PRepping leaders

      71 Comments on PRepping leaders

leadership5One of my students recently wrote in her weekly internship journal that she had been learning how to speak to clients on the phone.  It occurred to me that what to say and how to say it as a professional on the job is not a skill we usually teach in a classroom.

Much of the discussion at PRSSA’s conference I’m attending in Philadelphia this weekend is focused on developing student leaders through campus PRSSA chapters, which in turn will help them become managers and leaders in the real world.

Professional verbal and leadership skills are not always found in a syllabus or learned through a lecture.  But whenever I’ve assigned a group project, a leader inevitably emerges when a student in each group steps up and takes charge.  However, despite these students’ instinct to lead, she or he can sometimes lack the life skills to motivate the other group members, or may be unable to solve work distribution problems that can crop up.

Organizational leadership is taught as part of some college curricula, but not all.  Such skills are also taught to students in student affairs roles such as a resident assistant or an officer in the student government.  But not every college student gets such training, and some of the training they get doesn’t always prepare them for an office environment.  Any management or leadership experience I had happened on the job as my level of responsibility increased.  This is ultimately the case with most people, whether they’re high school graduates or have advanced degrees.

Business training guru Jim Rohn said, “The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly.”  I also like this quote from President John F. Kennedy:  “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”

Easy to agree with, but what might teachers be doing to prep future public relations leaders which we may not already be doing?  Your thoughts?

71 thoughts on “PRepping leaders

  1. lmansl1

    This is true. Much of my leadership skills were not learned in the classroom. While we had to do many group projects throughout college, we were just thrown together and left to divvy and assign responsibilities on our own. Like many things, leadership may be something that is easier taught by experience. Yet, I have taken many courses that delve into leadership roles in order to be a US certified sailing instructor. This could be where my leadership skills stem from.

  2. jeremydbeck

    I don’t think leadership can be learned. It is a skill that some posses and some simply do not. Reading about leadership from a textbook won’t make anyone more of a leader than reading about presidents will make someone the next POTUS. I think the group projects are important so people can cultivate the leadership qualities that they might already posses. Short of that, I think leadership is an acquired skill, not a learned one.

  3. kerry stewart

    I don’t think that leadership is something that can be taught. I think that leadership is an innate quality that may not exist in all people. There is of course the term, “natural born leader.” I think that term has more depth to it than the surface shows. I think it’s completely true, there will ALWAYS be certain people that want to step up in leadership and pave a path for others. It takes a combination of personality traits to create something like that. I think instead, we should be asking how teachers can teach students in their classroom about participation and responsibility, how to work in a group as well. I think all of those qualities, although they may not prove to create a leader, are some of the important qualities that leaders do maintain. I think we should stop focussing on how to have a world full of leaders but instead on how all these different people can live and work in harmony.

  4. Jeremy Epstein

    In my opinion, in addition to educating you in the field of your choice a university should offer courses like public speaking, working in groups, etc to further enhance the student. If you are a journalism major courses should be more advanced by the field you want to go into i.e. if you want to go into magazine writing or newspaper writing or broadcast writing. Instead of having courses that are vague like these they should delve into the field you want to pursue not just cover the basics.

  5. Alexandra Ciongoli

    While I do think that it is important for colleges to teach their students the skills they will need to succeed in the professional worlds, I also think that there are certain things that young individuals can only learn from personal experiences. A large majority of college experiences happen outside of the classroom, and they shape who we will become. Leadership is a skill that can be taught, but fundamentally speaking, I believe that people are either born with the capability to lead or they are not. I don’t think it’s Hofstra University’s job to teach leadership skills, nor do I think it is necessary for Hofstra to worry about trying to teach students how to communicate with people in the professional world. There is only one way you become good at communication, and that is through practice.

  6. rachaeldurant

    Working as an office manager over the summer, I learned how to speak to clients on the phone, how to leave a professional message, and how to send out a professional email. While the skills taught in the classroom are important, these simple skills are also entirely important in the business world. A professional etiquette class would be entirely helpful to students looking to work professionally in any field. It would clearly vary by major, but it would be invaluable to students. Not knowing these skills can cause anxiety which makes performing them even harder. A class teaching these skills could include how to properly conduct oneself in an interview across varying platforms, how to act during a business meeting, how to interact with clients face-to-face, and much, much more.

  7. jessicaxxrebello

    When it comes to doing group work in my classes I find it more effective at times, depending on the project. I wouldn’t say that I am always the first to step and take charge, but I definitely am always one of the first to start doing the group work and get it started. What helps me the most personally when practicing my verbal and leadership skills is doing in class presentations. Although I dread them sometimes, I find that they do help me practice my public speaking skills. In one of my PR classes this semester, our professor had the class find a company that was recently in the news because of something that has negatively affected the company. She then had us prepare a media statement apologizing on behalf of the company as if we were the CEO, PR director, etc. and present it in front of the class. Then, the class acted as the media and asked questions to the speaker which they then had to answer off the top of their heads. I thought this was a very good and effective way to help us prep to be future public relations leaders, and it was very entertaining to watch and listen to my peers.

  8. acasole

    Professional verbal and leadership skills are extremely important abilities to have when working in the PR industry. Although these topics can be discussed in a classroom setting, I feel that in a sense they are talents that can only truly be obtained by real- life experiences. These things are skills gained by personal experience in not only professional public relations positions, but in other leadership positions as well. I am currently President of my sorority at Hofstra and I have had the opportunity to attend numerous leadership building workshops and conferences. The conferences that I have learned the most from happened to be presentations strictly revolved around motivating the audience to become better individuals and leaders. Perhaps getting a motivational leader to come and speak in PR classrooms could be a way to motivate and inspire students to step up and be leaders as both students and professionals. Also, workshops that help promote leadership, team building skills and professional verbal abilities may help evolve and improve the future for these PR students.

  9. Richard Rocha

    Leadership is hard to teach, and some people are born leaders. It is possible, however, to help these leaders hone their skills and learn how to be the best leader they can be while also motivating those who follow the them. As for those who are not born with leadership qualities, they can be taught to take charge to an extent by forcing them into the position in a safe environment. Maybe teachers should assign a project manager to group assignments sometimes, forcing a normally timid person to leave their comfort zone and act boldly.

  10. Nancy Haas

    After attending several leadership events, and hearing from peers about their internship experiences, I am sometimes concerned about whether or not I am prepared for “the real world.” I recently changed my major to Public Relations and am hearing so many perspectives on the job market, what to expect, how to act, and what to say on an interview. Although the PR major at Hofstra has been an incredible experience thus far, I worry that I am not learning enough valuable information that will prepare me for the work force. Professors should continue teaching the basics of PR, but also incorporate some real life experiences and helpful hints on what to really expect in the PR field.

  11. Olga

    It may sound weird, but teachers don’t teach students how to make mistakes. What I mean is that the common educational system is based on evaluation. When a person is being evaluated, it fetters his potential.

    After all, a high GPA doesn’t guarantee anyone getting the best job. Good grades at college neither make a person a successful businessmen, nor help anyone to become a leader.

    I was just thinking, how many more leaders and “out of the box” thinking people there would be, if instead of the common evaluating system a Michelangelo ‘s approach was used. I came across an amazing video “Shining eyes” with Benjamin Zander, where he speaks about
    teaching as awakening possibility in other people. He impressed me with his totally different vision of the teaching process. The whole world could be different, if from young age students were taught not to treat their mistakes as a failure, but as just another great experience on their way to self-perfection.

  12. Emily Green

    A teacher can only teach so much about leadership. While they can give you all of the tools and tips you need, you will only become a leader if you want to be one. Leadership is something you do on your own because you strive to be a leader. A teacher can not do much more than to prepare you for your career, give you leadership advice and tools, and encourage you to attend leadership events on campus and to be a leader in campus groups. I know that my leadership skills did not come from a classroom. They came from the conferences I attended and from the leadership experiences I involved myself in on campus.

  13. Rachel Tom-Quinn

    Hofstra does a great job educating future public relations professionals. I definitely think that talking to clients and emailing clients is a skill that could be advanced in the classroom so that when we get to internships and jobs we are more prepared.

  14. Lindsey

    There are many aspects of a career in Public Relations, like in many fields, that are only learned through experience. In my PR class, we are learning, I think a very “real world” curricula. It helps that my professor is currently in the field and is able to provide us with real examples of the material from her own personal experiences at her job. I find it very interesting to be looking at the material from a more realistic standpoint, rather than studying theory and Public Relations history out of a book. My professor teaches us the nuances of the business of talking to reporters, and pitching stories from a real life perspective. Leadership and the ability to hold a professional conversation will probably become easier with time and practice, but in my class, we have a good place to start.

  15. Reina Morison

    Trying to teach students leadership skills in the classroom seems like a hard topic to try to cover in the classroom; however, i do believe there are ways that it can be done. I’ve seen teachers do things like assign group projects but each time there is a different group project, there is a different leader. Being a leader and being a good communicator is essential in today’s times. I know there are workshops and such that touch on this subject because even adults struggle with this issue. It’s important for people to actually want to be good leaders because at that point, they can work on it.

  16. Michael Yehuda

    The tone of someone’s voice shows a lot on a person’s character. The way you present yourself also comes with your vocal tone. If someone has a low vocal tone and talks like a boring person, people would automatically know that that person is no person to engage conversation. If a person has an enthusiastic voice, more people would be attracted to him or her. If you have a unique type of voice, it will also attract people and it would want people to get to know you even more. However, I do believe that you can train your voice to sound more enthusiastic or any way you would like it to sound. Most Radio and Television personalities weren’t born with those “perfect” voices, they taught themselves to talk like that. The more you are aware of how you want to sound, the faster your desire of voice will come. Let’s take Ryan Seacrest for example; he has been a radio and television personality for many years, so obviously he would be a pro on how he wants to sound. Some careers do require an individual to have a specific type of voice. The voice shows a lot of character like I mentioned before. A person’s voice also comes from personality. If a person has a great personality, his or her voice will sound pleasantly to others, however, if a person has a dull personality, his or her voice won’t sound so appealing to other constituents. Many political leaders use people with an amazing vocal tone in order to get their vote out. Voice also comes a lot in publicity and advertising. In publicity, a person’s voice matters a lot because they have to reach out to a large audience, therefore, they have to be an excellent communicator and have a clear and bold vocal tone. In advertising, it is pretty much the same thing, one needs to have a certain voice to get the message of what ever they are advertising for out there.

  17. daniel1nelson

    Gaining the necessary skills to properly communicate in the real world, I agree, is essential. It is one of the reasons that I became an RA, and now a Senior RA. I’ve gained so many real world skills through this job, especially communication skills. I see so many of my fellow classmates going through college without ever improving these skills. It really is a shame, we pay so much money to further ourselves, but if we graduate without these necessary skills, we’ll find it extremely hard to find and hold a job.

  18. Chelsey Fuller

    Leadership can only go so far in a classroom. I do not think it is a professor’s job to motivate someone to become a leader but they can give them the tools to develop into one. I believe leadership comes from within a person. They have to be the one to stand up and take control. No person can do that for them. The only way to advance in leadership skills is to put yourself out there. Become that leader in your group or apply to become a RA. As much as leadership is important in the profession, a professor can not simply teach a person to be a leader. The person has to want it and that is something that can simply not be taught.

  19. nicole_lombardo

    Leadership skills in any situation not just a work environment are greatly important. When I was in high school I attended a leadership conference program in Washington D.C for two weeks that taught me so much that I never learned in the classroom or even thought that I needed to learn. The first step to leadership in my opinion is confidence and taking those steps into the real world getting internships and eventually graduating and getting a job, confidence is a priority. In some situations in college I feel life and leadership skills are taught but are not emphasized. For example as a PR major Public Speaking is a requirement because communication skills are important for any life situation. However, in Public Speaking we are only taught to give speeches, if this class was tailored to each major than perhaps students would be able to learn the public speaking skills that they may be presented with in their future careers. When I think of leadership I think confidence, someone who understands what has to be done and is not afraid to maybe step outside their comfort zone to accomplish these task. Throughout college we take courses for our major and we learn about leadership inside and outside of the classroom. I believe it needs to be taught more inside the classroom because leadership is so much more than being a powerful figure in a group project or a company, there are multiple aspects to leadership that would be helpful for all majors and all future career situations.

  20. Ishan Kumar

    I personally believe that verbal and leadership skills are extremely important not only in public relations but in any profession. On the other hand I also believe that verbal skills can be taught and learned but leadership skills can only be polished only to some extent. I also believe that different cultures play important role in shaping these skills in a person and as an outsider I am realizing the importance of these skills

  21. Sharlys Leszczuk

    There are skills that teachers are responsible for teaching in the classroom, and there are skills that you have to learn from experience. Leadership is not a skill that can be taught, but something that has to be obtained. I’ve held leadership positions since middle school, and I have attended countless lectures about leadership, but those lectures can only open your mind. Leadership is about taking action.
    Another skill that can not be taught in the classroom is speaking on the phone. Phone calls are just like human interaction. The more you do it, the better you get at it. Any person that is a Public Relations major should have a lot of experience talking on the phone. I go out of my way to have phone conversations with people because when you are talking on the phone it is a whole new level of communication because you do not have body language or hand motions to facilitate what you are trying to say.
    Leadership calls for a very proactive person. If a person is truly a leader, regardless of how introverted or extroverted he or she is, that person will get involved in things that they love or are interested in learning about. This teaches the person to take on responsibility, develop leadership skills, and learn where they may ultimately integrate themselves into society.
    Phone conversations come with professional experience, but you don’t have to be in a formal office setting to get it. For example, I have been working in customer service and food service since I was 14 taking phone orders, answering questions, and addressing various issues pertaining to things that had to do with my jobs, and things that didn’t. However, I now know how to make sure a customer doesn’t come storming into a store when we put too much mayonnaise on a sandwich, or cancel a 5 day vacation because no one returned her phone call as promptly as she would have liked. But this form of human interaction has made me extremely personable and easy to talk to on the phone. I always solve the issue, and if I can’t I know that it may not have been me.
    With email, texting, and social networking, common communication necessities are being overlooked. Even by people who are anticipating going into the field.

  22. twade1031

    In my personal opinion, leadership is difficult to teach in a classroom. Actually, it can not be taught, period. However, I do believe that there is a kernel of leadership in every person, it just takes the right activity to bring it out. This activity may not necessarily be classroom activity. For example, the sport of crew. Rowing is a sport that requires dedication and teamwork, as well as technique, etiquette and decorum to a level most other sports do not match. I used to not be a leader, but after crew, I became one. I played certain roles that have been able to instill in me the necessary skills for interacting in professional situation, like when I have to interact with officials. PR people need magnified versions of these skills, and if the simplified versions need to be taught in a boat and can’t be taught in a classroom, it the magnified version of those skills are nearly impossible to teach.

  23. Nick Stiles

    Unfortunately I believe teaching someone to be a leader can only go so far. Although certain skills can be taught in a classroom like speaking and organization there remains the desire to be a leader which is up to each individual. Many people are simply not made to be leaders, they’d rather follow orders and a structure than create it.

  24. apate93

    Definitely teaching students how to organize a group is important. Another thing I think is not really mentioned enough is conflict resolution. Within any group, even the smallest conflict can grow out of control and derail the entire group. If student knew how to deal with these problems when they arise, it would go a long way.

  25. taylorcebutler

    Through my experiences with leadership in the military and in scouting, I have been able to come to understand that leadership is not really something that is taught. It is a trait/skill that starts out either by as you said, instinct, or by being a seed planted in the form of motivation to be more than you are. Leadership must be honed, it is honed by as you said yours was honed…by being challenged. No one can hone it for you, you must be motivated to do so. I do think that leaders can help others to sense their own leadership by providing a challenge, but ultimately they must take initiative to excel and become a better leader.

  26. Max N.

    Leadership skills seem like a tricky thing to teach in a classroom. There are always pointers which can be taught and followed but I don’t think there is any designated “way” to lead which can be taught in a class room. Learning through experience is the most authentic and I think still the best way for a person to become an effective leader.

  27. Will Martinez

    You bring up a very interesting point: how do professors teach leadership skills in the classroom? Luckily, I think a lot of the classes I have taken at Hofstra have helped to improve my managing skills. Classes such as Public Speaking and classes that involve solo presentations or speeches help generate confidence. In terms of group projects, I understand that it’s hard due to the fact that some students are more motivated than others. But, more incorporation of group presentations would definitely help in improving a students’ leadership skills.

  28. LaChele Prophet

    I currently work at a school and often have to take in front of a group of students so I’m kind of used to speaking in front of people. Sometimes the teacher is not around to make a decision and I must take initiative and do so for her.. I have some leadership skills but speaking in front of other professionals would be very intimidating for me. I don’t feel I measure up and kind of just hide in the background. For example, in group projects I just allow someone else to take the lead since I hate them an guide me to do what I need to do to complete the project. I hate public speaking but people use it no matter job they have so you just have to suck it up and overcome it. I believe it gets easier the more you do it. There is only so much that can be taught in the classroom, some things just need to be taught from personal experience. You can only get better it just takes time.

  29. Cody Dano

    I never really thought about this topic until I read this article. However, it really hit a cord with me. I don’t really know how to talk to other higher level professionals and the thought of doing so is very intimidating. I have been a manager at my job for about a year now, so I do have a basis on how to communicate with customers. Unfortunately, Like Professor Morosoff mentioned, I had to learn all of the skills myself. There was no course to take and nobody to really teach me. I think it would be extremely beneficial for Hofstra and other colleges to offer class that helped students learn these skills. Students would be much more prepared for internships and full time jobs after taking the class.

  30. Dilpreet Kainth

    Much of the leadership and organizational experience a student learns is through actual experience and a real world outlook. In the classroom, we only learn so much. As mentioned, the classroom may not teach us verbal or leadership skills we need when we graduate. As a broadcast journalism major, a lot of skills that I can take with me when I graduate have not only been through the classroom, but also my internships. My internships and jobs have provided me with responsibility and intake I couldn’t have received anywhere else. The expertise we need often isn’t acquired until further down the line, AFTER graduation. This is because we NEED to learn aspects of professionalism that we cannot gain with our classmates. We learn it on our owns when we are not in a classroom anymore.

  31. janecapants

    I completely agree that we need the ability to hold a conversation with someone, and not just be a well versed writer. I think it would be difficult in a classroom setting, however, to teach the skills of leadership. Experience is the number one way someone can become a better leader. I myself work as a camp counselor over the summer and I have learned more about leadership than anywhere else. I am required to step up as a leader for the campers and my fellow staff members. I have learned how to speak in a professional manner to campers’ parents and my bosses. I feel the classroom setting inhibits our ability to access our full leadership potential; experience is definitely necessary.

  32. akrame27

    Learning to communicate has to be one of the most vital tools necessary in Public Relations. You need to be able to communicate in a professional manner in order to get your client or service out to the public. I know from experience in previous internships and jobs when I was asked to talk on the phone I automatically get nervous and worry about how well I will be able to communicate with the person on the other line. While we don’t have a specific course to teach us the fundamentals for verbally communicating in a professional setting, I think the way our society is has also handicapped the way in which we communicate. We are way more willing to email when it comes to dealing with professionals in our own fields or in other fields. It is easier to formulate our thoughts and answer the questions asked properly instead of trying to think of things to say on the spot. Its funny just the other day I was applying to internships and many company websites stated they did not want phones calls, emails only. Is an email just a better medium for communicating in the professional world?

  33. Adria Marlowe

    In addition to college courses and experiences such as internships that emphasize professional skills, alumni and career centers can be important resources. I’ve been to a number of events where alumni/student interactions reinforce the skills students will need when they enter the workforce. Hofstra’s Career Center also hosts numerous career development workshops to help students land jobs after graduation (e.g. mock interviews and resume critiques). Perhaps there might also be opportunities to enlist the resources of alumni and Career Center staff for workshops focusing on leadership skills – business etiquette, interpersonal communication, time management, team problem solving, etc.

  34. Maria Pascarella

    I think it’s extremely important for students to learn how to communicate in a professional manner. It does come with experience, but I think students should learn the basics in a classroom setting to avoid making bad first impressions and hurting their chances of getting jobs.

  35. Francesca Bove

    I completely agree that having good communication and leadership skills is something that is essential in the business world. Although in school we are required to take classes thats purpose is to help these skills, more can definitely be done. Since these are skills that can only be taught through experience I think teachers should therefore provide for more opportunities for hands on experience in their classes. This will only benefit students in the long run when looking for job and when they actually obtain jobs.

  36. Richard I

    Learning effective speaking skills are traits that I have learned through out my life from various situations I have been in. Most recently, I learned how to communicate with employees in the PR industry. Over the summer I had an internship that taught me how to effectively talk to clients and bosses without giving out the wrong information. This skill was a lesson I needed to learn because depending on what industry you work in, everyone has a different way of communicating with their clients. I learned how to ask exactly what the client was asking, only ask questions that are important to the topic, avoid words to say and how to properly act. Living in a world that is technology based, our generation has the upper hand in molding how communicating in the future will be. Our parents may not understand it or even our professors, but because our generation can easily communicate and maneuver through various medias, include social and online, our generation will begin to teach others on how to effectively communicate online. Until then, learning how to effectively communicate in a work place or online is a lesson everyone looking for a job should learn.

  37. rachelcarru2

    There are life skills that are lacking in my generation. Maybe this is because of technology or maybe this is just because of what we lack in the classroom, either way it is important hone in on these skills. My mother always says that my generation lacks speaking skills. Speaking on the phone has become a special occasion. Because of this, as my generation enters the workforce, we lack the ability to really express ourselves via phone interviews or via just simple phone conversation. Telephones will always exist and will be a go-to way of communication that companies rely on. If we need to add phone conversation to our education, then so be it. We need to know how to converse on the phone in a professional way.

  38. Jaime Silano

    The lack of professional communication skills among college students is definitely something worth discussing. Like most life skills, the only way to learn how to communicate, organize, and lead in a professional and efficient way is something that usually happens with experience. Although it couldn’t hurt to focus more on instilling these qualities in students in the classroom, there is only so much that can be learned through lecture. Most of these qualities (independence, motivation, articulating ideas to a group) are developed through experience. Undoubtedly, certain people have a natural “knack” for communicating, and those few inevitably succeed as leaders when placed in groups. Aside from this natural inclination, communication skills can develop through simply paying attention to the way professionals communicate. This is something I feel is more likely to happen through real life experience than through a lesson in class.

  39. Laura Schioppi

    Every person is a leader in their own way. However, it may take time to strengthen all of their skills. I believe that schools should push students more to have a voice and speak up. Everyone in class should talk and have an opinion. I understand some are shy and scared, but this is the time to face their fears and speak. I think classrooms are preparing us to speak louder for future internships or jobs. I remember when I was scared to ask anyone for help during an internship. But, the only way to receive help is to ask for it so we must talk. This is the time to prepare ourselves to talk in a professional manner. Every part or event in our lives is a classroom, so we are always learning.

  40. Robert Ryan

    I think that a college professor can literally lead by example. If a professor can get a tired, cranky, and even sometimes hungover college student to connect to the information they are presenting, the student can watch and learn. The professor becomes a leader and the student watches different things they do to learn what to do in the future themselves. Also, I tend to think that I learned whatever leadership skills I have from being involved in extra curricular activities through out high school and college. Being the captain of a sports team, president of a theater club, and holding position in my fraternity has taught me how to earn respect and then use the respect you have from your peers to motivate them to become better than what we already are as a group. What’s a good leader if who’s following them aren’t just as motivated.

  41. Danie Zolezzi

    I think certain skills needed in the real world are definitely lacking from the education we receive at school. Many people graduate with all types of honors and awards but enter the workforce completely inadequate and unprepared. Not to say this is a reflection of bad teaching or teachers but many things cannot be taught in a classroom. They come with experience and time. For this reason I believe it is just as important to focus on internships and work experience as it is to focus on school work. I’m very happy Hofstra requires an internship for graduation because otherwise I may not be so determined to find one. PRSSA does a great job of addressing some of the things to expect in the real world that you can’t learn from a textbook. These people and business skills are a valuable asset to any PR person.

  42. Laurel Smith

    I personally have participated in numerous leadership conferences and extracurricular actives that have lead me to become less of an introvert and more confident with myself. What I greatly believe from my experiences is that the first step to becoming a great leader, is to first learn how to get along with groups of people one is stranger to.
    A great number of people, which we have learned in our transition from high school to college, feel very comfortable around people they know, but not so much it awkward, strange, or uncomfortable settings. Once a person learns how to comfortably navigate through these types of situations, then one is able to proceed to learn these essential leadership qualities.

  43. Marilyn Oliver

    During my internship one of the key things I learned was how to talk to clients on the phone professionally as well and I’m so glad I got that training because I feel more confident and at ease doing that now. I think it’s very difficult to “teach” leadership in a classroom because I think the biggest “teacher” is just more experience and an openness to learn from any and every opportunity. I think professors could give simple advice and tactics to students about leadership like how one might respond to conflict in the group or how to delegate well. After simple guidelines are laid out, then it’s just up to the student to get as much experience as possible and be brave enough to try on roles of leadership and learn from them.

  44. adrianazappolo

    For the most part, people develop leadership skills through real world experience rather than class lectures. Students have the opportunity to take on leadership roles through group projects in the classroom, but actual hands on experience in a work environment is where most leadership skills are developed. That is why internships are extremely important and beneficial. Internships allow students to take on leadership positions while they are still in college in order to gain experience before graduating and entering the job market.

  45. Ariana Goldklang

    I believe that there are only so many things you can teach in a classroom. A lot of the real learning comes from life experience and making mistakes and learning how to correct them. Public speaking is very important in the public relations field. As far as learning this in class I believe the only way to get better at it would be to practice public speaking in class and listening to feedback about how you did and what could be better. I believe that there are many things you have to be open to and ready to learn when you become a part of the public relations field, a lot of it is hard to teach in a classroom setting.

  46. Isabela Jacobsen

    I think it’s very difficult to teach how to speak professionally in a classroom. It doesn’t hurt to give out tips and discuss the subject, but the real test would be real life. I think going to networking events and different out of classroom events going on around campus can help us in that subject.

    I recently started a job, where I have to talk on the phone to people I don’t know. Although it’s intimidating, it has taught me to some phone skills. I think this will help me a lot in PR. Although speaking in front of people terrifies me, I think it’s important to step out of your comfort zone in order to learn something.

  47. Brie S

    Verbal communication skills through real life experience is crucial in the field today. PR majors take public speaking and oral communications but you don’t really get the experience needed for talking on the phone or with other people but rather you just project yourself. In PR105 we were recorded during a lesson on media training and over 60% of the class was nervous, stumbled over their words and struggled. In the class a lot of us learned that it is easier to teach media training to others and we would rather not be the spokesperson in front of the camera. I think we all felt this way because of the lack of experience we have. It is something that should certainly be addressed and added to the curriculum.

  48. Jordan Richmond

    This is very true – we spend a lot of time working on how to write correctly and with great grammar, but we don’t emphasize the kind of verbal communication we need to get by in this industry. While a lot of public relations work is written, there is rarely a focus on what to say while with your company. I’m a little mixed when it comes to the verbal skills correlating with leadership abilities. I can see that a well-spoken person is one that we’re more likely to follow, as they’re able to command your attention and presence easily, but I feel as though there can be leaders who don’t have this trait. I can’t think of any off the top of my head, but I just feel like other qualities (more managerial, or like you said, the ability to motivate) can make just as large of an impact.

  49. Julia Ryan

    I feel like as far as curriculum goes, it is very hard to teach a lot of aspects in the field of public relations, leadership being one of them. Professors in this field can do their best to teach the basics of what the job entails: i.e. how to write a press release, how to pitch, etc. However when it comes to traits like leadership and professionalism, that is knowledge you obtain by experience. After three internships, I feel as though I have learned the most outside of the classroom. These include little things like answering the phone, or sending a professional email. I also learned to take initiative and figure out problems and things I was confused about on my own, rather than just immediately asking for help. I think there is only so much you can be taught in the classroom before you just have to go out there and do it.

  50. Yeliz A

    ”The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak.” I completely agree with this statement. I also agree that within the general Communications field it is extremely, and obviously, important to learn how to speak with others professionally and sometimes convincingly. With practice one can improve their communication skills, however it does take some time before you master the art of the phone call. I’ve interned for two different media organizations, and have noticed that making constant phone calls is a common task done at both offices. I’ve listened to employees sitting next to my cubicle from time to time to see how they converse on the phone and made some notes for myself. It’s important to talk, persuade, and sound engaging, but it’s also very important to listen. I think one thing teachers should start to incorporate in their classrooms is more oral communication and public speaking between not only the students with the teacher, but also between students themselves.

  51. caitlin

    Verbal communication skills are vital in PR but I agree that they are not something we are necessarily “taught” in class. It is something that you almost have to learn to adapt to based on your surroundings. I talk differently in my house then I do at my internship because it is a relaxed setting at home. At my internship I too had to learn how to navigate the phone system and after a few weeks I finally got the hang of it and am no longer “nervous” when the phone rings. I agree with many of my peers that groups can be frustrating but they are a crucial part as in the “real world” people don’t always do their job correctly either. It is very beneficial to take part in group projects.

  52. Kim Gray

    As a grad student, I feel like this experience is a great preparation for the work place and life skills in general in how to conduct yourself in a professional matter. Yes there are certain skills in PR that cannot be obtained in a classroom, however, we do learn the necessary skills to communicate effectively to the publics. As for possessing leadership, that’s something a skill you are born with or not. Not everyone has that personality to possess leadership. You can communicate the requirements of being a leader, but in all actuality that’s a quality not everyone is born with.

  53. Nathalie Salazar

    Honestly, I believe that leadership isn’t something you could learn in the classroom. PR professors can help cultivate those leadership instincts in their students by assigning certain projects or assignments. However, I believe that internships will help in this leadership area more than anything. With internships, students are thrust into the PR professional world and are expected to learn quickly and perform efficiently. Leadership skills are required to excel in an internship.

  54. Brittany Witter

    In terms of teaching students the best way to communicate is the work place, students should be giving a situation in which they must analysis and prepare a solution and statement for. Once this solution is developed the student should then present their solution to the class, as well as a script. This script should detail how they would converse with their client either on the phone or in person.

    I personal think this will help students gain confidence in the way they speak with others. I know public speaking is a fear of many people, myself included, and I think the more practice a PR students gets in handling a situation the better off they will be in their professional careers. We are communicators, and it is our universities’ jobs to train us to the best of their ability to make us better ones.

  55. missbrogan93

    I think it is very important for students to get real life experience. That’s why I am so thankful for my teacher in Intro into Public Relations. She is really enforcing how to use social media and giving us assignments/projects where we work with actual clients. This posts just enforces the fact of how important internships really are for students.

  56. cmadsenpr

    One thing that I love about our PR program is that the majority of our work is done through projects and working with different teams to learn the necessary skills. There are a lot of aspects to this career that simple cannot be taught in a classroom. Whoever wrote in their journal about learning how to speak on the phone made an excellent observation. Talking on the phone in a work setting can be really intimidating and scary, and you can only get more comfortable doing it by actually getting practice with real clients. At my internship I get nervous and jumbled up calling a send out into the messenger service or ordering a magazine. These skills are developed over time through hands-on practice.

    If we want to learn more leadership skills in class, it would be a good idea to do more group projects. In college, group projects are very common, but it doesn’t seem like we do too many in our PR classes. It also might be a good idea to do projects where one person is the “project manager,” and each student takes a turn being the leader, so every student will get an idea of what it is like to lead other people and they will get to be on the other end of it too, to eliminate overbearing leaders.

  57. croyal13

    Developing leadership skills is exactly why students must get experience in the industry. There is no way aspiring professionals can learn what it takes if they are confined to a classroom. P.R. professionals and those in communications must know how to effectivley interact with people. Students cannot obtain these skills from a lesson plans. Outside experiences, especially internships, are crucial to developing and maintaining the necessary skills.

  58. croyal13

    Developing leadership skills is exactly why industry experience is so essential. Many times, lessons in the classroom cannot possibly prepare students for the real world. Students aspiring to be in the communication field must go out there and learn important lessons for themselves. Every company and work environment is different. There is no way students can obtain the skills they need for a P.R. job from a text book. It is crucial to practice professional skills in the real world, especially an internship. It is the ultimate preparation and the only way students will truly learn how to adapt to the work place.

  59. Whitney Shepherd

    I believe there are many important skills that students learn from their professors that help them out tremendously in their profession. However, I do believe there are some skills that are a little harder to teach than others. Just how some people are natural born leaders, while others have to work a little harder is the same way with those who know how to speak in a professional setting. There are certain professions that require a vast knowledge when it comes to public speaking and professional speaking, especially those in a Public Relations career. Professional speech is a very important skill and I know some universities may not do the best job at teaching their students the right and wrong things to say. However, there are courses at the university that include topics such as public speaking which is required for all communication students. There is no right or wrong when it comes to learning more about professional speaking.

  60. madalyntundis

    I had the opportunity to attend a Leadership Challenge workshop through the company that I interned for over this past summer. The Leadership Challenge workshop is based on the book “The Leadership Challenge” written by James Kouzes and Barry Posner. The two day workshop included seminars on what it means to be a great leader. The book, and the workshop, breaks it down into 5 categories: Model the Way, Inspire a Shared Vision, Challenge the Process, Enable Others to Act, and Encourage the Heart. These things help guide a leader to be the very best they can be and create a successful group of followers.
    I was undoubtably among the youngest of participants, by about 20 or so years. Other workshop participants were very much impressed by the fact that someone my age was attending and participating in this workshop. The workshop director was the CEO of the company I was interning for and was also very impressed by my enthusiasm in the program.
    I did the Leadership Challenge because I know that it is critical for organizations to have good leaders. I have a very strong personality and I know that I am a good leader, and attending the workshop gave me some of the skills I will use as a professional. No matter what title a person holds in their organization, they too can be a leader.

  61. Zoe Hoffmann

    Rohn’s comment perfectly encapsulates what being a leader is all about. True leadership shines in all aspects of life, be it a job, internship or classroom setting. As someone who naturally steps up and volunteers to take on leadership positions, I do not see how any of these skills could be taught in a classroom. Leadership is something that must come from within, and is very hard to teach. A lot of times leadership is associated with confidence. I think it is very important for students to be given projects and presentations that allow them to build their confidence and personable skills. Challenging students personally and professionally to reach outside their comfort levels also helps build leadership because, once again, success helps confidence grow.

  62. Max Eisenberg

    I think the basics of PR and a strategies to be effective are all professors can really teach students in the classroom. Experience is the best way to learn the profession and that goes for any job. I personally would not change how the classrooms are conducted, as internships and first jobs will teach people how to be effective communicators and learn leadership experience.

  63. Joe Flanagan

    To be a leader is something that I do not see as being able to teach. It is a quality that comes from personal and life experiences. What college professors seem to neglect or not recognize at all is the idea that college is an environment where the most important lessons are taught outside of the classroom without a professor even present or aware of what is happening.
    The role of the professor in a PR is to show the student the skills needed to become a successful professional and leader. It is up to the student to take those skills and use them in a profession.
    The only thing a professor can do to provide more leadership lessons is to sit and interact with students to hear their experiences in a group setting. The professor should then help the student with what they did wrong in a given situation, what they did right, what to strengthen, and what to maintain in a team environment.
    To lead is to learn, to learn is to experience, to experience is to trial and error, and through trial and error brings progress. That is the only way one can lead.

  64. Steve Jellinek

    Being a leader in the PR world means knowing how to do one’s job effectively, from writing press releases to (perhaps) standing in front of a news camera and defending a client. For the latter talent, it is important to have a good concept of how to act whilst publicly speaking on behalf of someone of just in general. While at Hofstra it is required for students in the School of Communications to take a speech communications class, i.e public speaking, I am not sure if this is the case at other schools. It is imperative that a PR person learn that skill, and also generally helpful to anyone who wants to learn how to be more confident presenting in front of others.

  65. Lauren Platt

    I will admit that most leadership training or experience I have had has been outside of the classroom. I have been fortunate enough to attend many leadership conferences through my sorority and they have all helped to grow and shape the way I am as a leader. I think it is important, however, for some leadership skills to be taught in the classroom. Whether it be through group projects or general lessons taught by the professor, I think it is something that is so important that it should be built into the curriculum.

  66. Lyndi Catania

    Professional verbal and leadership skills are extremely important in PR. Even though these subjects may be touched upon in certain classes, I believe that most of this skill will be learned through actual experience. At my job I recently began answering the telephones and that has already helped me become a better speaker. I have already taken an oral communications course and I am going to take public speaking next semester. These courses are beneficial but I feel as though I will learn more than ever when it is time to do my internship.

  67. Alexandra Cohen

    Some skills are taught in the classroom, while others are taught outside the classroom through experience. PR majors are required to take a speech class and a public speaking class. Even though these courses will improve your communication skills, it doesn’t help with talking to clients, media, or bosses whether it may be on the phone or in person. Some people are born leaders and other aren’t. I believe it’s easier to learn leadership and organizational skills in the classroom than through experience. Once you learn these skills and keep on practicing them, it’ll become natural. You need to be a good communicator and know how to present yourself in this field.

  68. Rachel Tyler

    As a PR professional I think the ability to speak and hold a professional conversation on the phone is a necessity. I do not think that these skills can be learned in a classroom but they can be learned from experience. Here at Hofstra we do have to take oral communication and public speaking classes but I think it may be helpful if these courses were modified to include techniques that are helpful for speaking on the phone. As a PR professional it is your job to be a good communicator so it is necessary to learn these skills.

  69. Leia Schultz

    The ability to hold a professional conversation on the phone with a client or an associate is a hugely necessary skill. It’s so easy to become flustered or lose a train of thought because of unforeseen circumstances that could arise during the course of conversation. The same is true in any form of verbal communication, as one must rely on wit and aptitude to maintain the appropriate level of discourse. The best leaders know how to represent themselves and their ideas, as well as help to organize those of others, when engaged in communication. I think Rohn’s quote perfectly illuminates the balance of good leadership qualities. Professionally, we are only as good as how we are perceived by others – our opportunities and potential to do great work is really dependent on how we hold ourselves and communicate with everyone we encounter.

  70. sarah elsayed

    I don’t believe that lessons in being a leader who also has the ability to motivate can be taught through a tutorial or through a meeting of any kind. I believe that those who step up to leadership positions eventually learn how to get people in any sort of group to involve themselves positively, through trial and error. All my life I’ve held positions of leadership. In the fifth grade, I was my school’s G.O. secretary, and since then I’ve attempted to keep up with leadership positions through attaining high level Girl Scout awards, being the drum major of my high school’s marching band, and now through being my sorority’s fundraising chair. After dealing with large groups of people with varying opinions you eventually learn how to be as fair and firm as possible in order to reach the greater good for whatever the organization may be. I believe that practice makes perfect and permanent – Once you learn how to motivate and lead people, it is a trait that stays with you and only gets stronger as you’re faced with more responsibility.

  71. Kelly Cormier

    So many life skills are learned in college, some in the classroom and some outside. Although most people learn how to act and speak in a professional setting through experience, it should most definitely be addressed in a classroom setting. As a PR major, public speaking and oral communication are required courses. These courses could be extended to cover how to interact in an array of professional situations, including how to go about professional phone calls with clients. Although I understand the importance of these courses, their main purpose is for students to learn to give a well-delivered speech. However, a PR professional’s communication skills must be far more advanced than this.


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