The Freshman 5: Tips for Interns

26 09 2012

(Post by Adriana Van Duyn, APR, Account Supervisor)

Just when you thought you would never have to be a freshman again, you start an internship. Here you are, back at square one, feeling a little overwhelmed, but really excited. This is a great opportunity with even greater potential: a job offer.

For some, this will be your first time working in a professional environment. For most, it will be your first practical exposure to your chosen profession.  Either way, it can be pretty intimidating on that first day. To help take some of the pressure off, below are some tips to help interns soar through their first (or second or third) internship. We hope they help!

Learn the Company Culture – while this may take some time, learning a company’s culture will help you assimilate more effectively. Pay attention to how people communicate and interact. This not only exposes you to some great – and maybe less than great – examples, it will help you more easily integrate into your new role. Once you have a sense of the corporate culture, respect the rules and the chain of command … it’s there for a reason.

Act (and Look) the Part – first and foremost, redo your voicemail message. “Hey, this is Katie! Leave a message and I’ll holla back at ‘cha” is no longer appropriate. Neither is swearing, talking negatively about people or being late (even if it’s only 5 minutes). This all reflects negatively on you and kills your “new hire” potential. Additionally, invest in some work appropriate attire. Proceed cautiously on “casual days.” If you’re unsure, overdress the first day and scope out what the rest of the office is wearing. It’s worth it!

Write Right THX … C U L8TR!” Is not an appropriate response to the 3 p.m. meeting request you just received. So much of what we do as PR professionals involves writing, so write correctly. Address your emails appropriately, always include a subject line and proof read everything (twice). Once you have a better sense of the corporate culture, you can adjust accordingly.

Be Yourself! – and be the very best you. You were hired for your capabilities, background and fit to the organization. So, be confident, upbeat and positive. At this stage in your career, attitude is everything. Companies can teach you the needed skills for the job, but they can’t fix a negative attitude or lazy work ethic.

Take Advantage – don’t be afraid to ask questions! Internships are a great way to get hands-on practical experience while building your portfolio and, hopefully, having some fun along the way. Sure, there will be some less-than-engaging tasks, but take every opportunity to make yourself shine. Ask questions: why is this done that way? What is the next step for this project? What is the ultimate goal? Take notes and soon you’ll have an arsenal of information and experience.

For some additional tips on what NOT to do as an intern, check out our “You Might Need a New Intern When …” post.

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Does Your PR Have (AP) Style?

19 09 2012

(Guest post by Adriana Van Duyn, APR, Account Supervisor)

The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law. AP Stylebook. The Journalist’s Bible.

As PR practitioners, we should (at the very least) be aware of its purpose. The AP Stylebook proclaims itself “a must-have reference for writers, editors, students and professionals. It provides fundamental guidelines for spelling, language, punctuation, usage and journalistic style.”

But what does that mean for PR folks?

Our job is to provide journalists with applicable content in hopes of gaining exposure for our clients. This content needs to be relevant and newsworthy, and it helps if it’s written in the format that journalists use.

In short, we write in AP Style to help journalists do their job.

While few PR pros plan to memorize all 494 pages, one should know the most common AP Style rules. Here’s a list of our most used AP Style entries:

  •  State Names & Abbreviations – spell out the names of the 50 U.S. states when they stand alone, although the names of eight states are never abbreviated: Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Texas and Utah; states are not abbreviated using the U.S. postal code (MI is Mich.), so always check to ensure you’re abbreviating correctly.
  • Numerals – use figures for percentages, dimensions, money, ages, 10 and above, dates and time; spell out a numeral at the beginning of a sentence, except if the numeral identifies a calendar year, as well as in casual uses.
  • Academic Degrees – avoid abbreviations; use an apostrophe in bachelor’s or master’s degree, but there is no possessive in Bachelor of Arts or Master of Science.
  • Titles (General) – lowercase and spell out titles when used in commas following a name or when used without a name; generally, confine capitalization to formal titles used directly before an individual’s name. These general rules may change with the type of title (military, for example), so double check just to be sure.
  • Hyphens – use to avoid ambiguity or to form a single idea from more than one word; when a compound modifier (two or more words that express a single concept) precedes a noun, use hyphens to link all the words in the compound, except the adverb very and all adverbs that end in –ly.
  • Commas – use commas to separate elements in a series, but do not put a comma before the conjunction in a simple series; this changes for a concluding conjunction      and complex series. 
  • More Than / Over – use “more than” with numerals; use “over” for spatial relationships. 
  • United States / U.S. – United States is a noun; U.S. is an adjective. 

And, remember: when it doubt, check it out … in the AP Stylebook. 

What AP Style error bugs you the most? Which one is the most difficult for you to remember? Let us know … we would love to hear your feedback!

For more AP Style information, check out the following:

And for a little fun, check out @FakeAPStylebook’s twitter feed at or its new spoof, Write More Good, at

50 Shades of Data: Media are Passionate about Numbers – Part II

11 09 2012

(Guest post by Jessica Killenberg Muzik, APR, VP – Account Services)

In part one of this blog (, we discussed what data can do for an organization. In part two, we’re sharing the six ways your company can utilize data for a big PR punch:

  1. Get the Word Out: Having data to share gives you a reason to send out a press release to announce your findings, where you can tie the results back to your company’s products and services. This not only helps to position you as an expert source in the public eye, it also helps demonstrate to your customers that you’re dedicated to going above and beyond to understand the challenges and perceptions of your industry.
  2. The Big Event: If the study is large and groundbreaking enough, it may warrant a press conference to announce the findings to the media and other interested parties, which creates an atmosphere of excitement and importance.
  3. Speak On: Your data can also be used over time as the basis of speeches given by executive spokespeople and used during panel discussions at trade shows and conferences. It might even be the key to getting your foot in the door at certain conferences or being a keynote speaker at events or awards programs. Conference planners are always looking for speakers with new and newsworthy content.
  4. Equip The Sales Team: Relevant, more detailed findings that you’ve share publicly can be used by your company sales teams during customer meetings, to illustrate why your products or services help them to address the needs of their customers. Nothing speaks as strongly as empirical data when trying to make your point – especially detailed data that has been cut to meet their company’s interests and customer demographics.
  5. Take it to the Newsroom: Overall findings can be posted on your company website for visitors and media to check out. You don’t want to give everything away – but using a few relevant points to create some facts, figures, graphs, infographics, videos, etc. can go a long way in catching someone’s eye and inviting deeper engagement.
  6. And Take it Social: Same thing goes for social media – facts, figures and announcements related to your study can be used to create blog content, shared on Twitter, Facebook and discussed in online forums.

The media love data and numbers. Having good numbers that you’ve culled from a research study to share with reporters during interviews can make your spokesperson a star in their eyes.

It may seem simple, but sometimes simple is best. Percentages, comparisons, dollar values, any numerical facts that lend a sense of magnitude and credibility … if you have ’em, share ’em.

50 Shades of Data: Media are Passionate About Numbers – Part I

5 09 2012

(Guest post by Jessica Killenberg Muzik, APR, VP – Account Services)

As part of a recent PR project, we received a news release that a client drafted for our review. After proofreading, we suggested they add some data to the release. They took our counsel and added in some numbers to give the release further context.

Upon distributing the release, we received an immediate inquiry from a business reporter at a key major daily newspaper. The reporter inquired specifically about the data, which paved the way for an interview the following day.

This is just one of many examples that underscores the importance of research – and the resulting data – to PR efforts. Simply put, media love numbers.

If your organization is not doing research, it should be. And if you’re already doing it, the results shouldn’t be used only for internal purposes. Sharing portions of data publicly can be beneficial in a number of ways.

Consider these four things that research can do for your organization:

  1. Position your company and its people as thought leaders and experts that dig deeper and have special insight into industry issues;
  2. Help your company better understand your customer – or if you’re in the B2B world, your customers’ end customer (the public), therefore making you a more knowledgeable supplier of products and services, and a better business partner;
  3. Uncover new trends and issues that can help not only you, but also your customers, to better position yourselves; and
  4. Demonstrate what kind of messaging is working and what isn’t.

And once you’ve conducted research – whether it’s research on a specific industry issue, a survey of public perceptions on a topic or a partnered study with a relevant association or university, etc. – top line findings can be publicized in a number of ways to help your company.

We’ll talk more about that in part two of this blog post.


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