Stephanie Bateman is an account executive at Communicado in Melbourne working across a range of clients in the entertainment, tech and lifestyle space, in traditional PR as well as digital content and community management. She loves the dynamic nature of life in an agency, as well as the group of thoroughly talented people she goes to work with every day.
Stephanie graduated Victoria University in 2011 with a Bachelor of Communications (Public Relations), and spent the last 18 months of her studies interning in the corporate affairs department at Citipower & Powercor as a media relations assistant, and considers this the most valuable experience she had at university. Stephanie was inspired to get chase a career in PR by her god father who worked in the industry, and Stephen Fry’s character in ‘Absolute Power’.
It’s no secret that PR is a tough industry to crack, but it’s far from impossible. The questions I’m most frequently asked by students and recent graduates always relates to what it’s like once you’ve landed that first job. These are my top five tips on how to navigate the experience when you’re starting out.
1. Put your hand up
Regardless of whether you’re working in an agency or in house, no doubt you’re part of an organisation that has plenty going on. So when the opportunity to be involved in a new project or a new client looks like it might be on the table – go for it. It’s easy to second guess yourself and say ‘I’m not ready for that’ or ‘that isn’t in my skill set’. But you know what? You’ll probably never feel ‘ready’ and it will never be in your skill set unless you take the opportunity to learn. The best learning experience is in the doing, not the watching.
2. Expect to pay your dues (probably forever)
Generally speaking, coffee making and photocopying ends when your internship does, but you will still spend a fair amount of time building media lists, filing, researching, and reporting. In PR (especially in the world of agency) you will find a refreshing quality – no one is really ever ‘above’ a task. Whether you’re an Account Director with ten years under your belt, or 2 weeks into your career, if it has to be done, do it. In my short career I’ve driven a truck, bought jeans and hair product for a celebrity, and delivered paint and furniture to photo shoots. Did I ever think that would be in my job description? No. But I quickly learned my job description reads: whatever it takes.
3. Ask for advice
Your first job is no less of a learning experience than your time at university was, and your colleagues can be amazing teachers. Remember that everyone you work for was once sitting where you are, and they almost always want to help you. Ask to have your writing critiqued; ask if you can run your pitch by them before you send it to a journalist (or your boss).
4. Take criticism
But don’t take it personally. Because you’re going to get it whether you want it or not, so you may as well take it with the best attitude you can. It can be tough not to take it to heart, and we all do it sometimes, but once you recognise that it will serve to make you a better writer, speaker, or improve your pitches you’ll start asking for it.
5. Be Yourself
PR people are a certain type. We like to talk, we’re not shy, and we’re often described as ‘big personalities’. There’s a reason you chose this career. It’s probably because you couldn’t not choose it. Maybe it chose you. Being a wallflower will get you exactly nowhere in this industry. You’ll be surprised how what you’re passionate about personally can help you out in your career. Never underestimate the value of knowing stuff that no one else knows. You never know when some random geeky knowledge you’re hanging onto could be the missing part of a new business pitch.
PR is a demanding and sometimes all-consuming job. It’s a job you do for love not money (sorry). But it is job that will reward your competitive streak, push you to constantly improve and give you experiences you can’t have doing anything else. And why would you want to?
You can follow Stephanie on Twitter.
Wow. Has this girl got an impressive PR internship CV or what?
Emma Bedson, 20, currently studying a Bachelor of Communications (Public Relations) at RMIT, graduating in October this year.
Top boss at a consumer PR agency. Or perhaps Founder/Director of my own PR agency. The possibilities are endless…
You’ve had a busy interning life over the past year, tell us about your internships
Two Birds Talking
My first internship was at Two Birds Talking. I was the typical PR intern -running coffees, media kit packing, phone handling, booking and receiving couriers, editorial monitoring, database updates and so on. I assisted on a couple of events for Kookai and Nike. Whilst I liaised between their Melbourne and Sydney office during this internship, I had a chance to work at Two Birds Talking’s Sydney office as a fill-in PR co-ordinator. I hit the ground running at that time working directly on Kookai and Lovisa. If there is anything that I got from Two Birds Talking, it was MEDIA IS KING.
One Green Bean
Throughout the first half of 2012, I confirmed an internship with One Green Bean. I saved up for six months to pay for accommodation, flights and living expenses to intern full time with One Green Bean. During this time I prepared press kits and coverage reports, assisted with the production of events and performed admin and ad hoc office duties. I worked on a number of clients such as IKEA, Dunlop Volleys, Virgin Mobile and CBA. One Green Bean definitely showed me the difference between Melbourne and Sydney based PR.
I interned with Undertow Media briefly before going to Sydney last year. On my return, I came back as a contractor to assist their account co-ordinator on Mt Hotham, Kathmandu, Tupperware and Domaine Chandon. It was at Undertow Media where I learnt what the role of a junior PR professional is really like. I pitched to media on a daily basis, refined my writing skills, contributed to campaigns, proposals, brainstorms and meetings. I was also responsible for account administration & reporting, which inspired me to write my third year undergraduate thesis on PR measurement and evaluation.
This has been my most recently internship. Having vast industry experience prior to Mango, the team delegated tasks to me not usually given to interns. I worked across a number consumer accounts creating, pitching and following up media materials. I secured multiple pieces of coverage both in print and online. I spent an extra week at Mango working with their social media team to create content and see how social media runs within a PR agency.
What was it about working at a Sydney based PR company that attracted you?
I researched a lot of agencies in line with the area of PR I’m interested in. Most of them are based in Sydney so I emailed a couple of dream agencies for an internship placement. I have previously lived in Sydney and have friends who live up there so making the temporary move up there was more exciting and thrilling than daunting. I loved the entire experience and would do it again in a heartbeat. Moving up to Sydney permanently after I graduate is high on my to-do list.
How did you juggle university course work and paid work while interning?
It’s challenging but it can be done. I wrote a lot of to-do lists and time management was crucial. I will admit there were more than a few all-nighters to get the assignments done but I managed to juggle it all. In fact, I actually prefer the adrenaline rush. It makes you more accountable to your tasks and there is no room procrastination.
What was your most valuable internship experience so far and why?
My time at Undertow Media was the most valuable experience, especially when I was contracted to assist one of their juniors.
I immediately felt part of the team the minute I stepped into the office. I gained a strong sense of responsibility and accountability for everything that was thrown at me. My time management skills were definitely tested (a crucial skill to master so I advise to get on top of it ASAP). Nonetheless, I completed tasks with a passion because I wanted to prove to myself and my colleagues I could handle agency life.
Undertow Media taught me so much about the industry and how to operate in PR. I recommend Undertow Media to anyone interested in a PR internship, I would safely say they have one of the best internship programs around.
Tell us about your favourite client pitch you got to work on and what you learnt from it
McDonald’s has been one of my favourite accounts to work on. I really got to own a project where I wrote media material, pitched to journalists and secured multiple pieces of coverage. I was able to learn how to develop relationships with journalists (a true love-hate relationship) and refine my writing skills. It was so rewarding seeing coverage and knowing you had some input in making that happen.
What’s next for you?
I don’t have any internships confirmed for the near future but you never know what’s around the corner. Right now I’m focusing on completing my thesis and graduating but I’m sure I’ll slip in a few more placements before graduating.
Emma shares her advice for other aspiring PR pros;
There have been so many quotes to get me through my interning ‘journey’. My mum told me this quote just before cold calling an agency and it has resonated with me ever since:
“Sometimes all you need is 20 seconds of insane courage and I promise you something great will come of it.” – We Bought A Zoo
For anything you want to achieve, it’s always going to be ‘no’ until you ask. No matter how whimsical your ambitions may be, throw yourself into the deep end and you never know what may come out of it.
Jack Lucas 22, is an aspiring PR professional who has recently moved from regional Queensland to Melbourne to pursue his dream job of working in the sports industry. Jack is currently on the job hunt and MIL wishes him all the best in his job search.
My Interning Life by Jack Lucas
I’m Jack Lucas, and I graduated from Griffith University on the Gold Coast with a Bachelor of Communications in 2012. During my final year I undertook an internship with the iSelect Gold Coast Titans (NRL) in second semester. It certainly made my last semester a busy one but very rewarding at the same time.
We had a choice of where to do a Public Relations internship through a list Griffith provided or source our own independently, at the time I didn’t even know if their would be a PR related position at the Titans or if they took on any interns at all so I shot through a quick email to Titans reception and was put in touch with Organisational Development Manager Paul Crane.
I had an interview with Paul and Media Manager Adam Gardini who I’d be working with during my internship. The interview was a pretty casual meeting and it certainly helped that I’m a mad rugby league fan, it’s important to put across your personality alongside your knowledge and skills, I put myself out there and was given the spot over another applicant because both Paul and Adam thought I’d be able to establish a better back and forth rapport with the players than him.
I went in to Titans HQ two or three days a week during my internship and my duties were whatever Adam needed me to do. His phone is ringing non stop so there was a fair bit to do however we quickly established a weekly routine of core jobs to be done by me. They included inviting media to team announcement press conferences, releasing team lists online through the official website and social media channels, media releases and media calls for “captains runs” and promotional events, a team history story against upcoming opponents and any story you could put together from quotes after press conferences, I’ve put a couple of links at the bottom for examples. Basically everything I had previously studied in PR was put into a practical situation.
In real world situations you’ll learn things you can rarely learn in a lecture hall. We had a few dramas to deal with including player’s behavior, a CEO changeover, media reporting financial difficulties and inaugural recruit and captain Scotty Prince defecting to another club. I got a valuable experience in how to handle the media in situations like these, I remember a journalist giving a poor write up on a new recruit for 2013, the story painted him in a pretty poor light and rubbed the Titans the wrong way. It’s difficult because on the Gold Coast we were competing with two other major sporting codes in the A-League and the AFL so you want as much coverage as possible but obviously you want positive coverage. So we still invited the particular journalist to the next media call but restricted photo opportunities for the publication, it was a little trick I’ll definitely remember in future employment.
I was pretty lucky in my internship, I basically got a taste of my dream job in the industry I want to further my career in. If I was to give any advice to first time interns, it would be don’t be afraid to ask for an opportunity, the worst someone can tell you is no. I’ve recently relocated to Melbourne to find full time employment in the sports field and have found the going tough but it hasn’t deterred me from approaching businesses and organisations, if you’re afraid or embarrassed of rejection, you’ll really limit your opportunities. The pay off is definitely worth it to see your name next on a published piece.
Today’s featured intern is Sophie Shaw.
Sophie is an aspiring sports presenter and has been networking in the industry since she was 15 years old. She has just finished a summer internship at Cricket Australia and has also interned at Melbourne metro newspaper, The Herald Sun and CrocMedia.
Sophie Shaw, 22, studying a Bachelor of Sports Journalism at Latrobe University. Graduating mid 2014.
TV sports reporter/presenter. Always remember watching Christi Malthouse as a boundary rider for the AFL and that’s what kicked off my desire to be a sports journalist on television.
You’ve just finished a summer internship at Cricket Australia – tell us about it.
Prior to commencing my work with Cricket Australia I had to do some serious homework. I really had no idea about cricket other than some basic rules so that was my first challenge: preparing. I printed off profiles off all the current Australian contracted cricketers and studied their history and form. I then did the same with the opposing Test teams (West Indies & Sri Lanka).
It was throughout my time at CA that I developing an in-depth knowledge of the Sheffield Shield & Big Bash competitions along with the women’s teams.
My daily jobs would begin with monitoring all of CA’s social media sites, updating these social pages and the official CA website with news and relevant content, providing live scores and updates throughout Test matches, Sheffield Shield, Big Bash, Ryobi Cup and Women’s World Cup competitions, writing articles and creating photo galleries for website, and assisting with events/marketing/PR.
I worked with camera crews on match days to film segments for CATV (CA youtube channel) and I also had to work with a team to develop and implement effective social media strategies and identify opportunities for growth. I also learnt to use photo and video editing tools as well as having complete control over the CA website. Everything that had to be added or changed on the website had to go through me.
Tell us about your previous internship experiences at CrocMedia and the Herald Sun.
My roles at CrocMedia and in the AFL department at the Herald Sun were actually quite similar. I was with CrocMedia for one day a week for most of the 2012 AFL season and I spent four weeks full-time working with the Herald Sun in February 2012.
At both of these internships I was sent out to AFL press conferences. For CrocMedia, I had to record the interviews and then edit what I believed to be the best parts of the presser for distribution. At the Herald Sun, I was sent to the pressers to find a story. At the start I found myself getting pushed to the back of the back and being too nervous to open my mouth but the end I was claiming my position up the front and demanding some answers. It would make the story that I would have to file within 20 minutes much easier to write when I knew what I was looking for.
At my time with the Herald Sun, I was also given the opportunity to attend AFL matches with high profile journalists and sit in the press box where I would watch how they went about planning and then writing their match reviews. Their stories would need to be filed within minute of the game finishing so it was very interesting to see how they do it. I once spent a night in at the MCG in the press box with Emma Quayle (from The Age) where I was her shadow for the night. The match was going one way right up until the last quarter, and it was amazing to see how Emma so calmly started all over again.
You’ve interned with some big media organisations – take us through your application process.
What I have found is that each opportunity I have been given has always led me to another, so I’m lucky that I started when I was 15 years old. You’ve got to be so determined and willing to put yourself out there. It is so hard to make it in this industry and nothing is going to come easily so I’ve never ever been afraid to ask for help. Although you may feel like you’re ‘annoying’ by continually ringing or emailing people but you’d be surprised how many people or organisations admire your desire for hard work.
I will always begin internship applications with an email, and then a follow up phone call if I haven’t heard back from them. I will always send the email with my updated media CV attached and a cover letter in the same document. My cover letter explains what I am currently doing at uni and what my career goals are. In the actual body of the email, I write a very brief description of what I do and what I’m after and I always explain that I’d be happy to have even one day of work experience if given the opportunity. Then I inform them that my CV is attached and the rest is up to them.
What is the most important thing that you learnt while interning that you didn’t learn from the classroom?
I think my internships and placements have really given me the confidence required to work in the media field. Absolutely nothing is better that on the job experience. I was never taught at uni how to hold my head high, walk into an AFL club with 15 male journalists and interupt the likes of Mark Robinson & Julian de Stoop to make sure Chris Judd answered my question in a press conference. Or how to tactically pick your spot and hold strong as other journalists try to push their way to the front.
My first press conference was outside North Melbourne Football Club and as head coach Brad Scott walked out to get in position, I casually headed towards him with the other journo’s around me. It wasn’t until I was literally blocked out by people standing directly infront of me, or having microphones held infront of my face so I could no longer see anything, that I realised I need to claim by spot in order to be good at these. You’re not going to be seen or heard standing at the back of the pack.
The pressure of deadlines is also something you learn that no book or teacher can. When you need to ‘break’ news and you’re in a situation where there may be up to five to 10 other news outlets there wanting to do the same you have to be accurate and quick.
And lastly, networking. No one can teach you how important networking within the media acutally is. Branching out, meeting people, introducing yourself and getting your name out there is something you have to do.
What’s next for you?
I’ve been continually dedicating my time to interning since a young age so honestly I’m taking my foot off the pedal for the time being after my four months at Cricket Australia over summer and going into my final year of uni. I’m lucky that I have built my resume to what it is today so I’m happy with it for now. In saying that, I have volunteered to write casually for the VFL when needed and am currently looking into the Wallabies v Lions Tour in June this year.
I’d love to be able to gain some on camera experience somewhere enabling me to create a showreel for future job opportunities. This type of work is extremely hard to find but I’m determined to do so.
Sophie shares her advice
I think I’ve mentioned it 10 times already but you have to network. Don’t be afraid to contact people or ask for help. Showing you have the passion and dedication is the best trait you can have to begin with and then doing something to make sure they remember you.
I always say what Emma Quayle told me when I asked her this exact question, “know your stuff.”
There would be nothing worse than being given the opportunity to intern and then having no idea about the sport or what is going on. Research and be prepared to learn and don’t think you’re already an expert. You might love footy and have followed it since you were four years old but be prepared to learn to accept criticism.
You can follow Sophie on Twitter.
My Interning Life Event
Monday 15th April 2013
The Honey Bar 345 Clarendon St, South Melbourne.
You can catch two trams directly to the venue of the My Interning Life event. Trams no.1 and no.112 both stop directly outside The Honey Bar on the corner of Clarendon & Park streets. You can catch the 112 tram from Spencer St and the 1 tram from Melbourne Central or Flinders St. After 6pm there is also street parking and across from bar on Park St there is a small carpark available.
Hope to see you there!
Hi everyone! The last two weeks have been super busy at my internship. We did Sexpo Melbourne and launched Beyond Hibiscus Infused Coconut Water.
I got to work in the Bombshell’s Babes booth with Aimme and help the girls with anything they needed. At the Beyond launch we had Lindy Klim, Lola Berry, Georgia Sinclair, Rhys Uhlich, Luke Jones, Perrick Boyer, Emma Clapham, James Purcell and many more fabulous Melbourne people in attendance.
All I can say is that both events were worlds apart and were good learning experiences. In the next few weeks I’ll be featuring interns from sports organisations and radio. Stay tuned!
Here are some photos from Sexpo and the Beyond Launch.
fellow Milk PR – Aimme Briggs
Miss Kiddle, Miss Bombshell & Miss Langmaid
Lola Berry, Georgia Sinclair