Transitions: Student to Intern

The transition from college student to intern isn’t easy. I should know, I made the switch three weeks ago. It’s an adjustment, to say the least, but it is doable. Here are a few things I’ve come to realize that have helped me adjust:

My first few weeks as an intern were exhausting. Until this point most of my jobs have been pretty mindless. An eight hour work day where you are required to use your brain and knowledge will be tiring after jobs where you don’t. I learned the hard way that midnight is not an appropriate bedtime anymore. Give yourself a break and go to bed a little earlier. It will help you work harder and feel less mentally exhausted at the end of the day.

Lucky for me, I’m not required to wear a suit everyday. I know it can be hard to feel comfortable in work clothes when you’ve been so used to maxi skirts and Birkenstocks throughout college. Look for things that can double as work and play clothes with an open mind, and you may be surprised to find you already have a lot of items that will work for both. Consider the clothes you do have to buy as a professional investment.

It’s true what they say; nothing prepares you for the real world like living in the real world. What we’ve been learning in class is relevant, but you can’t become a rock star at media pitches until you actually start pitching to the media. Appreciate your time as an intern, because it could very well be the most valuable tool you have to prepare yourself for a career.

Don’t ever be afraid to ask questions. This is your opportunity to work with professionals while still wearing the “newbie” hat that allows for a few mistakes here and there. A good supervisor will want to help hone your skills. If you don’t ask questions then a) you might not be meeting your supervisor’s expectations and b) you’re not learning anything. Isn’t that the point?

If all else fails, remember: an internship isn’t permanent. It can be viewed as an experiment, if you will. If you love what you’re doing and where you’re working like me, you’ll have proven your hypothesis that, indeed, public relations is the right field for you.

By Noelle Pickler, Intern


A Good Public Relations Person Pt.3

Well here you have it, the remaining seven (plus one) things that make a great public relations person. May you be challenged by the 21 items and cultivate your skills! Find the full list on our website.

  1. Be confident but not arrogant – speak your mind when your opinion is supported by facts or experience.  As baseball Hall of Famer and broadcaster Dizzy Dean once said – “It ain’t braggin’ if you done it.”
  2. Be a problem solver:  We are by definition problem solvers not just communicators:  How do I introduce this product or service?  How do I protect the company reputation?  How do I get this new technology to work for my client or organization?  How do I get the package to that city in the next 45 minutes when the elevators just shut off (this comes from a real world public relations experience)?
  3. Be accountable and dependable.
  4. Get out of the cubicle and off the X-Box 360 or PS2 and experience life and real people of all kinds.
  5. Understand news media in all of its various forms – know what is news and what is not; understand the continuing 24-second news cycle; understand deadlines and how newsrooms around the world work.  Know how journalists think, work, act, write.  Be able to speak like a reporter – know what a cop-shop is, and how to use B-roll, for example.
  6. Have fun.
  7. Be good to yourself and to those you love.

7+1.  You don’t have to “like people.”

By David L. Shank, President/CEO

A Good Public Relations Person Pt. 2

As promised, here is round two of what makes a great public relations person. If you had the chance to attend the PRSA Hoosier Chapter luncheon meeting yesterday you would have heard the College of Fellows share their thoughts on this. (Check out Twitter #PRSAHoosier for the live tweets from the event). What do you think makes a great PR person?

  1. Understand the culture around us – what’s significance of the Kardashians?  What does “The Hunger Games” say to the 18-30 year old segment?  Why was “The Avengers in 3-D” a box office blockbuster? What does “American Idol” mean to the American desire to see quality talent and earned success?  Why are the “reality” shows such as “Auction Kings”, “Deadliest Catch” and “Dirty Jobs” so popular and with whom? What do bloggers, Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest mean to our society?
  2. Be curious – why did he/she say that?  Is that really the only solution?  How does that work?  Why did that group respond that way? How can I structure my program to get a different result?
  3. Don’t be afraid to ask intelligent and meaningful questions – anywhere.
  4. Be flexible, but organized.
  5. Be able to do a dozen things at the same time and do them well – this business does not allow linear thinking and delivery.
  6. Understand technology and its application, but you don’t necessarily have to be a technogeek.  Know how the Internet is useful and a detriment; understand blogs; Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, Vimeo, Ning; web pages, videostreaming, Skype interviews, etc. IMHO: social media IS NOT the answer to everything!
  7. Be proactive and optimistic – don’t adhere to “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it” but rather “if it’s not broken, improve it.”

By David L. Shank, President/CEO

What Makes a Good Public Relations Person

Not just anyone is cut out to be a good public relations person. David Shank has a pretty idea of what works and what doesn’t. Here is part one of a three part series on what really makes a good public relations person. Enjoy!

  1. Integrity and ethical grounding – know what’s right and what to do if you’re asked to do something else.
  2. READ – anything and everything you can get your hands on. Read real books, magazines and newspapers.  Read beyond your own present interests.  Go to the library and grab a book randomly off the shelves and finish it.
  3. Have the ability to think through difficult issues and to be able to see around the corner at what may be coming at you; and see forward weeks and months and years at what may be expected in the future.
  4. Understand how people think and respond to the culture and world around them.
  5. Be versed in numerous disciplines – psychology, sociology, history, government, current affairs, art, science, BUSINESS!
  6. Be a GOOD WRITER – who is easily understood, can comprehend difficult topics and simplify them to the level that Aunt Norma at the Beauty Shop can understand it.  On the other hand you must be able to write at more sophisticated levels for white papers, speeches, articles, presentations, etc.
  7. Be able to write in numerous formats and to switch gears instantly.  How you write a Tweet, isn’t the same as writing an op-ed for the New York Times; writing a blog isn’t the same as writing a technical article for a business magazine.

By David L. Shank, President/CEO

Summer 2012 Intern: Noelle Pickler

Our Summer 2012 intern, Noelle Pickler, of Ball State University.

If you’ve ever applied for a public relations internship before, you know the drill: insanely early deadlines, late nights at Kinko’s and stress induced hair loss by the second month of your search.

Public relations students persevere because a) perseverance is laced in the DNA of any great PR professional and b) good luck finding a job if you haven’t had at least one internship.

I, too, was one of the PR students camping outside of the university printing department and pulling out my first gray hairs before I landed an internship at Shank Public Relations Counselors, Inc.

Take my word for it, finally receiving and accepting an internship offer is well worth the hard work. Nothing beats it, except maybe the free bagels and the bragging rights you garner from being given your own office.

I’m no internship expert, but with a clear, semi-stress free mind I can look back at my long search with perspective, both the things I did right and the ones I did not. Allow me to elaborate:

1. Make sure your writing samples are strong: Before I chose public relations as my area of study, I fancied myself as something of a reporter. Writing has always been something I enjoy doing, and luckily I’m decent at it. When it came time to put my portfolio together I included tons of writing samples, bordering on too many, but I knew they were strong. Writing is a major part of what an intern is responsible for, so don’t neglect to show your strengths in your portfolio. Even a short news release written for class can boost your portfolio, because if it’s good it’s good, right?

2. Don’t be afraid to be innovative: You’ll hear a lot of opinions when it comes to designing your resume, portfolio, branding yourself, etc. It’s hard to say what is correct when the experts can’t even pick one way to do things, so don’t forget that your opinion matters. You and I may not be experts yet, but I knew how I wanted to present myself to potential employers. I designed my resume to be unique, representative of me and memorable. With some agencies, it might have been too far from status quo, but it obviously worked out for me in the end. Be confident in who you are, because someone will appreciate it.

3. Don’t settle for a position beneath you: That’s right; it’s my opinion that there are some positions beneath even an intern on the public relations food chain. You know, the internships where you spend more time fetching coffee and shredding papers than anything else? It’s true that internships may not always be glamorous, but your time is still valuable. Chances are you’re good at what you do, and the right internship will respect your strengths, helping you hone them as you go. An internship is one of the best educations you’ll receive and learning how to make double sided copies is, let’s face it, elementary.

I can say with confidence I’ll leave Shank Public Relations Counselors having learned immensely and enjoyed thoroughly. I’ve already been given two large writing assignments, had the opportunity to attend an event for one of our larger clients and I definitely can’t complain about my mentors here. I’m so glad I waited for this opportunity, plus did I mention the bagels?

By Noelle Pickler, Intern

Same Game, New Rules, New Tools

The word public in public relations is finally, well…public!

According to David Meerman Scott, author of, The New Rules of Marketing & PR, the thanks go out to the Internet. In his book Scott states, “After years of almost exclusive focus on media […] blogs, online video, news release, and other forms of Web content let organizations communicate directly with buys,” (Page 11).

That my blog reading friends, requires a new rule of public relations. Public relations was once a profession that relied heavily (and almost exclusively) on the media to tell their story.

Hence the old rule: Buyers only heard about your company if the media wrote about it.

Now, we shall introduce the new rule: You can talk to your customers yourself.

Scott claims in his book that “if you do a good job telling your story directly, the media will find out. And then they will write about you!” (Page 10).

Despite the fact public relations pros are all really excited about the new rules, it is important to consider keeping the old rules on radar. I consider today a transition period in which there is a wide range of professionals. Some professionals would still prefer receiving a news release via email while other social media friendly would prefer you pitch a story via Twitter. While some day the public relations profession may completely throw out the old rules, for now, it seems in our best interest to be aware of both sets of rules. The key is to KNOW who you are talking to and their preference and niche.

So for now…go talk to your publics!

By Julie Stutzman, Account Associate