Guiding PR Students for Success in Today’s World
By Jason Mollica
At one point in our careers we were inexperienced at writing news releases, pitching the media, and understanding billable hours. In all honesty, even if you have 20 years’ experience in public relations, you most likely still don’t know everything.
When it comes to deciding on a career in public relations, there are many things you need to consider. Can you be a strategic thinker? Are you willing to be honest and ethical? Can you write well?
Since I became a PR pro in 2005, I’ve tried to give back to the next generation of pros. Whether it’s speaking individually on social media and email or appearing at a conference, I try to help future pros better understand what they can expect in this ever-changing field.
While this may sound like an easy-enough answer, finding trusted pros and avenues to get educated could be tough. When I first started out in public relations, most of what I learned had to be self-taught. Even as I ventured into social media, much of the knowledge came from a little trial-and-error. As PR, marketing, and social media continues to evolve, we must also evolve. We can never stop learning; it is the only way to improve. I compare it to a baseball player taking extra batting practice or looking at game film.
As students of PR continue to get further educated in the field, we can help them be better prepared for what is to come. Here are a few suggestions for students:
- Find pros that are learners, not Jedis. I’ve always appreciated pros that share what they’ve learned. They don’t tell you what you should know, they tell you what they continue to learn. People like Deirdre Breakenridge, Kirk Hazlett and Chuck Hemann are always sharing what they’ve learned over the years. It’s something to emulate.
- Conduct a personal audit/SWOT analysis. A personal audit can be valuable in getting yourself to take a critical look at your career. I do them every quarter to see if I’ve slipped, gotten better or plateaued. The SWOT analysis is something I love to do. It forces you to pick out your weaknesses. But, it also shows where you may be missing the boat on something. Try it!
- Participate in Twitter chats. If you are on Twitter, it’s a good bet you’ve taken part in one or more chats since you’ve first signed on. What you may not realize is that these aren’t just chats, but virtual classrooms of learning. Whether it’s #PRStudChat, #CMGRChat, #NPPRSA or #BrandChat, these gatherings of students and pros can be an invaluable tool for you. I’ve participated in all of these chats above, and each time I do I come away with something I can apply to my business and/or clients.
- Lean on organizations like PRSA/PRSSA. Both offer incredibly valuable opportunities to grow as a professional. If you can’t make it to the annual national conferences, make sure to go through the websites and see what is being offered. PRSA national has a solid slate of webinars/events and PRSSA’s Progressions blog is a perfect mix of student and professional advice. Your local PRSA chapter is also a great tool. It offers many outstanding round-table events that help to push the learning envelope.
To advance the PR profession, it is integral that we help the future grow by guiding upcoming PR students. By sharing what we have learned over the years, the field will be left in great hands.