By Rob Wragg
After six very valuable and very fun weeks, my time as an intern at Fourth Day is sadly coming to an end. To say that I’ve learnt a lot is an understatement. To say that I feel more prepared for the professional world of work couldn’t be more truthful.
In the past I’ve done a few one week work experience placements at other agencies, which offer interesting insights into the way PR agencies work. Although valuable, they don’t offer the opportunity to get stuck into the working life of the company or involved in client accounts in the same way that an internship does, simply because of the time constraints. As I’ve discovered first hand, being given the responsibility to work independently and consistently on a number of clients over an extended period of time allows for a much greater understanding of the role.
Here are a few thoughts that I’ll take with me from the many things I’ve learnt during my time here:
The importance of research
When you first start to work with a client it can be difficult to get to grips with their service or product, in particular when they’re so specialised in a particular field. This can be a problem when it comes to writing press releases, opinion pieces, blog posts and features for clients that you know little about. As such, research is paramount. Aside from learning about public relations, during my time at Fourth Day, I’ve learnt more about retail, technology and marketing than I thought possible. In order to write pieces for industry press it’s important to know what you’re talking about, and conducting research before you begin writing any piece is the best way to make sure you’re up to scratch.
Proofread, proofread again and proofread some more
There have been many times in the last six weeks when I thought I’d finally finished writing a great piece. Pleased with myself, I’d have one last read before sending it over to the client, only to find numerous spelling, grammar and formatting mistakes. It’s safe to say some of these pieces wouldn’t have received coverage if they’d been sent over as they were. Proofreading is definitely essential in PR, even when sending emails. It’s all too easy to send an email without the relevant attachments, as I demonstrated a fair few times!
Develop relationships with journalists
The team at Fourth Day places a lot of trust in their interns and gives them a great deal of responsibility, all the while keeping a watchful eye and offering guidance to make sure that everything goes well. This approach is a great way to help interns develop their skills and a real understanding of the process that agencies follow to secure coverage for their clients. From coming up with the idea for a story and drafting its first copy, to finding and getting in contact with the journalist, Fourth Day gives their interns a chance to get involved in all levels of the PR process. Throughout this process I’ve begun to understand the importance of developing relationships with journalists. With the amount of communication that goes on between PRs and journos, it’s easy to see how having journalists that know and trust you can make placing a piece that much easier.
For anyone looking for a career in the PR sector I can’t recommend doing an internship enough. You’ll gain knowledge of the industry, the PR process and have a great laugh along the way.
Lizzie is an Associate Director in the Manchester team