Questions PR Grads Should Ask In An Interview

It is that time of year again. The PR world has gained new fresh college grads eager to join the workforce. While searching for possible internships or entry-level jobs is exciting, it can also be overwhelming. Or even frustrating. According to Glassdoor, the average interview process from first contact to a possible offer can last up to 23 days – varying of course based on the industry.

Interviews are a conversation between candidates and employers to understand their experience better. Resumes can often look the same but they don’t necessarily tell employers about the person beneath the experience or how she stands from the crowd. It’s the interview where a candidate can show a company why they’d be an amazing addition to their team. 

One nerve-wracking part of any interview is when the employer asks if the candidate has any questions for them. PR grads, be prepared to ask questions! This is your opportunity to get to know a company better. With this in mind, what are the go-to questions aspiring public relations employees should ask in an interview?  

Why do you love this company and why should I want to work with you?

If a future employer cannot answer this question, that’s a big issue.  What is it about this job that would make others want to work here and with you? What is it about this company that sets it apart? Do they offer great benefits, fun and innovative clients, or is it the co-workers that make them stay? Future employees should be able to list several things they love about their company to make it appealing. If someone has to think about it, maybe that’s a sign.

Is there an opportunity to grow in this position?

One of the benefits of working in a small PR agency is the relationships you build with your co-workers and senior management. In larger agencies, you could be just a name on paper and get lost in a corner somewhere. Working in a smaller environment, an entry-level PR person should have an opportunity to work closely with team members across many levels. It’s also a fast way to learn your own strengths and preferences. Are you a strong writer, social media whiz or maybe have a special touch when it comes to media relations? It’s best to make sure you hear from team members who have been at the agency for a while to hear how they have grown and evolved.

Can you describe the company culture?

Culture can be hard to describe, but it’s important. In a traditional workplace, days can be filled with non-work talk or catching up with friends on downtime between calls and meetings. It is corny to say, but your co-workers become like family since we spend so much time together during the work week. Think about what’s important to you in a company culture. Do you want a place that values their employees as much as their work? One way to explore those values is to ask how a company stayed connected during the pandemic. At Crenshaw, we made a vow to continue up on Thursday happy hour Zooms where we have an activity planned. (Some of our favorites were Family Feud, Pictonary and Jeopardy.) 

Where do you see the agency in the next five to 10 years?

Growth is extremely important in any company. The PR industry is constantly changing with strategies, platforms, and tech tools. You want to be in a learning environment, and one that fosters that environment through growth. Does the agency plan to hire more talent? Expand horizontally to offer new services? Open new office locations? Things and plans that are working today but may not be relevant in the future. This can be a very open-ended question but it is good to get a sense of where the agency sees itself in the future and if that sounds like something you want to be a part of.

What is your timeline for next steps?

This is a valid question, and it shows interest. The interview process can be long and tedious. It can be a lot of back and forths of internal conversations evaluating candidates. Understanding the interview process can help ease your mind and manage your own expectations for the process. After hearing next steps, maybe offer writing samples or additional references to help speed the decision. If nothing else, it means you are serious.

To all the new PR grads, good luck interviewing and if you’d like to hear more about life and opportunities at Crenshaw Communications, get in touch @colleeno_pr

Is Corporate Communications Optional?

Early in my PR agency career, our team was summoned by the CEO of a prestigious client. He was a brilliant and entrepreneurial hospitality executive who had been brought in to turn around a luxury travel company. The CEO fulminated about competitors getting better trade coverage than his company. He even tossed one of the offending rags on his table as our team and the long-suffering corporate communications head promised more aggressive outreach. As we left the office, he muttered, “I could do the PR better than anyone if only I had the time.”

That CEO was in many ways correct. He certainly knew more about the business than anyone. Of course he never would have found the time or discipline to manage a media a relations function, and it would have been a poor use of that time. But his words stuck with me, in part because they epitomized the classic PR agency challenge – you must earn your fee by adding value every day.

High-impact PR roles under pressure

The same can be said for corporate communications. As an agency person I’d always assumed that those in client-side roles were safe. After all, any major company needs a strong corporate communications function to manage its reputation, especially in a chaotic and unpredictable news environment. It’s indispensable, right? It was that way, but now things aren’t so simple. Elon Musk’s example has the PR community wondering if his company is the exception to the rule, or possibly a sign of something to come.

As Musk-watchers know, Tesla disbanded its internal PR group at some point last year (we’re not sure when, because there was no announcement and no confirmation from Tesla, naturally.) For months, it has relied on its founder’s Twitter account and the company’s YouTube channel for outbound communications. Media, naturally, didn’t take the decision well. The PR community was also underwhelmed. The Public Relations Society of America responded with a statement warning that, “Disengagement is not a path to success and can result in dramatic reputational ramifications with long-term consequences. Strategic communication counsel is a critical element of reputation management, as is a robust, fully functioning, effective and transparent communications process.”

The Trump model of corp comm

Not so Tesla. Call it the Trump model of corporate communications. If you don’t like your media coverage and don’t trust the journalists who cover you, why bother? Like the former president before his Twitter ouster, Musk can command social and media attention with a mere tweet. He resents bad press and often seeks to punish or freeze out those who don’t cover his businesses the way he’d like. He prefers to communicate directly to friends and fans. (Remind you of anyone?) But as EV news site Electrek observes, “Elon simply doesn’t have the bandwidth to answer even just 1% of inquires, but also… seems to be almost exclusively responding to fans who are lavishing praise on him via Twitter and almost never challenge his views.”

That would be a red flag for most companies, but, face it, Tesla isn’t most companies. Yet it signals potential changes for communicators who represent high-growth, entrepreneurial organizations.

How corporate communications has changed

First, cynicism abounds.  We cannot assume the public believes a given company is operating in good faith. Although businesses in general probably inspire more trust from the public than government and even religious institutions, the environment we work in is sharply polarized. You have to demonstrate your intentions through behavior. Also, relationships have suffered during the pandemic; the typical PR-media relationship is more transactional than friendly, and it’ll probably stay that way.

Stakeholders have growing influence. Stakeholders like partners and especially employees wield enormous reputational influence. That’s why we’re seeing powerful businesses like Google drop its work in warfare technology for the Pentagon, for example. More recently, a group called Amazon Employees for Climate Justice publicly urged the company to commit to getting its electricity from renewable sources. Within months, Amazon pledged to reach 100% renewables by 2030. That’s real power, and it makes sense to focus where the influence is.

Social content is as powerful as earned media. Owned media may not be as credible, but for many organizations, corporate content channels are a safer and even more potent option than earned media coverage that may include criticisms or mentions of competitors. Even more persuasive are user views and social content from legitimate influencers. Today’s corporations have many more tools and far more content at their disposal than they ever did in the past.

What it adds up to is that corporate communications is changing along with everything else. Like agency work, it requires diverse skills, constant proactivity, and experience that extends well beyond traditional PR and media relations. The top-tier corporate communicators of today and the future must be content experts, media strategists, and internal facilitators who earn their own reputation every day.

Terms You Overhear During A PR Internship

Guest post by Crenshaw Communications intern, Jordan Farbowitz 

Being an intern at a top New York PR agency has exposed me to many things I hadn’t experienced before. I’ve been able to use my content skills for press releases and bylined article drafts. I’ve sat in on calls with clients themselves, affording a glimpse into another company. But as a budding PR professional, what has really caught my attention are the common words and phrases I’ve heard during my time here. Whether it’s through emails or Slack messages or even listening in on client meetings, there are plenty of terms thrown around. Some I knew going in, but others are brand new. Here is a list of things you might hear at a PR internship.

“Exclusive” 

A major goal of good PR is helping your client get more exposure in the media, and that means talking to reporters. I was a journalism major in college and had dreams of reporting before I shifted to PR, so I know all about wanting to get that big scoop. Imagine having your name next to a story no one else was able to get! Well, that’s what an exclusive is — sort of. It refers to a situation where the PR team offers first-crack at a story to one reporter and one reporter only. Usually it’s for a big client announcement. Once we secure the right person to cover the story, we don’t pitch it to anyone else until it runs as an exclusive. But we will quickly offer it more widely as soon as we fulfill our end of the negotiation.

“Embargo”

When I sit in on client meetings, oftentimes I hear about upcoming press releases that will be “under embargo.” Usually when I hear the word “embargo” I think of ships or trade restrictions. But in PR and journalism, it means an article or a press release that won’t be published until a certain time. Unlike exclusives, we send releases under embargo to multiple reporters at the same time.

“Go wide”

Another thing I hear a lot on client calls in regards to pitching is how our team will “go wide”. That means we send it out to all relevant reporters and producers. If there’s something we want everyone to know about, then we’ll let them all know.

“Abstract”

An abstract is a brief summary of something, and in my experience here I’ve heard it used to mean a “speaking abstract.” When we want to submit a client executive as a keynote or panel speaker for an event, we prepare an abstract to summarize what they want to say. It’s interesting because most people think of PR as writing press releases or pitching to reporters, but things like event submissions show that it’s a lot more than that. There’s a real art to crafting a compelling abstract, and I’ve learned a lot about that from our conference and awards team here. 

 “Vertical”

Vertical is short for vertical market, which is “a market encompassing a group of companies and customers that are all interconnected around a specific niche.” In PR, we use it to describe the industries that serve and the media sectors we reach on behalf of client organizations. So for example, if we want to pitch a story about cybersecurity, we’ll look for people in the technology, IT security, or financial verticals.

“Byline”

From my time in journalism, I know the term “byline” as the part of the article where it shows who wrote it. But in PR it usually refers to a trade article bylined by a client executive. So far I’ve helped research or draft bylines on topics like cybersecurity insurance and retail. It has given great insight into areas I wouldn’t have otherwise delved into.

“EOD/EOW”

Not necessarily a PR-specific term, but you still hear it a lot in any position, whether it’s an internship or a full-time spot. Usually it’s in the context of when something is due. EOD means “end of day,” and of course EOW means “end of week.” At the end of the day (see what I did there?), it’s just simple shorthand.

“Close the loop”

When you want to be in the know on something, you want to be “in the loop,” and if you don’t know what’s going on, you’re “out of the loop.” What “closing the loop” means is putting an end to a project and letting everyone involved know. For example, if we secure coverage for a client and a piece runs, then we might close the loop by telling everyone we were in contact with. Or, if I’m putting together a list of coverage and I can’t find any more news, then we might close the loop on that.  

“Circle back”

This is a very common term when it comes to projects, and it’s basically about returning to a topic after a bit. For example, while asking for any additional projects to work on, I’ve had people tell me “I’m busy, so I’ll circle back with you later.” Many people dislike this term, but I think it’s harmless.

“Get a bite” (or a nibble)

These last two are terms that aren’t necessarily PR-exclusive, but I think they’re fun ways to describe offering story ideas and commentary to media. Because when you think about it, pitching is a bit like fishing. You put out your story like you’re casting a line and hope that you get a bite. Thankfully reporters are more likely to “bite” than fish, but it’s still a clever metaphor that I like hearing and using.

“Find a home”

And speaking of animal-related terms I’ve heard, this one might be the most adorable. When I heard someone say we were “finding a home” for a bylined article, my mind immediately went to dogs and animal shelters, where people find homes for pets who need one. As a dog lover and proud owner of a rescue (say hi to Toby!), a term like that resonates with me. Bylines and other stories, like pets, need homes too! And it’s up to journalists to “adopt” them. Get Sarah McLachlan to film a PSA!

Overall I’ve learned a lot of terms and lingo as an intern, and I look forward to using them myself as I continue to grow and take on more responsibilities, whether it’s at Crenshaw or wherever else my PR career takes me.

Business Leaders: PR Tips To Ace Media Interviews

For any PR agency team, a major media interview for a company spokesperson is a solid win. Nothing is quite as rewarding as securing that one big interview, or even a series of them, if there’s high-profile news to share. At the same time, having a terrific media spokesperson who can nail the messaging, handle tough questions and make business or technical language accessible isn’t always easy. 

Some executives are born to be media resources, and they’re every PR person’s dream. Less experienced leaders may need media training or informal coaching to showcase their subject-matter expertise and serve as an organization’s face and voice. They’re unlikely to be included in sites listing the worst interviews of all time, but most can use some help.

With that in mind, here are some tips for PR pros to help encourage a stellar media interview performance.

Know the reporter and outlet 

Always start with the basics. It’s essential to research the media outlet and their audience, of course. Then move on to the journalist’s goals for the interview, their track record, and personality. Read about the reporters’ background, reporting beats, and previous stories to understand their approach and style. Study their social media to get a feel for personal opinions on issues, followers, and interests. If there are some commonalities between the reporter and the executive, it never hurts to reference them to break the ice. But don’t mistake a media interview for a social discussion. The reporter likely has one thing in mind – a good story.

Think through some interview questions.. but don’t count on them

Once the interview topic and duration are determined, spend time anticipating the questions the reporter will ask. While some may share general interview questions beforehand, don’t count on it. Bear in mind that despite what a reporter or producer tells you, questions might change during the course of the interview — especially if it’s about breaking industry news. Besides the specific topic, the PR team should always be mindful of prepping the execs about any hot-buttons or pressing industry questions to carve thoughtful insights and reinforce expertise. The PR team should also review past interviews with the spokesperson and be aware of all on-the-record comments, since those could come up again in a different context. 

Stay on message and be concise

After gathering all possible details, it’s critical to prepare a comprehensive briefing doc, clearly laying out the key three to four messaging points for an executive spokesperson to reiterate and weave into their responses. We recommend that leadership set aside some time with their PR team to go over the messaging, rehearse the responses, identify any red flags and revise responses if needed. Reporters will have a hard time following if the overarching messaging is filled with complex or technical jargon. Maintain brevity and keep them simple, straight, and easy to understand. Long-winded responses typically fail to deliver the main point and lose everyone’s interest. Additionally, to make the story compelling, back it with supporting facts and data points.

Use examples

A good example can help liven up any interview, particularly one about an abstract or technical topic, and a good story is worth a thousand words of jargon. But make sure the example is well prepared, relevant to the interview, and brief. It’s risky to launch into a story that hasn’t been road-tested before an audience.  

Advise execs to be natural and not rush through the interview

Be it a print, digital or broadcast interview, PR pros should explain that an interview is a conversation between two people – something which is engaging and relaxed, yet professional and informative. Hence, the spokesperson should be succinct without losing attributes that make them unique and natural. Messaging and talking points should only be referenced to guide the interview response, not treated as scripted responses. The executive should be able to connect with the reporter, take a pause occasionally and check in to ask if they’re following through. Most journalists will do their own research ahead of time, but not everyone is an expert on the topic at hand. Expect them to ask questions that may require some extra explanation. 

It’s okay not to know everything

No matter how prepared you are, sometimes reporters pose questions that don’t have ready answers. In that case, it’s fine to say, “I don’t have that information, but we’ll try to get back to you.” A good PR advisor will never let a spokesperson guess when it comes to facts or data. On the other hand, an informed opinion about a relevant business issue is always welcome. 

Reflect and offer constructive feedback

Usually, a PR team member accompanies execs to interviews or staffs every client media interview. This is helpful for identifying areas where additional information is needed as well as constructive but candid feedback. Such measures are imperative to help solidify their position as industry experts and strengthen the client-agency relationship.

Plan for technical glitches in the virtual world

Yes, we still aren’t back in the pre-pandemic world and interviews continue to be scheduled virtually. It’s therefore important to be flexible and prepared for any technical glitches. Make sure to check your lighting, test your computer’s camera and sound quality, disable notifications, maintain proper eye contact, and dress the part, among other do’s and don’ts.

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PR people act as the facilitators and counselors, and with their help executives can take full control of a media interview. With proper planning and execution, it will elevate the company’s positioning, demonstrate leadership, and increase any executive’s chances of being quoted in future stories.

Five Benefits Of Working At A Small PR Agency

PR agencies come in all shapes and sizes. Some are big, flashy and have a long and sprawling client list. Other agencies — often described as “boutique” — are smaller and less known, yet capable of producing work of the highest quality. When considering a career in PR — or a pivot from another industry — size can matter. In general, larger agencies have a more traditional work atmosphere and all that goes with it — a more formal hierarchy, multiple layers of management, and set policies about work hours. Smaller agencies are often less formal and can be less organized when it comes to personnel matters. Both, however, can offer a very positive experience and top-level learning.  

With that in mind, here are some of the benefits of working at a small PR firm. 

A strong culture 

A small PR agency is like a small town. Whether you like it or not, everyone knows you, and you know them. PR pros at smaller agencies tend to develop relationships with one another that just wouldn’t be possible at a bigger place. We know a lot about one another’s personal lives, and it’s not hard to develop almost familial bonds at work. It makes work more fun and less stressful. In between client calls, meetings, or drafting content, it’s typical to talk about the day’s current events or pop culture or sports. At a small agency, everyone gets to know each other, whether they work on the same accounts or not. Fewer people ultimately makes these interactions easier and more meaningful.  At a larger agency, you make more contacts, but there is less interaction with people who aren’t a member of your own account team.

Opportunities to thrive 

Mobility, mobility, mobility – those are the three reasons many people start off at a smaller firm. Every young PR professional wants an opportunity to show their true value and what they’re made of. A small agency will typically offer a faster rise through the ranks than a larger firm, because those ranks are thinner. Yes, there’s still a hierarchy, and that’s an important part of any functioning business or company. But fewer employees and layers of management mean more opportunities to move up, and to try new things that just wouldn’t be possible at a larger agency. This could be anything from putting together a quarterly PR plan to being a part of a new business presentation. At larger agencies, these are usually reserved for senior team members. In a small environment junior folks get a chance to be a part of them. There, you can accelerate your skill set and move up more quickly.

Team collaboration 

Another benefit of working at a small agency is the chance for high-level collaboration. Sure, there’s also that opportunity at larger agencies. However, with so many voices in the room, chances are you may not have the occasion to share your ideas and thoughts. At a big agency, these meetings usually consist of the same couple of high-ranking folks dominating the conversation. As a result, junior staff are often muted or intimidated. A small agency, on the other hand, affords the chance for your voice to not only be heard, but also be seriously considered. For example, it’s common to get together with team members to figure out the most effective way to roll out a product announcement for a given client. Since the teams are smaller, you have a real chance to be a critical part of the collaboration and decision-making processes. 

Greater client ownership

At a mega-agency, the client organizations tend to be larger, so they require more staff — often multiple layers and levels of staff. In a smaller environment, by contrast, you may actually work  on more individual clients, but because they are small or midsize companies, you have more ownership over the work and the client relationship. It’s a great way to develop a deep understanding of what a client does and how to help them achieve success. For someone starting off in PR, this means you can dig in and understand the nuances that go along with PR work. It’s a win-win for both you and the client. 

Skills broadening

As a team member at a small firm, you learn different aspects of the job very quickly, often by necessity. Yes, smaller agencies may still offer specialist services, like content development or speakers bureau. But chances are, even during your first months on the job, you’ll have the chance to write, pitch media, research business categories, and even participate in high-level creative sessions and business development meetings. Smaller firms tend to be flexible and nimble, and those skills will come in handy no matter where you build your career.

I feel that a boutique PR agency is the best place to learn everything you need to know and offer a chance to get your feet wet. They also allow someone new to the industry to make their name and reputation quickly. To me, there’s no question that a small agency provides the best work environment to make the most of your skill and become the best PR person possible. 

AdTech Pubs Every PR Pro Should Be Reading

Guest post by Crenshaw Communications intern, Jordan Farbowitz 

As many PR agency teams know, our work can be highly specialized, particularly in B2B public relations. Specific sectors like ad tech, for example, offer a relatively small number of relevant trade publications compared to consumer categories. That’s why it’s especially important for PR people not only to understand the tech, but to follow the key media in the industry very closely. From programmatic advertising to first- and third-party data, there are many hot topics and only so many gatekeepers for the stories we want to tell. 

Thankfully, almost all outlets that cover the business of advertising cover the ad tech sector, and many have dedicated sections for it. Here are some of the websites and publications that ad tech PR people should be scanning every day.

Adweek

As one of the leading sources of news in the industry, AdWeek is the perfect target for breaking news. From major deals and mergers to revenue reports, there’s no shortage of ad tech coverage on the site. And yes, there’s even a video series titled “How S#it Works.” 

AdAge

AdAge, the other ad industry publication of long standing, also covers ad tech news, but it also has opinion pieces. So, if you want a more personal approach to your ad tech news, this is the way to go. Or, if you want to keep tabs on the latest campaigns and creative, check out the Hot Spots column. 

AdExchanger

AdExchanger calls itself “the leading voice in ad tech,” and it’s easy to see why. There’s plenty of content on the site directly from ad executives and representatives of major companies, whether it’s interviews or guest columns. One highlight is AdExchanger Talks, a podcast that features key figures in the ad tech world. 

Digiday

In what other publication will you find a section called “WTF Ad Tech?” or “WTF Programmatic?” It’s an interesting way to explain topics, and it’s certainly unique. But if you want your ad tech news in a more straightforward way, then they have you covered for that, too, with “The Programmatic Marketer”.

The Drum

The Drum covers plenty of different facets of ad tech, from data and privacy to the future of television, even eSports. It has long since expanded beyond its UK roots but retains a certain scrappiness in its editorial tone.  The Drum also features subcategories on different brands so it’s easier to track the news on major companies, from Apple to Amazon. There’s also the Drum Awards that recognize the top performers in the advertising world, including in the ad tech space. What better way to see which companies in the industry are the most recognized?

MediaPost

MediaPost actually has several sub-publications so it’s easy to find exactly what you’re looking for. There’s MediaDailyNews, Digital News Daily, MAD (not the satire magazine!), and much more. There are also plenty of newsletters to sign up for and events year-round. That means it’s possible to get ad tech news delivered directly into your inbox, and have a chance to interact with the biggest names in the industry at conferences.

ClickZ

The first thing to check out on ClickZ is Tech Talks, where executives from different companies go in-depth about what they do and the services they offer. It’s quite different from how reporters talk about companies, so it’s a fresh angle. Articles are categorized under interesting topics, such as “Actionable Analysis,” “Analyzing Customer Data,” and “Digital Leaders,” to name a few.

eMarketer

eMarketer not only has ad tech news, but it also offers plenty of data and reports that dive deeply into the industry weeds – in a good way. Note that it’s part of “Insider Intelligence” that requires a fee, but what doesn’t are the podcasts, especially “Behind the Numbers” and “The Ad Platform.” The latter in particular focuses heavily on ad tech, statistics, and where the industry is going in the future.

Campaign

Campaign is an international brand with multiple specialized sites for countries and regions, so it’s a great tool for keeping tabs on news taking place outside the US. There are opinion pieces where readers can take in many different viewpoints. Campaign takes pride in delving into industry trends and strategies. In its own words: “We help you navigate what’s happening now while preparing you for what’s next.”

Marketing Land

As the name suggests, Marketing Land has a heavier focus on marketing tech (martech), but it’s still a valuable resource for news. In fact, it supplies plenty of resources for those new to the industry, with helpful guides that explain key terms for those who are unfamiliar. 

Notes From A Virtual PR Agency Intern

Starting an internship at a top PR agency can be a little nerve-wracking even under ordinary circumstances. When the internship is entirely virtual, that’s a whole different story. Thanks to COVID-19, I, like many others, have started at a new workplace without meeting my team members in person. I’ve only been here a month and have already learned so much. Working from home might be a new experience for an intern, so it’s important to create a productive work environment for yourself. Here’s how I’ve done it.

Create a good routine 

Luckily, I have past experience working from home, so it was not a new concept. While it has its benefits, you want to make sure that you don’t get too comfortable while working remotely. Yes, it may be nice not to wake up early for your commute, but you want to give yourself ample time in the morning to get ready for the work day. Loungewear has been the craze since we entered WFH life, but changing into a real outfit makes me feel productive. 

Ask questions

With everyone being virtual, communication is far more important than before. We can’t just walk over to someone’s desk for quick clarification, but don’t let that hinder you. Ask questions. You might think you’re bothering your coworkers by interrupting them, but you aren’t. Make sure you’re clear on what’s expected of you. Your coworkers understand that you are new and are getting used to the workflow and processes of the job. If something’s confusing, instead of taking a guess at it, reach out to a team member for clarification. Everyone asks questions and you should never feel like yours aren’t important. They are. For me, Slack has been super helpful for reaching out to coworkers with a timely question.

Take a deep dive onto your accounts 

You may be familiar with the organizations you’re working with, but if not, take the time to research your accounts. Look at their websites, socials, press releases, everything. In public relations, It’s always a good idea to do a search of the company and check out their media coverage, since the same outlets may be close contacts for your team. You want to make sure you’re in the know so that you can get the most from participating in external and internal meetings. 

Write things down

It may seem old fashioned, but I’d be lost without my notebook. I have found it very helpful to write things, even when I have a laptop in front of me. This might not apply to everyone, but when it comes to typing up notes for a client or drafting a press release it’s helpful to have them written down next to me. I also apprecIate having them accessible when I need to quickly recall information.

When I first started and was instructed on how to conduct call recaps or daily digests, I wrote all the instructions in my notebook and bookmarked the page so I can easily go back in case I need a refresh. If writing things down doesn’t work for you, create folders on your laptop for each account or project you have and save all documented notes for easy access. 

Get involved in company virtual events 

At any internship, whether virtual or not, it’s important to participate in company happenings and get to know your colleagues. Crenshaw has made this very easy. We have company-wide check-ins at the beginning and end of each week, with a happy-hour meeting every other Thursday. These meetings are great opportunities to engage with colleagues. They’re mostly focused on the work we have planned or achieved for the week, but we also go off on tangents and talk about everyday life as well. If the company you work for doesn’t have regular team meetings, maybe you can suggest it and help organize them. 

Pay close attention 

One day you might be taking over the tasks that your teammates are doing so it’s a good idea to “study” the emails they send and observe how they work. Take the time to understand what they do and why they do it. When I started, I read through every email from team members to clients and went through the client files to see how press releases or media alerts were written. It’s also good to be curious. I reach out to team members about why they do things in certain ways to better understand how Crenshaw works with clients. For example, one of the companies I work on has several international PR teams, and I asked how we work together. Even though I don’t personally communicate with the global teams, it helped to understand how we interact, and my colleagues appreciated my interest.

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Starting a PR internship can be overwhelming at first but you will get the hang of it. Be patient and take each day as it comes. Remember, that onboarding an intern may also be a first for your manager, so it may take some time before things kick into gear and time will fly by. You may be working virtually, but you aren’t alone.

5 PR Tips To Boost Your Company’s Media Appeal

In B2B public relations, we’re always trying to find ways to drive business and trade media interest for clients. Yet as every PR person knows, there isn’t always a timely newshook for the story you want to tell. And not every business is a household name. When gaining media traction is challenging, how can PR pros generate media attention for the stories they want to tell? Here are a few shortcuts that can help B2B PR pros spiff up their pitches, think creatively, and drive media coverage.

Look globally for reactive news

U.S. headlines can be a gold mine for reactive news opportunities, where a company latches on to a breaking news story with a smart take or point of view and gets coverage for it. But with many companies doing business internationally it’s smart to look outside our own media market for openings. PR pros and comms teams should consider developments in relevant international regions as a way to expand thought leadership for company executives. Moreover, given how interconnected the business world is today, international news stories, trends, and policy changes often have ripple effects that impact the U.S. market. Just because a political or economic movement was rolled out in the EU doesn’t mean that it won’t impact your stateside business or client.

Broaden the narrative

When it comes to offering content and commentary, most companies focus on a certain aspect of their industry. Yet, the knowledge pool within their organization likely extends far beyond that one area. For example, a retail tech business may focus on price optimization technology, but it may have executives who can speak to broader trends within certain retail verticals or retail as whole — trends like multichannel retailing; micro-fulfillment; or artificial intelligence applications. By looking to leverage diverse knowledge, PR pros and internal comms teams can dramatically raise the thought leadership profile of an entire organization and also generate new ideas for content and pitching. The key is to choose a relevant area and bridge back to your core product or service.

Don’t fear the vertical

It’s always great to generate coverage within top-tier technology publications like TechCrunch or VentureBeat. These outlets, however, tend to stick closer to high-level announcements or end-user benefit stories versus the nitty-gritty aspects that potential buyers study before making a significant B2B purchase. So it pays to go to overlooked areas; one of those within tech media, at least in my view, is developer and IT media. Granted, the data integration capabilities of a digital transformation tool may not be at the top of most executives’ reading lists. However, if a client is producing breakthrough technology and results — and they likely are — developer and IT media publications can really resonate with CIOs and work wonders when it comes to product reputation. Vertical stories can be powerful sales tools, and higher-order tech media tend to follow the key sector publications. So don’t be afraid to build pitches and content around the nuts and bolts specs of a product’s technology — they may be way more interesting to media than you think.

Use data and assets — or create your own

Whether in business, technology, or professional services media, one hugely attractive asset that can really bring a story to life is data. Almost all businesses are sitting on data that can be used to position themselves as a key media resource for information, trends, and forecasting. And if there’s not enough current data, it’s easy to create fresh assets by investing in a proprietary survey. Beyond just the immediate media benefits, data insights can be parlayed into white papers, supporting points for awards submissions, and bylined pieces that work to raise executive and brand visibility as well. 

Content, content, content

No one gets hits for every pitch they throw, and “no, thanks” is a common response in the PR world. But just because a journalist may not want a briefing with a company spokesperson doesn’t mean that a story or company point of view is weak. Instead, it actually opens up a whole new avenue to explore with a given pitch: bylined content. It’s true that bylines need to be “vendor- neutral” – that is, they can’t boast about a company’s product or service. The point of a good bylined article is to express a smart opinion on an issue of relevance to its customers, or offer solutions to an emerging problem or challenge. A deep-dive, long-form POV that a business spokesperson can offer is sometimes just as valuable — if not more so — than a quote or two in a broader media story.

How To Onboard New Team Members – Virtually

Many businesses, especially PR agencies, are looking to expand their teams to accommodate a resurging economy and recovering business sector. Traditionally, onboarding for new employees would entail face-to-face meetings, all-company lunches and even an after-hours happy hour. In early 2021, this still isn’t possible. While things are heading in the right direction, most orientations will have to be done online, not in real life.

Let’s face it, Zoom calls can be fairly mundane after a full year of video meetings. As PR pros, we are good at spicing things up and making the best out of any situation. What are some new and engaging ways to onboard new team members online?

Overprepare them

The first day of any job can be overwhelming, but especially if you’re not within shouting distance of your team. New employees who went through a structured onboarding program were 58% more likely to be with the organization after three years. The onboarding process matters because it acclimates new employees to their position and lays the groundwork for success. A successful orientation will provide the knowledge, training, and support for anyone to get a running start, understand what’s expected of them, and become an essential team member. 

Most companies offer a fairly short onboarding. In the age of COVID, however, it’s wise to consider stretching these sessions through the first week. We spend one day going over job responsibilities, another day on programs the team uses regularly, and another on key client orientation. By spreading onboarding to a full week and not one day, we help acclimate new employees rather than bombard them with too much information at once. 

Send a welcome gift or lunch

Don’t feel like you can skip the welcome meal or happy hour just because the newbie is a remote worker. It may not seem like a lot, but a small token of appreciation goes a long way. Send a virtual Grubhub or DoorDash gift card and say lunch is on you for the first day. Bonus points if you have company swag like a hat or water bottle to send along with a handwritten welcome note.   

Assign a ‘welcome buddy’

Your work family quickly becomes your real family, based on the amount of time you spend with them. Some of my closest friends I have met through work! One effective tactic is to assign someone as the welcoming committee for the new hire. Sometimes new people are shy on their first day and need a place to talk informally. Set up time for a check-in with a company veteran who isn’t the new person’s supervisor, but rather, more at their own level of seniority. Talking to a CEO or even a boss can be intimidating, especially on day one. Informal check-ins help create a welcoming environment and offer a place to go for questions as they arise.  

Schedule an all-company face-to-face introduction

One of the most exciting parts of a new job is meeting co-workers throughout the day. With everyone scattered, it’s smart to designate a time to have an intro call with the entire company. Go around the ‘room’ and introduce each person by name, role, and day-to-day responsibilities. This gives a newbie the opportunity to meet their coworkers in a low-stress environment. Consider a fun name game or ice breaker for team building.   

Check in often

Communication is obviously key in any office, but especially with remote new hires. So don’t skimp on the check-ins after the first day. Stay connected on Slack, Zoom, email, whatever works for you! Facetime is crucial during the first few days of a new hire. At the end of the day, schedule a Zoom check-in (even if it is for five minutes) to see how the day went, if they have any questions, comments or concerns.  

Ask what they need

Everyone has a different workstyle, and certain habits can be exacerbated during remote onboarding. Many people will ask for feedback, while others may prefer to figure things out on their own or bundle questions before they make their needs known. If you’re in doubt about how a new hire prefers to communicate or what they need – why not ask? 

What are some ways you have onboarded new employees virtually? Let me know on Twitter @colleeno_pr