Teacher’s Pet: Portfolios

With the warm weather, and exams but a fleeting memory, many
students find themselves hitting the office instead of the beach, looking for
internship opportunities. Today’s
Teacher’s Pet post is all about how to put together the best portfolio, and
what the heck to do with it once you’ve walked through the door. 

As a general rule of thumb, a portfolio should include a
combination of writing samples, your resume and a selection of references. Choose your
best, most powerful and results-driven pieces; no need to include everything
you’ve ever penned.

If you haven’t sunk your teeth into published work
yet, feel free to use class assignments and course work, but remember to nix
your essays. Portfolio pieces should be shorter in length, and demonstrate
industry-quality writing similar to what you would do on the job. From press
releases to blog posts, include a sampling of your best work that touts your
versatility. The more variety you show, the better we (or the hiring office)
can assess your skills and abilities, hopefully landing you that coveted
internship or first job.

Other good rule of thumb: if it doesn’t fit through the door, your portfolio is too big. 

Is your best work not on paper? Did you plan an event? Write
up a case study, including the event goals, the process you underwent and all
the (great) results.

As always, follow the KISS rule: Keep It Simple, Stupid,
meaning no coloured paper or fancy fonts, especially the dreaded Comic Sans.
While pink, scented paper may have worked for Legally Blonde’s Elle Woods, we
suggest you stick to the plain Jane-style instead. You want us to take you seriously, right?

We’d hire her, just NO pink press releases.

When toting your newly prepped portfolio to an interview,
mention you have brought it along at the beginning of the interview. If you are
asked for examples of when you overcame a challenge, or led a team, don’t be
afraid to refer to specific content in your portfolio that specifically supports
your answer.

Don’t fret if there isn’t time to flip through your portfolio
during your interview. Be a savvy job hunter, and bring a second copy for them
to review once you’ve left. Hopefully you’ve also left a lasting impression!

Media, Darling: Natalie Deane

A producer at Entertainment Tonight Canada since 2005, Natalie Deane has interviewed countless celebrities including William Shatner, Gene Simmons, Drake, Kim Cattrall, Shania Twain, Jon Bon Jovi and Justin Bieber. She has also covered the Grammy’s, the JUNO’s and many other celebrity red carpets.

Deane got her start on Roger’s First Local as an entertainment anchor and news reporter covering local news, entertainment and sports events. From there, she moved on to Toronto 1’s Toronto Tonight as a news producer working on daily news stories. She was also a lifestyle producer on The Source, and has
developed a reputation for meticulous quality and impactful segments and shows. 

A strong believer in giving back, Deane has been involved in many charities and charitable events including Big Brothers Big Sisters, Hospital for Sick Kids, Starlight Foundation and Boobyball, to name a few.

As a supporter of charity and art events across the city, she is often cited on well-dressed lists for her outgoing personality and charming style.
Did you always want to be in the media? If not, what other careers were on the horizon?
Before entering the media, I lived in Japan and worked for a private English company called GEOS for five years. I was a teacher/trainer/manager. It was a wonderful experience learning a new culture, traveling all over Asia and teaching.

Where would you like to be five years from now?
I’m really happy where I am, it works for me now. In five years I hope I’m still doing something that puts a smile on my face everyday.

Any advice for people getting started in your industry?
Like most people in the media, I started off as an intern and was then hired on before the end of my internship. When you have the chance to do an internship somewhere, treat it like a job, not another class at school. Get in 20 minutes early, work hard and show them what you’ve got. It’s an audition for your future.

What are your favourite media outlets, not including your own?
I LOVE television and watch it all day. I read newspapers, visit blogs and online mags as part of my job and because I really enjoy pop culture. I can’t really say I have a favourite, as I see good things in all of them. We have come so far in communication and it’s amazing!

Best interview you’ve ever had? Worst?
There are so many good interviews! Some of my faves have to be the nostalgic ones. It’s incredible to meet and speak with people you admired in your youth: Corey Hart, Jordan Knight, William Shatner, Smokey Robinson and Nikki Sixx. I’m still waiting for my Duran Duran interview….

Best advice you’ve ever been given?
“Don’t Worry Be Happy” – Cool Runnings

What rule(s) do you live your life by?
Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Look at the big picture.
Live, Laugh and Love.

What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros?
When pitching, think about the content and how it would best fit with that specific media outlet. Think of the story idea, don’t just bring us the content. Be honest. I know you have to hype your product, but don’t tell me something that isn’t true. Build relationships.

Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins.
I’ve had lots of good ones, especially with rock-it promotions. I can’t think of a bad one!

I hate?
Mean people.

I love?
My family and friends. Chocolate, cheese, butter, wine and a vodka soda with lime.

All the time. Currenly reading Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Best place on earth?
Anywhere my heart is.

Dinner guest?
Dinner Party!

Too many to list. But generally, anyone who stands up for good.

Favourite app?
I’m still in love with BBM.

Pool or ocean?

Voicemail or email?

Meet Our Team: Erin

Erin is our newest intern, and so far, she’s been knocking our socks off. She is currently in her second year of the Media Studies program at the University of Guelph-Humber, specializing in public relations. Growing up, she wanted to be a princess or a bride, then a pop star.
Now, her ambitions are focused on pursuing a career in PR (but it’s not too late to be a bride or a princess too, Erin!). Erin has a diabetic cat named Oreo, a younger sister named Paige and likes to watch delicious dishes being created on the Food Network (but not create them herself). 
Welcome to the fourth floor! 

Twitter: @erin_cochrane

How long have you been part of the team?

It’s my fourth week! 
What do you love most about living in Toronto?
Right now I am living in Mississauga, calling T.O. my second home. Working at rock-it promotions has given me the opportunity to explore the city a bit more. The ladies here know all the best hot spots.

What can’t you leave the house without?
My transit pass! My feet would be really sore without it. 

Best gift you’ve ever received?
This past Christmas I was surprised with a trip to Great Wolf Lodge in Niagara Falls with friends (the best friends a girl could ask for!) and my boyfriend. Even though the average age of the patrons there was probably six, I left with a wet bathing suit and my dignity intact. 

How do you like to relax?
Hanging out in my fuzzy pink bathrobe catching up on episodes of How I Met Your Mother.

Best part about being a publicist?
As a publicity intern, I love that every day is different: events, meetings, you name it. I am learning a ton!

A little more from the fourth floor:
Website: Someecards.com. I love reading (and sending) their hilarious, crude cards about current events. 

Designer: My grandmother. She always made the best Halloween costumes, from Sleeping Beauty to fairy princesses. 

Store:  Banana Republic.

Book: Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda.

Snack: S’mores. My friend Maria makes the best ones with gooey peanut butter – yum.

Season: That in between point of spring and summer, where it’s warm enough that you don’t need a jacket, but you don’t feel like melting in the summer sun. 


Inspiration: Friends, family. Women that kick butt and look good doing it.   

Drink: Diet Coke. 

Motto in two words: Be awesome.

Teacher’s Pet: Mistakes during internships?

Question six in our Teacher’s Pet series comes from Laura Chang, a student at Humber College’s PR program. We chat internships and humble pie. 

Her Question: We’ll be starting internships soon and I had a question: What should I do if I make a mistake during my internship?
Our Answer: Start by taking a deep breath and remember that mistakes are part of the learning process, and every intern (and full-time employee, for that matter) makes a few.
We haven’t met an intern who has yet to make an error, but you know what? That’s completely okay. We don’t expect interns to know everything. That’s why they’re here – to learn! So, if you make a mistake, don’t panic. It will be fine.
While your first reaction may be to cover it up so you don’t get in trouble with the boss, we’d actually rather you to step forward and let us know what happened. That way, we can correct it as soon as possible. Trust us. It’s much better to admit you screwed up and ask for help than to ignore it. By not reacting right away, you actually risk worsening the situation, depending on what it is.
If it was a small error, simply apologize and offer to help fix it. Do your best not to let it happen again (it’s a bit of a pet peeve to have to correct someone on the same error more than twice) and try to observe the steps taken to solve the problem. That way, you really understand the impact your mistake had and are more likely to not repeat it in the future. Win-win! 
For more complicated errors, sometimes your senior team may need to move quickly, and they may not have time to explain all the steps they’re taking to improve the situation. If there is something you don’t understand, make a note of it so you can discuss it with your manager later. After the dust has settled, ask your higher-ups if they can go over the steps they took to recover the error, and consider it a learning experience. And again, remember to apologize – humble pie may not be delicious, but it should be part of the menu sometimes.
Being upfront about a mistake shows maturity and honesty, two qualities any potential employer loves to see. Everyone makes mistakes and a good employer will help you learn from it, rather than chastising you or making you feel badly. 
Trying to solve the issue or at least coming up with some suggestions to correct your mistake shows you’re taking your job seriously and are willing to work to learn. We love that.
Got a burning PR question that you want us to answer? Email amalia.intern@rockitpromo.com. We’ll feature you on a future Teacher’s Pet.

Teacher’s Pet: Interning

Megan Kaczor is a Centennial College Corporate Communications and Public Relations graduate student preparing to start interning. 

Her question: Could you tell me more about the kind of work students will do during their internship at an agency? Will there be many opportunities for hands-on work, such as writing and planning, or will we be sticking to the basics at first?

Our answer: You can no longer be Saved by the Bell. It’s time to get out of the classroom and head to the office. You are set to report for intern duty Monday morning, but you aren’t too sure what to expect. Take a seat fellow intern, and keep reading.  An internship at a PR agency involves the basics, and then some. 

From time to time, you may be asked to make a coffee run before a big meeting or run an errand, but you may also be asked to write drafts of press releases, research and update media lists, monitor client media coverage, write blog posts or tweets, assist with press days and much more.

As an intern working events, you will gain experience working the door, organizing media check-ins and making valuable industry connections.

Meeting with clients is an important part of a publicist’s job. In such meetings, proposals, events, PR initiatives and results are discussed. Interns invited to sit on meetings should listen closely, and take note of client-relationship etiquette. If you aren’t invited, be sure to ask if you can sit in on meetings. PR is fast and the folks around you need to know what you’re interested in doing.

While the overall intern experience may be a ton of work, interns often benefit from a few cool perks. Here On The Fourth Floor, our interns have gone on photo shoots, modeled for television appearances, attended fashion and entertainment industry events, receive free tickets to films and concerts, and much more. 

Enjoy your internship and remember that every position, from intern to big boss, is important. Do your job with pride and remember that everybody above you has been there at one time, too.

Teacher’s Pet: Big agency vs. boutique firm

Today’s Teacher’s Pet post is about the differences between interning at small firms and large agencies. It’s the time of year when many PR students start to look for internship opportunities, so this post should answer lots of questions for you. 

Natalie Schoffer is currently enrolled as a student in Humber College’s Postgraduate Certificate program. 

I am looking into internships and jobs right now and I am wondering what the difference is between working at a large agency and a small firm?
Michelle‘s answer: Both small and large PR firms offer interns a lot of solid PR work experience. It’s our opinion that the top two areas of distinction fall under day-to-day tasks and clientele, outlined below.
The Tasks
Small (boutique) firms: These interns get a lot of hands-on experience, including working events and receiving RSVPs, developing first drafts of media materials, building media lists, helping with media monitoring and tracking coverage, assisting with a company’s social media initiatives, and more. Interns have the opportunity to assist everyone from the president to junior staff, and the intimate atmosphere provides invaluable access to senior staff.

Large agency: The atmosphere can feel more corporate than a boutique, and these agencies employ many staff, so there are a lot of smart, savvy people to learn from. Large agency interns are part of an account team (with up to five staff members) and provide support on foundational tasks like media monitoring, managing press reports, building media lists and more. Many of the large firms have offices all over the world, opening the door to work-related travel, or relocation, which can be a fun perk (if you’re hired on after your internship).
The Clients
The size of company you choose also depends on what you are passionate about.
Small firms: Boutique agencies like rock-it promotions, Brill Communications and Pennant Media Group offer the chance to work with a range of clients, from local start-ups to national businesses to global enterprises. Boutique firms often work within multiple categories like fashion, entertainment, fitness, lifestyle, beauty, restaurants, etc. since there aren’t separate departments.  Budgets can be smaller than with big agencies, so creative outreach is appreciated.

Large agency: Large firms like Edelman, Strategic Objectives, Hill and Knowlton or National Public Relations are often separated into specific departments dedicated to client areas like consumer, health, technology and corporate communications, so you can benefit from tailored industry experience, which is amazing if you have a passion for a specific genre. Large corporate clients often have more regulations and specific branding guidelines, so getting a super creative idea off the ground isn’t always easy, but the larger budgets mean there are endless possibilities.

The Conclusion
An internship, wherever you do it, is really what you make of it. Make sure you ask senior staff about how you can help on an account, complete the tasks you are assigned impeccably, be cheery and personable (without being irritating), be eager to learn and go above and beyond. This will help land you a job, or at least a wonderful reference letter. Should you intern in an environment that just isn’t right for you, you can (and should!) easily transition between small firms and large agencies. 

Meet Our Team: Carly

Carly is our newest intern, who we snapped up after she showed us her stuff at LG Fashion Week Beauty by L’Oreal Paris. She recently graduated from the post-graduate Public Relations program at Humber College. Before that, she studied Media Information and Technoculture, with a Certificate in Writing at the University of Western Ontario, graduating with Honours. 
She comes with amazing internship experience, having held past positions at CosmoGirl Magazine, Jill Stuart, Michael Kors in Toronto, and the Fashion Design Council of Canada. She’s sweet, cheerful and always willing to jump in with both feet, no matter the project. 
We are happy to have this budding PR maven on our team! 


How long have you been part of the team?
It’s my third week!

Ideal vacation spot?
New York City. It’s the only place you can eat Forty Carrots frozen yogurt while shopping at Marc Jacobs.
Best gift you’ve ever received?
When I graduated from school, my mom bought me an amazing Prada bag. It’s huge and weighs a ton, but there’s no bag I would rather drag around with me. Except maybe Mulberry’s Alexa bag.
Favourite movie of all time?
Million Dollar Baby, I didn’t see that ending coming!
How do you like to relax?
Put on sweatpants and read every fashion magazine from Allure to Vogue.
Best part about being a publicist?
The best part of being a publicist is working in fashion, writing all the time and of course, talking lots. I love the creative freedom it encourages, and the ingenuity it breeds.
A little more from the fourth floor:
Designer Alexander Wang.
Store Labels or Love in Toronto. Awesome designer consignment.
Book The Secret Daughter by Somaya Gowda. 
Snack – Cupcakes.
Season – Fall.
Sexy – Leopard print.
Inspiration – Good books.
Drink – Coffee.
Motto in two words – Dress up.

Meet Our Team: Alana

Every Friday, you’ll either meet one of our team or one of our clients on the fourth floor. 

Alana is a cute, 20-something intern who is cutting her PR teeth at rock-it promotions. She’s bubbly, sharp as a tack and has an identical twin.

How long have you been part of the team?
I’ve been part of the rock-it team for three months and it’s been fantastic! As one of rock-it’s interns, I’ve had the chance to experience amazing events and meet a lot of great people. It’s been a whirlwind and I love it.

What is your guilty pleasure?
My guilty pleasure is and always will be eating countless bowls of chips while watching a chick flick with my girlfriends. I could eat a whole bag in a heartbeat. Sometimes you just have to break the “portion control” rule, you know? Plus, who can resist Ruffles Sour Cream and Onion? Mmm…

Favourite outdoor summer time activity?

I’ve spent every summer up north for more than 20 years and there’s nothing I love more than boating and water sports in the summer. Water skiing, wakeboarding, tubing and just boating over to a friend’s cottage is the epitome of summer to me.

Best gift you’ve ever received?

A charm bracelet from my parents. I have a bunch of charms that I’ve collected over the years, all symbolizing something in my life. Whether it’s a hobby, somewhere I’ve travelled, and even a little charm to remember our dog, I try to pick up a charm whenever I travel.

Best part about being a publicist?

The best part about being a publicist (or, in my case, a publicity intern) is the chance to meet so many interesting and influential people in the industry. It’s also amazing to see what the team here at rock-it can achieve for a client. I’ve had the chance to see a few clients’ responses to the team’s hard work and it’s really rewarding.

A little more from the fourth floor:

Website – BlogTO
Designer – Ted Baker
Store – Aritzia
Book – The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Snack – Poutine
Season – Spring
Sexy – Little Black Dress
Inspiration – Successful friends/family
Drink – Caesar
Motto in two words – Think: Karma

Follow her on Twitter! @Avdeguerre