A Semester with Sonnhalter

Interning in Public Relations

Archive for October, 2008

What is public relations?

Posted by sonnhalter on October 27, 2008

https://i1.wp.com/blog.the-escape.co.uk/wp-content/ads.jpg Now this is a famous question, well at least in the PR program at Kent State University. Each one of my PR professors has asked this question at the beginning of our first class. My freshman year when asked, I really couldn’t give an answer. My sophomore year, I could spit out a very vague version of the correct answer. Now as a veteran senior, I think I have finally got it. In fact, I have several answers and several of my own opinions on the subject.


My favorite answer and the one I use the most is, well, simply writing! Now if that doesn’t help you answer the question let me go a little farther: public relations is building relationships with all an organizations public’s through media relations, internal relations, external relations, etc. etc.. And just to connect that first answer to the second, the most common way to of reaching publics is through writing.

Don’t get PR confused

This explanation usually works for someone who knows a little something about public relations, advertising, media or some similar field. For others this seems like an appropriate answer for any and all the fields listed above. Don’t get PR confused with other media fields.

Not Marketing

Marketing vs. PR is hard to explain. Marketing is the overall business idea that incorporates several facets such as advertising, public relations, sales strategy, customer support, branding, etc.. Marketing is about bringing buyers and sellers together while PR is more focused on reputations, understanding and perceptions.

Not Advertising

There are many differences between advertising and public relations too. For example, advertising is paid for so they know when the ad will be aired or be published and how it will be presented and it usually isn’t personal. Public relations seeks free publicity so you don’t have any of the control advertisers do and also it tends to focus on a more personal level.

Not Journalism

Public relations isn’t journalism, even though PR practitioners and journalists must learn to coincide. Ever read the business section? Well guess what you are probably reading the idea of some PR practitioner out there. The main difference between the two is that journalists should be objective and PR is not. PR is looking to influence on behalf of an organization.



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How to Write for Trade Magazines

Posted by sonnhalter on October 17, 2008

During my time as a PR student I have had to write for lots of different publications. Most required a different style. I had to adapt for online writing verses newspaper writing and etc. etc.  but in the last month (which just happens to be how long I have been at SONNHALTER) I have had to learn how to write for trade magazines because SONNHALTER is a business-to-business marketing communication firm.

Now this is something completely new to me. None of my classes or past experiences included this medium and like before there is a certain style to this writing, which I have had to adapt to.

What I have learned about writing for Trade Magazines:

1. Cut the fluff. All that wonderful PR training on how to hype up your story will go to waste here. Just stick with what the release is about and keep to the information.

2. Be specific. State the facts and in the case of what I have been writing, the specs of each product. The release should be useful and have the information.

3. Don’t forget your basics. It should still be clear and concise. It should be newsworthy and relevant. It should be well written. Make sure you don’t forget all those fundamental things you learned in your first news writing class.

4. Don’t sweat the time! Don’t stay over on Friday to finish up that press release because guess what, it probably doesn’t matter! Trade magazines don’t present the same type of news that newspaper, radio, TV, etc. do and the timeliness factor is removed from their news. You can have weeks to get them a press release so take your time and enjoy the weekend!

Learning to adapt my writing and being able to present examples of all different writing styles has been so beneficial to me. Like I said in my last post I have had to endure lots of red ink but the payoff has been worth it.





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Posted by sonnhalter on October 3, 2008

So the fun begins, but I warn you this first post is going to be a bit introductory to me and my experience. For all of you who didn’t read the “About the Intern” section, I will take a moment and introduce myself. My name is Anastasia (Ana) Duller and I am currently the Fall PR intern at SONNHALTER a marketing communications firm in Berea, Ohio.

I will be recording my time and experiences with SONNHALTER through this blog and the next intern at SONNHALTER will take over after me. I am sure each intern will have a different objective for this blog but one of my goals is to help other PR students who are conducting or looking for internships.

Before my first internship, I was terrified and did not know what to expect. Most students don’t know what the employers are going to expect and have no idea if they are capable of all those things learned in class. I brought every one of my PR books to my first internship, convinced I would forget everything I ever knew, including how to write a simple press release!

My Suggestions:

First, breathe.

Second, you will surprise yourself with how much you do know and can do.

Third, take the criticism. Listen to it and learn from it and try not to repeat mistakes.

I have interned and worked with very different organizations. During school, I worked with non-profits that had very limited budgets and lots of constraints. My first internship was with Susan G. Komen for the Cure Headquarters. Although it was a non-profit, it was the national headquarters and ran more like a large business. Right now, I am interning with SONNHALTER, which is a marketing communications firm that specializes in business-to-business communications.

Each of these organizations operates differently and each offered me something I had never experienced before and I have needed guidance throughout each. But that is what an internship is for; you are supposed to be learning from professionals. My work has been torn apart and given back to me and I have learned to accept that as inevitable.

When I started at Komen I didn’t know how Komen wanted to present their message and the same happened at Sonnhalter. I had to learn the organizations language and writing style and that takes time and lots of red ink!

To wrap up my first post I want to encourage all students to seek an internship and not to let fear get in their way. It is a learning experience and you are expected to make mistakes so learn to embrace them, just remember to learn from them also!

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