Archive for July, 2009
By Alicia Wells
Angela Hernandez, a PR student at Central Michigan University, is posting a five-part series on her blog that answers the question “Is PR Right For Me?” She’s going to post question and answer sessions “aiming to help students decide if PR might be a good fit for them.” While there’s no substitute for getting your hands dirty and trying PR out for yourself, this should give some good advice for those of you who are just starting your careers. Oh, and props to Angela for hosting her blog in the first place, it’s a great read!
By Alicia Wells
Over the past few weeks the intern committee has spent a lot of time interviewing candidates for our fall internship. Because many of the applicants are from out-of-state, we end up conducting a majority of them over the phone. Which means that it’s even harder for candidates to make themselves shine. But, it can be done (many of our star interns were selected from phone interviews). Here are some tips to help you ace a phone interview:
- Keep it short: Shape your answers into short, digestible sound bites. By rambling and giving too much information too quickly, we won’t be able to process what you’re saying or pick out the important facts. Highlight the key points and then pause to let us ask a follow-up question. You’ll have plenty of time to get your message across during the course of the interview- don’t feel like you have to get it all out at once.
- Show enthusiasm: This is sometimes hard to do, because we can’t see your smiling face and other non-verbals. Show enthusiasm by impressing us with your knowledge of our company, asking questions (see next bullet) and keeping the tone of your voice elevated (meaning don’t imitate Ben Stein in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off– and yes, we’ve interviewed a couple of those).
- Ask Questions: Again, asking questions will show enthusiasm, as long as they’re the right questions. The most common questions we get are: “Will the position lead to full-time hire?” “What’s a typical day like?” and “How many interns do you hire per session?” These are all valid, important questions. But the ones that make a candidate stick out in my mind are along the lines of “What’s your favorite part about your job?” “What’s the biggest challenge the interns face (just got that one yesterday!)?” or “How does your company approach social media?” We like to see that you put thought into your questions. Don’t ever say that you don’t have any, that’s a big red flag.
The Take Note blog from InternshipRatings.com has some other great phone interview tips. Anything else you would add to the list?
PRiscope favorite Bad Pitch Blog is hosting a teleseminar next Wednesday to teach you how NOT to end up on their blog. Check out http://crappypr.com/ to register (fee is $49). Knowing these guys, it will surely be chock full of great advice (and laughs).
Today’s post is the first in a series from guest contributor Brooke Winebrenner. Brooke is a recent graduate of Western Kentucky University and will be sharing her experiences of diving into the world of PR. Brooke began her career by interning with Imagewest, one of the only full service, student-run advertising and public relations agencies in the nation, located at WKU. Recently, she had the opportunity to work abroad with a client in Spain for four weeks. She seeks to continually learn about the industry as well as give helpful advice to all entry-level PR professionals along the way.
Four years studying in a college or university passes every student by in the blink of an eye. When graduation day nears, many students have completed all the courses and work required, but before entering into the working world of Public Relations, there is an important opportunity that every PR aspiring practitioner should take advantage of to ensure success in the future. One word: internship.
While many students may feel internships are not important, I must argue and emphasize the value and credit an internship will provide. Internship opportunities are available in many different areas, from agencies to businesses to even the university you attend. In the PR field, the possibilities are endless as you seek the appropriate internship to begin a PR career.
My first internship was in the Alumni Relations office at the university I attended. While I learned valuable tools that I could apply to my future PR career, I felt I still needed more experience. My next step was taking a position as public relations coordinator with the student-run advertising and public relations agency, located on the university campus. While most universities do not have this type of internship available, if there is anything similar or equivalent at your school, you must jump on board.
I had an entire semester to work with real clients and work on projects that allowed me to develop my portfolio. Once I completed the work required, another wonderful opportunity opened up to apply for the International internship with the student-run agency. Following graduation, I worked as the Sr. Account and Public Relations Coordinator for four weeks in Spain to develop a digital marketing plan and to ultimately construct a website for the client.
If someone had told me I would have three internships under my belt a year ago, with one of those including international PR, I would have thought, “no way”. I’ve learned that internships can open the door to a whole new world and boost you up to that next level in PR. Internships are a great way to build your resume, portfolio and business relationships to help get you that first job. Even if the next job opportunity that comes knocking is an internship, bust down that door and get to work because you can never have too much experience.
PR enthusiasts should take chances and seize internships that will allow them to challenge themselves. Use the internship to your advantage to grow into the professional that the prospective employer is looking for. Internships should provide the confidence needed to succeed in this industry. So take that first step and begin your internship search. The results and outcome can only prove to be a positive endeavor.
Welcome to PRiscope, Peppercom’s blog for the next generation of PR professionals. I’m a senior account executive at Peppercom and started as a junior account executive in the summer of 2006. It was my first “real” job out of college, and I’ve learned quite a bit along the way. In addition to working on PR accounts, I also manage our internship program and it has become one of my favorite parts of my job- which is what inspired me to start this blog.
I hope to be able to share with you what I’ve learned as a junior level PR professional, what we look for in our intern and entry-level candidates, as well as what makes a successful entry-level professional. I’d like to give you a place to ask questions, share your experiences and get an inside look at entry-level agency life. I’ll also tap into other experts to get their perspectives (look for the Q&A Fridays with managers, educators, HR professionals, etc.), and will invite other junior level PR professionals to give their take.
While some things have a clear right and wrong way of going about them (please, no jeans for interviews), oftentimes job hunting and starting a career is a big grey area. I hope to demystify the process and make the journey a bit easier on you. Feel free to contact me at PRiscope@Peppercom.com with ideas or questions and please share your thoughts in the comments sections.