Making the Most of Your PR Agency Internship: Tips From a Serial Intern

by PR Interns

Monday, October 3rd, 2016

A look back at six months of interning in PR and how to make the most of it

Image of an open notebook and pen, MackBook Air, iPhone and cup of tea and spoon on a saucer.

By Kirsty Turnbull

BEFORE I begin, I feel that I should preface this with a disclaimer and say that I am in no way an expert on internships. I myself am still learning and only graduated from University a few months ago. That being said, I have learned several things since my first placement back in January.

Prior to starting my first placement at The Scottish Government the only experience I had in a communications environment was a week at my local newspaper. Since then I have spent half of this year interning and gaining valuable experience in public relations, honing my skills, developing news ones and learning from my mistakes. As I come to the end of my third internship with Holyrood PR, and reflect back on all of my internships, I present five of my ‘top tips’ on how to intern;

1. Do your research

It always helps to know about the business before you apply, that’s just common sense. For PR though it really helps to know who the clients are, how the agency does PR, what awards they have and any big coverage they have gained. You can also find out more about the team and who you will be working with, as well as any unique services they provide. Any PR agency worth its salt will have this information available on their website. Holyrood PR for example, pride themselves on being as transparent as possible and you can find anything from the latest press releases to their pricing plan.

2. Ask questions

Ultimately you are there to learn and one of the best ways to do so is by asking questions. This is something I struggled with in the beginning, fearing that I was being annoying. However when I did eventually pluck up the courage to ask I found that those involved were more than happy to explain a task further or offer their advice. Having professionals at your disposal to ask questions to is something a lot of people would love the opportunity of, so don’t waste it!

3. Ask for specific work

During my second internship I didn’t really get the chance to write anything. Looking back at it now I wish I had asked to be given a couple of press releases or even some social media to do. In my experience, the internship host wants you to get as much out of your experience as possible. I think I’ve lost count of how many press releases I have written at Holyrood PR, amongst a variety of other tasks I have had the opportunity to do. Along with asking questions, it shows that you have a keen interest in the field and that you are proactive in your learning. It will also help you to build up a portfolio, improve your skills and focus on what really interests you.

4. Read

This is actually a suggestion in Holyrood PR’s ‘Intern Bible’; a handy folder of style guides, how-to’s and information. It is also something one of my lecturers tried to drill into us and trust me, it helps. Read (or watch) the news and get clued up on what’s going on in the world, especially in sectors related to clients. It really helps you to get an understanding of the field and make suggestions as to how to secure coverage and maximise exposure. Starting to read industry news is also essential. Look at sources such as PRWeek, Behind the Spin or The Drum for what’s going on in the world of communications. It might even give you some good ideas and helpful tips.

5. Do the thing that scares you

I shall let you into a little secret; I hate phoning people. Unfortunately, this is an essential part of communications. Have I fully overcome my fear yet? No. Am I getting better at it? Most definitely. Why is that? Well, I have forced myself to do it. I still have to work myself up to eventually phone someone and I am still amazed by colleagues who can pick up the phone without even thinking about it. In the end I manage it. It takes practice and a little bit of courage and although I could still improve, I have come a long way since my first placement in January.

At the risk of sounding very clichéd an internship is what you make it. Put in the work, ask the questions, try your best and you will find it worthwhile. In some cases you might find that a particular environment isn’t for you and that’s OK too. It’s still learning.

I may not follow some of these tips myself from time-to-time but from January to now, I can see where I have improved since my first internship and doing some of these things really makes a big difference on the overall experience.

Do you want the chance to put these tips to the test? Learn from the best at Holyrood PR

If you’d like the chance to kick-start your PR career in the CIPR’s Outstanding Small Public Relations Consultancy of the Year 2015, get in touch.

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PR Interns

Scottish public relations agency Holyrood PR in Edinburgh, Scotland, runs a rolling programme of placements for PR interns, working alongside our team of PR experts. Many of the most successful PR interns go on to land full time PR jobs with our award-winning Scottish public relations agency.

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