Bracing Yourself for Breaking News

Posted on Monday, Oct 29, 2018

Whether it be the drama of meetings between the President and the Deputy Attorney General or significant rulings on federal immigration cases, interns who work in the communications field should always be ready to deal with breaking news in their offices.

As a media affairs, public relations, or a communications intern in Washington, students may be asked to complete many tasks that are similar to that of a press assistant: a person who writes and edits press releases, memos, and other reports, gathers press clips, responds to national and local media outlets, and may also assist with developing communication strategies for their respective organization. To be successful as this, students need to stay up to date on current events and be ready to respond to media inquiries in the event of a breaking news situation.

While serving as a Media Affairs intern for the Department of Justice, my office had to deal with a lot of breaking news surges throughout the semester. The phones with curious callers would ring nonstop for about an hour, our press inbox would flood with hundreds of emails, and our supervisors would pull us in and out of the office to assist with last minute press conferences.

Looking back on those breaking news days in the office, I noticed there were many precautions I could have taken to ensure I was ready to assist my coworkers to respond to breaking news.
Here are 4 tips that will help interns in the communications field deal with breaking news in their offices:
  1. Read. Read. Read
To be ready for breaking news, interns should always be reading news articles once, maybe even twice a day. By doing this, interns serve as an extra eye for your office. If you see a news story that can possibly have an impact on your office or a prominent event in politics that may warrant a response from your office, reach out to one of your coworkers and voice your concern. This is not only very helpful for your coworkers, but it also shows you are actively engaged in matters related to your internship.
  1. Ask and you shall receive
Being aware of the important matters that affect your office will make your job 10 times easier. Ask your supervisor if there are any current events that you should keep an eye out for and how these events directly impact the work you will need to carry out in the event of a breaking news situation. Depending on the nature of your office, your supervisors may not be able to tell you all the juicy details of a very sensitive topic matter, but they may give you a few hints!
  1. Be prepared for your TV debut!
In many cases, breaking news that directly affects your office could lead to last minute press conferences that you may have to set up, so you always want to look your best. A lot of times we can let ourselves get a little lazy throughout the semester, but always make sure you are coming to work in your best and most professional attire. You never know, you may have to escort the CEO of Fox News into your building!
  1. Expect the Unexpected
Washington D.C. is filled with unexpected drama, so you must always be prepared. Eat a balanced breakfast because you may be ripping and running all day in the office. If you suspect that a breaking news story overnight will have an impact on your office, arrive to work early the next day to assist your supervisors with press releases and other breaking news material. Wear that nice suit and COMFORTABLE pair of heels. Bring your lunch to work and finish your daily tasks in an efficient manner so you can be ready to assist your office when something crazy strikes the heart of the Capital.

Kenya Robinson
U.S. Department of Justice
Washington, D.C. | fall 2018