By Courtney Reilly
During my time at Zimmerman/Edelson, Inc. I gained an immense amount of knowledge about public relations. As someone who loves to travel and is hoping to one day work in international PR, one of the most important things I learned from this internship is that there are specific characteristics that one must possess to be both an effective traveler and a successful PR professional. Here are 7 of them:
1) Be Flexible: As most people know, traveling doesn’t always go as planned. The same goes for public relations. As easy as it is for a flight to be delayed, a new technology or PR technique can be introduced. Therefore, you must be ready for anything and be prepared to adapt for your client or travel itinerary.
2) Strategize: Would you jump on a plane without researching your destination or choosing a place to stay? If you would, you are by far more spontaneous than me. Research is crucial for both travel and public relations. Making plans and setting goals for the campaign you are implementing are just as important as creating a vision of what you wish to accomplish during your trip.
3) Practice Patience: Patience is a necessary evil, and it’s a trait that I personally struggle with. I’ve learned that the art of patience is needed as a traveler and in the PR world. Results don’t happen instantaneously like we would like them to. Whether its not hearing back from a publication you pitched a story to, or having to wait in a line for a local attraction, patience is key.
4) Seize Opportunities: Like they say, “carpe diem.” If you see an opportunity arise, do what you can to take advantage of it. Whether that is a business opportunity to obtain a new client, or having the chance to do an adventurous activity while traveling, do it.
5) Willingness to Learn: There is a need to keep an open mind while traveling just as there is a need to be open to learning new things in PR. While traveling, you may come across different cultures, languages and customs. As a visitor, you must approach this with the desire to learn about the societal norms, not ignore them. The same idea applies to public relations. Instead of ignoring criticism, you should embrace it and use it as an opportunity to learn something new.
6) Network: In PR, connections are a big deal. By networking with people within your industry, or even within other industries, they just might be the contact you need when you’re in your next PR jam. Now when it comes to traveling, take time and speak with the locals. Linking up with people from the area can point you to the big highlight of your trip that your guidebook forgot to mention.
7) Honesty: Public relation professionals are often given the adoring names of “spin doctors,” “flacks” and “truth-twisters.” But, PR practitioners focus heavily on making ethical choices. We understand that being honest with clients and the media can save the reputation of a company and our profession as a whole. Honesty while traveling will most likely be beneficial to you as well. Whether it’s admitting you are lost and asking for directions or correcting the waitress for undercharging you during lunch, you know it is the right thing to do.
Overall, being an intern at Zimmerman/Edelson, Inc. has taught me that one must possess certain traits to be successful in PR. I personally hope to use this information as I continue my journey in both public relations and travel. If you are debating whether or not to take on an internship, I recommend you do it. What you take away from it will not only prepare you professionally, but it can help you in other aspects of your life.