4 steps to powering up communications internships

Your eager, young charges should get the most out of their time with you—so they’ll come back as eager, well-trained employees. Get your own coffee, and start engaging them. Here’s how.

Interns are great additions to any communications team—if they’re properly mentored.

Over the course of my tenure with iHeartMedia, we’ve laid the groundwork to help our interns get the most out of the company’s media, entertainment and digital platforms while preparing them for the next step in their careers.

From agency to in-house, here are four tips to help your interns get the most out of their experience with your company.

1. Learn their interests. It’s important to remember that you should be learning as much about your interns as they are learning from you. iHeartMedia interns work on a variety of tasks, including national events like the iHeartRadio Music Festival, local radio station staff announcements or B2B partnerships with iHeartRadio, the free all-in-one digital music and streaming radio service.

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the bigger picture, but remember to ask yourself: is there a specific part of communications that your interns are interested in exploring? Ask them which industries they would like to pursue after graduation.

We tailor our projects to their interests, if possible, and relate any lessons to the industry and media outlets they want to work with in the future.

2. Immerse interns in communication strategies for the entire company. At iHeartMedia our communications meetings are a chance to review the activity and projects across all our divisions and brands.

Include your interns in these meetings, so they can see not only how your business units work together, but also how your team collaborates to deploy internal and external news.

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Although our team members each have their own responsibilities, it’s important for your interns to understand that your strategy is made up of many moving parts and how they all work under one umbrella.

3. Look at your tasks with a fresh set of eyes. You might be a pro at compiling a media contact list or using software to edit a broadcast clip, but does your intern know the process? Ask your interns to observe the next time you draft a pitch and explain your standard procedures, or invite them to tag along to the next roadmapping meeting so they can learn how to identify pitchable content.

An intern recently observed me posting a release on the wire. I explained the steps, wire categories and regional corridors that apply to iHeartMedia and its brands—something you don’t learn in school—and showed her the end result. Some of your responsibilities may seem routine, but to an intern, you’re the expert.

4. Involve your senior leaders. Your internship program should be a 360-degree experience to give students and young professionals an idea of how your organization strategizes, coordinates and executes a communications plan from the top down.

The leader of iHeartMedia’s communications division finds time to provide overviews of current projects, helps in assigning projects to interns and even grabs casual lunches with the group. Showing interns that your senior leaders are willing to take the time to mentor them can lead to a great internship experience, and it could result in landing a loyal employee.

Have any other tips to improve an internship program? Please leave them in the comments section below.

Kevin Wong is the senior associate of marketing and communications for iHeartMedia. A version of this article originally appeared on Muck Rack, a service that enables you to find journalists to pitch, build media lists, get press alerts and create coverage reports with social media data.


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