As another semester grinds to a close, I’m reflecting on the valuable information provided by both seasoned and newly-minted public relations practitioners in recent weeks. We’ve attended lectures, workshops and conferences, networked with dozens of seasoned PR professionals plus alumni just starting their careers, and one thing is certain: after a 35 years of working in and teaching public relations, I’m always learning. Here are some of the “takeaways” my students and I have absorbed these last few months:
- Communication professions are evolving more swiftly than ever and people’s use of media is in a constant, accelerated state of change.
- As new developments take place, PR becomes increasingly challenging. PR people are expected to master everything from integrated marketing to social and traditional media to analytics to event planning to reputation and crisis management to desktop publishing and online platforms.
- Emphasis on owned media (social, websites, blogs, other online communication) is overshadowing more traditional earned media (print, TV and radio placements).
- Reaching key influencers is fundamental, and content creation is crucial.
- PR practitioners must craft stories to advocate for their clients, so good writing skills are essential. There can be no success without them.
- The ability to find and creatively tell compelling stories will make you valuable to employers. The ability to effectively persuade, inspire and motivate audiences will make you a PR superstar.
- “Self-starters” and “problem-solvers” are phrases often used to describe the kinds of people companies are seeking to hire.
- Confidence in your own capabilities is a major key to success. Companies want employees who can network, have a phone conversation, write copy, and are sure of their own ethics and decision-making in any given work situation.
- “Do what you like to do” may be an overused phrase, but it still rings true. You need to believe in and enjoy what you’re doing, who you’re working for, and why you’re doing it. Otherwise, you won’t do it well.
- Know what’s going on around you. Be curious. Read, watch, listen, research, learn.
What have been your “takeaways” this semester? Will you be ready for this challenging, rewarding profession? Your thoughts?