Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Glimpse into crystal ball.. of sorts

I can't help feeling somewhat sophisticated. Dressed in black pants and a fitted button-down, I rub elbows with hundreds of 30-somethings as we pile on the Metro for our early-morning commute through DC.

My train drops me right past the Pentagon in Virginia at my summer internship at Engage PR. EPR focuses to help start-up technology companies make a name for themselves in the competitive market. EPR is based in Alameda, CA but opened an east-coast office in October. The location was occupied by one lone Account Supervisor for the past few months; she now claims she has to curb her tendency to talk to herself with me around.

Monday marked my first day of training and I took the bull by the horns. Matrices, brief books, press searches – did my Syracuse University professors neglect to include some things in my classes? It could be that I’m majoring in newspaper journalism and political science – not public relations. Regardless, I came into this internship with an open-minded and ready to learn all about PR.

But, I needed something to keep me from drowning in a sea of unfamiliarity. Newspaper and PR fall under a broad sense of communications, so they couldn’t be that different? Through out the tutorials of various PR activities, I found myself clinging to all the things I learned back in snowy SU.

Meeting Points? Oh, that’s kind of like the formation of a hard news story.

Case study? That reminds me of a nut graf.

Confused? I wouldn’t say confused. Challenged – learning something that appears to be opposite of what I’m used to? Bingo.

The relationship between journalists and public relations in general is a bit of a tug-of-war anyways. No wonder I’m a bit out-of-sorts.

Stories are assigned to journalists, and it's their job to gain as much information as possible about that topic in order to construct a balanced, informative article for an audience. Experts, examples, stats, history: all important bases to cover. With my newspaper-conditioned mind, I process PR interaction as simply an easy way to gain access to a multitude of information and contacts.

Seeing the dealings from the other side, its a weird sensation. The explanations, comments and processes appear to have a bit of a tint. Journalists are prey -- you want to get a hold of them, work your magic and get your client's name in the article.

I can easily say that I won't be able to look at my interviewing process in quite the same way, especially with PR. To say if that is a good or bad thing, time will tell.

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