PR pro habits that journalists despise

By Kevin Allen | This post can be found here

Katie Burke has penned the post that many have been waiting for.

On the HubSpot blog, Burke’s post, “S%*t PR People Do That Journalists Hate” provides a fantastic indictment of all the lazy, annoying, and stupid things that PR people do to try to get journalists to write about their clients.

Among the complaints:

• Calling on the phone, ever.
• Pitching canned and boring story ideas.
• Using all caps.
• Spamming.

All the complaints are collected in the following SlideShare:

http://image.slidesharecdn.com/shitprpeopledo-130710113630-phpapp02/95/slide-1-638.jpg?1374087602

It’s begging for a response, so the challenge to PR pros is to offer enough material for “S%*t Journalists Do That  PR Pros Hate.

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7 underrated skills every PR newbie needs

By Jessica Malnik| This post can be found here

 

In an ideal world, nascent PR pros and neophyte journalists should know how to do a variety of things before they walk across the stage and get their diplomas.

 

There’s no need to be an expert in everything, but it helps to have some familiarity with a variety of tasks and programs. As someone who’s been in the workforce for a few years now, I offer seven underrated skills that all aspiring PR pros and journalists should have:

1. Basic HTML knowledge

By this, I mean basic. There’s no need for PR pros to know how to code websites, although it could be helpful. There is a need to know to how to post a blog post using WordPress, Blogger, or Posterous. Knowing simple HTML commands for headlines, body copy, bold, italic, and bullet points is HTML 101.

 

2. Video editing

This can be daunting to learn. I’m not saying everyone should be fluent in Final Cut Pro or Avid, but there is no reason that a marketer or PR pro should not have some familiarity with iMovie, Animoto, or Jaycut. These are simple programs that enable you to upload and edit videos, often in minutes.

3. Excel

Creating simple spreadsheets and tasks in Excel can be difficult for newbies. Though it may be a tough program to learn, there’s no excuse to do so. You will use it more than you think.

4. Proper grammar

Writing well is a staple of just about any career. Good grammar and spelling are at its root. Channel the advice of your middle school English teacher whenever you construct a sentence, paragraph, white paper, presentation, or blog post. Good grammar matters.

5. Basic math

Whether you’re analyzing statistics, comparing percentages, or helping prepare a budget, simple math skills come in handy more often than you might think.

6. SEO

Understanding how SEO affects your site’s search rankings is important. At the very least, you should know to craft an SEO-friendly headline and keywords for site content. Any added knowledge is gravy. For additional SEO resources, check out SEOMoz blog, a phenomenal resource.

7. Social media familiarity

It’s mind blowing how many marketers and PR pros handle “social media tasks” professionally when they have no or little experience using those platforms. You don’t have to be super active on Facebook, Twitter, G+, etc., but you should at least be on the sites and know how to use them.

 

What other skills should marketers and PR pros have? Please leave them in the comments section below.

Jessica Malnik is a PR/marketing coordinator, social media specialist, videographer, and an avid Gen Y blogger. A version of this article originally appeared on her blog.

What Do You Do When Your Venue Closes Days Before Your Event?

When the Children’s Book Choice Awards planners arrived for load in, they discovered a lock on the venue’s doors and had to act quickly to save the event.

By Beth Kormanik | This Post can be found here

<p>  The Children's Book Choice Awards switched venues at the last minute, but it brought along its bookshelf lectern.</p>

The venue for the Children’s Choice Book Awards changes each year, and planner Lizz Torgovnick of Sequence Events and her clients at the Children’s Book Council had carefully scouted locations before choosing the Liberty Theater for this year’s event in May. The historic facility—with its unique layout and original theater boxes—had even inspired the event’s red curtain theme.

When the load-in crew members arrived on Friday to prep for the Monday event, they found an event planner’s nightmare: a padlock on the door and a post detailing liquor and other violations. The team faced a quick decision: Hope the legal issues would be resolved by Monday, or change venues.

“The first hour was spent asking, ‘What the heck is going on?’ Was it still possible to have the event there,” Torgovnick said. “We couldn’t get our venue contact on the phone, so it became clear very quickly that we needed to find a new venue for our event. After a few semi-frantic calls to team Sequence, everyone was on the case. We called every venue we’ve ever worked with that could accommodate this event.”

They needed an open venue that had space for a cocktail reception, award presentation, and dessert reception for 300 people—without increasing the budget. Finding an open venue in a matter of hours, even in a city like New York with its numerous options, is no easy task. The first round of phone calls yielded no results. Liberty Theater’s audiovisual contact suggested a not-yet-open space called Stage 48, fewer than 10 blocks from the original venue. It was still finalizing details of its build out, but it was available, and the team scheduled a walk-through.

“Luckily, it was a pretty good fit,” Torgovnick said. “It was 80 percent of what we needed from a venue, and the rest was doable. It was kind of a miracle.”

With the client’s approval, they made the switch. But the crew still faced several hurdles: ordering a new menu without a tasting, creating a new floor plan and new seat assignments, and alerting guests to the change in location. Then there was the stage itself. Intended more for live music events, it did not have stairs for winners to climb to receive their awards.

So planners asked the chef to recreate as best he could the original menu and cobbled together a staircase from materials the venue had on hand. The Children’s Book Council emailed event guests about the new location, and the night of the event, a hired staffer stood outside of the old venue in case anyone missed the message.

Another challenge was the elevator. It was not operational, so guests had to climb to reach the third-floor reception site. To accommodate guests who couldn’t make the hike, staffers kept the bar open on the main level and brought in hors d’oeuvres.

Despite the change, the event largely stayed on budget. Stage 48 matched the original venue price, and there was no haggling with the Liberty Theater since it had not cashed the deposit check. The only loss was for a satellite truck that planners had hired for a live online broadcast of the show. Its signal, which had been tested at the former venue, did not work from the new one.

The Liberty Theater’s William Curran told BizBash that the violations were from the theater’s in-house restaurant at the time, Famous Dave’s, which was operated separately. Curran said the management took care of the violations in court that Friday and reopened in time for dinner service. (He added that Famous Dave’s had been replaced by the Liberty Diner under new management.)

“We could have done the event here, but they felt more comfortable moving,” Curran said. “In my 30 years I’ve never had something like that. I understood that the event planner was very upset to say the least, and that’s why I did everything I could to help them.”

Torgovnick said she was disappointed that her client never received an apology from the Liberty Theater, but the experience had taught her valuable lessons.

“Be prepared,” she said. “Be on top of all of the details. If you have all of the puzzle pieces, if you have to reassemble them in a different place, it’s possible. Expecting the unexpected is part of our job, and in a sick way is what we love about the industry. The biggest problem that anyone could face came our way, and we still had a fantastic event.”

 

Corporate to Agency Life: Differences Between the Two

By: Yvette Pistorio- This post can be found here

 

Corporate to Agency Life: Differences Between the Two

I come to you to talk about the differences between corporate to agency life because I’ve done both.

I worked on the corporate side for the first five years of my career.

Only recently (about seven months ago) did I join an agency.

Moving from corporate to agency life really showed me how different they are – and it’s not just billable hours, managing multiple accounts, being responsive at all times of the day and night, and client reports.

The pace, culture, day-to-day duties and tasks, income, purpose – really, everything is different.

Corporate Life

On the corporate side, things happen a lot more slowly. I forget where I read it, but the best analogy was when someone said it’s like being stuck at a red light. You’re waiting for the light to turn green; wait for it…wait for it…alright, maybe there is a mechanical issue with the light.

It takes longer to champion your cause, negotiate for resources, and see your projects through to completion. On the flip side, you have the opportunity to truly come up with an idea, follow through on your recommendations, and finish the project.

The good thing about a corporate setting: You have a much deeper understanding of the business, its culture, and the job role. It provides longevity and stability, but it lacks variety. There tends to be more conflicting objectives, not just between departments, but sometimes in your own team. And you have to become an expert at political maneuverings, which I found just annoying.

Agency Life

If you like a fun, fast-paced environment, collaboration, and continuous learning, agency life might be the right fit. Tasks and decisions come quickly. Actually, everything moves at a much faster pace.

There is continuous learning which is fun, but not easy. You get to work with a variety of clients and sectors, and you get to see a breadth of strategies. It requires you to know a lot about, well, a lot. Your clients expect you to bring your A-game every day, so there is a lot of note-taking and studying. You have to stay ahead of current news, trends, and technology. After all, your clients shouldn’t tell you what to do; you’re the expert.

An agency also affords you the opportunity to try your hand at different specializations. What that does, especially early on in your career, is give you the ability to find what you do and don’t like. An agency can also be filled with more experienced and wiser professionals who can help teach and mentor you.

On the downside, you aren’t privy to internal client discussions and sometimes are told about new initiatives much too late. You also most likely work longer hours, including nights and weekends.

Corporate to Agency Life

I can’t say I prefer one more than the other, because they are so completely different. Both have their benefits and drawbacks. Neither side is cushier than the other, but I will say life at an agency has kept me on my toes and I’m never bored…ever.

Do you prefer agency or corporate work? Why?

About Yvette Pistorio

Yvette Pistorio is an account executive and community manager for Arment Dietrich. She is a lover of pop culture, cupcakes, and HGTV, and enjoys a good laugh. There are a gazillion ways you can find her online.

15 tips for a successful PR career

By Dave Fleet – Post can be found here

 

 

 

 

One of the things I enjoy most nowadays is having the opportunity to speak to the future leaders of the PR profession when they’re starting out. I often get asked: “What tips would you offer to get ahead in this field?”

 

Now that summer is upon us and students are turning their minds to life after school, I thought it might be timely to offer some advice here.

Here are 15 top tips for success in a public relations career. Funnily enough, I’d give the same advice to someone 10 years into their career, like me:

1. Be a sponge.

Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it made the PR pro. Whether you’re just starting out or if you’ve been in the business for years, it’s incumbent upon you to constantly learn in order to stay on top of our industry. Never stop being curious.

 

2. Stay on top of the news.

Make time to stay on top of current events. Read a newspaper (online or offline). Set up news alerts for your company and/or your clients. Listen to the radio or to podcasts about industry news. Watch the news in the morning. Whatever approach you choose, it will make you more interesting and it will make you better at your job. Consider it an investment.

3. Focus on details.

Nothing hurts the credibility of a pitch, a proposal, or a program like sloppy mistakes. Meanwhile, people who become known for outrageous attention to detail become go-to people in a team. Be that person. Read and re-read your work. Be your own devil’s advocate in order to think things through and make sure you’ve covered all the angles. Double-check your calculations. Question your assumptions.

4. Learn to juggle.

This one applies especially to agency folks, but it goes across the board. Learn how to prioritize, how to focus when you need to, and how to manage your time. Life in PR is a juggling act, and you need to know how to manage your workload and the expectations of your clients—however you define them.

5. Learn to write.

Take the time to learn how to write well. Practice. Learn from others. Take a course if you need to. (I recommend the eight-step editing course by the Editors’ Association of Canada, but there are many others.)

Crucial for many new graduates, you may need to unlearn what your professors taught you in university. Short paragraphs, short sentences, and clear language help you to convey your point much more easily than the opposite.

Oh, and if you could put “by zombies” at the end of a phrase, it’s passive. Keep your voice active.

6. Embrace numbers.

Measurement has been a weak point in the PR profession for a long time. Nowadays, companies demand more. This is especially the case for social media and paid media programs. The days of output-focused measurement are numbered, and outcome-focused measurement is on the rise. You don’t need to be an expert in dissecting website traffic (especially if you have a measurement team supporting you), but you should know the basics and know how to coach clients and people within your organization on how to approach measurement effectively.

7. Measure through the life cycle.

Measurement is so much more than reporting, and companies are demanding more from PR measurement nowadays. Know how to take full advantage of the potential that measurement holds throughout a program:

  • Inform your objectives (setting realistic goals, fueled by insights from past programs);
  • Fuel your planning (again, with insights from past work);
  • Identify and help to address issues mid-flight;
  • Measure results and generate new insights to fuel future work.

[Check out more on this in my recent presentation on Social Media at Scale that I gave at PodCamp Toronto.]

8. Provide solutions.

Tough challenges are a fact of life in the PR industry, where the role of communications is often to help to change behavior or perception. That’s difficult. Few things will endear you to your boss more than this: Become the person who comes forward with solutions alongside their problems. It doesn’t have to be the solution they choose (that helps, though), but the fact that you’re thinking it through and considering solutions demonstrates the kind of mindset that managers adore.

9. Learn to stay level-headed.

PR pros frequently have to deal with difficult situations, many of which can’t be predicted. These are moments where you can distinguish yourself and improve your reputation, or the reverse. Be one of those people who keep a cool head. Stay calm, and focus on solutions (per the earlier point). Remember: frantic doesn’t mean effective.

10. Know what you don’t know.

Self-awareness is a valuable trait, regardless of where you are in your career. Be humble enough to know when you’re out of your depth, and to learn from those who have experience in areas you don’t. Make sure that when you find yourself in that situation you don’t sit paralyzed until it’s too late for anyone to help you.

Bonus points for thinking things through ahead of time and coming prepared with a suggestion: “I’m not sure of the best approach here… here’s what I’m thinking… what do you think?”

11. Learn the difference between objectives, strategy, and tactics.

Nothing makes me cringe more than seeing people confuse objectives, strategy, and tactics with each other.

Simply put:

  • Objectives are what you need to accomplish. They should relate to business goals.
  • Strategies are how you plan to accomplish them. They should drive toward the objectives.
  • Tactics are the actions you take. They should funnel up to the strategy.

Learn it. Preach it.

[Read more on how to set better objectives or download my ebook on communications planning for more pointers.]

12. Become a trusted advisor.

Whether you’re dealing with executives in your company, or with clients at other firms, strive to become a trusted advisor to them. Go beyond what you “have” to do and become a partner. Flag opportunities and threats. Offer strategic opinions. Learn to empathize with them. Have difficult conversations when you need to. Push them to take the right approach (but know when to accept their decision).

Don’t just take orders.

13. Learn from your mistakes.

Accept that you’ll make mistakes. We all make them, and they’re a key piece of how we learn and improve. If you don’t make mistakes, then you’re not trying hard enough or not trying enough things. The key is to make them at the right time, in the right setting, and to learn from them. Conversely, people who constantly shirk responsibility for mistakes, or make excuses, will never learn.

Some of my most valuable lessons, and most beneficial experiences, have come from making mistakes. They weren’t pleasant at the time, but I learned from them and I’m better for it. What’s important is owning them and figuring out what to do differently next time.

14. Think outside your bubble.

It’s easy to get caught up in your day-to-day routine. Instead, look around and proactively identify ways to expand your expertise. That could be by finding new ways to get better at tasks, or by getting involved in a project that stretches you, or by learning more about a relevant field.

15. Understand converged media.

This point began life as “understand social media,” but nowadays it’s broader than that. Start with understanding social media-monitor and participate in relevant conversations; think about how your programs might play out in social channels, and so on. Social media is just the beginning now, though. The key nowadays is understanding how earned, owned, and paid media play together. You don’t need to be an expert in all of them, but you do need to understand how to leverage them.

There you have it-15 tips for success in PR. What would you add to the list?

A version of this article originally appeared on DaveFleet.com.

The Most Influential Personal Style Bloggers Right Now

This blog can be originally found here

By: Lauren Sherman

Some say the age of the personal style blogger is over.

Today, the girl needs more than an outfit, a boyfriend, and a camera. Bloggers need to think about production quality, editorial strategy, and affiliate programs to really gain a foothold on the web. They are more like editors, creating publications worthy of a million-person audience than a few thousand super-fans.

Yet it still comes down to that camera. Nine times out of 10, the bloggers who move merchandise, who get people talking, who attract repeat advertisers, love to strike a pose.

So we say the personal style blogger isn’t going anywhere—-in fact, she’s more powerful than ever.

Fashionista’s list of the most influential personal style bloggers was determined by a strict methodology: We factored in Instagram, Twitter and Tumblr followers, monthly pageviews, press mentions, affiliate marketing successes, and industry sentiment. (Affiliate marketing, in this case, means the act of using trackable links to get a commission on products sold because you wrote about a product/linked to them. There are a lot of affiliate marketing programs: The most popular include Reward Style, Skimlinks and ShopStyle.)

To ensure the numbers we crunched were accurate, we worked with individual bloggers, affiliate marketers and Fohr Card, the new database for brands to access legit stats and information on thousands of bloggers.

We also took into consideration audience feedback about 2010′s list. You’ll notice that this group is tighter—any site arguably more about lifestyle than fashion or beauty was eliminated.

Like any list you read on the internet, our ranking is up for debate. And we encourage it! Let us know what you think. And feel free to Tweet me if you have any more questions about the methodology.

Click here to see who made it http://fashionista.com/2013/01/influential-fashion-style-bloggers-2013/2/

The best—and worst—times to post to social media

By Kristin Piombino- This post can be found here

t’s the million-dollar question for social media managers everywhere: What is the best time to post to social media?

 

While the optimal time to update your Facebook page or Pinterest boards may vary depending on your audience, Social Caffeine created an infographic that lists, in general, the best and worst times to post to the major social networks.

[RELATED: Master the can’t-ignore social media tools after Mark Ragan’s one day social media boot camp.]

Here’s a look at three of them:

Facebook: Traffic is highest between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. ET.

Best time: Between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. ET

Worst time: 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. ET

Pinterest: Saturday morning is the best time to post.

Best time: 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. ET or 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. ET

Worst time: 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET

LinkedIn: Post before or after business hours.

Best time: 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. ET or 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. ET

Worst time: 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. ET

Check out the full graphic for more:

Kristin Piombino is an editorial assistant for Ragan.com.

Should PR pros get accredited?

By Matt Wilson| This post can be found here

 

Of the Public Relations Society of America’s 21,000-plus members, only about 3,800, or 18 percent, hold the organization’s Accredited in Public Relations (APR) certification. The number of professionals seeking the accreditation is on the decline, too, according to PRWeek.

That’s likely why the PRSA is re-examining the APR. In a Monday night email to members, Mickey G. Nall, chairman and CEO of PRSA for 2013, announced plans to work with a consulting firm and the Universal Accreditation Board to “enhance the profile and prestige of the APR credential” for the 50th anniversary of the credential next year.

“Rest assured, abandoning accreditation is not an option that PRSA is considering,” he added.

Yet plenty of PR pros have clearly decided accreditation isn’t something they need. To find out why—and whether they’re mistaken in that assumption—PR Daily talked to a handful of accredited and non-accredited PR professionals.

The reasons why 

Brian Lee, president of Revelation PR, Advertising and Social Media, says he got his APR credential in 2011 for a very simple reason: It “helps distinguish the contenders from the pretenders, to put it bluntly.”

“You can only earn the designation after you have proven mastery of areas such as research, ethics, media relations, crisis communications, and management,” he says.

Bad apples, such as the PR firm that helped Facebook plant negative news about Google back in 2011, can give the PR field a bad name, Lee adds. Accreditation can help separate those bad apples from the bunch.

“I’m hopeful that no APR-trained practitioner would ever agree to do something that unscrupulous, and that’s reason alone for the need for more accredited PR professionals,” he says.

Crystal Smith, director of integrated media for public relations at Strategic Communications and president of the Central New York chapter of PRSA, says it’s tough to explain to people outside the PR industry what PR professionals actually do.

“I relate the APR to a CPA for accountants,” she says. “You don’t need a CPA to do business as an accountant. But if a business or consumer has a choice, they’ll pick the CPA—especially for their more serious and significant accounting needs.”

Philip Chang, partner at the PR firm Carbon, says firms benefit from managers having APR credentials, as a shorthand way to prove the company means business and cares about PR and its history.

The reasons why not 

Chang says he can see the other side of the coin, though. To the untrained eye, one certification—APR—isn’t all that different from any other, such as the Business Marketing Association’s Certified Business Communicator credential.

“Where there are competing organizations, there are competing credentials and consequently, it diminishes the value of the credential,” he says.

Jenni Gritti of branding firm Wyatt Brand says she had every intention of gaining accreditation after graduating from college in 2009, but it’s become less and less important to her over time.

“APR at the end of my name doesn’t make anyone open my emails any faster, get back to me any quicker, or approach me with ideas and business any sooner,” she says. “My hard work makes a name for itself, and I personally don’t need the three letters at the end of my name to prove it.”

[RELATED: Hear how top companies adapted to the digital PR industry changes at this August event.

Josh Cline, president and CEO of The Cline Group, seems to confirm Gritti’s suspicions.

“I find no need for anyone to be accredited,” he says. “Anyone can pass a test, but work experience, accomplishments and understanding how PR is only a subset of marketing and marketing needs to map to business objectives.”

Is it worth it? 

PRSA hasn’t explicitly tied APR to higher earnings for professionals, though the organization has done surveys that found the accreditation has been beneficial to those that have earned it. Most, 91 percent, view their APR as a source of pride, and large majorities have used theirs to develop professional skills (78 percent) and resolve ethical dilemmas (58 percent).

Even so, Bob Birge, director of marketing at Blue Pillar, says accreditation seems to have simply gotten buried under other priorities in the past decade or so.

“Those in hiring positions often are looking for the best people available, with the right background and at the right price,” he says. “Whether or not APR appears after their name is somewhat irrelevant.”

Smith, who earned her APR as soon as she was eligible—which is after one gains five years of experience—says the roadblock she sees most PR pros encounter is the cost involved in becoming accredited. An application fee, an online course fee, and the cost of textbooks are all part of the deal.

For that reason, she’s starting a scholarship program for professionals in Central New York.

What do you think, PR pros? Is there significant value in having APR after your name?

Matt Wilson is a staff writer for Ragan.com.

How To Get An Internship

 

This post can be found here

 

Lauren Berger, 27, has become an authority on landing internships. She runs a website,Internqueen.com, and just published a book on the subject: All Work, No Pay: Finding an Internship, Building a Resume, Making Connections and Gaining Job Experience. But she started out as a clueless college freshman at Florida State in Tallahassee, whose only work experience was waitressing at the Red Lobster, and a minimum wage job at The Limited II. Berger’s own tale of landing her first internships with zero connections, offers excellent pointers for students who want to get started on the internship track. It worked for Berger. She did 15 internships while in college.

1. Cold calling can work. Berger’s saga started in 2002 when her pushy mother, who had just seen a “Today” show segment about the importance of internships for college students, called and said she had to get one. It was the spring of Berger’s freshman year. Berger headed to Florida State’s career office, but was told that she needed to be a junior or senior if she wanted help. “They said, ‘come back and see us in three years,’” she recalls.

2. Take immediate action when you get a lead. Thinking it was a long shot, Berger did some more Googling, for help putting together her materials. She sent them in that evening. The next morning, her phone rang at 8am. “I thought I did something wrong,” she recalls. The coordinator was so impressed by Berger’s promptness, she offered her an interview. “She said, ‘you don’t know how long students take to send in their materials,’” recalls Berger.

3. Prepare for the interview. Before her meeting, Berger poured over the company’s website, including the firm’s mission statement and executive biographies. “Look for things you have in common with the people who run the company,” she advises. “If you run into the head of the company on the elevator the first day, greet him.”  Berger recommends incorporating buzzwords from the mission statement into your interview.

4. Ask what the internship would entail.Don’t use the interview as an information-gathering session about the interviewer. Instead, Berger suggests applicants ask, “can you describe a day as an intern at your company.”

5. Say you’re ready to start immediately. Especially for unpaid internships, employers often tell applicants they can take time to think about whether they want the job. Berger says you should break in and say, “I know I want this.” Berger’s eagerness and persistence came through and she got the Zimmerman internship.

6. Volunteer to be the company’s first intern. Berger’s second internship, in the summer of 2002, was also prompted by her mother. “She called and said all her friends’ kids were going to New York to intern,” says Berger. But Berger had no contacts in New York. She asked the Zimmerman internship coordinator for advice, and the woman helped her use the firm’s media guide. This time Berger wanted to work for a publication. But she got rejections or no responses from half a dozen big magazines like Us Weeklyand Seventeen.

Finally she stumbled on a theater publication called Back Stage. Berger’s cold call reached the editor in chief, but the woman said they didn’t hire interns, and wanted to get Berger off the phone, insisting Back Stage didn’t hire interns. Berger persisted. “I said, ‘I can be your first intern,’” she says. The editor was persuaded.

7. Make a dream list of companies where you want to work. Once Berger had a few internships under her belt, she was ready to shoot for a job that focused on her interest in celebrities. She started looking up her favorite stars and checking which PR firms represented them. “I saw most of them were coming from five different companies,” she recalls. Berger put those firms and five others on a list that included internship coordinator contacts and deadlines. She went through her list methodically. One of her top choices, BWR, expressed interest, but said she had to interview in person. So Berger accepted an offer for a part-time internship with a boutique PR firm that agreed to interview her on the phone. When she got to L.A., she interviewed at BWR and that internship came through as well.

8. Follow up. Berger recommends checking in about your application two weeks after you have send it. Write a short note asking whether your materials arrived and offering additional information. If you applied through a website, call the company and ask to speak to the internship coordinator. If you can’t get through, send an email to the coordinator.

9. Ask for a letter of recommendation two weeks before the end of your internship.Berger suggests you leave every internship carrying one or more letters of recommendation, which can help you land your next internship. Her advice: get the process going two weeks before your job ends and offer to write the recommendation yourself. “Say, ‘look, I know you’re extremely busy. I’d love to get a recommendation from you. I’ll write one and you can take a look at it.’”

10. Work hard and send handwritten thank-you notes after your internship concludes.Berger says she plugged away at each of her internships. During down time at her summer 2005 Fox television job, she and another intern reached out to eight senior executives and asked for informational interviews. Six said yes, and Berger was able to add those contacts to her network. After each internship concluded, Berger says she wrote to her employers by hand, thanking them for the experience. She kept copious notes of all her colleagues and superiors, and sent snail mail notes to each one.  Her rule about staying in touch: email is fine for subsequent contact, but do it three times a year, in the fall, spring and summer.

One of the most intriguing things about Berger’s story is how far she got with cold calling, diligence and sheer persistence. Since she started as an intern back in 2002, she has tirelessly built a network of thousands of contacts. But she got her first internships without a single connection.

Post script: After college, Berger used her Los Angeles connections to land a job at Creative Artists Agency in Beverly Hills. At that point, she wanted to start a business helping students find internships. She talked about it to everyone she met through the job, including producer Marshall Herskovitz (Thirtysomething, Traffic, Blood Diamond), who wound up funding her company with a 12% stake. Berger charges $100 to companies to post internships for a semester, and $250 for a year. She says she has 800 clients and she also does multiple speaking engagements. Internqueen specializes in fashion, PR, marketing, entertainment and production companies in New York City and Los Angeles.

How To Respond To HARO/ProfNet Queries Without Pissing Writers Off

This post can be found here

Think your peach defuzzer is the greatest product in the known universe, or rep a doctor who’s on the road to curing a formerly incurable disease? Then you’re probably signed up as an expert source on services like Help a Reporter (HARO)and ProfNet.

I use these services as just one of many tools in my arsenal to find expert and “real life” sources, but often I end up frustrated — and without usable sources. To be fair, sometimes my requests are kind of crazy — like I’m looking for a Hispanic woman in her 40s who lives in the Midwest and drives a Suburban. But many times, it’s the people who respond to queries that make a writer want to drive flaming daggers into her eyes.

Don’t get me wrong — I love and appreciate these services. They’re free to journalists, and I often find good sources through them, like the beautiful bridal entrepreneur-slash-cage fighter I ended up profiling for Fortune Small Business and later for Inc. But the successes are tempered by avalanches of off-point e-mails from PR reps and expert sources.

If you use these services as a PR rep or a source, here are some tips for boosting your chances of a reply when you respond to a writer’s query. (Yes, writers, these requests confusingly are called queries.) I’ll use some examples from recent queries I sent in.

1. Read the Freakin’ Query!

Lat week I sent out the following query:

Are We Detoxing Too Much?
I’m looking for experts such as MDs who can discuss whether the detoxing trend is going too far, in terms of detoxing our homes, our bodies, and our food. Magazines and books are telling us to purge everything from house dust to bleach to non-organic foods, and more and more people are going on fasts and detox diets. How do you know if you’re going too far? And how much do we REALLY need to detox? I do not need to hear from vendors about detoxing products.

You get it, right? I’m looking for information on the negative side of detoxing — how much is too much and how to know if you’ve gone too far. And yet, almost 100% of the responses I received were from medical professionals who offered to talk about why we need to go on detox diets and how to do it. It’s like they scanned the query, saw the word “detox,” and blasted off an e-mail about the wonders of detoxing. If you can’t (or won’t) read, how can we trust you as an expert?

So please…READ the query!

2. Sell Yourself

Every once in a while I get a response that says something like, “I can help you with your article. Call me.” Yeah, I’ll get right on that. Please, tell me who you are and what makes you an expert in the topic I queried.

3. Remember That Our Job Is Not to Sell Your Product

Of course, people who respond to writer queries have something to sell, whether it’s a product, a viewpoint, or something else. But you need to use some smarts to determine when it’s right to make a blatant product pitch. For example, here’s a query I sent out yesterday:

For a national health magazine, I’m looking for beauty news that’s NOT product-specific and that is backed by studies. For example, I don’t care that Jane’s Sun Kissed Skin Lotion was proven to prevent wrinkles, but I do care that a recent study published in the Journal of Dermatology concluded that the antioxidants in pistachios were proven to whiten teeth. Please, no product pitches.

I’m guessing you noticed that I did not want product-specific pitches. I mean, I made it pretty clear, right? So why do I get replies from people telling me, for example, that the FatBlaster Brand Laser Machine has been proven to reduce the look of cellulite? I guess the reps think, “Well, it can’t hurt to send it along anyway.” But guess what? Itcan hurt, because I’ll be sending very negative vibes your way, and I will remember you when you contact me again.

4. Don’t Add Us to Lists Unless We Ask You To

I can’t even count how many PR reps add my address to their press lists after harvesting it from a HARO or ProfNet query. I know this because I have a special e-mail address that I use only for queries on these services, so when I start getting press releases at that address, I know how I ended up on the list. Many people see I’m a writer — what type? who cares? — and decide that maybe I’d like to write about their clients who run a cracker factory in Boise. But even if a PR rep groks my specialties, I don’t want to be added to press lists unless I ask for it. Just because I wrote about safe web surfing in 2001 doesn’t mean that I want to receive press releases on that topic for the rest of my days. I get enough e-mail as it is.

Now HARO has a special feature that hides your e-mail address on your queries so this is less of an issue, but as soon as you respond to a PR rep they have your e-mail address and can add it to their press lists, so the problem hasn’t been completely eradicated.

5. Make Sure Your Client Is Available

It sucks when a PR rep responds to a HARO or ProfNet request with what sounds like the perfect source, but when you try to set up the interview the source goes AWOL. Check with your source to make sure he’s interested in doing the interview before you respond to a query.