Here is what our intern Swaleha Calafato has to say about working in a PR agency in Dubai:
It’s interesting – when you’re a student taking notes in class, listening to your professor meticulously dictate important PR theories, tactics, strategies etc., you tend to think you’ve got it all down. It can’t be that hard, right? Wrong. You show up for Day 1 of your internship and realize applying theory into practice is not all that easy – that text books don’t teach you everything. There is no single correct way of doing things.
It’s been two weeks, but apart from getting a hands-on experience of how a PR agency actually functions, and insight into how to establish and maintain good relationships with one’s clients, I’ve also realized that I’ve picked the correct career path for myself. Having been introduced to a spectrum of clients from an extensive array of sectors, such as education, luxury products, technology and so on, I have developed a comprehensive understanding of how to tackle various situations and clientele needs. Understanding client expectations is imperative to meeting client needs and materializing a good PR plan for their firm. Direct contact with clients and engaging one on one with the media has enabled me to come out of my shell and develop essential PR and marketing skills.
Developing proposals for clients as well as executing PR and social media strategies for current and potential clients has increased my business acumen and allowed me to gain real-world knowledge and know-how of the practical requirements in the field of PR. PR requires ongoing media monitoring and identification of prospective media and coverage opportunities, as well as extensive follow ups to make sure the job is done, and done as needed. I have learned that a simple email is not enough to secure coverage, but regular contact with the media is crucial. Building good relationships with editors and journalists requires interpersonal skills, a deep understanding of the job of media professionals, and how relevant the coverage is to them.
Initially, when I had to pitch, I was apprehensive and unsure about how I would handle it but it has now become a one of my favorite tasks at work. It’s a great feeling, picking up the phone and being able to secure coverage. With each successful pitch, there is an increase in one’s confidence level and abilities. What university courses don’t teach you are how different businesses operate in real life and the importance for a PR professional to grasp their key strengths, objectives and needs. Without this knowledge, it is next to impossible to successfully merge a firm’s business strategies with effective PR strategies. One of the most important things I’ve learned is to communicate succinctly and yet get the message across to fulfill its purpose. It is vital to be up to date about the market sectors you’re dealing with and its associated issues and emerging trends. Consistent research and preparation has boosted my creative side as well as my future planning skills.