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Get Help for Your Media Relations Program: Find an Intern

By on Wednesday, April 14, 2021

It’s been a tough time for those working to serve people who are experiencing homelessness or addiction. Public health measures have impacted how shelters can operate, how services are delivered and touched our lives in innumerable ways. So how do you move your media relations program forward in new ways if you are a little burned out?

One way to amplify your work, is to hire an intern to help with your public relations outreach. If your program is located near a university or college, find out if they have a public relations or journalism program. Students in these programs are often required to do internships to get real world experience. Here’s a few tips to help.

Decide what you want for an intern to do. Make a list of tasks. Writing press releases and social media copy, updating your website or blog, assembling a media list, interviewing people for stories or videos, distributing press releases, making lists of community partners, are all great ideas.

Determine if your intern will be paid or unpaid. You can offer a stipend or hourly wage. In my experience, you will get a better quality intern if you offer compensation, but a free intern can be very competent too.

List your internship with a college or university. Search on the school’s website and apply to list your internship. You might need to contact a department or professor to promote your internship or recruit students. Set deadlines for applicants and describe job duties.

Interview and select a student as your intern. Review the applications you receive and pick promising ones to interview (phone or zoom are fine). Ask questions about work habits, familiarity with your work (a smart student will cruise your website before the interview) and ask for a writing sample (something from a class is fine).

Orient and check in with your intern. Share background information to bring your intern up to speed and provide clear assignments with deadlines. Check in regularly to be sure that duties are clear and to answer any questions. Try to build a positive working relationship with your intern.

Do any needed evaluation. Sometimes interns will ask you to write a letter of recommendation or need to track hours. Keep notes or a list of assignments to help you draft it easily. Say thanks for all the work the intern does to help.

This column originally appeared in Instigate magazine, which is published by the Citygate Network.

Ami Neiberger-Miller is a public relations strategist and writer. She is the founder of Steppingstone LLC, an independent PR practice near Washington, D.C. that provides public relations counsel, social media engagement, writing services, and creative design for publications and websites (contact to discuss your projectreview our portfoliosign up for our e-newsletter). She blogs about media relations, social media, public relations, and work-family balance. Follow her on Twitter @AmazingPRMaven

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