By: Anissa Gabbara
Internships are probably one of the most memorable experiences in a college student’s career. In some cases, internships can change a student’s entire outlook on what they want to do in life, which makes it worth every bit of the experience.
This past spring, I secured my first internship at Fox 2 News in the Creative Services Department, where I worked with producers, editors, and photographers daily. I would write teasers for the evening news, conduct man-on-the-street interviews for Fox 2’s image campaigns, as well as help brainstorm ideas for image campaigns both digital and on-air, assist with production during shoots, and anything else I could get my hands on.
So why Fox 2? Interning at a news station gave me a taste of everything, such as promotions, marketing, production, community service, and news—all useful for a PR major. The experience was priceless because as practitioners, we work closely with people from different fields every day, and in the end, we’re all working together to contribute to the success of one product.
Being Fox 2’s creative services intern was quite fitting for me as a PR major, although I wasn’t doing much PR work at all. Here’s why. Much of my daily duties consisted of tasks that PR practitioners do on a regular basis, such as developing image campaigns, conducting interviews, and writing. I may not have had to write a press release, handle a crisis situation, or write a pitch to a journalist promoting a client, but in creative services, we are essentially promoting the talent and the station to get people to watch. Believe it or not, more people pay attention to a 15-second news teaser than you may think.
Here are some of the skills I learned at Fox 2 that I can take with me in the PR world.
- Condense writing.
In PR, we’re taught to make our writing short and sweet. One of the biggest components of this internship was writing 15-20 second news updates for the evening newscasts, and short and sweet is exactly what it had to be! While keeping that factor in mind, I also had to make it fun, attention grabbing, and conversational. In other words, write a promo that doesn’t sound like a promo, as one of my supervisors nicely put it! Tricky, right? I know!
- Communicate effectively.
PR is all about communicating with the public. During my time as a Fox 2 intern, I spent a great deal of time conducting man-on-the-street interviews for the morning and evening image campaigns. These are quick spots Fox 2 airs that include soundbites of viewers telling us why they watch. Initially, the thought of going out there and approaching random strangers on the street was terrifying, but once I started, I was on a roll! I was also told that no other intern has conducted as many interviews as I have—not even some producers! It made me a more confident communicator.
- Campaign development.
One of the most challenging tasks I assisted with as an intern was brainstorming ideas for campaigns, but it was a good challenge. Throughout my internship, I’ve been lucky enough to see the beginning and end stages of developing an image campaign. When it comes to the brainstorming process, I found that some of the best brainstorming sessions happened when we were outside of the building. You’ll be surprised by how many great ideas you can come up with during a car ride!
- Working with news.
In PR, we’re constantly working with news, sending press releases, pitches, etc. During my internship, I was in and out of the newsroom, but the roles were reversed, as I was the one receiving information from them. In order to write a news teaser, of course you need to know the news of the day, so it’s important to check with the newsroom to get a general rundown of the stories that are going to be covered in the newscasts so you can promote them effectively.
- Staying informed.
Yes, I can admit that sometimes I fail to stay up to date with what’s going on in the world, like many. But interning at a news station helped me stay informed because the news is always in your face. This is vital because every PR practitioner should be well informed on current events. It’s a MUST!
This internship may not have been exactly PR, but I gained so much knowledge that I can apply to PR. The moral of the story is don’t turn down an internship that is not exactly what you’re majoring in. Many fields overlap, and it never hurts to try something new. You may just discover a new passion!
Anissa Gabbara is a senior at Eastern Michigan University studying public relations with a double minor in communications and marketing. She currently serves as the Vice President of Public Relations in EMU’s PRSSA Chapter. She has an interest in celebrity PR and hopes to one day work with some of the biggest names and corporations in the entertainment world. She plans to hone her craft while becoming a valuable source of information to others. You can follow her on Twitter @AnissaGabbara.