After almost three decades as a public relations practitioner, I can’t begin to count how many skills and programs I had to learn to be able to do my work. From taking good photographs to producing video shoots to designing company newsletters, I was always learning communications tools on the job that were never taught to me in college.
My experience was hardly unique. In the public relations profession, whether you run a one-person shop or work in a small department, you find yourself doing a lot of everything. So many–I’ll even guess the majority–of PR people repeatedly find themselves in situations where they must enhance old and learn new technical skills.
This is why I’m excited about teaching Hofstra’s public relations program’s newest course, aptly named “Public Relations Tools”, this fall. The course was developed to give PR majors practical, hands-on experience in which they’ll learn online and traditional methods of practicing their future trade. The syllabus has been divided into several basic modules including blogs, social media, video, photography, web sites, and content design (desktop publishing). Within the modules we’ll explore the use of a host of programs: WordPress, Tumbler, SoundCloud, Audacity, UStream, Photoshop, InDesign, and of course, the big social networking programs (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest). We’ll learn taking a proper PR picture, shooting video for online use, developing a web site, writing for social media, creating print content, and more. These are some of the fundamental skill sets PR people find themselves using and needing every day.
I don’t claim to be an expert in any of these skills or programs. In fact, I know that several of my students will be more knowledgeable that I about the tools we’ll be learning. But that’s part of the class, too. Much like the social networks we’ve adopted, we’ll share information and explore the tools that are out there. The goal is to make all of us more adept at using the PR tools our profession will continue to demand. Your thoughts?