A Semester with Sonnhalter

Interning in Public Relations

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Posts Tagged ‘PR’

Networking It’s Worth the Effort

Posted by sonnhalter on November 14, 2008

handshakeIn college and in high school my professors, teachers and my parents have stressed the importance of making good connections. You will have an easier time getting into a program if you know the head of it. You will do better in classes if you make a point of getting to know the professors. And you will have a better chance of getting a job if you know someone in the office or have made a connection with the company in some way.

This was stressed even more for me today when I had the chance of attending PRSA’s Cleveland chapter Student Day. The event is open to college students who are majoring in some sort of communication and are interested in PR and in networking with professionals.

SONNHALTER sponsored a table at the event and I was lucky enough to attend and see the professional side of the event rather than the student side.

The Importance of Networking

PRSA’s Student Day invites professionals for a portion of the day so the students can interact with them and begin the networking cycle. Professionals get the benefit of meeting potential interns or employees. This is so important especially in today’s economy and job market.

I have always been told that jobs are obtained through word of mouth and that can be a hard truth. Hundreds of resumes are sent for open positions and what will make you stand out? Most likely your resume looks very similar to everyone else’s. Some pointers for an effective cover letter and resume.

The scenario can be very different if you have met with the firm. Student day offers students a chance to stand out. If you want to work at a particular firm, going to a networking event where they will be represented is a great idea. You can spend lunch chatting with the employees and possibly the boss from the company and showing them that you are more than a list of college accomplishments. Now when they receive your resume and your cover letter (that, of course, mentions the enjoyable time you had with them at the networking event) you are no longer just another name on the page but a person they can remember and relate too.

Find Other Ways to Meet People

It can be really hard to find these opportunities but you can easily start by checking with the local chapter of PRSA or if your campus has a PRSSA branch on their campus. If you can’t find a networking event or can’t find someone you wish to meet, with go straight to the source. Call the company you are interested in, and ask if you can shadow a professional or see if you can come in for a tour. This can take you very far in your professional career.

And FYI: Do this with other aspects of your life. Before you apply for college or grad school tour it and see if you can meet with a professor in your desired major and students in the courses. Always make it a point to go out there and meet people. You never know when that connection will help you later.


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Posted by sonnhalter on November 4, 2008

b2bBusiness-to-business is a term I wasn’t always very familiar with. I had heard it in school, mostly in my marketing classes, but never really understood it. In my PR classes, we mostly worked with nonprofit organizations so I didn’t get to tap into this aspect.

Now that I am at SONNHALTER though, I am getting to tap into this segment of the field and understand it in its entirety. SONNHALTER is a marketing communication firm that specializes in business-to-business communications.

What is B2B:

Now to tell you the truth, when I read on SONNHALTER’s Web site that they specialized in business-to-business I had to look up what that meant. (So I knew for the interview and see what I was trying to get into.) This is more or less the definition I found,

Business-to-business or B2B is when to an organization facilitates the sale of products or services to other companies.


What is PR’s Role:

PR plays a role in this like any other type of business. But there are some distinct differences that I have noticed.

The one thing you must get use to is writing for another business. Now you are probably saying, DUH, that’s a given. And yes it is, but it is something that takes getting use to. This is the first time I have had to write for a public that was another organization or business. In the past all my target audiences have always been part of the general public, not another organization.

This changes the writing style. You’re writing for someone who is very educated on the topic and knows all the organizations and organizations products out there. This makes things more competitive and makes your message more competitive. Trade magazines come into play here (read my post about trade magazines).

There are many aspects of each sector of PR and I only know a limited amount about some but I love discovering and learning the new facets of PR!

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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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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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