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6 Tips for Surviving as an Intern

As a brand spanking newbie to the fabulous FORWARD team, I have had a whirlwind 3 weeks diving headfirst into the ‘real job’ world. Although Uni was a great and valuable experience for me and I loved learning about interesting new media theories, the real world of boutique consumer PR and influence marketing isn’t like this at all. Shock horror! From my experience as an intern in the Public Relations field (this is my third agency experience), I have gathered some helpful tips, tricks and insights into surviving your transition.

  1. Ask questions. Intern is literally defined as “any official or formal program, to provide practical experience for beginners in an occupation or profession”. You are there to learn, questions are the best way to absorb all the knowledge your colleagues hold. A good question to keep top of mind when being assigned a project, is to always ask for the deadline. This will avoid any awkward mishaps, and allow effective time management and prioritising. Just be mindful they say there is no such thing as a stupid question, this is a trap, please think things over before you ask for the tenth time where the scissors are. Similarly, endeavour to group your questions together to avoid interrupting the busy work schedules of your colleagues.
  2. Be proactive. Being proactive is a good character trait that can be applied across numerous professional disciplines and life experiences. If you know something falls within your capabilities and needs to be done, do it. Similarly, if time allows, don’t be afraid to go above and beyond when completing a task. So go on, don’t wait to be told…show the team what you can do.
  3. Pen and paper (or iPad) are paramount. Having these simple stationary supplies by your side at all times will vastly improve your strike rate. Details are often important in this line of work (read: very), and having a reference point for the 12 different pies you have your fingers in will be a lifesaver come 4pm Friday ‘fried brain’. Don’t be afraid of taking notes and the humble list, relying solely on your brain is risky business.
  4. Be switched on. One of the first, and best things my mentor did, was link me to a range of PR and influence newsletters that I could sign up for (e.g here and here). Staying on top of industry news and views is a must in the fast-paced media industry, seeing all of the cool and exciting things being accomplished by industry peers also reminds me why I worked so hard to get here in the first place.
  5. Google maps and comfy shoes. These boots were made for walking, to the Post-office, the Caterer, Officeworks… It’s not all dreary, the great outdoors can be a welcome change from the office environment.
  6. Be a smiling, friendly face that says yes. Stay positive and the hard work will pay off. Having a great attitude towards your work and your colleagues will go a long way. Yes, you have a degree. Just remember everyone around you started off in the exact same position, doing all sorts of odd jobs and errands around an office much like where you’re sitting now.

If all else fails, keeping top of mind the official FORWARD values of fun, fast, friendly and flexible will see you through.

The 6 most important things to put in a brief

Depending on your professional background, marketing experience and available time, the briefing process may be something that you adore or avoid. But be assured the time spent in this process is directly correlated to the results you get from your agency.

The type and quality of information we get from our clients at the start of a project has a dramatic impact on the quality of our thinking, speed of response and ultimately will impact on the outcomes we can achieve for you.

If you only give us six pieces of information, please give us these:

1) Brand Objectives

We want to understand the bigger picture of your brand and business, in order to make sure that we ultimately deliver outcomes that are aligned to your overall commercial strategy. Sharing your objectives and business KPIs are important and give us insight into the size and type of the job to do.

We do not have a “one-size-fits-all” approach to strategy and starting with brand objectives gives us the most important insight into the types of channels, content, tactics and activities that may be most relevant to your brand.

2) Target Audience or Personas

Please share as much rich information about your target audience as you can – current users, prospects and non-users. Research helps us to understand triggers and barriers, audience hopes and aspirations, as well as their media habits, consumption and spending patterns. This applies to both B2C and B2B target audiences.

We will develop rich lifestyle or professional personas that bring to life a qualitative and quantitative picture of who we are trying to influence. If you already have brand personas, please share!

3) Brand Essence, Values and Tone of Voice

Let us know about your brand history, architecture, personality, and important symbols, past communications/advertising, tone of voice or characters. This is essential to ensure we respect, protect and build on your existing brand assets. Also please share brand graphic style guides, key visuals and digital assets; these are vital for content development.

Of course, part of your brief may be for us to help build your brand or evolve it – which we often work on with clients – especially if it is a new brand or product.

4) Integrated Activities

In most cases, you’ll probably brief all your agency partners together, but sometimes there isn’t time or practicality to do this. But don’t leave it to the last minute to brief for PR or influence – the earlier, the better! Our work rarely takes place in isolation, so please let us know what your other agency partners are doing and what other campaign activities are taking place. Understanding timings of these activities is really important for our planning.

Most importantly, knowing when and where paid media is occurring is vitally important for us in recommended the channels and timing of our earned media activities. Synchronisation is everything, right?

5) What do you love and hate?

What have you done before on the that you love and has been successful? What has worked well? And what has perhaps missed the mark? Are there other brands or campaigns you love or hate? What really stands out for you?

We will paint a picture of what success looks like, so knowing where you have been before and what benchmarks have been achieved helps to determine what are the most appropriate KPIs for this project or campaign.

6) Budget

Do you want a BMW or a Barina? No, seriously. We will always come up with biggest ideas your budget can afford and can provide options if extra investment is available – but please give us a starting point or ball park. It helps us to craft the most effective and realistic response to your brief and will get you to the outcomes you are looking for faster. And, by the way, we sometimes drive Barinas and sometimes drive BMWs – it just depends on where we are going and how we want to get there……

With all of this information in hand, we will have a really good starting point to craft a smart, effective, creative and cut-through program for you. If you need an FORWARD briefing form, let us know, and we can send you one!