Better than Imagination: Lessons Learned from a Remote Internship

By Kyra Hanson, Intern

How you imagine your future is often quite different from how your story unfolds. At the beginning of my senior year of college, I had no firm direction of what specific industry of public relations I hoped to pursue, but I did have a clear image of working at an agency in a big city. I imagined the lack of parking spots, getting coffee at the same shop every morning, attending staff meetings in conference rooms and having countless random conversations with my coworkers.

Little did I know that starting out my PR career post-college, my car would remain in my driveway, I would get my coffee from the Keurig in my kitchen and all meetings and conversations with coworkers would take place over a computer. The truth is that sometimes your imagination fails. The future that it had set for you did not consider a much different, but even more wonderful future.

It is difficult to choose just one highlight from my time as an intern at The Hoffman Agency, because there are so many experiences that I recall fondly. However, one task that stands out to me is writing personalized pitches to reporters. I felt a bit like a detective — searching to find the most relevant journalist, learning all about what they have covered in the past, and then crafting a pitch that paints a picture of why they specifically should care about the client. I could go on and on, listing off experiences that were hard, but exciting; yet I think what stands out to me most is the lessons I have learned.

  1. Research is your best friend: Diving into the tech industry without any previous knowledge on B2B technology was a steep learning curve. Whether it was semiconductors or digital advertising, I was tasked with drafting social media captions, media pitches, blog posts, coverage reports and more for clients in these fields. To do so in an effective manner, I first needed to understand the companies, their products and the contributions they make to society. This meant reading relevant news, company websites, product descriptions, reviews and anything else I could get my hands on. While I still have leagues to learn about the industry and its key players, I rely every day on the importance of researching what you communicate about before you communicate it.
  2. Have fun and be human: Just because technology is an incredibly nuanced and complicated industry does not mean that it can’t be engaging and exciting as well. Grasping tone and formality for each client takes time, but through countless draft and revision processes, I found that it is valuable to communicate in a way that is approachable and maintains humanity. By incorporating the occasional emoji into a media pitch, along with puns and pop culture references in social media captions, I humanized my content. On paper, tech PR is companies communicating with other companies, industry leaders and consumers. However, at its core, tech PR is people communicating with other people. Therefore, authentic and dynamic storytelling is the best approach.
  1. Communication is key: Starting a full-time internship right out of college, remotely nonetheless, was a big step. While I was initially nervous, that soon passed once I realized how supportive the Hoffman community is. Every member of my team made sure I had the examples, resources and insight I needed to succeed. Along with that, communication played a big role when there was an unexpected task, or too many tasks with not enough time. If that were the case, all I needed to do was convey the situation to my teammates and figure out how to prioritize and proceed. Early on, my manager, Shannon Nelson, passed on an old adage, “It’s PR, not ER,” meaning that the stakes are not life and death. If there is not enough bandwidth to finish a task, it is not the end of the world. You just need to be clear about what is on your plate and what you need help with. Through countless emails, IMs and Zoom calls, I feel very close with and welcome in this community of people, the majority of which I have not even met yet.

The final lesson would be, do not get too caught up in thinking about the future, but rather just embrace the opportunity at hand, learn all you can from it and know that more exciting things are on their way. For the time being, I am thankful for such a nurturing team, to help show me the ropes and teach me more each day, and I am thankful that this is just the beginning.

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