May 29th was the first day of my internship this summer at David James Group. Chris, my supervisor had e-mailed me a list of what I could anticipate for my first day. As I walked into the office, I had no idea what to except it would be like, would there be someone to greet me? Would I have my own desk? Would there be training for how to do this? How will I know to do anything? Am I even prepared to intern at a Business-to-Business (B2B) agency? But don't worry, I survived.
The first hard task I was given was when I had to research TV stations within certain states where one of our clients was hosting an engineering camp for kids. I had to then call those TV stations every morning at 8 a.m. asking if they had received our news release and would be interested in hearing more about it. This my friends, is called cold calling and pitching. I had a script of what to say, but every phone call was different. Sometimes they wouldn’t answer, sometimes they would be short and hang up quickly and other times, the lucky times, they would be kind and polite and interested in hearing more, but those times were rare. Most of my luck was from my email pitching and was greatly rewarded by being picked up in CBS and ABC on TV. Getting my pitch onto TV was probably the highlight of my career so far. But don't worry, I got to do a lot more at David James besides just calling news stations the second I woke up. I was also in charge of gathering media lists for many different clients, creating email pitches to send out a press release, attend meetings and even a protest (that was pretty fun) and gather data afterwards whether or not we were able to get spots in the media.
I learned a lot in those three short months more than I had learned in the classroom. Although what I had learned in the classroom had helped me in some aspects, a lot of it was hands on learning. One piece of advice my supervisor left me with was “don’t be afraid to take feedback”. In this time period, I think a lot of people assume that what they do is perfect and that there is no room for feedback. But they’re wrong. There is always room for feedback and growing for someone in PR. There would be many times I would send Chris a pitch and he would send it back with many edits. Some people would look at that and be offended that they're work wasn’t exactly right the first time. But in PR it’s always important to get your stuff double, maybe tripled checked. You don’t want to send something with a million grammar errors or mistakes (may have had a few of those in my time), you want it to be the best version possible just like yourself. I don’t think anyone can prepare you for what working in agency is going to be like, every agency and company is different. Everyone has a different way of doing things and I think that’s something really cool about PR, it’s ever changing and you are ever learning.
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PRecisely PR is the blog of the Illinois State University Chapter of the PRSSA. We write about Chapter events, the public relations industry, member profiles, and more.