Tips for landing a PR Internship

Tips for Landing a PR Internship

It’s that time of year; time to land a summer internship. If you’re a junior or senior in college, you might be dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s on your resume—and maybe crossing your fingers, too.

Applying for internships, especially in the public relations industry, can be a daunting task. The “How do I have experience without having experience?” question probably crosses your mind everyday. Your Google searches are filled with questions about preparing for interviews and the best cover letter tips.

Here’s the good news: We’ve all been there. There’s not one person under the roof of the Helms House that hasn’t gone through the internship process. And most of us have spent time on the other end, mentoring interns at all skill levels.

We’re here to help.

Here are a few things to add to your checklist and keep in mind when you’re trying to land a PR internship.

Have experience when you don’t have experience.

Let’s get this one out of the way first. Many PR internship and entry-level applications require experience. If you’ve never had an official experience, have no fear, it’s going to be OK.

Write—you don’t have to have a stellar blog, a million Twitter followers or real news stories placed in publications. If you go to a restaurant, write a short review of it to use in your portfolio. Think about your dream client in your head, create a similar imaginary company and write a press release for them, give them a few social media recommendations. Although it may not be “real life” experience, any company should appreciate the creativity and effort you put into it.

Also, look for nonprofits and small companies that may not have the budget to hire a PR agency but would appreciate your help for free. When you’re starting out, money can’t be a factor—don’t be above doing things for free.

Cover letters count.

In the public relations industry, your cover letter is one of the most important pieces of your application. This is your chance to show us that you know how to pitch and think creatively. Your cover letter is your pitch to us. You want your potential employer to finish reading your letter and feel confident in your writing, grammar, spelling, punctuation and ability to craft a winning pitch. After all, that’s a huge responsibility of PR people. We don’t expect you to be perfect at pitching on day one—that’s what the internship is for, but make your potential shine.

Remember to be authentic, we can tell when you’ve simply plugged the name of company XYZ into your note. Take some time to genuinely express your intentions when applying for the internship and why you would be a shoe-in fit to the company. And, creativity goes a long way!

Know the industry.

PR people get hundreds of emails a day. We’re often running from meeting to meeting and juggling multiple tasks at once. At my previous agency, I was on the team responsible for the internship program. It was a joy reading cover letters and resumes, searching for the perfect intern to join our team, but that was only one of many tasks on my to-do list.

Have patience. There’s no need to panic if your email isn’t returned right away, and following up with numerous phone calls might rub a PR pro dealing with a client crisis the wrong way. Give it a few days before following up, and keep building your experience in the meantime!

Do your homework, but don’t over-prepare.

You should absolutely research the company or agency prior to the interview, but, we’re humans, it’s impossible to remember everything about a company—all while studying for final exams to boot.

Rather than trying to know every detail and fact, pick your favorite campaign or case study and know it well. Be able to speak to things you liked and provide ideas on how you could have made it even better.

All in all, applying for internships is more than just crossing your fingers and praying it works. We’ve all been there and we know what you’re going through, but we want to see that you’ve put in the work to handle the tasks that you’ll be dealt—which are vast.

For further reading, check out “Leave Your Mark” by Aliza Licht. It’s a fantastic, quick read that dives deeper into many of the points above.

If you’re interested in an internship with Red Fan, please send a resume and cover letter to Already scored your dream internship? Check out our other blog post on How to Succeed at Interning Without Really Trying.

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