Two-Way Street

PR, social media, events and incentives – Collaboration & communication ideas for demanding businesses from The Castle Group's Mark O'Toole

Posts Tagged ‘Monday Morning Intern’

Monday Morning Intern: advice to the future me

Posted by thecastlegroup on August 24, 2009

We asked our summer PR intern, Emily Grund, to write a weekly column talking about her internship experience at The Castle Group. This is Emily’s last post as she heads back to college. Thanks Emily for your great insights! Hopefully you’ll return to the blog with interesting comments and observations on future posts. 

Eight blog posts and three months later, my time at The Castle Group is coming to an end. It has been quite the interesting summer overall: record breaking bad weather in June, multiple celebrity deaths including Michael Jackson, Red Sox drama, and of course my broken foot.

My injury caused me to miss out on a lot of summer activities such as the beach and road trips to visit friends on weekends, but thankfully I did not miss out on my internship. During a time of difficult change and adjustment, having this internship has been the one consistent part of my life. I greatly appreciate the patience and support that has been shown to me here. Despite not being able to do all the tasks I once did (mail distributing, photocopying, office organizing), I was still able to focus on numerous projects that taught me a lot about being a PR professional.

Looking back on past blog posts, it is clear that I have had a well-rounded learning experience. From social media strategies and blogging, to adjusting to change and balancing responsibility, the lessons learned have been diverse and essential for my future. Many of my post topics might have been old news to PR professionals, but being able to reiterate what I have learned each week allowed everything to truly sink in, and hopefully shed some light from a different perspective.

Before I go, I’d like to share some advice to future interns whether they intern here or elsewhere.

Observe everything. I learned a lot just by listening to what was going on around me. Small interactions about a client can give you an insight of what’s going on and how it’s being done, even if you’re not part of that particular project. I also observed professional phone conversations, employee attitudes and office routines. I could have just done my assignments and blocked out everything else, but by keeping my eyes and ears open I got to know the company well and discovered useful skills and etiquette despite whether or not I had to directly utilize them.

Be efficient. It is common knowledge that as an intern you will have some tedious work. A lesson I learned early on was I could make it more challenging by finding the most efficient way to get it done even if there wasn’t a crucial deadline. Not only was I getting through the project quicker, I was discovering shortcuts in programs such as Excel that I can use at other jobs or even personally. While experimenting to find the best way to get projects completed successfully, I also learned lessons in problem solving and time management.

Absorb everything. If you get a project to research a client’s competitor, you could just do the search and make the list. Instead, I recommend actually reading the coverage. That way, you can learn about a competitor’s strategy by comparing it to the client’s and understand what the competition is really about. Making the most of each project and learning something useful from it will make the experience more valuable and more interesting. If you’re going through the motions, it will be just another list that you will forget about once you leave. When others say “make the most of your internship”, they mean it.  

Aside from what I did on my own to enhance my internship experience, I would have never had the great experience I did without all the fabulous people at The Castle Group. Even after a few short months here, I feel part of the team and I will be sad to go. Thanks to everyone here for all your help!

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Monday Morning Intern: the business of clients fuels the business of PR

Posted by thecastlegroup on August 19, 2009

While working at The Castle Group, not only have I learned how a PR firm functions, I have also learned how our clients do business. Learning about a wide range of businesses and industries is an interesting aspect of PR. One day you may be working on media lists for a national restaurant chain, and the next day you may be writing an award nomination for a lawyer (I know, I’ve done both!). In order to do such tasks for clients, you need to know the clients well. In my time here, I have researched and learned more than I ever expected.

Knowing the audience and who the client is targeting is a top priority. After all, the job is to relate to the public. As discussed in my last post, this is particularly important when pitching to publications and blogs. This sounds like common sense, but at my last internship (at a family magazine) I saw a lot of irrelevant press releases that were immediately deleted. Learning from that lesson, I came here knowing my research had to be thorough. In some cases that meant starting from scratch. For example, before Castle, I embarrassingly knew nothing about Certified Public Accountants. However, on behalf of a client, I quickly learned who a firm’s clients are and which publications covered them.  

Beyond pitching stories, it is important to know what a client’s audience is looking for. By reaching out and listening to what the public has to say, PR professionals can make suggestions to their clients to better meet the audience needs. Twitter and Facebook serve as alternative forms of communication to reach customers and to find useful information for clients.

Understanding the mission of a client is also crucial. If you don’t keep this in mind while brainstorming how to write a pitch, you could end up writing something inconsistent with a client’s goals and standards. I’ve also learned companies won’t always agree with a PR idea. This is why each team has weekly calls with their clients to make sure everyone is on the same page. Everything must be approved by the client before moving forward, so by fully understanding the client you are more likely to agree on ideas and projects the first time around.

Even when you think you know all the ins and outs of your client, there are still a lot of details and information to consider. For example, eating at a restaurant can give you a sense of what happens at the restaurant, but what goes on behind the scenes to make it happen is more complex than it appears.

Knowing the “language”of a client is also vital. For me, this has been the most fun to learn because it challenges my skills as a writer. As you can tell from reading this blog, I have a particular tone and voice in each post. But my unique voice doesn’t coincide with the voice of clients, so if I am asked to write a pitch I need to know their voice and mold my writing to meet their needs. For example, since I am a traveler, I was able to help write a pitch for a travel website with ease because I am comfortable with my knowledge of travel and the travel audience. However, when I was asked to help prepare an award nomination letter for a lawyer I had to research definitions and explanations of different terminology so that I could assist with this comprehensive submission.

Overall, I’ve learned that to be a successful PR professional you have to be a mini-expert in many fields. Research skills are essential to finding out all there is to know about a company, its competitors and the industry. Having diverse clients keeps everyone at Castle on their toes, and exchanging ideas helps everyone find a successful balance.

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Monday Morning Intern: Lessons Learned From a Broken Foot

Posted by thecastlegroup on July 20, 2009

We asked our summer PR intern, Emily Grund, to write a weekly column talking about her internship experience at The Castle Group. Please tune in Mondays to hear about Emily’s latest intern adventures. And a big welcome back to Emily who is finally back in the office after surgery on her broken foot. Which leads nicely to the post below. Read on!

After breaking my foot, I was sentenced to two weeks of bed rest and during that time I realized something some may find surprising – I really missed working.

Many joked with me that it must have been nice to not have to go to work and to be waited on hand and foot. Well, it was not as glamorous as it seemed, at least not for me. Let me enlighten you on why I’d rather work at The Castle Group (even on weekends!) than lay in bed all day.  

I am a people person. Unlike at my house, at The Castle Group I am surrounded by people. The office has a fast-paced environment which I enjoy, everyone is always in and out of meetings or making sure everyone’s on the same page with projects. E-mails go back and forth revising pitch letters and press releases, and quick questions are answered by visiting the next desk over. Besides just the presence of people, I enjoy being around these people. Their personalities alone make coming to work enjoyable. Not only is everyone hard working and helpful, everyone also has a great sense of humor. Whether it’s Scott and Jason picking on one another or Linda singing along to “The Safety Dance,” the friendly atmosphere throughout the day keeps everyone motivated and in high spirits.

I like hands-on projects. While stuck in bed with an elevated foot, I tried to keep as busy as I could by reading, and writing. I even tried to teach myself how to play the guitar. However, it just wasn’t the same as working toward something bigger. I thrive on deadlines and seeing the results of my hard work. I like having a variety of things to work on as well as perfecting my time management skills. Since the start of my internship, everyone at Castle has given me multiple hands-on projects, so it was no surprise to me that I found myself painfully bored at home. Even at school or in my social life I keep a busy schedule. Some say the down time should be good for me, but I much prefer being back in the office.

I love the city. “Boston you’re my home,” as The Standellsand Red Sox fans around the world sing. Though the commute is lengthy, it’s a part of the experience. Plus who else can say “For work today, I’m handing out flyers for an event outside Fenway, and then going to the Red Sox vs. Yankee game after?” I love the opportunities in the city presented to me by working at Castle, whether it’s a social media project, an event, places to eat or meeting new people. The office is located in the beautiful Charlestown Navy Yard; due to my injury, I now miss the walk over the Charlestown Bridge I once used to dread. To be honest, I just miss walking in general. No doubt my commute is now trickier, but getting back into Boston has been refreshing.

I missed working because I missed valuable opportunities to learn at my internship. I realize many others would be happy to miss time at their job, and that has made me appreciate my experience here even more.

Now, go take a walk, because you can!

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