Media Relations Maven
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  Margo Mateas writes the popular “Media Relations Maven” column for Tactics, the official newspaper of the Public Relations Society of America.  
     

student PR trainingPreparing for a career in public relations?

Media relations training is the most important skill you will ever learn in public relations. More important than writing press releases or planning strategy, media relations is where success happens. If you don’t get clients ink, you won't have a career.

Media relations isn’t taught in most PR schools. The Maven is here to help! From books, CDs and entire plug-in student training modules, The Maven is here to make sure you succeed in today's workforce.

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The Maven’s Top Five Internship Tips for Students
  • Intern in a newsroom first -- not a PR firm. This will give you an invaluable perspective that will set you apart from other applicants and will shape the future of your career. Understand how the newsroom works, and you will instantly have an advantage that other PR people do not. Understand journalists as best you can and see how they view PR people, and which ones they like and which ones they avoid.
  • PR internships are usually more about making clip reports and doing research than learning the business. Don’t expect to be given opportunities to create strategy or offer your opinion right away. Most businesses are running so fast you won’t be included in most projects, other than as a clerical support person. Be sure to ask questions and offer your views anyway. Some of the best pitches I’ve seen have come from account coordinators and new kids on the block!
  • You may be asked to start pitching right away, so don’t fall into the failure trap. Push back on your supervisors and ask for training, preparation and support. Direct them to the Maven’s material if you need reinforcement for doing things right. If you aren’t trained to do media relations, you will most likely fail. Don’t let them do this to you! Don’t pretend you understand something if you don’t. It’s your employer’s job to train you, not yours.
  • Write new releases newspaper-style – inverted pyramid. Put the most important information in the headlines and lead paragraph. It’s not like a term paper, where the one who throws the most words on the paper wins. Here, you must write very concisely and strategically. Summarize everything down to its most basic level – and give editors key information in the first few sentences. Get rid of wordy, adjective-filled releases, and just “stick to the facts.”
  • Insist on learning during your internship. Again, most employers will not want to take time to really teach you the ropes during your internship, so you will have to be proactive. Take one of the firm’s PR stars to lunch and pick her brain. Sit with mentors while they pitch.  Read their successful emails and ask them why they do things a certain way. Ask lots of questions and make the experience work for you. An internship is not a one-way street – it should be there to help give you practical experience while providing an employer with discounted help.
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