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Internships: time consuming but worth it

19 Dec

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The PRINZ Student Ambassador Programme allows students studying relevant qualifications to become involved and engaged in the communication and public relations industry. The programme gives students a head-start in the industry, encouraging them to participate in the PRINZ community. This blog post is written by Alex Lyall, PRINZ Student Ambassador at University of Canterbury.

Though internships aren’t exactly how they are in the movies – I have not once followed my boss around as they eccentrically dictate to me their exotic coffee orders – they’re still jobs which eat up an enormous amount of time in your day.  And as all students know, no day is filled with empty hours as it is. We all have about a billion other commitments, on top of socialising and sleeping.

It’s probably worth asking why I, or anybody, would take on an internship with a schedule as crammed as that. Why add more work when you’re up to your neck already? Well, I realised I needed to work harder after attending the PRINZ Young Professionals event with a panel fitted with young public-relations professionals with 1-5 years experience. They were inspiring (and I don’t use that word lightly) not just in their successes but through their words too. Their bluntness alone made attending the panel worth it. The key quote of the night was this:

“Even though you have a degree, so does everyone else.”

Basically, once you begin looking for jobs you can’t rely on your degree alone to land you that dream job. Or any job, for that matter.

I honestly hadn’t thought about it like that before, but it made sense. It bugged me for the rest of the night as gaining a degree was all I had been aiming for. As if from a cheesy movie, the next day an invitation arrived in my university inbox looking for internship applications. I put myself forward with the panellist’s words in mind.

My conclusion from three months of interning is that internships are worth it. Even though time has often seemed restrictive, their importance has revealed itself in several ways.

First of all, internships can lead onto better things.

My internship originally asked for me to perform for three months, that has since extended and I am now able to be with my organisation for as long as I like. Internships provide opportunity: the chance for you to really go and prove yourself. It is not uncommon at all for employers to be so wooed by your work that they end up offering you permanent employment.

Even if employment doesn’t eventuate, internships are fantastic opportunities to learn on the job. Some internships provide this in a setting that is calm, encouraging and fun – mine very much falling into this category. Calmness especially has been important for mine. Once when writing a weekly review, I came across some news on the internet about a certain rapper facing criticism. It seemed too juicy to leave out however the subject matter seemed a little ill-fitting for my organisation’s aim. I grappled with its inclusion, ultimately deciding to put it in. Wrong move. I got an email a few days later asking for its removal. Hindsight is 20/20 but you live and learn. It was one lesson I still refer to when making decisions – trust your instinct. In this case, I knew it was wrong to include in my article but that other, more troublemaking, side got to me. Often, those words of advice from your supervisor can be an invaluable reward. You will realise for yourself that it’s affordable to make those mistakes now while you’re young and learning and not after you’ve started your first proper job.

Secondly, internships by design exist in order to give you a wee taste. This taste can influence you, before it’s too late, as to whether or not you feel that working in this line of work is right for you. For me, three months was enough for me to realise that I enjoyed music journalism a lot and that it was definitely something I would want to pursue further. Then on a side note, while some don’t offer payment they make up for it in freebies. In the music journalism world, albums, downloads and press passes are frequent. It’s the kind of currency that gets you involved in the first place.

For me, interning has been like riding my bike with the training wheels still on. It’s this stage where I’m doing something really exciting, and the support is there if I happen to fall. You mustn’t neglect the other busy parts of your life, but give it a go and see how far you can ride.

Image credit: @Istock

 

PRINZ event – Creating a movement for change

10 Nov

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The PRINZ Student Ambassador Programme allows students studying relevant qualifications to become involved and engaged in the communication and public relations industry. The programme gives students a head-start in the industry, encouraging them to participate in the PRINZ community. This blog post is written by Charlotte Wright, PRINZ Student Ambassador at Massey University Wellington.

On Thursday 13 October, PRINZ hosted members in the stunning setting of the Grand Hall at Wellington’s Parliamentary Buildings. The event which was hosted by Melissa Lee, National MP bought together three political experts Andrew Kirton, New Zealand Labour Party; Richard Harman, Politik; Jenna Raeburn, Barton Deakin and one experienced journalist Sean Plunket. The event led to an impassioned discussion on the insights of political campaigning. The panel was asked a variety of questions that both allowed them to provide insight to their thoughts on successful campaigning and also challenged their perspectives. PRINZ was fortunate to have Sean Plunket as the interviewer, who has a strong background in politics, leading the discussion.

Richard Harman gave some interesting points on how campaigns have changed over the last forty years, saying that what was once a “linear, rigid, and sometimes totally boring” subject to report on, political journalism is now focused more on entertainment and encouragement of ‘gotcha journalism’. He went on to explain that “a lot of people out there are looking to ankle tap politicians” to get noticed in the media space.

Jenna Raeburn elaborated on this and explained how campaigns are “changing exponentially” and that the use of data, technology and social media are all now critical tools in targeting specific demographics during campaigns. “You used to have to call, and then visit a target to find out which way they might vote, but now data on Facebook shows us this already, so we can target instantly and with purpose,” she said. She also discussed how the immediacy of social media and online news made rectifying media errors a tough task, saying that it was a long a difficult process to unwind what people hear in the media to ensure accuracy.

Andrew Kirton agreed that it was important for campaigns to integrate social media into their strategies, but assured that the Labour Party were not going to ignore more traditional methods of outreach in next year’s campaign. He said that the way news operates was changing, and by analysing the way people are using media, they would re-balance their campaign priorities and tactics accordingly. He noted that he didn’t think that the New Zealand media would act like the U.S media have in the lead up to the U.S election, saying that the Kiwi culture understands “not to be too silly” when it comes to political reporting.

After some moments of heated discussion, the conversation closed with the panellists’ final thoughts on the New Zealand media space and the role of journalism in society. They all agreed that good journalists were the ones that fact checked, got both sides of the story, and acted as a fourth estate – however, this was at risk with journalistic pressures and the likely possibility of a Fairfax and NZME merger. “Duplicating stories across the media space with no fact-checking and taking out the competition will be bad,” Richard Harman concluded – and an equally risky possibility could be that access to the media could be restricted with a pay-wall, which will mean that media consumption could soon be “a thing for the rich,” he said, looking concerned.

The Wonders of Work Experience

18 Oct

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The PRINZ Student Ambassador Programme allows students studying relevant qualifications to become involved and engaged in the communication and public relations industry. The programme gives students a head-start in the industry, encouraging them to participate in the PRINZ community. This blog post is written by Kendra Stone, PRINZ Student Ambassador at Massey University Auckland.

When I was 14 years old, I was already planning my future.  Mum had me see a career advisor- who had you take personality tests and produced a three-page report on whether you’d be a lawyer with three kids or a teacher with one.  I’d go in there all prepared with “Hi, I’m Kendra, and I want to be a journalist”, but in all honesty, I didn’t have much of an idea of what a journalist was. I thought that they were the pretty ladies who got to be all dressed up on TV, and men who wore really fancy suits, or perhaps the not-so-lucky ones who got battered about by the weather on live television.

“Honey, you’d make a great journalist as you’re always talking and asking so many questions,” Mum would say or “maybe you’d actually make a pretty good detective because you’re so nosy.”  I definitely considered both of these roles for a while, but funnily enough, my three-page report spat out a spiel on how I’d be a great psychologist.  Now in my mind, I imagined a psychologist to be someone lonely, sitting in a stark-white room dealing with everyone’s problems but their own.

Naturally, I was at a loss.  When we got home from the appointment, Mum filed the report in the ‘special documents’ cabinet, giving me a reassuring look of ‘we don’t have to worry about this for a while’.  When I reached year 11 in high school, I had this urge to get out there into the real world (as if school for 6 hours a day wasn’t enough for this blossoming journo/detective/psychologist).

Rocking up to The Radio Network with nothing but trembling, sweaty hands, I introduced myself.  Within a few weeks, I was driving the Black Thunder down Marine Parade, throwing bottles of iced tea at beach-dwellers and helping run the ‘Miss Mount Maunganui’ event.  Once I added that to my CV, I was excited to think about all of the other opportunities I could have if I simply put myself out there and asked!

When I finished school, I still wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but I did know it’d be something to do with communications.  I always knew I’d be good at it, because the most common note on my school reports was ‘Kendra needs to learn when to stop talking’.  Enrolling at Massey University in Auckland was the most exciting thing ever!  This little fish was about to move out of little old Tauranga and into the great big ocean of life!  This was three years ago now, and man has it been a super fun ride!

In my first year of university, I contacted South Pacific Pictures, asking if I could come in and see how things went down there.  I was allowed to come in for a few days, helping file media documents on lots of different TV shows from Shortland Street, to Outrageous Fortune, and The Almighty Johnsons.  I worked right next to Fern Sutherland, an actress from the show, and not going to lie I was pretty star-struck! There was also an office dog who liked to sit on my feet, and I definitely think all offices need some kind of animal to ease the stress.

My second year of university was even bigger for me as I contacted the NZ Herald and went in for a one-day stint to have a go at writing a column for the SPCA.  It was all very overwhelming, but extremely exciting at the same time.  Sitting next to reporters who’d had 20-so years in the industry was really cool, but I knew this kind of job wasn’t for me.  In realising that, I emailed over 10 different PR agencies around Auckland, asking them if they’d consider allowing me to come in for unpaid work experience.  After receiving many emails of “Thank you for giving this a go, but unfortunately we haven’t got the space to take anyone on”, I received one from BEAT PR, saying they’d be happy to take me on as an intern every week on a Friday.  This was my first experience with a PR agency-packing media kits, analysing media coverage and trying to navigate my way around Media Portal and Isentia.

The previous year, I had worked at a social media conference for a company called the ‘Online Academy’.  There, I networked with a lot of really motivated people, two of whom owned a company called ‘Starlight Media House’.   Just a few weeks after leaving BEAT PR, I heard from the managers there asked if I’d like to join their team as a Social Media Manager.  My time there was so valuable, as I learnt how to really understand the target audiences I was working with.  I worked with clients like Multiple Sclerosis Auckland, a plastic surgery company, a sanitary product company, and an interior design company.  This role taught me how to analyse my audiences in relation to what kind of content they engaged with the most, and I had so much fun learning about how these different companies operated.

When that came to an end over 12 months later, I applied for an internship position at Castleford Media.  I started this role in August of 2014, and while it was meant to last for only four weeks, I just finished there in August. The best way to describe my experience here? imagine that you’ve stepped onto the set of the film ‘The Internship’ (the one with Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughan).  The office was situated on the 16th floor of a Victoria Street West high rise, with huge open windows looking out to the sky tower, the viaduct, and people screaming as they were thrown around in the bungee ride.  I sat at Rookie Island (which is pretty self-explanatory), and I was surrounded by the travel and lifestyle, property, marketing, and graphic design islands.  As nervous as I was on my first day, I could not have felt more welcome.  Everyone there was like a family to me, and my role as an editorial intern was a perfect balance of experience, learning, meeting new people, and plenty of laughs! We even had stretch time at 3pm, flannel Fridays and group outings to the dumpling truck at lunchtime.  I learnt so much at Castleford Media, from using programmes like Curator and Scribe, to editing articles and coming up with content plans for the writers.

As all good things come to an end, so did this.  I left Castleford to devote myself more to my Communications group at University, organising tours to MediaWorks and NZME.   I was lucky enough to be appointed as the PRINZ Student Ambassador for Massey a role in which I’ve met some awesome people and been to some of PRINZ great networking events.

Now that I’m in my final weeks of my degree, I can look back at my work experience opportunities as a film reel, drawing on roles and scenes which stood out to me the most. If my career advisor could have predicted that I’d be lucky enough to have all of these amazing experiences, I probably would have asked him how that could be possible.  Now, I know that anything is possible if you put yourself out there, don’t be afraid to ask for what you want, and always be willing to learn from others.  The last few years have been an absolute rollercoaster, but if someone asked me to ride it again, I’d be in the front seat ready to go.

Image credit: @Istock

What makes your heart sing?

7 Oct

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The PRINZ Student Ambassador Programme allows students studying relevant qualifications to become involved and engaged in the communication and public relations industry. The programme gives students a head-start in the industry, encouraging them to participate in the PRINZ community. This blog post is written by Anna Strong, PRINZ Student Ambassador at WINTEC (Waikato Institute of Technology).

“What makes your heart sing?” was the question posed by the late and great Steve Jobs co-founder of Apple. I came across the quote in a book I’m currently engrossed in, ‘The Storyteller’s Secret’ by Carmine Gallo – I thoroughly recommend it. This question was in the first chapter and it immediately stopped me in my tracks, because I wondered –what is my response?

Currently I am in the final stages of my degree. The end is in sight and I’m struggling to contain the temptation to prematurely celebrate. Soon the job hunt will begin, and I find I’m continually asking myself where I want to go, what I want to do, and what do I want my future to be? If I can figure out what makes my heart sing now, will it help shape where I’ll head after this year? While a response didn’t come straight away, that question resonated with me. So I had to read on.

Firstly, I wondered where does one begin to find the heart’s song?  Steve Jobs found it, so it can’t be impossible. Quickly the answer became quite clear and it’s only one word. Passion.

Your story begins with your passion. We simply cannot inspire unless we are inspired ourselves. And while we can easily recognise passions in others, we can struggle to unmask our own personal ones. That is why Steve Jobs asked himself that same question, and his response led him to creating a tool to that will enable other’s to pursue their desires. Equipping others with tools to succeed was his heart’s song.

Your passions are expressed in the ideas that make your heart beat. In those activities that get you out of bed before your alarm goes off. It is the first thing you think about when you wake up and is the last thing on your mind as the lights go out. Passion is the driving force, or the rhythmic beat, of our heart’s song. Once unlocked, pursuing your passions is not an easy feat. At times it takes gumption – a word that isn’t heard too often in today’s society.

I thought a lot about passion in regards to the PR industry. In many pitches I’ve given this year we searched for the beat that ran through our client’s organisation, their lyrics, and tried to think of out-of-the-box outcomes to share the music.

Some of these big ideas take gumption to pursue and bring into fruition. It might mean going against the crowd, or speaking up about an idea that you believe has real potential to benefit your client. It took Steve Jobs’ gumption and passion to believe that Apple could change the world. And it will take those same qualities in our own lives to make a difference, or to play the right chord, to keep with the musical analogies.

Maybe right now it’s finding the gumption to really ask yourself the question – What makes your heart sing?

Picture credit: iStock

What do you do when you feel an inch of self-inflicted pressure?

16 Aug

Written by Deanna Morse, PRINZ Student Ambassador

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The PRINZ Student Ambassador Programme allows students studying relevant qualifications to become involved and engaged in the communication and public relations industry. The programme gives students a head-start in the industry, encouraging them to participate in the PRINZ community. This blog post is written by Deanna Morse, PRINZ Student Ambassador at University of Waikato.

Self-inflicted pressure is what you see when people are lining up for a job interview; slightly slouched and folded in, protecting themselves. Within PR, this pressure can be found before pitching to a new client, public speaking or any stressful activity – no matter how confident you feel within your presence and knowledge – it’s nerve-wracking.

When productivity, results and reputation are on the line, how can you feel less stressed and more confident?

“Our bodies change our minds. Our minds change our behaviour. Our behaviour changes our outcomes.”

‘Communication’ – we’re trained professionals in our natural habitat, our passion and purpose at least five days a week. What about non-verbal communication? This is still part of communication after all. We often think about how our verbal communication governs how other people think and feel about us, but it is even more influential to understand the potential of how our non-verbal communication governs how we think and feel about ourselves – our thoughts, feelings and psychology.

Your body language shapes who you are. Do you know how to control and influence this?

Amy Cuddy- social psychologist, author, and lecturer at Harvard Business School offers us a life-hack: change your posture. By doing so, you can significantly change how your life unfolds.

Right now – make an audit of your body. Audit your posture throughout the day during different situations. Do you typically hold your arms, cross your ankles or hunch forward?

Expressions of power dynamics are universal and traditional. Let’s implement this expression into our daily life and see what happens.

What to do? Power pose.

Step 1: Dedicate two minutes in a comfortable setting

Step 2: Hands on hips, stand up straight, tilt your head slightly upwards and breathe.

Step 3: Feel the power – if you feel silly, remove all negativity from your thoughts and solely concentrate on feeling powerful within your posture. All it takes is two minutes.

Science works. Your testosterone rises and your cortisol drops, meaning your hormones configure your brain to be more assertive, comfortable and confident. You will also be less reactive to stress.

How can power posing really change your life in meaningful ways? Try it in evaluative situations: public speaking, delivering pitches or job interviews. As public relations practitioners, we’re pushing boundaries. We’re constantly making noise and forming relationships – we need our body and brain to be on our side.

What will happen?

You will feel it, you will become 100% ‘you’. Experiments show your presence will be captivating, comfortable, authentic, confident, passionate and enthusiastic. Tiny tweaks equal big changes.

It only takes two minutes, what’s stopping you? Try the pose then share the science.

To watch to Amy Cuddy’s ‘Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are’ TED Talk, click here.

Picture credit: iStock

Why I chose PR – #PRConf16

29 Jun

Written by Georgia Ward, PRINZ Student Ambassador

 Georgia Ward

(Georgia Ward, PRINZ Student Ambassador AUT; Kirsty Pickett; Deanna Morse, PRINZ Student Ambassador, University of Waikato).

The PRINZ Student Ambassador Programme allows students studying relevant qualifications to become involved and engaged in the communication and public relations industry. The programme gives students a head-start in the industry, encouraging them to participate in the PRINZ community. This blog post is written by Georgia Ward, PRINZ Student Ambassador at AUT University, Auckland.

It has been a month since I was lucky enough to attend the recent PRINZ conference ‘Challenge to Opportunity’ as a Student Volunteer.

Hearing lines such as ” What got you here won’t get you there!” or “If you do what you always do, you’re always going to get what you get” come from industry professionals Chris Savage, The Savage Company and Sean Smith, Isentia was inspiring and at times a little overwhelming.

You see, at the risk of sounding clichéd, those lines have rung in my ears for weeks after.

For myself and the other students that attended, it was an eye-opening experience into not only what we’re getting ourselves into, but why we’re getting ourselves into it.

Firstly, the desire to work hard and achieve visible results.

I’ve learnt quickly that the euphoria of dreams and desires in this industry is replaced with hard work, tenacity and drive – without those three things any goals, dreams and desires do not become reality.

For the majority of students, our definition of working hard is juggling full-time university, with an internship, work experience and paid employment, as well as finding time to sleep in amongst there as well.

In the big wide communication world, this is, of course, different.

Students, there are times when it may seem unimaginable and never ending, but those hours of work, commitment, and content creation are what leads to the moment that allows each of us students to create our own personal brand, brand ‘YOU’. A brand we get to take out into the industry, showcasing who we are as individuals in the communication world.

As Chris Savage of the Savage Company said: “What got you here – won’t get you there”. Good things in this day and age come to those who hustle, and this hustle to achieve results can take you and your client great places!

Secondly, PR allows you to be creative and innovative. 

Creating generic campaigns does not cut it in this fast-paced world. Now, quirky, fun, experimental and challenging campaigns create the engagement and results that clients and businesses love to see! It’s a case of old tricks reinvented. Experimenting with the channels, content and messaging can lead to greater results in the long run.

We’ve entered a new world that is rapidly changing thanks to new media. Audience fragmentation is greater than ever, and having the ability to rapidly think and adapt to new and exciting situations can put you one step ahead of the person sitting next to you.

From media kits to experiential campaigns; boundaries and ideas are being pushed every day and it is so inspiring to be the one who generally gets to pack those media kits up, and see what awesome stuff is created! I see it as knowing the old; creating the new.

Finally, impact.

For myself, one of the key decisions in choosing PR is the impact it can have on people’s everyday life. Sadly, it is often referred to as spin, however, thanks to organisations such as PRINZ this is slowly being diminished.

The Research First breakfast on the second day of the conference confirmed that many professionals in this industry complete pro bono work on a regular basis. The question of “Why do we do it?” was posed.

It makes us feel good knowing we can use our skills to help someone else. The relationship PRINZ has with the Community Comms Collective and the response by PRINZ members to the Manurewa Marae’s call for help are just two recent examples.

Whether it is promoting a new product that a brand you represent has launched; or communicating the success a charity has had in order for them to retain their lifeblood sponsorship; PR has an impact on everything and everyone in between.

Like all those who I sat in the conference room listening to speakers, workshops, or asking questions to learn more, we all have the same innate desire and determination to help people grow success in this world through communication.

With that, I leave you with the silence-inducing words at Conference of Stacey Shortall, Minter Ellison Rudd Watts: “Who did you help today?”.

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