There’s only one rule: Come PRepared!
With the economy in such great shape that it’s in, and the job market in a frenzy, my main concern is how will I prepare for a career in public relations. Or better yet, what is “PReparation for PR”?
Is it only internships and industry research? Or is it blogging and freelance writing? At this point, I can only go by what my professors and other professional tell me to do. But throughout my three years as a PR student at USF, I’ve learned a few things on my own that will help anyone start along their way.
ATTEND CONFERENCE! First and foremost, I must say that one of the things that has prepared me the most is attending public relations conferences. Last year, I attended the 2008 PRSSA (Public Relations Student Society of America) National Conference in Detroit. This coming November, I will be traveling to San Diego, California for the 2009 PRSSA National Conference.
It’s a great way to further explore the field of public relations. The workshops and seminars often touch on subjects that your classes and professors tend to skip. My advice is to find the workshops that most interest you, and then attend them and be attentive. Conference is your week to learn more about PR, but also more about yourself, what you love, and what you see yourself doing in the future. It helps that the PRSA (parent organization of PRSSA) conference is going on simultaneously. Therefore, you will also be surrounded with several successful practitioners in addition to several students with your same passion for public relations.
If you want to dive in head first, I suggest you sign up today for this year’s PRSSA National Conference in San Diego, California. I’ll see you there!
“NETWORK YOUR FACE OFF!” A good friend of mine, Sydney Owen, who is also an up and coming young PR professional at Weber Shandwick in Chicago, coined the phrase “network your face off”. I can’t express how important it is to meet people from all aspects of life, and all facets of the industry. Most of the jobs and internships that I have gotten was simply because I literally networked my way there, by meeting people and leaving an impact on them. And don’t be shy, exchange numbers, e-mail, Twitter, etc. Sadly enough, most often in life it’s not WHAT you know, but WHO you know.
For some great information on how to “network your face off”, please read Sydney’s post here.
GET INVOLVED! It’s as simple as that, just get involved in PR every single chance you get. Get involved at your job, in your organizations, at your church, or even at home.
On the job, ask your supervisor what projects and initiatives you can take on that involve enhancing your communication skills. You’d be surprise how much you learn, and how impressed your boss will be.
In your clubs and organizations, run for the position of Public Relations Officer, Marketing Manager, or Director of Internal Communications during election seasons. When I served as the Editor-in-Chief and Newsletter Chair for two organizations, I got the opportunity to enhance my design skills and produce visual materials to be used in my portfolio. Producing two publications for two different clubs is a little much, but I’m sure you get the picture.
At home, take on projects that force you to apply the concepts that you are learning in the classroom. I created a blog for my mother’s entrepreneurial club, designed logos, and drafted newsletters as well. I got to practice what I was learning in my PR courses, and my mom got free services out of it as well. I guess you could say that my mother served as my very first client!
While I’m no expert (yet), I know that these things will help tremendously as you start along your journey as a practitioner. Amongst everything though, one thing is clear–you must be ready for anything that the industry will throw your way. The industry is constantly evolving and changing, so whatever is hot today–may be gone tomorrow; whatever is impressive today–might be medicore in days to come.
Please feel free to comment on this post and share any advice or experiences that you have learned while preparing for a career in public relations. However, I have one rule though–come PRepared!