Communication in the Corporate World

By: Rebecca Reif
Co-Account Executive, Express, Inc.

Dressed for success in my black pencil skirt and khaki blazer, I tried to ignore the lump in my throat as I walked into my first day of work. Entering the corporate world as an intern for The Cincinnati Insurance Company was both intimidating and exhilarating. I was eager to be interning in Cincinnati’s Corporate Communications department, but nervous that my savvy journalism skills wouldn’t be enough to hide the dearth of my insurance knowledge.

I quickly learned, as most interns do, that you don’t have to be an expert in your field to be a great intern. My department accepted me with open arms, ready to teach me about their company and eager to add a new personality to their team. As the summer progressed, I found myself worrying less and less about my lack of insurance knowledge; I began to focus more on asking the right questions and forming meaningful relationships. I found this to be the best way to acquire an understanding of a field that I had previously been unacquainted with.

Six weeks into my internship, I have found that Corporate Communications has measured up to my expectations and also left me with some surprises. The corporate approval process is something that I was unfamiliar with until my internship began. When writing a story for ImPRessions or another school publication, I usually need one or two approvals before my work gets published. In the corporate world, I need 10. I am responsible for publishing the company’s weekly newsletter and supplements, and putting the publication together can be a pretty tedious process when you are faced with opinions from 10 different editors. Nevertheless, writing the newsletter has really helped strengthen my grasp on AP style, something that I still felt uncomfortable with prior to the start of my internship.

What I love about public relations is that it opens the door for many different career paths. Six months ago I would have turned up my nose at the thought of working at an insurance company, but now I am glad that I gave it a chance. My internship has helped me realize that a strong journalism and public relations background will help me in whatever career path I choose. I can’t wait to explore the rest of the opportunities that the public relations field has in store for me.

Internship Survival Guide: 3 Midsummer Tips

By: Rachel Csaszar
Vice President of Operations

It’s that time of year again! We’re halfway through the summer, meaning that a lot of us are halfway through an internship experience.  I’m currently deep into my second internship, and while I felt at the beginning of the summer that I might be a little more confident…considering this is my second go around…I realized just how wrong I was within the first week on the job. With this realization, I also realized just how many things I’m learning on a daily basis, and decided to narrow it down to three small tips that can possibly help others going through the same issues.

1. Know traditional techniques like the back of your hand – but keep new technology handy in your back pocket.

This summer I’m interning with what some would consider an “old-school” company. The company is just now starting to dabble in social media, and there is a much heavier focus on traditional techniques. Being part of the “younger generation” we often get a bad reputation for not being hard workers. I’ve found that by showing I know how to write traditional news releases and other collateral, I gain the trust of the older generation in the office who may be a little more resistant to a young employee. Once they understand that I’m not trying to waltz in and make their company hi-tech, they’re more open to hearing my ideas for social media usage, therefore creating a mutually beneficial working relationship.

2. Don’t overanalyze – a phone call is just a phone call.

 I’ve been known to be a worrier. When I’m put in a high-pressure situation during my internship, sometimes a simple task becomes as difficult as moving a mountain in my mind. When I’m working on a deadline, picking up the phone to call someone who might not be happy to hear me on the other end of the line is scarier than anything. What I’ve learned is that you can’t overanalyze and exaggerate a situation because it only holds you back.  At the end of the day, a phone call is just a phone call and a meeting is just a meeting. Some days you’re going to have people happy with you, some days you might be the human punching bag. Take it for what it is, and move on. Just remember, that tomorrow is a new day.

3. Working in communications will be crazy no matter where you are – embrace it!

I’ve experienced non-profit PR and now a corporate communications environment and they are complete opposites in many ways, with one exception– both are absolutely insane.  And that’s what makes it worth it. Many people have jobs that aren’t fulfilling, and I’m happy to say that as far as my experiences go, working in communications will be anything but boring. The nature of our field is to send a message and to get results. The enormity of that job can be overwhelming, and it can keep you on your toes, but it’s what you make out of that situation that proves your ability to perform in your position and will ultimately help you have a long and successful career.

My advice: take the last half of the summer and analyze what you can do better, make changes, and make the most out of the second half of your internship. Before you know it, it will be time to head back to school and your internship will just be a memory. Make sure you can look back and remember it with a smile.

IT Needs Me?

By: Kate Willse
Account Executive, Student Senate

Who knew the information technology  (IT) world was a hotspot for marketing and public relations work? I definitely did not, until I received an offer to work as a public relations intern at an IT consulting firm in Cleveland, Ohio this summer. I figured I could give it a shot. It was near my hometown, and offered some great benefits. Little did I know I would become fully immersed in the IT world and proficient in a tech language that I never knew existed…and I was the girl who took my computer to the IT Depot every other day freshman year!

The internship presented an interesting challenge, but I was willing to take it on. After a few weeks I realized how very little technology professionals know about the basics of marketing and PR. My list of tasks began to grow exponentially and my PR plan became increasingly extensive. I thought that their website would be amazing and easy to navigate; however, it was unorganized and took much sifting to get to the information you wanted to find. All of this time I was worried I would have no work and would be making coffee runs all day. I was delighted to find that I was given so much power and freedom to brand a company and truly improve their image.

Four weeks later I am working with a part-time marketing professional to build a solid PR/ Marketing foundation for them to work from. I am responsible for creating a brand guide, and outlining their marketing standards. A guide I was not familiar with before I started the internship. It is interesting to see the collateral that a firm such as theirs uses and how they wish to market their software products in the same way P&G wants to market the Tide brand. The differences are astounding, but the similarities just as much.

For those of us fearing that the economy won’t pick up and we journalism students will be out of a job when we graduate; fear no more. It may not be your dream job in New York City working at a famous PR firm, but it could turn out to be as good, or even better. Think outside of the box, and look into fields that you would not normally consider for PR. Chances are, as I have found, they are the companies that need the most help, and guidance.

My advice: take a chance. Take that wacky job offer, and you just might be surprised.

Experience more with PRSSA

By: Sam Bartlett

Supervisor, E.W. Scripps School of Journalism and College Book Store accounts

As students, we’re told that we have to get good grades and get plenty of experience. Many college-aged-individuals don’t know where they want to work after they graduate or what they really want to do. A great way to figure out what you might be interested in doing is by going to Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) meetings this upcoming year and becoming a dues-paying member.

But what is the benefit of joining PRSSA? Every Monday night, at 6 p.m., there are various guest speakers that are currently either working in the PR field or that will help individuals become better leaders and young professionals. These specialists work in all areas of PR: agency, government, corporate, entertainment and any other area one might think of.

Listening to those who are currently working in the field is great because you catch a glimpse of what the real world will be like. Each professional gives their presentation, whether it is on what they do and what services their company provides or tips and advice for attendees. There is also always a question and answer segment at the conclusion of each meeting.

Another great thing about joining PRSSA is the connections that one makes. Not only are you surrounded by students who you can later work with, but you’re also in a room with professionals that can help you out down the road. They can easily give you advice, look over your resume, or tell you about job openings.

Our chapter of PRSSA is also committed to participating at National Conference and local PaRtners Conference as well as going on a networking trip each year as a chapter to visit agencies and PR organizations. Meeting other students and professionals at these conferences will put you above and beyond the “average joe” graduating college because you know who to talk to and how to talk to them.

There are also monthly luncheons that students can attend that have various themes where professionals and students get to meet and mingle on a personal level.

The level of importance of joining PRSSA is so high, that many of our past professionals have told us that when they are looking through resumes and they don’t see that the person is a dues-paying member, that those people are automatically put in the “no” pile.

After becoming a dues-paying member, you’re given a password for the professional level Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) website in order to look at job and internship listings that are not listed anywhere else. There is also a list of contacts of those active in PRSA that are around the country that are great resources for post-graduation plans.

The majority of our guests are also Bobcats. The green blood runs deep and you’ll learn once you join PRSSA, that Bobcats are always willing to help a Bobkitten.

On a personal note, I joined PRSSA because I knew that it would help me in my professional world, but I have also met some of my best friends in our chapter. And who doesn’t need some more love in their life?

Check out Ohio University’s PRSSA chapter blog here.