What every Public Relations Intern Should Know

According to BusinessDictionary.com an internship is a

“period of supervised training required for qualifying for a profession.”

An internship will show you whether or not if your cut out for a career in the field.

This is my fourth year of interning and my second summer with The Alison Group. Over the years I’ve learned the do’s and don’ts of PR as well as an intern. No matter how many places you intern for it’s a given you will hear some of the same cliched pieces of advice that in the end really are helpful. At the end of each of these experiences you want to be able to walk away with confidence and a good sense of the business.

I have put together a list of tips that helped me through all of my internships:

“No question is a stupid question”  – Don’t be afraid to ask questions. This can be your biggest key to learning. Although a professional setting can be intimidating, you can’t let it get to you.  When working on a project you need to give it your all and show everyone your dedicated but you must ask questions about any and everything if your unsure about something. It’s okay  to ask one hundred and one questions because you’d rather get it right the first time than through a trial and error process. Remember there are no stupid questions just speak up when in doubt.

“Be proactive every day” – With every intern experience your job description and skills will broaden and grow. More than likely you will be doing and learning more than what school has “prepared you for”. There will always plenty to get done. So don’t hesitate to ask for more work when your done with projects. On a daily basis there are a variety of different tasks to do from simple filing to writing copy for press releases or a commercial. The more enthusiasm you show especially for smaller tasks then the more likely a company is to hand you more responsibility.

“Google it” – Research will be a big part of an intern’s job description. It’s good to build up your research skills because it’s important to know how to do it effectively. Most agencies or firms have subscriptions to databases and other programs but you can always turn to Google to help support the information you’ve already gathered to make sure your obtaining the most relevant information. Even social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and Youtube can be useful tools.

“Be aware of what’s happening around you” – Everyone needs to read their local newspapers. It’s important to know what’s going on around the world because you need to know how it can and will impact your agency’s clients. Take a few moments to read the  local paper and look for relevant articles that you feel will benefit the client.

“Always anticipate the unexpected” – Everyday is different so you need to stay on your Ps and Qs at all times. You also need to keep an open mind. To-do lists are vital to help keep track of what your doing daily so in case something goes wrong or the unexpected happens you will know where you left off and what your priorities are.

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The Alison Group TV

We now have a Youtube Page! Now that we’ve posted our first video, be on the look out for many more to come.

Check us out! TheAlisonGroupTV

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Richmond Dental Makes a Splash

In their first advertising campaign in years, Richmond Dental, now called “Richmond” is running ads in major dental publications including a BRC card and free sample offer. We are pleased to be orchestrating this launch and also designing a new but not dramatically different look. Richmond products are for the medial professional and that extends beyond dental, their historic stronghold. We expect to expand that footprint into all areas of medical including…equestrian. Richmond is certainly a re-rising star to be watched.

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Queensborough Regional Bank Targets Business

Queensborough Bank is one of our favorite accounts. Who doesn’t like a banker? OK, that is a facetious statement but in this case, it is true. Q continues to gain new ground based on the original campaign developed by Alison – “Q Works for Me.” Now, however, the twist is “Q Works for Business,” as this quiet  regional giant takes advantage of the vacuum created when giant banks decided to exit the small business market. Queensborough is already known for customer satisfaction, driving this through to the business professional is not a difficult job. The strategy for this client involves an unexpected twist – identifying and communicating with potential business directly as well as tangentially. The combination is deadly for creating new accounts. Alison is famous for putting the client and their customer together – directly.

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Part of the Group – Alison Welcomes a Newbie

There is no greater feeling than being accepted, trusted and deemed the right fit for a thriving company. I proudly and thankfully met the criteria for the unique position The Alison Group recently had available. Already my time with these friendly, hardworking and intelligent people has made being the “new girl” a wonderful experience.

I will be working for our clients to ensure projects are smooth and efficient. My other fun duties include administrative assistant, researching, event planning and assisting in the fastest growing marketing tool; Social Media! Can you say dream job?

I have been awestruck with how much strategic planning goes into every decision. From whole business campaigns to redesigning a small logo time is spent discussing ideas and making those ideas become reality. Coming from a background of management and real estate I was on the other side of the marketing bench… I told them what I wanted and how I wanted it done. Now I see that the smallest color tweak or change in a font can be the difference in having a successful marketing campaign.

Let the imagination and creativity begin!  I am determined to succeed in my part of the group and I have already been referred to as “Ms. Too Efficient”. I gladly accept that name!


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The Alison Group Assists the Southeastern Firefighters’ Burn Foundation in Helping Others

Can It! |  Aluminum Cans for Burn Victims

The Alison Group generates new life to Burn Foundation fundraiser with kid friendly press-on tattoos.

The Alison Group generates new life to Burn Foundation fundraiser with kid friendly press-on tattoos.

Gathering aluminum cans is one SFBF’s most efficient fundraisers. This year however, with the help of pro-bono time and talent from the Alison Group, “Can It” has a name and an animated character to promote the cause.

The little “Can It” character will be seen on TV and the web site showing how easy it is to recycle cans for a good cause and also clean up the landscape. Money from the cans collected between August 1st and September 5th has a special purpose.

Since 1988, SFBF has operated the ACBV program to fund their assistance programs such as: providing families with shelter, a hot meal once a day (seven days a week) and free pressure dressings to burn patients to help with long-term care. Funds are also used to purchase therapeutic equipment, special clothing and other nonmedical items that are usually excluded from most medical insurance plans. This campaign also helps provide for a pediatric burn fund that is designated to help assist pediatric burn patients with special needs.

Can It” was also made into waterless, colorful and fun tattoos to introduce children to recycling and helping others. Based off a suggestion by one of the marketing committee members who has young children, Can It tattoos remind children and their families about the can-paign. The tattoos and a brochure were distributed to children at school.

To help support this program, start saving your aluminum cans and drop them off at any of the trailer locations which are listed on the Burn Foundation’s website. There are approximately 50 collection sites throughout Georgia and South Carolina. You can also help by donating meals for those who are staying at the shelter.

Check out the foundation’s newest commercial for the campaign or more information, please visit their website at http://www.burnshurtwehelp.org

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PR? What’s that?

People always ask, “What’s your major?”  I confidently answer public relations just to be met with a face full of confusion. “What’s that?” or  “That’s like a publicist or a manager right?”  I’ve even had a few tell me there’s no money in that and I should just become a nurse or a teacher.

People don’t realize just how fundamental PR is to every day life.  It’s all about creating and nurturing a strong, positive relationship between an organization and its audience. Something as simple as a dry cleaning service or a car wash even utilizes PR.

It’s all about maintaining and improving a mutual understanding as well as improving the channels of communication. PR can also help bring in new ways of setting up a steady flow of information. A company’s reputation, continued existence and profitability all depend on what a PR specialist can do for them. They depend on us to give them advice and provide them with a winning strategy.

With PR you can work practically anywhere. There are so many diverse aspects to it. You can go from working with a school or a hospital to a fortune five hundred company. It just depends on what you want to do whether it’s on a small scale or a large one.

According to the United States of Bureau of Labor Statistics there were about 275,200 public relations specialist jobs in 2008 with an expected grow of 24 percent within in the next 7 years.

It’s not just about making someone look good. I like to think of a specialist as a jack-of-all-trades. You would:

  • Handle conflicts
  • Create a positive work relationship with the press
  • Draft press releases
  • Organize and conduct events and programs
  • Create various print or broadcast material
  • Keep the public informed
  • Develop plans and policies
  • Research
  • Handle advertising and sales promotion

There’s so much to do and the field is ever changing. I chose to study PR because I like to network. I enjoy meeting new people and helping them. Writing has always been a passion of mine and social networking sites like Twitter and blogging have introduced me to so many new things about PR.  With this as my chosen career I doubt I’ll ever get bored.

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Something to Aspire Towards; Jessica Hische

As a designer, I am constantly looking at other work. From the internet to billboards, everywhere I look, I’m surrounded by design. My opinions can vary; sometimes I’m critical, and sometimes I’m admirable. But most of the time I’m inspired: Inspired to be better. There has been one designer/illustrator that has left me particularly inspired lately, and that’s Jessica Hische.

Jessica Hische is a young designer from Brooklyn, NY. After graduating from the Tyler School of Art and making a short corporate-cameo, she is now kicking butt with an affluent freelance lettering and illustration career.

As you can see her work speaks for itself. It’s beautiful, eye-catching and unique. It’s no surprise that, at only 26, some of her clients include: Kellogg’s, Target, GQ Magazine, Tiffany & co., William Sonoma… I could go on and on. Yes, she’s the big time.

At 25, I’ve accomplished the majority of my career goals thus far. I have my BFA and landed a couple of great jobs doing what I enjoy the most. I understand that there will always be someone faster or better, but that doesn’t mean I can’t try. Designers like Hische inspire me to work harder, and be better in hopes that one day someone to look at my designs the way I look at hers.

Check her out:

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Six Reasons Why Radio Commercials Suck

Radio is one of the most imaginative mediums to work in. Done well, radio commercials are talked about, shared and even e-mailed, transcending the medium itself to become an endorsement of sorts.

But great radio commercials are harder to find today. Writers don’t give enough time and imagination to make them work. The result, a waste of air-time and money for clients.

Six “no-no’s” for radio script writers:

  1. The radio commercial that should have been a newspaper ad. It is simply a verbal listing of services or goods and the writer is hoping to strike a nerve with any listener. My advice, buy a newspaper ad.
  2. The radio commercial with the old style jingle package. The best branding in the world is blown when the “Pepper-Tanner” jingle kids open and close the spot with an “insert name here” music do-nut. My advice- Nix the jingle. Rewrite the spot.
  3. The  “client” voice over commercial. Of course people will tell you they heard you on the radio but no one will tell you how really bad you sounded next to the national commercial. Especially in the south. My advice – Leave the voice over to a pro.
  4. The commercial written and delivered in third person. This is the one that uses the term “They” for the client’s name. Example – “So give Joe’s Car Center a call. THEY are helpful with all types of blah blah.” My advice – If you can’t endorse it first person, it is probably not worth endorsing. Do-over.
  5. The 60 sec commercial that should have been 30 seconds. Radio stations often sell time in 60 sec. blocks so the client feels obligated to use the whole minute. I have actually heard one commercial repeat itself again using the connecting copy line “as we said” to segue the same boring announcement. I didn’t listen to it the second time. No one does. My advice – If you must use the 60 but have nothing to say, play music for 30 seconds… but not the jingle (see #2).
  6. The radio commercial featuring small children as the talent. Kids are great on TV because they are so animated and their actions help convey the words they say. On radio the joy of the visual child is not there. They are simply hard to understand. They sound like an untrained, diminutive voice that is neither cute nor convincing. My advice – Hire an adult child voice actor if you need a child voice or better yet, don’t do it.

Radio commercials are written and presented to clients in a non-competitive environment. But, when they air, they run in multi-minute commercial blocks and can be lost in the mayhem of audio clutter.

When it is initially written and presented it has to be presented in that same environment to see if it holds up and gets noticed. All said and done; write it so sells the brand, it’s memorable and It speaks to the audience it was designed for.  If it doesn’t…rewrite it.

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One Last Try

Let’s pretend its mid-February or early March, the prime time to get out and start looking for a summer internship. This process can both be frustrating, as well as rewarding. As time speeds by, you’ve spent a great portion of your spring semester sending your resume to different companies and firms. You begin constantly (maybe even obsessively) checking your email, hoping and praying someone, anyone, actually took the time respond. The sad thing is, that’s the easy part! Next, you have to worry about the first  interview and possibly a second or third.

My three-month search for an internship was especially trying… I started looking in March and without the help of my advisor, I knew I had to take matters into my own hands. I googled ad agencies, PR firms, communication companies, etc. In the beginning my email contained over 50 sent and only 10 replies. But that didn’t discourage me. Eventually towards the end of April a good friend of mine recommended The Alison Group, a firm from my hometown.

A quick email landed me where I am today, an intern for The Alison Group. My name is Rushunda Ware and I am a fourth year Public Relations major at the University of South Carolina.

Alison is perfect for me; it’s close to home and provides me with an opportunity to do what I love. Over the past month I have been exposed to so many different aspects of marketing and design. Although this is not what I’m studying in school, I think this exposure will be beneficial. So far, this internship is helping to build my confidence and gain a bit of business experience.

I am very thankful for this position. This is the first internship I have had out of several that I can truthfully say is worth my time. Everyone has taken a moment to talk to me and bestow upon me useful tips and advice. None of my other internships attempted to prepare me for my future unlike the Alison Group. I feel comfortable here. There’s no greater feeling than actually wanting to get up and go to work. Throughout the rest of the summer, my thirst for PR experience is sure to be quenched. And to think,  sending out one more email got me where I am today.

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