My year as a PR intern

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This week I’ve turned the blog over to Hanif Laylabi (@hanifleylabi) our comms intern who leaves us at the end of the month. A year ago – inspired by the new CIPR intern guidelines – I decided to take the plunge and hire a university graduate for the first time.

I wrote about the start of the scheme here and everyone on it has been brilliant. The standard of graduates in the marcomms space in the North East is truly first class. Over to you Hanif.

Back in spring 2012, I was completing the taught part of my MA in Public Relations at the University of Sunderland and was looking forward to a long summer of dissertation writing.

One of my tutors had begun to email the class job and work experience opportunities, but I was set on finishing my dissertation first before I took on the job of finding work.

But one email came through that caught my eye. It was for a six month communications internship at Northumberland County Council.

I knew the reputation the council communications work had, from being a leading local authority on social media, to its successful switch to an online version of Northumberland News.

So I decided this was too good an opportunity to miss, applied and was offered one of the positions.

After two contract extensions, it’s now a year down the line and I’m getting ready to leave Northumberland County Council this week. It has been a fantastic experience and I’ve learned a lot from some very talented people.

One of the things that strikes you first about working for the council, is the diversity of the county. From market towns, to mining towns and from hamlets in the hills, to fishing villages, Northumberland has it all.

From a communications perspective, this presents a lot of challenges. Does everywhere have access to broadband? Are we delivering our messages in a way that is accessible to all our residents?

It’s been eye opening to see how the council has tackled these challenges with a forward thinking approach, with investment in innovation at its heart.

The iNorthumberland broadband programme will see 91% of the county having access to high speed broadband. This means that the vast majority of residents and businesses are able to effectively utilise new media tools such as Facebook and Twitter.

At the same time the council has built on its social media strategy that already sees it deliver different messages in different ways. This means if you are looking for jobs, school closure information or fun things to do, you can do so easily, without sifting through unnecessary information. I’ve learnt a lot from this approach and hope to take this approach with me in the future.

In addition to this I’ve had the opportunity to lead on the local democracy campaign 2013, which helped to publicise county and parish council elections.

This gave me a great insight into the work done by councillors and community groups, showing that it really is the people of Northumberland that make it a great place to live and work.

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