Monday, January 13, 2014

PRactical: Documents

Here at Under PRessure, we're always learning the ins and outs of the industry, and we want to share those tips with you! This feature is PRactical advice for interning and working in the PR world.

In recent internships, we each did something we had never done before—signed legal documents regarding our positions. Elise signed a non-compete agreement, and I signed a non-disclosure agreement.

For me, this was the first time I signed an official NDA. In my previous internships, it was just a verbal agreement. Of course, when you think about NDAs and sports, the first thing one usually thinks of are injuries, trades, coaching strategies, etc. What you don't think about are the typical situations that would happen in any office—not directly related to the team, but directly related to your office coworkers and business transactions. Whether it's personal or business, do not share information about your coworkers—including with other coworkers.

Just because you're privy to specific information doesn't mean your entire organization is. In departments like partnerships/sponsorship and marketing, they may be making deals that the entire organization will not know about until the deal is finalized. These types of interactions take time and go through multiple stages. No one everyone is or needs to be privy to the entire process from start to finish.

And you have non-compete agreements. Elise signed her first during a recent internship. Here is her experience and words of advice:
When you take an internship, it's important to establish that both parties, the intern and the employer receive what they're seeking. For the intern, it's work experience, a look into a prospective industry, and the opportunity to learn and grow. For the employer, taking on interns is beneficial for the business. It's also risky. What if the intern learns something and takes a new innovative idea as his or her own and builds an empire. What if the intern were to poach clients? These are ethical issues that can be solved by a non-compete clause. I never would do that to an employer, that is just wrong ethically, but to make sure, it doesn't hurt to say that you won't in writing. An issue here? Sometimes these clauses can be created to keep new talent for a set amount of time, which can stunt professional growth. I've never personally come across one like this, but I've heard stories. Just make sure you're reading contracts carefully and are in the internship for the right reasons. You definitely don't want to cheat an employer, but it's also important to make sure your talent isn't being exploited. 
So, there you have it. It's always better to err on the side of safety, even if that means signing on a dotted line instead of simply putting a verbal agreement in place.

Want a bit more PRactical advice? Send us an email or leave a comment!


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