By: Tia Dabney and JJ Sindhusake
Shaping how an organization is perceived by the public has always peaked each of our interests, and it’s what drew us both to public relations and public affairs. Before our internship at Racepoint DC, we assumed a team of writers just produced content for people to read. Little did we know, to run successful campaigns for clients, agencies have to run like a well-oiled machine – where the gears are the elements of PR that go into creating a connection with the public. As earned media interns, we were exposed to these elements and given the opportunity to put them to work.
As we learned in school, traditional media plays an important role in public relations. From press releases to op-eds to building relationships with reporters, traditional media outreach is still an important spoke in the wheel of public relations campaigns. During our internship, we learned that press releases are essential in informing the public of key company developments, but they should also be engaging. We also learned the importance of understanding a reporter’s coverage beat and interests before sending information that may not be relevant to them. As in our personal lives, building relationships with reporters is key to a successful communications strategy. And thanks to social media, traditional media efforts can live on well past any one announcement or event.
Social media allows for a wide range of outreach locally, nationally and globally. Thanks to social media, previous content can be reinserted into conversations around news of the day, and influencers are more accessible than ever. Social media allows us to engage influencers and consumers in dialogue, and provides opportunities for connecting with audiences in a more personal way. Social media is also an important listening tool, which can help drive strategies for clients.
One way we put these social media tactics to use was attending events. Whether we were attending a Racepoint DC or other organization event, we used social media tactics – like hashtags and mentioning others in attendance – and multimedia elements – like photos and video – to broadcast our own attendance and track what was discussed surrounding the event. Doing so helped to broaden our reach and audience by connecting and engaging with others.
Having interned in the Racepoint Washington, DC office, much of our internship focused around affecting public policy. During our time here, we learned how both traditional and social media has a place in public affairs campaigns. We listened in on congressional hearings as a way to stay informed about pending legislation that could affect our clients. Monitoring the members of Congress and witnesses in attendance, oral testimonies, and the line of questioning provided critical insight for teams and their clients. And afterward, we would see the traditional media efforts come to fruition through press statements and news reports.
Monitoring these events also put the use of social media in perspective when it comes to public affairs. We saw how social media platforms have given people a space and an audience to voice their opinions and position themselves as subject matter experts. Targeting the right people with the right message at the right time is a skill that we have learned while with Racepoint DC. Social media platforms have given constituents unprecedented access to their lawmakers. Today, people are able to voice their opinions and concerns as easily as sending a tweet.
Racepoint Global has afforded us real-world experiences in the public affairs field that could not have been taught in a classroom. This internship program is a great segue into an entry-level position at any public relations or public affairs firm, and it has equipped us with knowledge that can be applied throughout our careers. Not only was the internship informative, it was also fun. The people we have had the opportunity to work alongside have made it easy to come to work every day. Their willingness to help and answer questions made all of the difference during our time with the company. We appreciate our time with Racepoint DC, and we’re lucky to have had the opportunity.