13 April 2017
Charlie McNeilage, PR Intern

The truth about interning at Westgate Comms

Westgate buliding

It’s the first working day of 2017 and the first day of my internship at Westgate Communications. As I’m walking from my car, a sudden rush of questions floods my head: “What’s this going to be like? What work am I going to be asked to do? How much of this sort of thing should I know already? What happens when they realise I make terrible tea, coffee and puns?”

Needless to say, I was winding myself up over nothing. As I come to the end of my internship here at Westgate, I thought I’d share some of my experiences and a few valuable lessons I will take away from here, and may be helpful to anyone looking to join Westgate or start a career in PR.

Westgate intern life

We all know clichés about what an internship can involve: making cups of tea, sorting paper clips and generally doing the jobs the rest of the office doesn’t feel like doing. For me, the first and most important thing to know before interning at Westgate is that you get asked to do actual work that contributes to the company and its clients. Every task I was asked to complete had a purpose and was aimed to directly help Westgate and its clients, and so I really felt a part of the team.

By the end of my first week, I had been given a vast array of responsibilities including detailed research on companies and industries, social media content generation, coverage clipping, and contacting journalists about a competition opportunity and possible article suggestions. I’ve particularly enjoyed the diversity of work at Westgate; on any one day I could be asked to do any combination of these tasks, among others, and perform them across a range of client industries, from brewing to spirituality, and motorhome insurance to controlled environment technology. The fast-paced nature of each day always kept me on my toes and eager to get involved in as many areas as possible.

I found that one of the biggest differences between university life and my time at Westgate has been the team environment, as most of my university work was individual. It’s thanks to the friendly and supportive office Westgate has that I was able to receive the positive feedback I did, and why I was able to enjoy my time as much as I have. Everyone is really keen to help if you have a query, whether their area or not, and you can guarantee daily laughs and smiles.

Most valuable lessons

There’s so much I’ve learnt at Westgate, even after only three months. I’ve tried to condense it down into some little pointers that can be of help before embarking on a career in PR and marketing at Westgate:

First of all, never be afraid to chase and persevere. The old saying really does work here: “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try, and try again”. Not getting a reply to an email doesn’t mean no. Journalists, in particular, will often receive a huge number of emails each day and it’s easy for one to slip by without them even knowing it’s there, so don’t get disheartened. I personally found that journalists could in fact be interested in what I had to say once I got a hold of them. If you do get a ‘no’, this is the opinion of one specific publication; so don’t let it cloud what you think of what you’ve written. It may just not be suitable for them specifically.

Secondly, don’t be afraid to communicate. If you have a question, like whether your draft for a pitch is suitable, whether a publication is the right target for the article, or where is best to find a report with a similar layout to the research you are carrying out, someone on the team will have an answer and will be happy to help. They would rather you took 20 seconds to ask a question than wasted an hour trying to do it yourself.

Thirdly, always try to see if you can do more. My first successful article pitch came from my own research outside of the media list I was given, and it was such a rewarding experience. Also, it’s a great way to get to know everyone on the team better and learn more about the interesting clients Westgate works with.

As a final tip, and this may turn out to be the most valuable tip of all, remember that a company is singular not plural! Remember this and you’ll save yourself unbelievable amounts of time in second drafts taking the letter “s” off words and changing “they” and “their” to “it” and “its”.

So, around 600 emails later, there lies a short snippet of what it’s like working at Westgate and I have learnt so much from it. If you’re interested in working with a range of industries with diverse clients in a fast-paced and fun office, then I would really recommend interning in PR at Westgate as a great place for you to gain experience.

At Westgate Communications we’re always on the look out for enthusiastic graduates who want to kick-start their PR career. If you’re looking for an internship or work experience, then get in touch on 01732 779087 or email recruitment@westgatecomms.com.


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