How to interview a PR practitioner

Inrikes

It is all very well listening to lectures but every so often you will want to know what it is like in the real world. Whether you are doing a placement, or primary research for a dissertation, you will be asking a busy person to give up valuable time to help you with your studies.

Maybe they will be pleased to help you, may be they still remember how useful a similar chat had been earlier in the career, but the chances are they will receive many such requests, and they won’t say yes to all of them.

Even if you make an appointment, you need to prepare well if you are o get the best of the time available. Here, Sanna Holmqvist, head of public relations for the Öresund Bridge, shares a few tips that are certain to help you.

  • Do your homework before you get in touch. Study our website, google us, read our newsletters and press releases, follow us on social media, see what we say to customers, read media stories about us, know who is who at our company etc.
  • Show interest in my job/our company when you contact us. You must have chosen us for a reason, so know that reason and let me know it.
  • Know what you want to know – decide your angle. If a communications student wants to interview me about my work, they must know which aspect of our PR work they are most interested in. If it is about the Bridge in general, it helps if I know if students want to focus on our business, finances, history, architecture, maintenance, technical matters, structure, history, organization, CSR, the artificial island, security matters, tunnel, environment, traffic surveillance, marketing strategies, our role in society and regional importance…etc.
  • Take the right way in to the company. Know who you want to want to get in touch with. Find name of the right person (usually on their website or elsewhere). If you can’t find it anywhere, call the switchboard and ask who is responsible for PR. Do NOT just send a “to whom it may concern” email to the Customer Service, asking them to pass it on. That seems unambitious, and after all, you want me to spend some of my time helping you. Find out my name and contact me directly, by email or just call me on the phone.
  • Don’t have too big expectations on how much we will do for you. This may sound harsh, but helping a student is something we do because we want to be helpful, not because it has direct benefit for the company. So we will not do your job for you, but we are happy to help.
  • Always offer me to see what you have written about me or the company and let me know how you are going to use it. It could be sensitive for companies to hand out information and it is for the company to decide what is confidential, not the student. If you think it might be something that could be useful for us, why not offer me the opportunity to use your text or output.
  • Be nice, be polite and show ambition. The better impression of you I get, the more helpful I am.

Good luck!

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