After finishing my first year of studying politics and sociology at university, I wanted to try my hand at applying the skills I’ve gained in the real world. I thought that the PR industry had a lot of overlap with what I studied – the creation of public image and the power of the media’s influence. This summer I was lucky to get a three-week internship with Golley Slater and have been thrown into a number of projects straight away, which challenged me to adapt to a new working dynamic, try my hand at a different style of writing and communicating with media in a new way. Although no two days are the same, I’ve tried to capture a typical day in the life of an intern for those who may be considering joining this vibrant industry.
We start the day with a ‘news review’ to get across the main headlines and highlight stories that might affect or be of interest to our clients. Not only is this a great way of ensuring we are on top of the news agenda but it’s an opportunity to share opinions about current affairs and share amusing articles – for instance, this week we learned that only 12% of UK youths have seen a cow in real life.
Being used to writing essay after essay at university, I was shocked to discover that this is in fact not the normal style of communication in the real world. For one, I was not trying to defend an argument, which was rather unusual for me. The other difference is knowing that the story could be published online or in a paper for all to see – this definitely puts the pressure on, but is ultimately a great motivator. From local fundraising to rooftop parties, contest celebrations to kids’ events, I’ve learnt how to write for different audiences, and even managed to secure coverage in online and printed media for our clients.
Now for the hard part – pitching in news stories to journalists, a task particularly strenuous for us Millennials not used to phone calls. The first thing to get right is knowing the media and the contact, so research is an essential part of the process. Getting familiar with the publications and with a bit of help from Gorkana (which I’ve come to learn is the PR’s handbook), we identify the most relevant journalists and ‘sell in’ the story. It’s crucial to get the story across as quickly and clearly as you can, because journalists are time-pressured and deadline-driven so have no time to waste. Summarizing a press release into a five second ‘elevator pitch’ has been a key skill.
I’ve really enjoyed creating social media content for our clients, which is a completely different experience to curating your own social media presence. For brands, it’s about understanding the content theme and maintaining consistency. Not being an avid Twitter user myself, I found it quite interesting to completely put myself in the place of our client and envisage how they want to come across and what the best way to do that would be.
Beyond tweeting myself, I also had to reach out to people who are much better at it than I am, namely internet ‘tastemakers’. As part of my social media outreach I had to find influencers to work with our clients, which has given me insight into who has the most influence in certain audiences and in different regions of the UK. I’ve learnt a lot about the way in which bloggers and Insta-stars work with brands and what happens behind the scenes of the collaborations that followers only see a small fraction of.
As this post may suggest, I also got around to writing a couple of blog posts. It’s always interesting to find different formats to write in, and I’ve definitely had to adjust my style to fit the task at hand. But in the world of PR, that’s essential – the variety of projects all require different skills.
Overall, it’s hard to predict what a day at Golley Slater will look like. The nature of the media landscape and juggling of clients’ projects means you can’t always plan your day hour by hour – but that’s what makes PR all the more interesting!