bridgebuzz blog

An Open Letter to PR and MarCom Interns

Posted on Fri, Dec 12, 2014

After a semester as an intern at Bridge Global Strategies, I’ve learned a few tips I’d like to share with those who intend to be PR and MarCom interns.  I am leaving here feeling confident in myself, but it definitely didn’t start out that way.

Because of my lack of experience, I doubted my ability to succeed.  While it seems obvious now that I was never expected to be perfect, I was hard on myself, and stood in my own way of learning and growing.  Now, as my third internship in PR comes to an end, I’ve realized that it just doesn’t make sense to feel bad about being inexperienced.  That’s the point of an internship, isn’t it? To make mistakes and gain experience, so that once we graduate from college and start our careers, we know what we’re doing.

So, as you’re getting ready to start your internship, here are the four most important things I’ve learned.

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Tags: Internships, Public Relations

Confidence Booster: Mentors' Clear Communications About My Worth

Posted on Tue, Nov 25, 2014

I read an article today in the Huffington Post, “Pay it Forward by Mentoring the Next Generation,” by a colleague, another PR agency owner. She wrote about being mentored by her mother, the importance of mentorship and the responsibility we all should take to be mentors ourselves.

It reminded me about how lucky I am to have had several mentors, both in college and when I was starting my career. The first was my college adviser. He challenged me to be a better thinker; spent time debating with me on world affairs, politics and life in general; and handed me some unusual opportunities, such as setting up an independent study for me to help a professor friend of his do primary research for her book. He took time to really listen to me and treated me with respect, which was a clear communications signal that I was actually worthy of respect.

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Tags: Internships

Pop Culture's Been Hard on Female PR Consultants

Posted on Fri, Aug 01, 2014

On July 18th, NY magazine published an article called “Why Do We Treat PR Like a Pink Ghetto?” It represents the most recent in a string of articles that comment on the demographics of the public relations industry. The author’s conclusion is that women in PR don’t have a positive image – she argues that they are seen as fluffy, non-intellectual and phony, based on numerous examples in pop culture.

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Tags: Internships, Public Relations, PR for Startups

Big Challenge in Cross-Border Public Relations: American Ignorance

Posted on Sun, Jan 05, 2014

My company, Bridge Global Strategies, requires every job applicant to take a written test. In addition to testing writing skills and knowledge of public relations, for the past six or seven years we have tested general knowledge of history, art, culture and world affairs.  Dear readers, I hate to tell you how abysmal the average results are. The test we give provides a list of famous people around the world, both living and dead, and asks the applicant to explain who they are.  Considering that every applicant we interview is a college graduate and some have graduate degrees, it’s shocking to me, even after giving this test for more than six years, to see how few can identify the names of sitting Supreme Court justices, even recently appointed ones that have been in the news a lot; or the names of well-known artists, writers and politicians such as Georgia O’Keefe, Elie Wiesel or Angela Merkel.  (We don’t ask, “Who is the chancellor of Germany?” We provide Angela Merkel’s name and ask who she is.)

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Tags: International PR, Internships, Public Relations

Many PR Firms Focus on PR Ethics But Then Hire Unethically

Posted on Mon, Aug 05, 2013

Not paying interns is a common practice in the media and communications industries. Needless to say, it takes unfair advantage of interns. Shamefully, it’s not at all unusual for PR and other communications industry companies to bill clients for interns’ time while not paying the interns anything at all for their work. Recently the media has been filled with news stories about interns rising up and suing companies that provided them with internships but didn’t pay them.

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Tags: Internships, Reputation Management, Communications Strategy

Unconventional Ways to Get PR Work Experience

Posted on Fri, Mar 01, 2013

A few weeks ago, while going over applications for our summer internship program, I wrote a post with tips for landing an internship in PR. Shortly after it went live, I got a call from veteran journalist Jack O’Dwyer, who’s covered the PR industry for over 40 years. He said that while he enjoyed my post, the market for internships at traditional PR firms is so competitive, students and recent grads may need to think outside the box to gain real world experience. He suggested that they go door to door to local businesses and offer their services for little or no compensation. “Do anything they need including sweeping the floor and washing the windows. Do what the regular employees won’t. Bring them news of new products or what the competition is doing. Show them how to create a website if they don’t have one,” he said.

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Tags: Internships, Public Relations

Tips for Landing Internships with PR Firms

Posted on Wed, Feb 06, 2013

When I was an undergrad, I started applying for internships without a very clear objective. This approach yielded absolutely no results. Through much trial and error, I managed to land two. Now, sitting on the other side, poring over applications for our summer internship program, it’s quite clear what works and what doesn’t, and why I got the two that I did. Here are some tips for landing an internship in PR:
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Tags: Internships, Public Relations

For Some, Earning Experience Isn't Enough

Posted on Fri, Aug 17, 2012

Bridge Global Strategies had the pleasure of working with summer intern Jennifer Mulligan for the past three months, and we're very sorry to see her go - she starts her senior year at the University of Michigan in a few days. Today, her last day, she wrote a blog post about a topic that's hotly debated in the PR industry: unpaid internships.  According to a May 5th article in the New York Times, unpaid internships have been standard for a long time in the film and non-profit worlds, but with high unemployment rates, they're now are very common in public relations, marketing and advertising, fashion, publishing, at art galleries and talent agencies and even at some law firms. Here's what our own intern thinks about the subject.

Former Fox Media Group interns Alex Footman and Eric Glatt filed a lawsuit against their former employer in October 2011 for violating employee compensation laws; they alleged their internships failed to meet The United States Department of Labor requirements for unpaid internships. While unpaid internships are a common practice, this lawsuit
has opened up for debate whether or not this practice is ethical. What about the students who cannot afford to accept unpaid internships because they’re already struggling to pay tuition, or their parents cannot support them financially? Should companies only offer paid internships, or can unpaid internships be beneficial?

Any experience is better than no experience. That is what employers and career counselors have pushed at us college students for years. They tell us completing unpaid internships that give us relevant work experience will help us find full-time positions better than baby-sitting or bussing tables. They tell us this as we watch our student loans grow ominously (but that’s an issue for another time). Some tell us having a well-known company on our resume is better than a smaller one, but these recognizable companies tend neither to pay nor teach as well. We also don’t think we can negotiate a salary with these competitive positions. With the tough economy and more college graduates, we are willing to do anything to set ourselves up for success.

For the record, my internship here is paid; however, I have completed previous unpaid internships. I took previous positions for many of the reasons outlined above, and I am lucky to say that I learned a great deal and rarely did menial work. My paid internship, however, is the best of both worlds for me. Not only am I paid (not a lot, but it’s better than nothing); I am able to apply the concepts I learned from school into the workforce and receive training on PR procedures and programs that I can take with me elsewhere. I feel more a part of a team than a burden as a paid intern. Interning at this small firm has not given my resume name-recognition, but my portfolio has certainly benefitted. My hands are in everything at the firm including drafting press releases, participating in client meetings, pitching media, social media management, creating media lists and more. Plus, I work directly with the CEO daily. I would not have half of these experiences at a larger firm.

 With all this said, I do believe that some experience is better than none. If you can get a paid internship, great! But don’t turn down an unpaid internship if it will benefit you.

Here's a checklist of things to consider before compensation when choosing an internship:

    • Is the position in your intended field?
    • What skills will you develop?
    • What will your responsibilities include?
    • How often will you have contact with your supervisor and more senior managers?
    • Will this lead to a job offer or career?
    • Will you gain connections or mentors from this opportunity?
    • How does the size of the firm impact your resume?
    • Is it practical for you to commute to this firm?
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Tags: Internships, Public Relations, PR Ethics

Are PR and Marketing Communications a Good Career Choice ?

Posted on Wed, Oct 12, 2011

Ten or 15 years ago, my answer would have been, no, go into marketing or management consulting. But I feel much better about the industry's future these days.

Ten or 15 years ago, ad agencies were very much in ascendance and they had pocketbook power (i.e., the overwhelming majority of most companies' marketing and communications budgets). PR and marketing communications, then considered the poor cousins of advertising, were dominated not only by the ad industry, but by men at the highest levels of the profession. At the lower levels, PR was considered “a “velvet ghetto” overrun by women. That might explain why PR salaries were (and still are) pathetic compared to advertising.

For many years, the public image of public relations has been negative. The predominant (and inaccurate, unfair) stereotype of a PR practitioner has been someone who engages in twisting the truth (described by the pejorative terms “flaks” and “spin”).

Today, however, ad agencies are often bypassed by clients who see the costs as out of proportion to the benefits, and who look to PR as not only more cost-efficient, but also as generally more effective in disseminating most corporate and product messages. Salaries are still not great, but there’s no salary growth anywhere right now (according to the New York Times, salaries have been dropping across theU.S.).  I don’t know the statistics, but it seems that young men are entering the profession in greater numbers, and (speaking cynically) that should help bring about better salaries for everyone in the industry.

What’s brought about these changes is the advent of online social interaction, which has provided a means for consumers to influence each other more than they are influenced by ad messages or even media coverage. PR has always been about two-way communication; listening to people and interpreting their attitudes in order to better position an organization and communicate its messages.  These skills are of paramount importance in a social media context. With new skills to master and novel online tools to harness, the PR profession has been changing rapidly. It’s an exciting time for PR, which has taken on much greater importance in this environment, a fact that marketing professionals and the C-suite have acknowledged.

PR has come into its own, and it’s attracting new college graduates in large numbers. I asked our fall semester intern, a senior communications major at CityCollege, why she chose PR. Here’s her response.

By: Lucy Siegel
Bridge Global Strategies

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Why PR? A College Student's Perspective

When I was young I never aspired to be a public relations professional. What I had in mind was a career as a lawyer, doctor or teacher, the kinds of professions that my parents imagined for me! So how and why did I get into public relations?

To start with, I never knew this profession existed until I was in high school. At the time, I aspired to be a top-of-the-line reporter covering the latest news. However, the more I learned about journalism the more I realized it was a very intense and competitive field.  While there’s nothing wrong with competition, I didn’t like the idea of competing with my co-workers to have my story chosen for publication over theirs.

In addition, my perception was that journalism is all about relaying cold, hard facts.  I knew that journalists are not allowed to be subjective. In PR, however, I sensed that I could allow my creative juices to flow. PR allowed me to think outside the box, voice my ideas and help turn those ideas into reality.

One of the things I look for in my career is versatility, and PR fits the bill. The work is ever-changing, and so is the field of public relations. I come into work knowing that each day will be different. I’m able to stay connected with the world through social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. I can also plan events, meet new people and network all at the same time. There’s so much variety that I know I won’t be bored.

Don’t get me wrong – PR is not all “glitz and glam.”  It’s necessary to put in time and effort and be really dedicated in order to succeed. Client needs have to be met accurately and efficiently. It takes a strong  work ethic and an outgoing personality to make it, and I feel I have both. I’ve chosen this field because I expect PR to be a fulfilling, meaningful and challenging career.  That’s why I’m here!

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Tags: Marketing Communications, Internships, Public Relations

Marketing to Millennials: Takes One to Know One

Posted on Fri, Jul 22, 2011

Marketing to the 18-25 age bracket, often called the Millennials or Gen-Y, can be a tricky task. Money can often be a touchy subject for broke college kids who live on Ramen noodles when they’ve used up the monthly balance in their campus meal plans. On the other hand, for the first time in their lives, they have free use of a debit card. Regardless, if a product or a service is represented in just the right manner, this age group definitely has the potential to bite the bait.

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Tags: Internships, Public Relations

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