By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)
One of the most visited of the 167 posts published by The PRDude graced the blagosphere around this time last year. In the post, I offered graduates of college public relations programs some advice on how to establish themselves in the profession.
Offered were goals, strategies, objectives and tactics — thoughts structured within classic components of an effective public relations plan.
And, I even made this offer: Reach out if you wanted any advice or direction. (For the record, I’m still waiting; but the offer stands.)
A year later, I’m a little older and hopefully a lot wiser. And, since I also am searching for that next great job in public relations, I’ve had time to think. Here are a few other thoughts, wisdom I’m passing down to public relations colleagues-to-be.
- Learn the Definition of “Public Relations.” You’d be surprised at how many people out there in this great world — some who claim to be “public relations professionals” — still maintain that public relations is publicity. Or, “just like marketing.” After all, it’s easy to “get good PR.” Right? This profession keeps evolving, largely through continual new directions on the digital front. But the fundamental purpose of public relations as a strategic means to communicate and build relationships has not changed. Learn more from PRSA.
- Learn to Write (Beyond Tweets, Posts & Blogs). It’s been a long time (hey, more than a long time) since I enrolled and completed a for-credit college course. So, I’m not sure if students today are required to take a semester of English Composition 101 or some other fundamental writing course. My 101 instructor was a guy named Professor Brosnahan, a very strict proponent of the written word. He would scrawl a big red “F” on your composition for any error — spelling, grammar, punctuation, syntax, logic. In this era of tweets, IMs and posts, the true public relations professional will have solid writing skills that transcend 140 characters.
- PR = Business Practice = Not Free. As a public relations professional, you’ll be required to manage event budgets, approve vendor expenses, price out media distribution services and many other tasks that require money. That’s part of business, and public relations is a business. Furthermore, businesses are in business to make a profit; and, even non-profit associations with public relations departments run them like a business. Learn the business side of the industry and how to manage a spreadsheet.
One more thing: As noted, I’ve had an open door policy for those who want direction on public relations careers and opportunities. In the past year, I’ve fielded emails and a few calls. Only one guy actually followed up on the offer to meet. There’s lots to be said about the desire to get out of the house.