How to Make the Most of Your Public Relations Intern

April 24th, 2014
by Ellis Friedman

How to Make the Most of Your Public Relations Intern Ellis Friedman BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas

I’ve been on both sides of the internship coin: I’ve been an intern, and I’ve been one of the people on a team responsible for an intern. Since we talked about making the most of a PR internship earlier this week, let’s talk about the best ways to manage an intern to make the most of the experience for both of you.

Know what you need your intern to do

Before your intern shows up, take a few minutes to write an outline of his or her duties. What do you want them to do, and what did they show interest in learning? Most interns are eager from the outset, so don’t let that eagerness fade; providing them with a list of things for them to do each day or week keeps them busy, but don’t forget to schedule in some time for them to observe you or other office mates in action, so they feel like they’re participating and learning.

Invest time up front

I was put “in charge of the intern” a few times when I worked as an editor at a magazine, and it seemed like of a chore, since it ate into time I spent on my assignments. But I realized that in the past, we had a hard time making the most of the talented interns we had coming in because with our team of only three editors, they didn’t get the proper training. As a result, they either didn’t know how to do what we needed them to do, or weren’t given enough direction to be meaningfully productive.

Once we started investing time in ensuring that interns were trained as thoroughly as possible, especially in the first week, we started getting usable content and great editorial suggestions from our interns, thus lightening the load for all of us. If you only have a day for training, use that day as best you can, but consider breaking up the training into a few hours every day of their first week. That gives you both the opportunity to ask and answer questions and for both of you to feel the intern is a part of the team.

Be inclusive

Invite your intern out with your group of work friends occasionally, or ask them to join you while you eat in the break room. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking the intern will harsh your group vibe or that it’s a babysitting job; though college interns are young, they aren’t children, and should be able to engage meaningfully with you and your colleagues. Don’t underestimate the value of reverse mentoring with a digital native.

Even taking a few minutes to stop by their desk every few days helps both of you feel like you’re on the same team. Try to be consistent with your interactions, so that communication doesn’t dwindle and interns don’t feel isolated.

Offer perspective

Grunt work makes up a significant portion of the internship experience, and while that’s just how it is in most places, the reality doesn’t always jibe with an intern’s expectations. So when you’re assigning an intern tasks that may not be the most challenging, be sure to outline how it contributes to overall goals and why it matters. That may not make the work more exciting for the intern, but it gives them a sense of being part of the bigger picture.

Provide feedback

Providing an intern with feedback can improve both your lives: your intern gets more learning out of the work experience and the chance to improve his or her work, and they produce progressively better work for you as the internship goes on.  It’s also part of fostering the next wave of new colleagues, employees, and industry influencers.

If you’re going to invest the time to interview, create a budget, and have new people come through your department, you should make sure there is a mutual benefit to all parties involved, and remember to always be open to the possibility of finding great future recruits in this pool of eager young interns.

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How to Get the Most Out of Your Public Relations Internship

April 21st, 2014
by Ellis Friedman

How to Get the Most out of Your Public Relations Internship Ellis Friedman BurrellesLuceAfter my junior year at college, I had an internship at a film production company. It was an excellent learning experience, in that I learned a lot about both film production and the way the office world works. Looking back seven years later, there are a lot of things I wish I’d prepared for and known to make the most of my time there, lessons that can be applied to aspiring PR pros who might be stepping into a PR internship this summer.

Write a lot

Writing is a pretty critical skill in PR, and the only way to improve is to keep writing. If your organization has a blog, write for it. Depending on your organization, you may only get to post once a week, or even less often, so practice delivering multiple pieces of content per week by keeping your own blog. While you may not be sending out your own pitch emails, practice drafting them anyway and ask someone to provide feedback.

You should also become familiar with the concept of a corporate style guide and practice writing in accordance with it. Since most corporate style guides are based upon  a media style guide, familiarize yourself with the most important ones.

Ask questions

Lots of them. Don’t understand what your manager or co-worker asked you to do? Clarify. Need help? Ask. Don’t worry about looking stupid (you won’t) – remind yourself that not asking leads to mistakes down the road. Here are some good questions to ask during the interview or on the job.

Also, ask colleagues and your manager about what they’re doing – you’re there to learn, after all, and there’s only so much you can learn by just observing. Asking questions not only gives you a cache of knowledge for the future, it makes you more of an active participant in the organization. If you feel like your office mates aren’t available for questions on a daily basis, write down your questions and ask for a small chunk of time – coffee, lunch, or just a meeting – when you can ask those questions. Just don’t be afraid to ask for that time.

Do the grunt work

Being an intern generally doesn’t involve a lot of intellectually stimulating work – most of the time, it involves a lot of tedious – okay, boring – but necessary work. Don’t fall victim to the “I didn’t give up my whole summer just to file papers and do the Starbucks run” line of thinking. Yes, you did “give up” your summer for that (newsflash: once you graduate, the concept of summer all but evaporates), but to get the knowledge you came for, you need to look beyond the short-term boredom of a menial task to the greater context of what’s going on around you.

What are the workflow processes like? Which aspects of other people’s jobs do you find most interesting? How do things function outside of the classroom? How are your office mates communicating with journalists and audiences? How are they responding to praise, complaints, or crises? Just because you’re doing some grunt work doesn’t mean there’s nothing to learn.

Don’t get caught doing nothing

If you finish your work early, don’t sit around waiting for someone to give you more. Ask your manager or office mate what you can help with, or, even better, if you see that some work you think needs to be done, run it by your manager with a quick, “It looks like ____ needs to be done. Is that something I can help work on?” That shows you not only take initiative, but also ensures that you’re not creating more work down the line by doing something incorrectly or that doesn’t actually need to be done.

Manage your brand

It might be tempting to share with your office mates your social experiences, but resist that temptation. You want to be known as the professional intern, not the party intern. Remember that you are building and managing your personal brand with every person with whom you come into contact.

Know you know nothing

That’s not to say you should go in forgetting everything you know, but that you should go in with an open mind with a very eager willingness to learn. The actual practice of PR will probably be different than what you imagined it to be, so go with the flow and don’t get flustered when you encounter unknown territory – that’s what internships are all about.

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Crunching the Numbers: How to Tie PR and Sales

April 17th, 2014
by Crystal DeGoede
Photo by PRNews

Photo by PRNews

The PRNews PR Measurement Conference in Washington, D.C. earlier this month provided a platform for the industry’s measurement experts to share their knowledge and strategies. Yesterday, we wrote about Mark Stouse’s recommendations for thinking like a CEO to link PR efforts with sales numbers. Today we cover the second half of the presentation, in which Angela Jeffrey, managing director U.S. at Salience Insight, brought metrics and formulas to help realize those PR-sales metric connections. If you want to DIY and need an easy formula for calculating ROI and cost efficiency, here are the formulas Jeffrey explained.

ROI=Payback-Investment/Investment*100
Payback = incremental revenue
Investment = what you put into it [either in time (calculated as dollars per hour) or in dollars]

Here is a simpler formula for determining the correlation between ROI and PR. It is not a valid ROI but is valid a contribution toward it.

Revenue Event= (Payback-Investment)

Where payback is incremental revenue and investment is what you put into it.

To calculate cost efficiency metrics by your activities, use:

Cost-per-impressions (Tweets, Fans, Website Visits)
* Add up target impressions
* Divide campaign costs by impressions
* Results: Cost for one person to see your item

You can use the results for a specific survey or campaign to compare cost against the total of progress seen.

Cost-per-awareness (Attitude, Understand, Preference or Loyalty Uplift)
* Gather percent of uplift in survey scores
* Divide campaign cost by percent gain
* Result: Cost of percent gain in survey results

When it comes to measuring your web analytics, do your homework first.  Understand Google Analytics and be able to create goals and funnels. Having those goals and funnels in place actually helps you determine what you want your outcome to be. Most of us do not usually get the opportunity to influence sales. So where you can, define macro and micro goals.

An example of this was developed by Avinash Kaushik, where he created a formula or assigning dollar results to micro goals, which can show progress against macro goals, and can be established with a bit of internal research and agreement with management. An example of a micro goal would be a “contact me” sign-up form, and a macro goal would be a $500 sale or donation garnered from that signup form. So if it took ten “contact me” sign-ups for one sale or donation, that would mean that each sign up cost $50.

Once you have your goals established, set up a goal funnel to compare your web analytics with the channels.  Track visits and dollars spent from each channel and divide the revenue by number of visits from each platform to compare values-per-visit.

If you use a competitive share of voice, which is weighted tonality, to link outcomes, you can see the correlations. But earned media coverage analysis must include qualitative measures like message, prominence, or dominance, as well as quantitative measures like number of items or impressions.

Ultimately, successfully measuring the link between public relations and sales means a lot of math and careful analysis, but streamlining your processes and orienting them toward measurement will lead to reliable data that gives you deeper insight into your PR efforts. How are you tying your ROI & Outcomes/Outputs to your PR and Sales activities? Which measures give you the most insight?

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Think Like a CEO: Measuring the Link Between PR and Sales

April 16th, 2014
by Crystal DeGoede
Think Like a CEO: Measuring the Link Between PR and Sales Mark Stouse Crystal DeGoede BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas

Photo by PRNews

How do you measure the link between PR and sales and drive brand revenue and engagement?

Last week I attended the PRNews Measurement Conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The annual conference brings together the most spirited group of measurement experts.

The session started off with its first speaker, Mark Stouse (Twitter: @markstouse), VP Global Connect at BMC Software. He stated that there are three big questions that every CEO wants the answer to, not just from the sales leaders or marketers but from everyone within the organization, including PR practitioners:

1. How well are you performing in your area of business?

2. How well are you leveraging the resources you already have?

3. What contributions are you making to the organization?

What the CEO or CFO of your organization cares about the most is revenue, margin and cash-flow. In order to make your way into a position of delivering value to the CEO and answer those three questions, you have to start thinking like a CEO. CEOs don’t care about possibilities, they care about probabilities; nor do CEOs care about how creative something is, they care about if it actually works. So, when CEOs talk about cause and effect, they want to see correlation (at a minimum), and preferably, causality.

Your c-suite expects you to understand what you do so well that you have the necessary data in-hand and are confident enough to present this data at any time. If you cannot predict what the outcome of your PR is going to be, then a CEO may see your success as luck, whereas if you’re able to use your data to predict an outcome, that would show skill. Showing the relationship between  public relations and sales through data-driven correlation and causality is critical to obtaining executive buy-in.

Stouse recommends four key steps to success:

1. Think like a CEO

2. Understand your functional performance
3. Understand what ROI really is
4. Connect the dots with sales productivity

Another way to tie your PR measurements and metrics to sales is to support the three legs of sales productivity (below) and to tie investment to revenue, margin and cash-flow.

1. Demand generation
2. Deal expansion (sale to the same person)
3. Sales velocity (close the deal quickly)

According to Stouse, we are all in sales. We have to sell to people on the outside and on the inside. It redefines the marketing mix model.

If you tie into the numbers and the money you will be credible and get that seat at the table.

Check back tomorrow for mathematical insights from the session’s second presenter, Angela Jeffrey.

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Heels vs. Flats: The Qualitative Metrics Your Measurement Might Be Missing

April 14th, 2014
by Johna Burke

Heels vs. Flats: The Qualitative Metrics Your Measurement Might Be Missing Johna Burke BurrellesLuceHeels vs. flats; of course there’s a difference.

No, this isn’t a misdirected post intended for 5inchandup; this is very much about media analysis and intended for those of you who rely on technology alone to gain insights from your news coverage.

How are shoes relevant? Because if you rely on software alone to tell the story of your media results, you’re potentially sawing off the branch you’re sitting on – the branch needed to demonstrate the value of your media relations efforts to your organization.

You see, I love my Jawbone Up Band and app, which tracks fitness, food, and sleep. It provides me a baseline to understand how active or sedentary I am day to day. On any given day I wear heels or flats – some days both. There’s no way to log this into my app, but I feel the difference in my legs and shoulders depending on the weight of my computer and whether I’m wearing flats or heels. My app consistently tells me the number of steps and distance I’ve traveled, but without the ability to qualitatively alert my device to the external factors (heel height, weight of computer bag, flat or hilly terrain), the app is limited to what true insights I can gain.

The same goes for your media coverage.

All media coverage is NOT created equal. Often times an outlet is a primary sorting field for many organizations, but depending on the goal, a hyper-local outlet could be far more influential based on the measurable objective. Example: An organization has a production plant in Bisbee Arizona. The media relations department has a goal to reduce talent acquisition costs by 10 percent for the fiscal year. This includes recruiting more local talent who do not require relocation services. In this example, it’s easy to understand that The Bisbee Observer, the town’s weekly newspaper, would be far more critical to achieving the goal than, say, The Arizona Republic. Unless your goals are aligned with your efforts, it is nearly impossible to show anything more than activity.

One common misconception in the marketplace is that public relations practitioners have to settle for the metrics provided by their software because they either have no extra time to drill into the results qualitatively, or it’s too expensive. That’s simply not true. In order to better understand if you are making progress toward achieving your goals (and ultimately saving money on efforts that are not supporting the end goal), you can work with a random sample of your coverage to glean real insights.

Granted, if you are reporting on only a sample (i.e. Google Alerts) of data, the challenge becomes more problematic. Without a larger purview  your ”sample” could be very limited and as a result, your insights and ability to project future actions and insights is equally as limited. The ”cost” of not doing deeper analysis could be much more costly to your organization if you continue down a path that is not garnering the results needed to achieve your goals.

While I’m not a digital native, I love my technology. I wear it, carry it and I’m lost without it should a battery need charging. At the end of the day there are other factors that let me know my Up Band is really working, and those results are reflected on the scale, in blood pressure results, and in overall well-being, things which my device alone cannot provide.  There’s no silver bullet to health and without adding insights to the fast metrics available, there’s no silver bullet to bettering your communication efforts as they relate to supporting your organization.

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