As I look back at the second week of my internship, I’ve gleaned some important things about the job.
Lesson Learned: PR isn’t always glamorous.
I got to spend two days out of the office last week, working on-site at a weeklong event. I was there to help promote one of our client’s programs, and in the process, I obtained some more very important insight:
Lesson Learned: People don’t always want to hear what you have to say. Ouch.
While I was on-site working last week, the sun was scorching, the cicadas were swarming, and at times my efforts seemed completely futile. We were at the outdoor event handing out free give-a-ways to combat the summer weather. People, however were very skeptical. A common dialogue for that day was:
Me: “Sir, would you like a…”
Man: “NO! I don’t want what your selling!”
Me: “…free fan or ice-cold bandana?”
Man: “Oh. Yes, I’ll take one.”
I felt like I was a door-to-door salesman of Tupperware rather than a hip, PR intern handing out free stuff. Yet I have a desire to prove myself hard-working, so all day long I continued to give my best effort in the hot, summer sun. I smiled and conversed and distributed items.
In the end, for every person who first gave us a puzzled or suspicious look, there was another person who was intently interested in what we were handing out. Other people just wanted to stop and have a conversation, and some of them even returned to talk to us for consecutive days. At the end of the week, there was a final little nugget of knowledge I gained:
Lesson learned: A multitude of small interactions can make a huge impact. (Wait a minute…I feel like this is a central tenet of public relations, no?)
By the end of the week, we had had a couple thousand single interactions with event-goers across the five-day period. That means that a couple thousand people came in contact with our client that week. While it was hard for me to see at the time, I was a part of that–it was a collective effort.
Public relations is about creating/building relationships with an organization’s public, and sometimes the effort we put into each relationship must be done on a personal level. Every conversation I had was a tiny part of a bigger picture. Sometimes, reaching a goal takes a little grunt work. And that’s what I specialize in… I’m the intern.
I’ve never been fooled by the Hollywood portrayals of public relations. Although I’ve always been a Sex and the City fan, I saw through Samantha’s glamorous PR facade. I wouldn’t mind, however, if my next event was on the red carpet. Just saying.
Reflections: This internship is gonna have to do a lot more to scare me off, I’m still in for the long haul.