Ten Things I Learned As A Publications Intern

Posted by Rachel Esterline on Aug 29, 2008 in CMU PRM, Internships, Portfolio, Public Relations, Uncategorized, Writing |

It feels weird not to be working for CMU Public Relations and Marketing every day. I miss it already. I’m really thankful that they are continuing my internship into the fall semester.

Here are ten things I learned as a publications intern, and I would like to thank every person at PRM for helping me learn so much over the past four months.

1. Adobe InDesign. When I started working with PRM, I had no idea how to use this program. I’ve now put together CMU Welcomes You, a tabloid for potential students and two flyers for the CMU/United Way Fund Drive.

2. Storytelling. I had been taught basic news writing in JRN 202. I could efficiently tell you the who, what, when, where, why and how. I could place quotes throughout the story. Dan constantly encouraged me to improve my writing by “telling the story.” Make it real. Make people go, “Wow. I want to know more about this person in the story.”

3. Write tight. Don’t waste any words. If you don’t need them, cut them. By removing the clutter, you can make the remaining words mean more to the reader.

4. Interviewing. What makes this person tick? How are they unique? I learned to ask questions beyond what the story required and then to listen to what people had to say to me. You’d be surprised at the number of the puzzle pieces of storytelling that would fall into your lap if.

5. Multiple entry points. People have busy lives. Write so they can scan the story and get the gist of what’s going on and introduce multiple entry points. Pull-quotes, boxes and subtitles are all easy, but effective ways of doing this.

6. Print it. I don’t know many hours I stared at a computer screen, trying to catch errors or rewrite a story. When you have a hard copy in front of you, you see the story in a new light.

7. Thin and trim. Quotes are a vital part of the story, but trim them down to the real meat. It will make it much more impactful if you paraphrase the less important information preceding the good quote.

8. Be active. Writing actively will engage your readers.

9. What’s next? Keep your writing relevant to your audience. Get them to ask, “What’s next?” and then give them the information they need.

10. Keep an open mind and be enthusiastic. I don’t know how many great portfolio pieces fell into my lap because of my positive attitude. Did I know how to design a tabloid and place ads, articles and photos? Certainly not. As a PR major, do I have much experience coming up with ad concepts? I didn’t, but I do now. I accepted any project they asked me to do, from writing copy to transcribing interviews. Some were certainly more fun than others, but my attitude, enthusiasm and drive is what opened doors for many great projects.

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