2013 July

From Intern to Publicist: Five Tips on Mentoring Your Interns

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By John McCook

John McCook

Whoever said that two heads are better than one must have been in public relations. As a vice president at Rubenstein Public Relations, I have learned that if you have a talented associate publicist working alongside of you who can generate consistent, quality coverage on behalf of your clients, you have a recipe for upping your client service game.

So how do you foster and nurture the potential in an associate publicist? I suggest the following five tips:

Explain the “meaning of life”: 
I have found that if an associate publicist truly understands your clients’ business, their marketing objectives, your particular campaign strategy and how the pitch at hand fits into the equation – the big picture – they will be more effective in their media outreach. When, for example, I understand the motivation behind what I’m doing and how my contribution benefits the greater good, it brings a focus that helps my level of success. The same holds true for an associate publicist who understands how their work helps to achieve client objectives.

Do your due diligence:
As a senior member of your public relations team, your experience and media savvy will greatly benefit your associate publicist in being as effective as they can be.  At the onset of a media initiative,  I recommend utilizing your understanding of the client and the story to write a pitch that is compelling, viable and likely to succeed.  Perhaps the biggest contribution you can offer is to develop a finite list of media that make sense to pitch.  Do the reporters on your list cover this type of content?  Are they the right reporters at the right outlets for your client?  Pull articles they’ve written. Get a sense of who they are and how they cover their news. I have found homework to be a critical component of whether I succeed or fail at a pitch.

Clear the runway: 
There is nothing more intimidating for any PR practitioner than being handed a list of 150 reporters to call on a media approach. And if the list is that big, I have found it’s not a good one. I would suggest stacking the deck in your favor and your associate’s favor by pairing down the list to 20-25 of the most viable, appropriate reporters.  Once you have that list – you can go and go big. You have just developed a strong refined pitch, a targeted list and an understanding of how the publicity you generate helps client objectives.

Lead by example: 
From what I have observed, nothing is more empowering for an associate publicist than to see his or her boss succeed utilizing the pitch at hand.  “If my boss is having luck, I will too…”  The most successful PR leaders inspire results from their associate publicists by generating a body of coverage themselves.  And two qualified practitioners devouring a media campaign will generate more volume and quality than just one person doing it solo.

Credit where credit is due: 
It is human nature to want fame and recognition for your efforts.   So it makes total sense that associate publicists feel the same.  If they score a win with a media placement, they have every right to be acknowledged and recognized for their effort.


Our Summer 2013 Interns with Associate Publicist Elena Gaudino