Learning to be a PR Intern

Honestly, before I started as a PR intern at Amendola Communications three months ago I knew relatively nothing about Public Relations.

I’m currently studying journalism at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, so while I have had some exposure to PR, I really didn’t know what it takes to work in the field day to day. I only knew how the two fields intertwined.

Add to that the challenges of having a focus on healthcare and health IT and if feels like I’m in a very demanding school when everyone else is off for the summer, simply because I’ve continued building upon what I’ve learned at school with what I have learned here.  So here are a few things I have learned about PR since I started my internship.

PR Is More Complicated Than I Thought
Before my internship what I knew about the field of PR is that it includes a lot of press releases and pitch writing. In fact, my desire to learn more about the PR field is what drove me to pursue an internship at Amendola Communications. Boy, did I learn quickly that PR is a lot more than press releases and pitches. Here are a few things I learned that PR professionals do:
1. They manage social media accounts. Can you imagine being in charge of someone’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat and more?
2. They create content for those social media accounts, like infographics and videos.
3. They manage websites, and sometimes even manage creating them to begin with.
4. They create, gather and analyze large amounts of data. Then use that data to create strategies to use for everything else they manage.
5. They set up and do research for interviews.
6. They even help train people on how to do interviews if they don’t have experience.
7. They manage any sort of PR crisis, or as I’d like to think they’re the firemen and women that put out the fires.
8. And you know they manage press releases and story pitching.

 

Teamwork Makes The Dream Work
Managing all of these aspects of PR is too much for just one person to handle. To make all those social media posts roll out smoothly and assure that everything is meeting its deadline takes a team of professionals to make a company look like a PR pro. It really does take all the teamwork of the “A Team” to make sure the PR machine is running at full capacity. I can’t stress enough how important it is for everyone who is my age and in college to learn how to work in a team, as much as we all hate doing assigned group projects. It’s more important than you’d think, and very much an everyday occurrence in the working world.

 

It Also Takes a Wide Range of Skills
When I started studying journalism my professors told me that companies are looking for people who are well-rounded, with many different skills and abilities, rather than someone who is only trained in one thing. It really helps in the working world to know a lot about different things such as different forms of media, different computer programs and more. Now I don’t mean everyone should go out and become a jack of all trades and a master of none. You can be a jack of all trades and a master of some, but don’t spread yourself too thin.

 

It’s Not Impossible to Start a Business
During my time as an intern I got to sit in on calls and meetings. During them I couldn’t help but be inspired by the people I met or spoke to who had started their own businesses. It was amazing working with people who were so excited about what they were doing and so ready to get their businesses up and running with a little help from Amendola Communications. It made me realize that starting a business isn’t always a bust and that it can be a huge success.

 

The Healthcare System is a lot More Disconnected Than You Think
During my internship I quickly learned that most people are under the illusion that anything involving their health, such as their medical records with their primary care physician and their health information from the last time they went to the emergency room, are all somehow connected and easily accessible among different doctors and nurses, simply because we now have computers and electronic health records. Most of the time, we couldn’t be more wrong. From what I’ve learned it’s actually very difficult to transfer information between doctors and emergency rooms and elsewhere. I’ve also learned that people are purposely creating programs and companies to help correct this issue.

 

It Takes One Angry Person to Cause a Healthcare PR Crisis
At one point during my internship I helped one of my supervisors make a vlog about “How to Handle a Healthcare Media Crisis.” At the moment, I understood the topic but I didn’t realize just how important it was. Until someone close to me had a medical emergency where something went wrong. Obviously they were angry and about to go on a social media rampage, when a lightbulb went off in my head. I immediately thought “this is what the vlog is about, this is why it’s important.” In our world of social media, all it takes to damage a healthcare or health IT’s reputation is one angry Facebook post to trend. Trending happens so quickly, and as stated in the video, most healthcare or health IT companies don’t even get a chance to comment on what has happened before it is too late. This is possibly one of the most important things a PR team handles.

In Conclusion
As my internship starts to wind down due to school starting I’m glad I was able to learn so much about PR, along with building upon what I already knew, from Amendola Communications. Going back to school I feel like I have a much better understanding of the PR field, and even my own field and how to interact with PR even better. In addition I now know more about healthcare and health IT than I had ever expected. At school I feel like I’ll be able to give some good insights to my fellow students about how we will be using what we’ve learned, and what we need to prepare for once we all enter the working world.

Overall, I’m happy that I got the opportunity and experience of being a PR intern at Amendola Communications. It really made me feel reassured that what I am studying and learning at school is very important and what I really enjoy.

(All GIFS courtesy of GIPHY.com)

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