia where I studied public relations, fashion merchandising and new media. After graduating, I was selected to be an intern with Carriage Trade Public Relations and Cecilia Russo Marketing for the summer of 2017. Although I completed a number of internships throughout my undergraduate career, this was by far the most rewarding and educational internship that I experienced.
During my internship, I learned so much about the industry, the clients, the organization and myself. I acquired invaluable skills that college can simply never teach you, and I gained confidence in my ability as a public relations professional and personally. This internship isn’t for everyone. You have to really love the fast-paced nature of the job and the work that you’re doing, but I promise that if it’s a perfect fit for you, this will be your dream internship.
Since my internship, I’ve returned to the University of Georgia to pursue a master’s degree in public relations and advertising. My understanding of the industry has given me such a helpful perspective to bring back with me to the classroom. I still work for Carriage Trade Public Relations and Cecilia Russo Marketing because I took the necessary steps to ensure that I was a helpful and valued intern. Below I’ve shared my tips for being a successful intern. Enjoy!
- Use active verbs in your headline. A story is only as compelling as its headline, so ensure that yours is an attention catcher.
- Admit a mistake as soon as you realize that you’ve made one. Mistakes are expected in internships, but covering them up is not. Always be transparent.
- Get approval for everything before you hit send. A company’s style of verbiage and communication might be drastically different from your own, so a little tweaking might be needed to make all communication cohesive.
- Double check yourself. Ensure that your spelling, grammar and accuracy are perfect. Check, and then check again.
- Use AP style unless otherwise instructed. Know what’s changed in the latest edition and know how to catch AP style errors.
- Research a publication before pitching to them. Know who you’re calling and why your information is important to them.
- Be flexible. Public relations isn’t always 9 to 5. Be available on some weeknights and weekends to help out.
- Be mindful of your personal social media accounts. As a part of a company, you want to portray an image that is just as prestigious as the organization you represent.
- Know the news. You’re likely to have a diverse spectrum of clients and keeping updated with the news will help you be a valuable team member.
- Be early to work, eager to help and appreciate the opportunity to learn.
- Don’t be late. In fact, be 10 minutes early to everything you go to. You never know what traffic might be like or who else will show up early.
- Dress the part. Black and white is always professional. Women, be sure to wear closed-toe, low heeled pumps, and men, black dress shoes is a safe option.
- Don’t use exclamation points. They’re just not appropriate for professional communication.
- Don’t ever tell the media what you want from them. Instead, ask them about the kinds of stories they’re looking for, or if there are any other reporters in their newsroom who would be interested in what you have.
- Make personalized pitches for each publication and pitch each one separately. Including every editor from every local publication is a big no, and shows that you aren’t taking the time the be personal.
- Be proactive. When someone gives you an assignment, go ahead and do your research. Don’t ask 10 questions to an answer that you could find yourself.
- Take the extra second and write “thank you” rather than “thanks.” You’ll be shocked at how different they sound when reading an email.
- Whether your professors have said it or not, don’t use “###” at the end of a media release. This is outdated for the public relations industry as a whole.
- Don’t ever let your texting verbiage come out in an email. There is no reason to include “lol,” “&” or any other text lingo in your professional communication.
- Always appreciate the opportunity to learn. You will do a few things that are uncomfortable, but that means your growing as a public relations professional. You’ll be happy that you came to work with a thankful and eager mind each day if you do.
There you have it, my 20 tips for your internship journey. Keep in mind that these suggestions won’t only help you complete a successful internship but could potentially help you get hired, too. Good luck!