How to Stand Out During Your Internship

What brings you joy?

 

Ever since binge-watching Tidying Up with Marie Kondo on Netflix at the beginning of the year, I’ve been asking myself that question in every aspect of my life. Before Marie Kondo, I actually already used this phrase with my friends somewhat jokingly when approached with a question: “Vanessa, should I buy these new shoes?” “Well, will it bring you joy?” But now, it’s taken on a whole new meaning.

 

Digression aside, one of the things that brings me the most joy in life is Dittoe PR’s internship program. As a former Dittoe PR intern myself, I remember how incredibly amazing my own experience was. While there were several perks to the internship, what made it truly impactful was the real-life agency experience I gained while still being a college student. This group of strangers brought me onto their team and almost instantly trusted me to help handle their day-to-day tasks – were they crazy? I’m not sure. But now, a few years later, I help lead our internship program and these strangers have become my work family (and yes, I can confirm they are a little crazy).

 

Every semester, it’s my goal to make sure our interns have the same experience I was afforded as a DPR intern. While we’re known for holding our interns to a high caliber, we believe this will help you in the long run. Our interns walk away feeling like they’ve gained the tools and lessons they need to become a PR professional. In fact, many of our current staff members started at Dittoe PR as interns. So, what is it that we look for in an intern? And what can you do to become a stand-out intern? Below I’ve scrounged up some tips and tricks I think will help any student stand out from the crowd, at a PR internship or elsewhere.

 

Take all the notes and ask all the questions.

This is probably the biggest piece of advice I can give all interns. Especially in PR, it’s imperative to take notes. Come to every meeting with a pen and paper and be prepared to write everything down. This shows that you’re not only prepared, but attentive, too. We also love when interns ask questions – we want to make sure you have a good understanding of each task at hand. And don’t be afraid to ask the daring questions, like “what if we did it this way?” or “have you thought of it this way before?” Questions like that will surely knock our socks off.

 

Treat this like a real job.

We hope you see this opportunity as more than just another college credit hour or another entry on your resume. Treat this internship like a real job because, well, that’s what it is. A real job. We give our interns real projects with real deadlines with real expectations. Forget the fluff projects you’ve had at other internships – at Dittoe PR, each intern is plugged into a dedicated account so you can see the ins and outs of how an account team works. Our goal is for you to walk away feeling like you have worked in a true agency setting.

 

Own your mistakes and grow from them.

We all make mistakes – from interns to senior account managers, it’s going to happen. The best thing you can do is to own that mistake and grow from it. Instead of dwelling on what happened and having it affect your confidence, look at each mistake as a learning opportunity. We don’t expect you to get everything right the first time, but we do hope to see you improve little by little over the course of your internship.

 

Maintain a “first-day” attitude.

I have to admit, I didn’t come up with this point on my own, but this one has really stuck with me. We all want to make a great initial impression – we usually do this by dressing professionally, taking notes, arriving early, participating in extra activities, etc. But don’t let complacency get in the way. While we’re a pretty laid-back bunch, remember to stay professional throughout your internship. Just because you start to feel comfortable doesn’t mean you can start to slack off in other areas. Treat every day like it’s your first day.

 

Ask for feedback.

The only way you can grow is if you ask for feedback. While we try to give feedback on projects in real-time, we often get bogged down and can let this crucial step fall to the side. But by taking this extra step and asking us for feedback shows that you care and that you want to improve. I can guarantee if you ask someone for feedback, you’ll receive it.

 

Integrate yourself with the team.

We truly see our interns as an extension of our team and not just interns. We love when interns join us during activities outside the office – lunches, book clubs, house warmings, etc. This allows our team to get to know you on a more personal level and help build deeper connections. It also shows that you want to be a part of our team. It doesn’t go unnoticed, and it’s a small act that can go a long way.

 

Think you have what it takes to be a DPR intern? We’re now accepting applications for our 2019 summer internship program through Feb. 15. To apply, send your cover letter, resume with references and three diverse writing samples to Vanessa Staublin at vanessa [at] dittoepr.com.

 

 

PR Lingo 101: Phrases Every Pro Should Know

B-roll. Byline. Ed Cals. Embargo. Owned media. Press release. UMV.

 

If you’re a PR professional or work with media, you probably use some or all of these terms on a regular basis. We throw these phrases around with each other in the office, but we have to be mindful when speaking with a client or someone who’s not as familiar with public relations (like our friends or family). Heck, there were even some terms I had never heard of before starting my career at Dittoe PR (ed cals, anyone?).

 

Whether it’s an acronym, slang or just a word you’ve never heard of, we PR pros definitely have a language of our own. To help catch you up to speed, below we’ve started a modest list of terms and phrases we use daily. Sprinkle some of this lingo into a conversation with us, and we’ll know you’re a pro (or just someone who has done their homework).

 

PR: Let’s start with the basics – PR stands for “public relations.” My fiancé always gets upset with me when I throw this phrase around, because “not everyone knows what PR stands for.” I definitely try to be mindful when I’m introducing myself and my company for the first time, making sure I say “Dittoe Public Relations” and not just Dittoe PR. While it may be a no-brainer to those in our industry, those outside of our world might not be as sure.

 

Boilerplate: Think of a boilerplate as an “About Me” section. This is a chance to share the most pertinent information about your company. Typically located at the bottom of a press release, a boilerplate usually includes a few sentences about a company that gives the audience an understanding of its history, core services and mission. Including other milestones or industry recognition (like award wins) is acceptable, too.

 

B-roll: We often tell reporters that they can “capture b-roll” when they come out to an event, or that there will be “great b-roll opportunities.” Basically, this just means that there will be a chance for reporters to capture extra footage to go along with their story. B-roll can help make a segment more visually pleasing, just so you’re not watching a talking head the whole time. Know when you watch a TV segment and you see all those fancy camera angles? Yeah, that’s b-roll.

 

Byline: A byline is a fancy term we use for a guest article, contributed article, op-ed, etc. A byline can often serve as an alternative to a traditional interview-to-story coverage and gives media outlets quality content to add to their queue. Bylines are typically authored by a “thought leader” (there’s another term for ya) at a company about a topic in their industry in which they are considered an expert in. Bylines are our best friends, but they can also be our worst enemies (PR pros – you understand).

 

Embargo: I feel like a secret agent when I’m working with an embargo. Embargos are fun, but they require a lot of trust in the process. Embargos are used when you have a story or an announcement to make, but don’t want media to share it until X day or X time. They can definitely work in your favor, allowing reporters to gather all the information and interviews they need before the news is shared with the public. If you want, you can even give a reporter an “exclusive” (so many PR terms, so little time), but embargos allow every reporter the same fair chance. Once an embargo is “lifted,” that allows a reporter to hit the publish button. It’s really cool to see that embargo lift and have a flood of stories come in all at once.

 

Ed Cal: Sweet, sweet ed cals. For someone who was completely new in the industry at one point (ahem, moi), I had no idea what this stood for. Are you ready for it? Editorial calendar. Great. But now you’re probably thinking, what’s an editorial calendar? Think of editorial calendars as a way for publications to map out their calendar year. Typically aimed toward advertisers, ed cals help us figure out what a publication might be writing about on any given week, month or quarter. If I see that a magazine is planning to write about how to properly dispose of hazardous waste in October, I might reach out in June saying that I have the perfect source for their article. Thank you, ed cals.

 

In-house: The exact opposite of a PR agency. When companies do things “in-house,” that means they don’t have a third party helping them. Most of the clients we work with don’t have an in-house PR team, hence why they work with us. In the PR world, people will usually ask if you work in-house or at an agency. Working in-house is very different than working in an agency, and vice versa. But PR is PR, and we love ‘em all.

 

Pitch: Pitching is at the heart of what we do every day. Probably a little more self-explanatory than most, a pitch is just that – we are “pitching” an idea or story to a reporter, hoping that they’ll find interest and share with their audience. Think of a business pitch – you’re usually trying to sell yourself or your company during a pitch. We do the same in our pitching. But at Dittoe PR, we do things a little differently. We take the time to craft unique, meaningful pitches that are personalized to each media outlet or contact. We specialize in telling stories not selling products or services. We also take the time to research who we’re pitching, which helps us craft our pitch even more.

 

Trade publication: You can probably easily name top national media (CNN, Forbes, Mashable and so on), and you can probably name some local publications, too. But when it comes to trade … that’s usually a different story. Trade publications are targeted to a specific industry or audience that work in that industry. The general public typically doesn’t read these types of publications (unless reading Chemical Processing gets you jazzed) but landing an interview with a trade publication might be the perfect fit for your client’s audience.

 

UMV: I’ll give it to ya straight – UMV stands for unique monthly visitors. A UMV references how many individual people are visiting a website each month. Every website as a different UMV, and it often changes month-to-month. UMVs are important in our industry, as it helps us illustrate the value behind media coverage and, in some case, calculate advertising value (how much it would have cost you to pay to be in that publication). We also use terms like “readership” and “media impressions” to track and analyze media metrics (I could write a novel at this point with how many terms I’m throwing at you!).

 

Well, there you have it! While this list doesn’t come close to touching all the jargon we use regularly, I hope this is a good start. If any of the above sparks your interest or you think there’s a service your business could benefit from, contact Lauryn Gray at lauryn@dittoepr.com.

Five Life Skills Gained Through Public Relations

There’s no denying that my skillset has grown vastly since I began my career at Dittoe PR back in 2015. From starting as an intern to now leading our intern program, I have my all-star team of coworkers to thank for teaching me the ins and outs of public relations. I’ve learned how to be proactive, how to think like a journalist, how to navigate a PR crisis and several other areas of expertise that you can’t really learn in a classroom setting.

 

While there are several things that can be taught, other life skills that come naturally by trade. Over the last few years, I’ve been fortunate enough to gain (and grow) the following life skills through my time working in public relations:

 

Adaptability.

One of the first things I learned when I first started in the PR world is how to be f-l-e-x-i-b-l-e. Being able to adapt to other’s schedules or navigate a change of plans it imperative in our industry. I can recall on several occasions where I’ve sent something to a client for approval, only to be told that the core details have since changed. Being able to adapt quickly will not only help you grow in the fast-paced world of PR, but with our ever-changing lives.

 

Awareness.

I’ve learned how important it is to be aware of what’s going on in the world and around me. This stems back to my high school and college journalism classes, where we were required to take current events quizzes. While they were slightly annoying at the time (sorry Professor Bridge), I’ve realized how vital it is to know what’s going in our world. In our industry, I’m constantly following trends and reading up on current events, which can help with newsjacking efforts for clients.

 

Being up-to-date of current events is a life skill that you can carry throughout your life. It can expand your general knowledge and can help you make more informed decisions. Plus, knowing what’s going on in the world can help your general communication skills when it comes to networking events or chatting with your peers.

 

Confidence.

I had to grow pretty quickly in a small office setting. With a team of less than 20, I’ve been assigned tasks in the past that were new to me. I had to build my confidence and sometimes put on a “fake-it-‘til-you-make-it” face. My first in-studio segment? I obviously had never been to one, let alone attended one by myself, but I had to muster up the courage and confidence and act like it was my twentieth time going in-studio with a client. I’ve been faced with several similar instances since and will likely continue to for the rest of my life, but being thrown into these situations has helped me gain the confidence I’d probably never have if I worked in a different office setting.

 

Persistence.

In the world of PR, you have to be persistent. Emails get buried in inboxes and often go unseen by the media. Don’t give up if you haven’t heard back, and don’t be shy following up or tweaking your pitch! Sometimes it can take several follow ups before a reporter agrees to do a story. While this is a more obvious skill for our industry, this is something that has translated into other areas of my life (planning a wedding, hearing back from a consultant, etc.). If you don’t hear from someone right away, don’t give up!

 

Time management.

Deadlines. We all love them. After joining the Dittoe PR team full time, it took me some time to figure out a good time management system. There are several tasks we must complete during the day, but it’s ultimately up to us on how we divvy that time up. Giving yourself and your team internal deadlines and setting expectations on how long a project should take will help when trying to figure out how to manage your 40-hour work week. This goes outside of the office, too – setting goals for yourself, like finishing a book once a month or working out three times a week, will help give you a better understanding of how to manage your time wisely.

 

While I can go on and on about all the life skills I’ve learned while working public relations, I feel like these skills have not only helped me grow professionally, but personally, too. If you’re a student interested in an internship at Dittoe PR (and gaining some of these skills), please send your resume with references, cover letter and three diverse writing samples to vanessa [at] dittoepr.com.