Gummy worms, gossip and the not-so-dark art of PR – my internship at Velvet

Having recently graduated university after three brilliant (but intense) years, I approached graduate life with some trepidation – various options including tutoring, pointless Masters courses or masochistic junior jobs in the City left a lot to be desired. Fortunately, my time at Velvet has been an eye-opening, engaging taste of the working world in general, and PR in particular.

Going into an internship can be a touch-and-go process. Walking through an office when arriving at and leaving an interview hardly gives you a decent sense of company culture, and there’s always the danger that no matter how interesting the firm, their idea of an intern amounts to little more than chief photocopying officer. Thankfully I think I was at Velvet over a month before I was asked to copy anything – although my weekly run to Waitrose was always awaited with bated breath, mainly due to the Leibniz biscuits that were a permanent fixture of the shopping list.

Velvet is a small, specialist business, and a lot of the team work part-time and/or remotely. Yet what they lacked in numbers they more than made up for in spirit – office chat was, to put it politely, no holds barred! But the witticisms came hand in hand with an exceptionally friendly and welcoming attitude, and my opinion was soon being solicited on staff dress sense, dubious lunch choices and the office soundtrack as well as business matters.

Atmosphere aside, one of the manifest benefits of the internship was the diversity of the tasks I was handed. This varied across the range of the PR toolkit – research, pitching to journalists, copywriting and the like – as well across the full roster of Velvet’s client list. The clients were a varied bunch in themselves, and it was a bit of a trial by fire getting to grips with the B2B sector and all the specialist terminology that came with it – I probably learnt nearly as much about digital marketing as I did about PR.

Doing so many different things in quick succession, whilst being a bit of a learning curve at first, was a great way to get a handle on the role of PR as a whole. When strategic conversations and day to day operations take place in the same room, rather than being split between corner office and factory floor, it’s much easier to see how the two ends of the business inform each other.

The internship has also helped me to brush up on practical skills. As well as the usual importance of things like time management and teamwork, it’s given me a much more critical and analytical eye when looking at media, and much more confidence when pitching on the phone to time-poor journalists. After three years of decoding complex metaphors and going on multi-clausal tangents about literary theory, it’s been refreshing to trim all that back in favour of punchy, direct but no less skillful copywriting.

I’ll leave Velvet somewhat reluctantly, but with fond memories of office hilarities, and well-equipped to take on the PR industry and the world!