Experience, it is the word on every public relations student’s mind. It’s internships, leadership roles, writing samples, interview techniques, and elevator pitches. You know experience is important and so you spend every spare moment researching internship positions and forgo sleep to edit your cover letter. It pays off, and you finally land your fist internship position. Now you may be asking yourself, “What do I do now?” You’re not the only one.
I’m an account executive with PRLab, Boston University’s student-run agency, and this has been my first public relations experience. I was anxious and a little terrified that I would mess up at first, but now my apprehension has receded. Here is some advice I have for public relations students who may be unsure of themselves in their first PR position.
- Trust your gut. You may not have a lot of experience but you know a good idea when you see one. If you have a viable suggestion for your client or team, don’t be afraid to share it. Even if they don’t use your idea, your contribution shows that you are a valuable member of the team.
- Clear communication is key. Don’t be responsible for a miscommunication amongst team members or with your client because you skimmed an email while in line at a coffee shop and replied without reading it thoroughly. Take the time to make sure you understand exactly what your client is looking for and ask for clarification if you are confused. After a meeting or phone call with your client, it’s a good idea to send them a follow up email outlining everything that was discussed. It’s an easy way to make sure everyone is on the same page.
- Proofread like it is your job (because it is). You will do a lot of writing for your client. Whether it’s a tweet, a blog post, a press release, or an email, reread it. Double and triple check that everything is correct. As a communication professional, you will be held to highest expectations when it comes to grammar and spelling.
Keep in mind that an internship (especially a first internship) is a learning experience. No one expects you to have all the answers. So pay attention and work hard and you’ll get the hang of it in no time.
Last semester, I wrote about taking the initiative to discover doors full of opportunities. I’ve applied that mantra to several aspects of my life since then and have discovered that mustering the courage to take that first step can lead to many directions. This semester I wanted to challenge myself by securing an internship, but I had no idea where to begin. I knew it would be difficult for a freshman to get an internship let alone an interview, but I took the initiative and not only have secured one, but two internships this semester.
Here’s what I’ve learned so far:
Follow your passion: I live and breathe fashion on a daily basis. I’m no Eva Chen, but I keep track of trends and constantly read style articles. While I might not know how to write the perfect pitch letter, I knew my knowledge and interest in fashion would my biggest assets.
Save those Contacts: I save all of my contact information from networking on an Excel sheet with the person’s name, email address and a quick note about them such as where we met or something we had talked about. I saved the contact information from a speaker that I had met last September and wrote him an email about my interest in interning, which proved to be a smart move on my part.
Speak Up: The wonderful part about having friends is that they are always there to help. Speak up to your friends, professors and peers, asking if they have any ideas or contacts they may be able to share. I spent two weeks asking every person I know if they had any ideas—not one of them turned me down.
Do Your Homework: Before I went for an interview, I made sure to research the company to get a general understanding of its background, goals and reputation. Interning should be taken as seriously as working a job; it’s a big commitment and a lot of work. Also, it is useful to take the time to practice answers to questions before interviewing and have friends give feedback.
Believe in Yourself: Easier said than done, but do not sell yourself short. You might not have a lot of professional skills under your belt, especially if you are a freshman like me, but the skills and lessons you may have learned from sports, summer jobs or campus clubs can be used to your advantage. Make sure to include those activities on your resume.
With the advancement of technology and changes in social interaction, sports organizations are looking for new ways to attract fans. Over the years, the team organizations in the NHL have developed apps that take fans beyond the box score and recap. They can choose from a variety of articles, highlight videos, scoring and penalty summaries and much more. Players are taking to social media to interact with fans and organizations are tweeting at each other, a routine that has become comedy for hockey fans. However, with players self promoting and interacting with fans there comes risks and league regulations. According to NHL rules and regulations, players are prohibited from using social media 30 minutes before and after games. There is also the risk that players can post inappropriate content during a lapse in judgment and this can reflect poorly on the league and organization in addition to the individual. These risks deter many Boston Bruins players from putting their lives on display on social media.
In an effort to give back to the fans, the Bruins launched The Boston Bruins Digital Entertainment Network, which provides creative content to fans. The Bruins DEN contains easy accessibility for fans to follow the team’s Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and website content all in one place. The extension to the Bruins’ website also features episodes of the team’s two shows, “Bear and the Gang” and “Behind the B”. The play on a 70s sitcom, “Bear and the Gang” started during the playoffs of the 2012 season and was short lived until it’s revival this past fall. The episodes are very short and show off the players’ goofy side. On the other hand, ”Behind the B” started this past fall as the team’s own version of the show 24/7. Fans get a sneak peek into the daily routines of their favorite players and coaches, which causes fans to become even more invested in the organization and its success.
The Boston Bruins marketing and public relations team understands that digital interaction is very important to fan satisfaction. By launching the Bruins DEN, the organization opens up its audience to reach over 2.5 million unique fans each month and has become a leader of the “fan experience” that other sports organizations should look to follow.
The NFL may be one of the largest non-profit organizations, but will it be able to survive the negative press that it receives? With recent understanding of the intensity of concussions that players suffer from, the NFL has received a large amount of backlash for its inability to inform the players and the public. While most viewers are likely to continue watching their favorite teams, people are still taking notice of the NFL’s significant blunders. Let’s take a look at some ways the NFL and other sports organizations can handle negative press:
1. Accept the blame.
In order for the NFL to appear reliable once more, it is important that the it stop ignoring the elephant in the room and acknowledge the issues that are developing each day. Paying attention to concussions, drug abuse and other legal infractions can help restore faith in viewers.
2. Be transparent.
Open communication is a key element of any successful organization, but in times of crisis it is essential. Creating a clear and honest statement will help emphasize the fundamentals of the affected entity and hopefully prevent future crises. If employees are trained in crisis communication and issues management, then the attitudes of and statements made by officials will benefit the NFL to a greater degree.
3. Set an example.
In order to become a thought-leader in the industry, the NFL must implement new regulations to help prevent concussions as well as negative behavior from players. This will show the public that a change is occurring. The organization must go beyond making claims. The NFL must take action.
Until the NFL develops a game plan for handling of its current issues, the league will continue to suffer in terms of its reputation and following. By implementing these and other ideas, the organization is likely to recover and regain the trust of both players and fans.