Posts tagged internship

5 Things I Learned On-Site for a Client Event

By Vincent Frazzetto

As consumers, we see the end result of the news—the faces, the quotes, and the settings—with little thought into what’s happening behind the scenes. Heading into my first client-sponsored event, the Long Island Water Conference’s Drinking Water Symposium, I was heading in blind for the most part. We arrived very early, 6 A.M. to be exact, to set up the room and ready ourselves for the troves of officials from water districts and elected offices around Long Island to arrive for check-in. I took part in helping to organize crowd movement and offer officials for interview; it was a very lively, semi-crazy environment. In the down time, however, I was able to pick the brains of the reporters and gauge their own individual styles. I learned quite a few things, but none more important than these five:

1. Know Everybody in the Room
One of the things I underestimated in PR professionals was their innate ability to know every person in the room in some way, whether it was a long-standing professional relationship, a sponsor, or a client’s spokesperson for the event. When I would lean over to Christine, an account executive at Z/E, and gesture to an individual in the crowd, she would knew his or her name, affiliation, and role at the event—priceless information. Knowing everybody in the room is one of the most important skills of PR people.

2. Bridge the Gap
Being a PR person attending a client event is a lot like hosting a party. The press comes from one end, the client comes from the other, and the PR person is the bridge between the two. Our job is to introduce one to the other and appease both parties. The press wants their story and their shots in a timely manner so they can meet a deadline; the client wants to get its name out there and gain exposure for the event. It’s our job as the liaison between both parties to guide the interaction in a mutually-beneficial manner. I watched Christine introduce the reporters to our spokespeople and mediate the conversation between them, which was enlightening to see in action.

3. Behind-the-Scenes Interview Tips
Watching the on-camera interviews from the perspective of the PR person was interesting. I learned great tips regarding what we do during the process. One of the most simple, yet most effective, things I learned was where to stand during the interview: over the shoulder of the cameraperson, so we have an equal-plane view of the interviewee’s body language, responses and monitor.

4. Respect the Vision
Part of the mediating process is understanding the vision of both our clients and the press. No reporter wants to be told what to film/photograph just like the client doesn’t want to sacrifice his or her message for the sake of coverage. One of the cameramen told me, “There’s nothing worse than an overly controlling PR person.” It’s important to make your client’s desires known, but not at the risk of losing a valuable network connection by being overbearing.

5. Never Miss the Opportunity to Make a Connection
Public Relations is all about maintaining successful relationships. After all, if nobody likes your style of work, they will simply choose not to work with you. These relationships are paramount to being successful in getting your clients coverage and keeping your client satisfied. This is one of the most constant realities of a career in PR. During my time at the symposium, I tried to make members of the press, and our clients comfortable and happy with the overall experience. I enjoyed my first on-site venture, and while we can learn a lot about PR in a classroom, the field experience was very insightful.

#Zimmtern Insider: Planning the Greatest Debate Watch Party Ever

By Amanda Benizzi

“I want you to plan a debate party, for around 300 people, in under a week. Go.”

Wait. What?

On October 19, Robert Zimmerman hosted a debate party, co-hosted by the Hillary Clinton campaign with special guest Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, for the third and final presidential debate of the 2016 cycle at the Paramount in Huntington, NY. In under a week, he invited more than 300 Long Island community members and local elected officials to watch history in the making. I was fortunate enough to work on the debate party in multiple ways, from inviting guests to preparing the room, all the way through the entire event and debate.

Public Relations is a fast-paced, ever-moving industry; practitioners have to be skilled in creating events swiftly to keep up with our 24/7 news cycle and generally fast-paced world. As an intern, working on the debate party gave me a real-life look at what work goes into planning an event in a small amount of time with a large amount of pressure. It made me realize that even the smallest things—like creating the actual invite, to mailing each individual letter, to the arrangement of the decorations in the room—make such a difference and can change the success of an event.

I don’t think we could have had a better night, to be honest. We arrived at the venue just two hours before the debate was set to start and just one hour before the guests were set to arrive. We decked out the room with games, posters, buttons and stickers. We assembled more than 50 Clinton-Kaine lawn signs, which to my surprise turned out to be the takeaway that guests were most interested in—some people even took them home for their friends and family.

Watching a debate with friends is an event in itself, but watching a debate among passionate members of a community next to their own elected officials is an electric feeling, not to mention a great opportunity for networking. It gives you the chance to meet other members of your field—those who influence the public relations world—and to build relationships with your coworkers outside of the office.

As an intern, if you haven’t had the chance to work on an organization or client event, ASK! It’s a very rewarding feeling to see the results of your hard work, and it shows your employer that you are engaged in the events your firm is holding and you’re willing to work on things beyond what you are assigned to do.

Working this event definitely put the perfect ending to a crazy debate cycle, one that’s been completely different than anything we’ve experienced. I’m grateful that I was able to take the opportunity to learn about event planning and combine them with my interest in politics. It’s true that you get out of something what you put into it, and if you put your time and effort you will come out with amazing experiences that will last beyond your time as an intern.

The Traits needed to be A Public Relations Pro and an Effective Traveler

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.

Why Adaption Is Key to Being a Successful Public Relations Practitioner

By Ashley Zachariah

Sitting on the train, I anxiously listened for upcoming stop announcements. I turned to a Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) employee and inquired about my transfer stop. As a newcomer to riding the LIRR, I didn’t realize a double transfer was necessary. Somehow I had managed to end up in Brooklyn, far from my desired destination. I scrambled to Penn Station, pushing past moody New Yorkers craving their coffee on their morning commute. Sprinting onto the Port Washington line, I arrived just in time for my summer internship interview at Zimmerman/Edelson.

My internship interview experience is more than just a comedic story to tell my grandchildren one day. It opened my eyes to the importance of adaptation on both a personal and professional level. Experiencing life outside of my suburban hometown in Connecticut and a quaint college town in upstate New York has been a constant adjustment.

After completing my undergraduate career at Binghamton University, I made the decision that I was ready to try the New York City lifestyle. After all, I went to school with so many Long Islanders and was always eager to see how different city life was. As I write this blog, I have been living on Long Island as a graduate student at Hofstra University for about a year.

Adjusting to the lifestyle has not been as glamorous as anticipated. I’ve had to figure out how to get myself from point A to point B smoothly, learning various train lines and the best travel apps to use. I’ve had to change to a much quicker pace: In the city, I can’t walk and observe the environment around me; on the contrary, I must move briskly, even at the risk of developing massive blisters from not wearing the right shoes. Lastly, I’ve had to adjust from commuting via Amtrak to the LIRR and the subway system. Unlike Amtrak, where I always had a seat, clean air and personal space, the LIRR and subways can be rather uncomfortable. I often lack the luxury of my own seat and am squished too close for comfort with another passenger.

In many ways, public relations practitioners must also be able to step out of their comfort zone and plant themselves in an unknown, constantly shifting environment.

No one would argue that the fundamentals of PR will ever change. The critical need to be an excellent writer and storyteller will remain the same in this industry. However, technology is undeniably changing how to effectively communicate.

For example, one of the newest social media trends is live streaming. As a #Zimmtern, I’ve learned that Facebook Live and Periscope are dominating the social media world. Just when PR professionals adjust to a new social media platform or various platform features, a new one emerges. As the digital world expands, so too must our PR knowledge toolbox.

Change is never easy. However, I believe it is essential for anyone considering working in this industry.

My First Week With #ZimmEdU

By Haylee Pollack

Starting a new job or internship can be stressful. You don’t know what to expect, and you don’t know if it will be worth your time and effort. But after finishing my first week at the firm, I have already taken away so much from this position. Here are five things I learned in my first week as a #Zimmtern in the ZimmEdU program:

1) Writing a press release

Sure, we’ve written a press release or two in my PR classes, but never to this extent. During my first few days as a #Zimmtern, I wrote four press releases for real clients. I learned how to format it correctly for the company and what needed to be included in every release (never forget a quote and the boilerplate). I already see a difference in my writing style, and I can thank this internship for giving me the opportunity to write a real press release and receive immediate feedback to help me grow.

2) Answering the phone and calling the media

Not going to lie: Talking on the phone stresses me out. As a millennial, I prefer texting and emailing. However, in public relations, communication over the phone is essential. During my first week as a #Zimmtern, I learned how to answer phones, what to say, what information I needed to get from the caller, and how to then transfer the call to the correct Zimmerman/Edelson Inc. employee. I learned how to communicate with the media and how to best represent our clients. I have to admit, I still need to work on this skill, but it’s only the first week, and I am confident that the rest of the summer will give me the time and experience to do so.

3) Writing photo captions

In just the past three days I have written countless photo captions. I did this in school a little bit, but not for real clients—or even with real pictures. As a #Zimmtern, I have an opportunity to write photo captions with real people and actual information, which is an experience I wouldn’t have gotten if I did not take on this internship. Z/E employees taught me the correct way to format a photo caption, including how to write the headline and subhead and how to attribute photos.

4) The Zimmerman/Edelson Inc. clipping process

On my second day as a #Zimmtern, I was taught all about the clipping process at the firm. This included how to work the scanner, cut out articles from newspapers and file clips. My favorite part about this lesson was the woman who taught it, Lynn. She really gave us insight into how much this internship can help us in the future, and she even told us more about herself. This definitely took made me feel more at ease on my second day. Thank you Lynn for giving us this lesson.

5) Communication with others

On my first day as a #Zimmtern, I wasn’t sure how to approach other employees to ask if they needed help with anything—I didn’t know if I should email, message, etc. I found that any method is fine, since everyone in the office is so nice, friendly and willing to help you grow. I started off by helping Jill, but by day three I had helped almost everyone on the first floor with a photo caption, press release, phone call or other task. The main thing I learned from this was that I shouldn’t be shy, and that having more work to do makes the day go by faster and makes the experience much more enjoyable. Always ask people if they need help. And if nobody does… read Newsday.

If you are debating whether to pursue an internship in PR—such as one with the ZimmEd U program—I recommend you do. It will be worth your time and will only be beneficial to you in the future.

5 Tips on Making Media Calls

By Marykate Guilfoyle

Media calls are a necessary part of any PR job; PR Professionals need to make sure the media outlets receive their press releases and advisories. Making your first calls to pitch a story can be nerve-racking but with the right guidance you will be a pro in no time. If you follow these five tips you will be well on your way to a successful media call:

1. Know What You Are Talking About.
This is the most important thing. If you are trying to pitch an event to the media, you must know all the details so you’re ready for whatever questions they may have. You should have the information in front of you, that way you are prepared for whatever questions someone may throw at you.

2. Be Confident.
It’s important to assert yourself as an expert on what you are talking about. Be clear and be confident when speaking and you will be received better. If there is ever a question you do not have the answer to, let the person know that you will point them in the right direction.

3. Be Respectful Of Time.
Reporters are busy people. Try asking if it’s a good time to talk or if they have a second to speak to you before you begin your pitch. This shows respectful, and it helps to know how quick you have to pitch your story. If they say no, ask them when would be a good time to reach them.

4. Be Concise
Give a brief but interesting overview of the event you are pitching. If the media seems to be interested they can ask more questions on specifics. Always make sure you get the time, place and what the event is answered in the pitch.

5. Practice Your Pitch
Know what you are going to say before you get on the phone. You don’t need a script, you want to sound natural, but it is important to have an idea of what you are going to say. You don’t want to stumble on the phone.

The Hofstra PRSSA 2016 Regional Conference

By Jessica Avenia

Check out Jessica’s previous post about networking at the Hofstra PRSSA ‘Welcome to NY’ Mixer

We are constantly reminded about the importance of interning while at school and I agree; students should always look for opportunities to grow and better themselves professionally. I also believe students should be encouraged to join professional organizations just as much as they are encouraged to look for internships. Recently, I attended the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) Regional Conference at Hofstra University, and I hope my experience will inspire students to find additional ways to be involved outside of the classroom, aside from getting an internship.

The PRSSA 2016 Regional Conference was an all-day event with the first workshop starting at 9:00 a.m. and the conference wrapping up around 5:00 p.m. To kick-off the weekend, the Welcome to New York Networking Mixer was well-attended the night prior. Several workshops were held throughout the day featuring panelists from various industries, including fashion, technology, entertainment, travel and tourism, international, nonprofit and more. There was definitely something there for everyone!

I chose to attend Live from NY! Entertainment PR in the City; Eat, Sleep and Travel: PR in the Food and Travel Industry; and Como se Dice PR? workshops. I was most excited about the travel PR workshop because I plan to work in the travel and tourism industry. I did, however, discover a new interest by attending the Como se Dice PR workshop. Despite being fluent in Spanish, it had never occurred to me to pursue a career in this fast-growing market, which shows how joining a professional organization and attending events like this one can help you define your interests and guide you towards the right career path.

All the panelists offered great insight on their industry, their own perspective on how to break in and many helpful PR tips. In addition to all the amazing panelists, the luncheon was accompanied by an encouraging keynote speech delivered by Edelman Vice President Ashley Chauvin. Mrs. Chauvin addressed the changing landscape of the PR industry, and stressed the idea that to be a great PR practitioner we must learn to be great storytellers—we must be aware of our surroundings and capture the moments that make a story connect with our audience.

Overall, my experience at the Hofstra PRSSA Regional Conference inspired me to work harder by meeting successful individuals who did more than just go to class when they were in my position. I’ve learned that it is important to stay connected and join professional groups that will support your career goals.

Tips from a Journalist on How to Pitch the Media

By: Dan Schaefer

One of the most difficult tasks for a public relations intern or young professional just starting out is getting in contact with a major publication for the first time. However, there are ways to ensure that developing a connection and building a relationship with a media outlet goes as smoothly as possible.

John Jeansonne retired from New York’s Newsday in 2014 after an illustrious 44-year career as a sports writer, and he is now an adjunct professor at Hofstra University’s Lawrence Herbert School of Communication. He says the first step is to keep in mind that “any good reporter should always be keeping their eyes and ears and mind open to possible stories.” This is key to building the confidence needed to start typing that e-mail or picking up a phone. Reporters, no matter how busy they may seem, are always looking for story ideas.

Keeping that in mind, the next step is research. The PR practitioner must make sure he or she knows the story being pitched inside and out. Be prepared to answer any and all questions about the story.

“I have had publicists call me to pitch a story and found that I knew more about the story than the publicist did. On occasion, the publicist would have facts wrong or would demonstrate a general lack of knowledge. So, the first thing for the publicist to do is know his or her stuff before contacting a reporter,” said Jeansonne.

In addition, the practitioner needs to study the outlet that he or she is pitching. The story has to be relevant to the outlet’s audience for it even to be considered. Next, the correct reporter must be targeted.

“The reporter might steer the publicist to another reporter, another department at his paper or magazine or radio station,” Jeansonne said, in the event that the practitioner has contacted the wrong reporter. But this is not a given, especially if the reporter is on deadline or busy. Getting in contact with the correct reporter helps the publicist’s image.

Jeansonne says that e-mails or phone calls are appropriate to pitch that first story. If the publicist does send an e-mail, he or she should avoid blasting it out to multiple outlets. Personalize the message to each reporter, and be sure to follow up with a phone call to make sure the message was received and to gauge the reporter’s interest.

“A good relationship between a reporter and publicist is vital to both, and through those relationships you learn who is competent, who can be a real go-to person when you need information,” said Jeansonne.

The First Day for a #Zimmtern: Part Two

By Greg Stengel

After finding out I was headed to the New York American Water Press Conference featuring Senator Chuck Schumer on my first day, the feelings of both excitement and diving into the unknown had doubled. I found myself, an intern on his first day, in a room full of media, elected officials and Long Island water industry representatives. As the press conference began, I found myself learning more than one priceless lesson in public relations.

From the moment I pulled into the parking lot the learning experience had begun. I was starting to learn that for a press conference, and for any in-person or on-camera statement, the message is almost equally as important as how you present the message. First off, the press conference was being held at Massapequa Water District Well 9, which was an iconic location for a press conference on Long Island’s water industry. In addition, it served as a great backdrop for the conference; when talking about water on Long Island, it adds legitimacy when you are speaking at a well that provides water for the area.

As the conference continued, several more lessons would reveal themselves. As Senator Schumer spoke, he and the two water industry representatives wanted to make a point how safe the water on Long Island is to drink: They each drank a glass of water and showed that they truly believed in what they were saying, that the water really is safe for everyone to drink. It added both a visual and emotional effect to the press conference, which I think really helped them convey their message.

The final lesson I learned from attending this press conference was that the use of visuals is key to making sure your audience comprehends the message you are trying to get across. The entire time the senator and water representatives were speaking they had a large map in the background. The speakers would periodically reference this map and show it to the cameras, physically displaying locations and reinforcing their point to the audience in a more clear way through the use of a visual reference.

From not knowing if I was even going to be able to make it into my first day at Zimmerman/Edelson, Inc. because of the snow storm, to attending a press conference with Senator Schumer just a few hours later, it’s possible that my first day experience will go down as one of the most exciting and interesting first days in the history of the Zimmtern program.

Looking back it will all be worth it knowing that in such a short time I took away several valuable lessons in public relations that I will without a doubt carry with me for the rest of my career.

5 Things You Can’t Learn in the Classroom

By Jess McNamara

 

1) How to interact with clients and media
This is an extremely important skill that you just can’t ever fully learn in a classroom. Interacting with clients and the media are the most basic components of a PR job, but they also can be the most intimidating. It’s likely that on day one of your first job or internship, you will have to talk to some sort of client or reporter, so it is something you need to get the hang of right away. Only first-hand experience can teach you how to appropriately talk to industry colleagues and develop a professional relationship. Even with the advice given in the classroom, you don’t really learn until you are on a phone call with a reporter who is on deadline and needs information in succinct soundbites.

 

2) Speak up and volunteer
Many college students will tell you volunteering in the classroom is a foreign concept to them. But new job requires active participation, especially while interning. It is vital that you speak up and volunteer at a job: ask questions when you have them and offer to do work that needs to be done even if not specifically assigned to you. In the real world there’s no participation grade, and volunteering shows leadership, work ethic and commitment. The more effort you put into your internship, the more you will be able to learn things that you can’t learn in class from your coworkers in the working world.

 

3) How to use a phone
Sounds simple right? It’s not. I’m not talking about cell phones; I I’m talking about land-line office phones, and if you are tackling your first real office job then this is definitely something you are thrown into on day one. Office phones are scary, they’re tricky, they ring a lot and they have more buttons than you can remember on day one. Mastering the office phone system is probably one of the most difficult things to learn, but you pick it up after a while. Personally, I am about two months into my Zimmerman/Edelson internship, and I still have a cheat sheet on my desk to remind me which buttons to press in each scenario.

 

4) It’s okay to make mistakes
Everyone will tell you this, but it takes actually making the mistakes to realize how true it is. In school, a mistake typically results in a bad grade, a direct consequence of whatever you did wrong. But in the real world people make mistakes and, believe it or not, other people tend to be understanding. You will make mistakes that you didn’t even know were mistakes, and you will make mistakes that instantaneously feel like the end of the world. As long as you own your mistake and do what you can to rectify the situation your coworkers will be understanding. After all, when you begin a new job you are still learning, just through real-world experience instead of through a text book.

 

5) The importance of listening
You will not understand how important listening is until you step out of the classroom and into a real job. Most students get into the habit of passively listening, scrolling through their phone, surfing the web or completing other work. But in a work environment, especially as an intern or junior staff member, listening is key. When you’re being assigned a task, you need to be paying attention to the details and noting all of the specific instructions. Although it is okay to go back and ask questions, it is far more impressive if you show initiative and that you can follow directions on your first attempt at the task. In the classroom the teacher is often there to help you. But as an intern, your goal is to help your coworkers, so try to make their day easier just by fully listening to the instructions you are given.