Public Relations: From a Workshop to the Working World

Posted: July 24, 2012

Topics: Digital Marketing

During my last semester at college my roommate convinced me to do a three day PR workshop with her through the university’s Communication Studies department. Despite having to give up my entire weekend, I decided the pros outweighed the cons and went for it.

“Wait, Megan, what’s PR anyway?” I asked.

“Public Relations,” she answered.

“Yeah, but like…. What does that even mean?”

“I guess we’ll find out on Friday?”

We had no idea what to expect, but were intrigued by what we would be learning. The weekend workshop was organized by a Michigan alumnus who is the VP of Public Relations at Hearst Corporation (which includes magazines such as Elle, Seventeen, and Cosmopolitan). The workshop consisted of several alumni panels and presentations about all aspects of PR such as event planning, social media, cultivating relationships with the media, and so much more.

Over the past few months I have been able to see many of the things I learned about in that workshop come to life here at push. This includes working on press releases, pitches, media lists, and of course this blog. Below are some words of advice I received during that workshop and how I’ve seen or experienced their importance while working with push’s PR team.

1. Being a good writer is the most important skill you can have.

I’ve helped Corinne, push’s PR guru, write press releases, pitches, and these blog entries. I now understand why the alumni told us that writing skills are imperative— it seems to be the majority of the job! Keeping up your writing skills is also important because the required writing is not simply an internal email to your colleagues — it is for the public eye. How embarrassed would you feel to publish a piece full of mistakes and have your name on it? I personally shudder at the thought of periods outside of quotation marks!

2. PR is about telling a story.

Recently, I was asked to write two pitches — one for push, and one for a client. I had heard of a pitch at the workshop, but we hadn’t really gone over examples. I didn’t know where to begin. Corinne told me there was no right or wrong way to do it — because pitching is simply telling a story in a condensed fashion. Sometimes, this can be challenging, because no one wants to read a boring story. It forces us to think creatively. No, the “creative” part of the agency isn’t contained within the designated creative team. It permeates into all aspects of agency life in order to be successful.

And a word of advice from the media panel:

3: Do not pitch people in the media stories on topics they don’t cover.

As I’m currently working on a media list related to one of our new clients, this advice becomes even more obvious. For example, why would a political writer be interested in our pitch about an auto client? This seems obvious, but it takes time to find out who in the area would be interested in a particular story or field. It isn’t about sending a pitch to a million different writers or anchors, but specifically ones who have a professional or personal interest in the story you have to offer. There is a better chance they’ll pick it up. And according to the media panel, offering to take them to lunch doesn’t hurt either.

I’m Liz, but my friends call me Nugget … Don’t ask. I’m 22 years old and spending my summer interning at an advertising agency called PUSH 22. Each week I’ll be dipping into the different aspects of agency life and serving up supersized chunks of insight about my experience at push, things I’ve learned about the advertising industry and much more.