Beyond the Classroom: PR in the Real World 

Posted on December 28, 2023

With a combined nine years of post-secondary education under our belts, we thought we knew the ins and outs of the public relations field. After all, we have done over 100 credits worth of PR classes, so how different could an agency job be compared to our in-class experiences? This fall, we were selected as Brookline PR’s newest interns and got to see how closely our PR schooling aligns to real world experience. Olivia figured out that a killer internal communications system is gold, while Angie discovered the magic that happens when a team works together for a common cause. The following tales are a mix of chaos and collaboration and a behind-the-scenes look at what happens when theory meets the wild world of PR.  

Meetings, Media, and Multitasking, Oh my!   

Before I started my internship at Brookline PR, I thought I had a good idea of what public relations was and how it worked. About five minutes into my first day, I realized I was very wrong. The world of PR is much more elaborate and exciting than what is taught in school.

The theory we learn as students gives us a general idea of what we need to know as practitioners, but it is just the tip of the iceberg. I gained most of my PR skills from my experience at Brookline PR over the course of this semester. I was given the opportunity to work on multiple client accounts, all with different project outcomes, deadlines and expectations. From event planning to writing and from developing media lists to media scanning, I have been able to gain confidence in my PR skills beyond what I learned in the classroom.   

A month into my internship at Brookline PR, I was able to support the planning and execution of the grand re-opening of Vivo for Healthier Generations, after a 10-year expansion project. During this time, I was immersed in vendor management, media tracking and reporting, media material preparation and client meetings.    

Ahead of the grand re-opening, I was tasked with supporting the communication between the production crew of photographers and videographers and scanning various platforms for media coverage about the facility. On event day, I was onsite to support and witness our team’s hard work come to life! The Brookline PR team was busy from the start, facilitating registration and vendor check-in and set up, monitoring the run of the show, managing media interviews and providing additional support where needed.   

Even though we all had individual roles and responsibilities, we worked as a team to get the job done. It was a whirlwind experience, with problem solving at every turn. The team and I were on our feet all day, eating when we could sneak it in and tracking media coverage as soon as the event was live! I loved every second of the work and getting to spend time with the team.    

Through this experience, I had the ability to put the theory I learned in school into practice and support with media relations, research, internal and external communications, and quick thinking on my feet.  

A strong internal communications system is vital when you are working with people who are responsible for different areas of a campaign to make one project come together. This is something I will look for in a career moving forward!   

From Internship to Impactful Campaigns! 

As a fourth-year university student eager to graduate, I craved a taste of the “real world” amidst the routine of essays, textbooks and lectures. My expectations for the typical intern gig at Brookline PR were simple—some editing and a few internal meetings. Little did I know that agency life would prove as exhilarating as the impressive scale of work awaiting me.

My time with Brookline PR’s client Field of Crosses (FOC) was one of the most fulfilling and impactful experiences during my internship. FOC is a non-profit that pays homage to the thousands of southern Albertans who made the ultimate sacrifice defending our freedom. The organization coordinates the display of 3,500 crosses along Memorial Drive each November, hosting 11 days of themed ceremonies leading up to Remembrance Day. Our objective was to strengthen awareness around the memorial display and its Eleven Days of Remembrance ceremonies through media and influencer relations. We also worked to amplify the stories of the fallen, encourage Calgarians to attend the ceremonies and bring awareness to volunteer and donation opportunities.

Picture a dynamic team, united by a shared passion, navigating the swift currents of agency life to build brand awareness for this good cause. We were tasked with amplifying FOC’s mission to never forget, their Eleven Days of Remembrance and supporting FOC in achieving its Adopt a Cross initiative to support the non-profit’s continued operations. Being a part of the Field of Crosses team taught me a lot about media relations and teamwork, it also helped me answer, ‘Why public relations?’

My choice in public relations is fueled by a passion for collaborating toward a shared goal, resulting in positive change. This opportunity allowed me to strategically channel my interest in the non-profit sector and solidified my commitment to growing within this industry. 

However, the complexities I faced with FOC surpassed my initial expectations. The scale of the task was more significant, emphasizing that success lies in mastering small details. Delving into media and influencer relations, I discovered the seemingly straightforward goal of increasing awareness and engagement from Calgarians was anything but simple. The overarching objective was clear, to boost awareness and engagement without the luxury of paid promotion. 

Media and influencer relations required not only creativity but also an abundance of patience, preparation and attention to detail. Each interaction became a crucial piece in the puzzle of achieving FOC’s goals. Every detail mattered, from crafting the perfect pitch to maintaining consistent, meaningful contact with those playing pivotal roles in sharing the FOC story. 

As November 11th approached, I could feel the crescendo of media coverage. The long hours spent monitoring media coverage and influencer interactions were as important as the work leading up to the project, allowing for effective results and contributing significantly to my learning. 

We achieved great success with over 800 pieces of coverage across various platforms. We fulfilled every volunteer shift and raised immense awareness for Adopt a Cross. Reflecting on this transformative journey, I am profoundly grateful for the mentorship and guidance from my team and Brookline PR. Their support not only allowed me to contribute meaningfully to FOC but also played a pivotal role in my personal and professional growth. I carry forward refined skills and a deep appreciation for collaboration that transforms projects into impactful endeavors. 

In the grand finale of our intern escapades, Olivia mastered the art of juggling event planning, vendor wrangling, and media tracking! Meanwhile, Angie discovered that the world of public relations isn’t just about editing and internal meetings, it’s a thrilling collaboration dance that can support meaningful initiatives.

As we move forward into 2024 with Brookline PR, we’re not just learning stronger skills but also gaining stories and memories. We are surviving, thriving and laughing through it all. 

In the end, it’s not just about surviving intern life; it’s about collecting experiences, one client adventure at a time. Cheers to the lessons that make the journey unforgettable! 

A fourth-year student at Mount Royal University, Olivia is fascinated by social media content creation and media relations, and loves working with a team to make the most creative plans possible.   

Angie is a PR student at Mount Royal University, blends content creation, stakeholder relations and community engagement. Angie eagerly applies her skills, aiming to make a real impact for clients.