By: Ann Klinck, Director of Chapter Development
Every semester students find their second homes either on or off campus. Maybe you’re on an executive board for your club and you’re constantly in the office or maybe you’re part of a new sports team and the gym is your second home. Whatever your passion may be this semester, you know the feeling when you go to that place and it’s almost as if you never left and that one day had just continued into the next. The best thing about finding your passion of the semester is that you don’t mind always being at your “new home” because what you’re doing matters to you. My second home is the Downtown State College Improvement District (DSCID). It’s a small nonprofit in the heart of State College that focuses on the betterment of the downtown. During the fall semester, I saw all of the different roles a public relations professional (or soon to be) can fulfill in a nonprofit, especially one as small as the DSCID. While some nonprofit internships are unpaid, you can still profit immensely from the PR experience you receive. Here are just a few duties that have fallen on me in my experience:
“You’re a PR major? Great! We need some press releases, e-mails, a description for this event and some more blogs for the website. Can you have it done in an hour?” If you don’t like to write, don’t be in PR. Being in a small nonprofit has given me a fair amount of experience writing with different types of publics in many different formats. Not only does your boss assume you can write, but they depend on you to do it, and do it well.
Social Media Sorcerer:
As a young PR professional it is assumed you are up to date on all forms of social media. Nonprofits are just that, they are not profiting, which means you have to be able to garner support from the community for your efforts. If your nonprofit stops appealing to people or stops appearing productive, funding could get cut. Even though you know the work is important, you have to be able reach people and prove that what you’re doing matters. Justifying and promoting events through social media is imperative. Which brings me to my last duty.
My internship in the fall semester was very event planning heavy. When you have to collaborate amongst people that are outside the nonprofit who can participate in the planning of the event you need to stay organized. I highly recommend using excel to create work plans and keeping track of what websites you’ve updated with event information. And make sure EVERYTHING gets sent to the public, whether it’s through a press release, an e-mail, a social media post etc. You can plan an event for three weeks and be overly prepared, but if no one comes, that event is ultimately a failure.
If you’re having trouble deciding what you want to do in the PR field, I highly recommend nonprofit. You’ll have different hands-on experiences and your work will benefit others.