When I learned that my supervisor would be a senior account lead within my firm’s Corporate & Financial team, I was a bit intimidated. First, I have very little knowledge of the financial industry or what a lot of the acronyms in finance news headlines stand for. IPO – which I now know refers to a company’s “initial public offering” in reference to the stock exchange – and M&A – which Professor Framroze taught us is a shortened form of noting an organization’s mergers and acquisitions, in reference to the implications they can have on communication, management etc. – are a few examples. Anyway, I was also nervous about the chance to work for one of the top 5 PR and communications firms around the globe, while also immensely excited for the opportunity. It’s been a jumble of emotions, to say the least.
In my few short days at work, and with the help of not only my generous and helpful supervisor but also two other senior account heads, I have both learned a great deal about PR services as well as applied lessons from the Annenberg School that my professors would be proud of. Without delving too deeply into my firm’s secrets to success, I’ll outline several topics of this education here. Note: I’ve only been into the office for two and a half work days now. I’ve already drafted a press release, compiled a high-profile media report, and met international colleagues from my firm’s Paris office. Additionally, it’s a nice treat that the communications field celebrates “Casual Friday” – and on a weekly basis! – and also utilizes evenings and Fridays for inter-office knowledge sharing and team building.
My first hands-on PR lessons in effective client services included simple tricks to a high-quality press release. In the feedback on my first attempt at a release for one of the firm’s consumer accounts – a leather goods company known for its bags and technology cases – it was made clear that I needed a more cohesive theme to my writing. Lesson 1: be sure to maintain a single theme or “hook,” which your message to the press repeatedly comes back to, so that the product or service in question stands out to both the consumers and the media that will be sharing the product with them. This was a fun first assignment, and I’m grateful to account exec Edith for the help with it.
Secondly, I learned the ins and outs of a pitch to a potential financial client – and in particular, a collaborative pitch. The team which I’m working with may at time join forces with their mainland counterparts to create a comprehensive communications package geared toward the Asia or Greater China region. Lesson 2: Such work requires separate research, localized strategic planning, conference calls, and peer-editing for consistency’s sake. Moreover, such a fascinatingly thorough first example of my firm’s work gave me a taste of the services which may be needed by financial companies seeking communications support. Many of these are no different than what many types of companies could benefit from in today’s competitive markets. These include media monitoring and reputation analysis, executive and media spokesperson training, thought-leadership and reputation management, investor relations and industry trends, and social responsibility and corporate governance strategy. The list goes on.
If this was a taste of how much information an aspiring communications professional can gather in several days at a renowned firm like this one, then I can’t wait to see what the rest of this summer internship will provide me.