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Question
I too am a broadcast and print news refugee who has moved into pr. I have a phone interview with an out-of-state nonprofit scheduled. I have provided a lengthy narrative on my style, qualifications etc. After the interview, they will be giving a "30 minute assignment" but will give no further details. Is this common practice and, if so, any idea what they might be seeking?
 Thank you so much!

Answer
Thanks for the question. No, I don't think this is common practice, but I've heard of it. In the best case (ethical) scenario, they would give you a case assignment either modeled on an actual client or a past one they know of, and see what sort of approach you'd suggest taking with a particular campaign or problem the client had. They might then discuss with you how that case actually worked out and get your reaction to the approach used. Now the worst case (unethical) scenario (and we unfortunately did see some of this at the PR firm I worked at, particularly from non-profits)--is that they are merely trolling for "free" marketing and PR ideas to implement as their own.  

To cover the cynical possibility and honor the honest one--I'd suggest you not fill your "assignment" with detailed specifics. For instance, you might outline very generally how you'd conduct a messaging session for them to consider what to base the campaign on, and then make some outreach suggestions or marketing initiatives off of that (especially if they might involve free media--i.e. is there an angle to work that would be of interest to news outlets?), but I'd keep it general (i.e. just mentioning some of the on-line, print or broadcast methods you might consider using). Perhaps just mentioning a variety of initiatives you'd want to ask the client to consider would be enough (if they're non-profit--they are looking for every creative idea they can find that doesn't involve a large budget). If they ask you to write a press release based on some facts, you'll have to comply, but where you can I'd stay on the vague side.
I hope this helps!

Aileen  

Public Relations

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Aileen Pincus

Expertise

After 20 years in Television News, I`ve turned to helping executives navigate the world of media. If you`ve got questions about how to prepare for your next interview--or about what the media wants--feel free to ask.

Experience

20 years as a television reporter--several years as a media trainer for a global public relations agency and two years leading communications and media for a US Senator.

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