What a PR Intern Can Learn from Jay Gatsby

Jay Gatsby: man of splendor, cunning, and…sage advice? Seemingly so.

I sat in the movie theatre this weekend anxiously anticipating the viewing of a film based on one of the few assigned books I bothered to read in high school (I was much more concerned with pleasure reading in those days). The Great Gatsby has always been one of my favorites; a tale of deception, hope and the development of knowledge. But who knew that this novel could help me grow professionally as well?

As I watched the movie, I was struck by the stunning visuals, enchanting soundtrack, and skillful performances, but as I left the theatre I felt deeply contemplative about the lessons from the film that could be useful to me as I begin my journey as a Public Relations intern. In a business that can sometimes deal with questionable ethical ground, what could Jay Gatsby teach me? Here’s what I picked up:

1.Personal branding is more important than ever.

In an industry where we can be the representative of countless brands and clients, at the end of the day you can not forget to mind your personal brand. Jay Gatsby knew just who he wanted to be, and so he became that person. Obviously, becoming a liquor bootlegger is not your best bet, nor is being deceptive in any way, but that does not mean that there is not a nugget of wisdom from Gatsby here: Know the image that you want to project, know who you want to be at the end of the day, and make it happen. As an intern, now is the time to realize who we want to be both professionally and personally, so the development of your personal brand is key.

2. A little showmanship never hurt anyone.

If anything about the story of Jay Gatsby is clear, it is that the man knew how to throw a shindig. The same can go for you! Granted, you probably aren’t going to be throwing a party of thousands decked out in flapper dresses, but that does not mean that you can’t have a showstopping, albeit smaller scale, event. Whether you’re entertaining a client, hosting a Twitter party, or just getting ready for work in the morning, going the extra mile can never hurt. People enjoy seeing that you put forth the extra effort, and they will respond positively to your doing so.

3. Honesty and integrity will always be your best bets.

Clients, your supervisors and the general public will look to you to be a reliable source of information. It is crucial that you not only tell the truth, but be transparent about any mistakes that you make. Openness is really the only way to go if you want to maintain a high level of personal integrity, which is essential to becoming a successful PR intern, and eventually a PR pro. Remember, you aren’t just representing yourself anymore, but many other brands who have customers that count on them. You are that brand’s voice, so make it an honest one.