Advice to Future PR & Marketing Interns: Highlights and Lessons from BackBay

August 8, 2019

By Kate Norton

Going into my internship at BackBay, I didn’t know what to expect. “Communications” is such a vague term, and “public relations” isn’t much more specific. With only a few weeks left, I can confidently say that I understand what I’m doing here—and might even be able to explain it to other people.

While I had been emailing clients and tracking their media coverage, I wasn’t able to conceptualize BackBay’s impact. When I was standing in the radio booth of a top-tier media company, the scale of BackBay finally clicked.

While I had previously interned in communications for a Boston nonprofit and for Colgate University, I was, at the end of the day, a French major and sociology minor who could only offer the “soft skills” honed through writing laborious papers and reading hundreds of pages a night for class. That being said, there was a lot of jargon for me to catch up on—both PR and finance. The jargon came eventually over time, and for the other things, like PowerPoint and Excel, I was lucky enough to have a team that was patient with me.

When I started a little over a month ago, I had never used a publication database, crafted an impact investing media list, or worked under pressure to get a media brief to a client before a last-minute interview. I needed a lot of direction at first, but I think being new to PR ended up being an asset rather than a setback because I was so determined to not mess anything up. I inevitably did make mistakes, but I learned it wasn’t the end of the world.

I felt much more comfortable once I got used to the 9-to-5 life, which is certainly jarring for a college student with erratic hours. However, I never felt like I was settling or just getting used to working at BackBay, because I was given more responsibility as time went on and was always challenged. Perhaps my favorite part of this internship was that there was no “typical” day. One day, I would be sitting at my desk firing out quarterly reports and social media content, and the next I would be traveling to the financial district to help a client film a webinar.

A clear highlight of my internship was accompanying a client to Bloomberg News for his radio interview. Before that, everything had seemed relatively abstract. While I had been emailing clients and tracking their media coverage, I wasn’t able to conceptualize BackBay’s impact. When I was standing in the radio booth of a top-tier media company, the scale of BackBay finally clicked.

Another highlight was pitching a client to a reporter and facilitating the interview between them. Anyone who has worked in PR knows that actually getting a response to a pitch is a big deal, and I was especially shocked as my email signature touts my intern status. The journalist ended up writing an article featuring our client’s commentary, and it felt like a huge win for me. Being able to generate media coverage for a client even though I was just an intern spoke to the benefits of working at a small firm like BackBay.

My advice to a future intern is to appreciate the people around you. Public relations professionals make their living crafting perfect appearances, so it’s not surprising that they sometimes have a reputation for being less than genuine. However, I’ve found that BackBay is full of smart, kind, and hardworking people, and the firm in turn attracts clients that are just as upstanding. There are so many public relations opportunities available, but I feel like I happened to land on the best one. Thank you, BackBay!