Monday, 10 July 2017

A month of PR interning - reflections of a second year PR student

"My day-to-day tasks were never the same and was positively challenging." says Claudia, a Birmingham City University School of Media student due to start her third year in September, specialising in PR. Earlier this year, she was chosen as runner up in the regional B-Hive creative industries competition, scooping six weeks' worth of paid placements at her choice of top PR agencies in the Midlands. (In fact, the winner and all shortlisted entrants were BCU Media students).

Having completed a month working in PR at two of these - Rewired and McCann - Claudia has shared her thoughts on what she has learnt from this invaluable experience... and how she can apply this to her final year of studies, and beyond.

I've just finished a jam-packed month of interning at two award winning Midlands PR agencies; Rewired and McCann Birmingham.

Both placements were real eye openers into the world of PR and put a lot of what I have learnt in this past year (both in theory and practical modules) into practice. I had the pleasure of working alongside talented individuals who allowed me to work on live campaigns and have a real taster of what PR really is all about.

I started off with two weeks at Rewired PR, a creative PR, marketing and events agency based in the Jewellery Quarter, made up on only eight professionals - so quite small. However, although the agency might be small in size, their clients are the complete opposite. They ranged from regional big names such as Cadbury World and The Mailbox to Marco Pierre White, Gaucho and BBC’s Good Food Show & BBC’s Gardeners’ World Live.

I was initially apprehensive about the internship, considering I hadn’t ever had a PR specific placement before. However, if anything, time proved that I had chosen the right career path as I found out very quickly it was something that I enjoyed.

I spent an incredibly interesting fortnight at Rewired, where I was tasked with everything from creating social media content for a number of clients, to researching projects and even writing blog posts, and drafting copy.

Working on a number of accounts over the two weeks really helped me hone and develop skills that I will need to work in the world of PR - not all of which can be taught in a traditional sense. I also found that working in a smaller agency meant that I was able to work closely with a different colleague each day, offering my help where needed.

I then spent a further two weeks at McCann Erickson PR, a social media and advertising agency based in Solihull, made up of around 200 professionals. Here I met Heather Woodhouse, who has just graduated fromBCU School of Media, who kindly showed me the ropes and kept me under her wing (thanks Heather!).

I spent a fortnight working on a range of clients including Screwfix, Fiskars, Maped Helix and Fruittella. My day-to-day tasks were never the same and was positively challenging. I completed daily paper checks for coverage, researched bloggers for potential collaborations, created media databases and prepared press releases - to name a few of the tasks I was given!

One aspect of my internship that I really ended up enjoying (but didn’t think I would initially) was call-ins / sell-ins. Easily one of the most important parts of getting clients coverage, sell-ins are where you call up a list of journalists who might be interested in your story, giving them a brief pitch over the phone before then sending over the relevant press release. I have really developed my communication skills and have a new found confidence when it comes to calling/selling in stories to press/journalists/editors that I really never thought I would have.

I think that one of the main things that I have learnt over a month of interning at Rewired PR and McCann Erickson is that you need to adapt quickly and be able to multitask. With a range of clients that cross over a range of sectors, you need to be able to change your tone on demand and keep you ideas relevant for each demographic; something I realised quickly when working on varied task lists.

Additionally, my internships highlighted the importance on being on top of my own work and staying organised. Having good time-management skills was essential while working across different client accounts which often had time-pressured deadlines.

On a personal development level, my internships gave me a real insight into what I would like to do professionally once I have graduated. Inevitably, there were some sectors that I was really interested in and accounts I enjoyed working on, and some that were a bit harder for me to get my head around. I believe that through my studies and my new experiences, I am on a learning curve and I can take these placements forward with me when I start apply for grad jobs, in order to make sure that I find something I like and can apply myself to.

I’d like to say a huge thank you to all of the people that I have worked with over the past month, for not only welcoming me, but also being patient with my hundreds of questions!

Claudia collecting her B-Hive award in March 2017

Follow Claudia Miguel on Twitter.


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