Internships are an important part of becoming a seasoned PR professional. How else are you going to learn what it’s really like in the real world of communications?
I laugh at myself now when I think back to what I thought I knew about PR when I graduated college. I’m thankful for the great internships and mentors I had along the way to give me a reality check and show me what PR is really all about.
Side note to those working in PR: if you aren’t constantly learning something new every day, whether it be on your own or from your peers, you need to find another job because the work of a PR professional is always evolving. Staying on top of your game is more important than ever.
At the Bradford Group, we are looking for students and recent graduates who, like me in my rookie days, have that PR twinkle in their eye and are eager to learn the truth about working in PR. Right now, we’re in full intern recruiting gear, sifting through resumes and writing samples, to find the perfect fall intern(s).
An intern is an extension of our team, and we expect every team member to have that ‘it factor’ and absolutely ‘bring it’ everyday for our clients.
As I sit here going through intern applications, I remember what going through this process felt like and can’t imagine how many mistakes I made or how unimpressive I must have seemed on paper. With that in mind, and knowing what I know from being on the other side, here’s some wisdom to all eager applicants looking to get their foot in the door.
Write a cover letter.
Some schools have job posting sites where students can simply attach their resume and the site sends a robotic message to my inbox alerting me someone has applied for the internship. WRONG. That does not guarantee that you’ve applied for this internship. If you can’t take the time to follow up by writing a few paragraphs or sentences on why you want to intern here, I assume you will use the same proverbial ‘easy button’ on tasks that I assign you. It doesn’t show much initiative.
Some tips to make your cover letter stand out:
- If you’re using the same cover letter and sending it to multiple agencies (which is a bad idea because we’re all different), make sure to turn the track changes off. I can see where you deleted my competitor’s name and inserted the Bradford Group.
- Please don’t write a novel. Keep it short, sweet and juicy.
- Don’t be afraid to add a little quirk. In college, they teach you rigid business writing style. In PR, we throw that kind of writing in the garbage. Get outside your comfort zone and tell me why you are a good candidate in an interesting way. For example, one candidate spelled their name differently and it also happened to rhyme with a famous celebrity (see a screen shot of their note to the right). They started a cover letter with that bit of wit and followed with details on how uncommon they were (in a good way).
- Prove that you understand what our company does and show how your experience could translate to some of the work we’re doing here. We post case studies, blogs and information about our work on this very website, so this is a good place to find out what we do for our clients and if you can handle it.
Make sure your writing samples are up to par.
In PR, writing is the most important skill you can possess. If you can write well, chances are that you’ll always have a job in this industry. We take writing very seriously here, and the writing samples you submit are a strong indication of how well you’ll do. Not only do we evaluate the actual writing, but we also evaluate what you choose to submit. Pick writing samples that demonstrate creative writing instead of run-of-the-mill news announcements. Impress me and submit a variety of content.
Some tips to make your writing samples stand out:
- When submitting a news release or article, make sure you’ve written a headline. It absolutely devastates my soul when I receive headline-less material. Headlines, subheads and ledes are the most creative and important part of any content, and leaving them out is a HUGE no-no.
- Blogs and social media messaging count as writing samples. If you blog or manage social media for a business, school organization, etc., send me links to those sites. Writing effective blogs and crafting social media messages are a big part of our internship, so this is the time to show me what you’ve done.
Be prepared to thoughtfully answer interview questions.
During an interview, one question you can certainly expect to answer is, “Why do you want to intern here?” If you don’t have an answer other than, “The work you do really fascinates me,” then I’m wasting my time with this interview and perhaps you are wasting your time in PR.
To answer this question, I encourage you to dig a little deeper to understand what we do. Take the time to look through website resources or call me to find out the good stuff. If you did your interview research, you would’ve found that our company values employees who:
- Work independently (here’s more info on how we work).
- Write persuasively to create contagious conversations (check out our conversations here) through various platforms.
- Cultivate relationships with the media (this blog will show you the ropes).
All of this insight could’ve led to an answer like this that would’ve knocked my socks off:
“I want to work for an agency that gives me the independence to write and create persuasive conversations with the media and public that generate recognition, business leads, sales and revenue for various clients.”
If you’re doing all of these things, you’ve got a leg up on landing a solid internship. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there to get what you want because that’s what PR is all about.
Think you’d make a great intern? Let us know.