Public relations professionals help companies of all sizes protect their reputations and project a positive image. These days, that’s a tall order. Social media networks have wreaked havoc on the traditional PR model where the broadcaster controlled the channel. Now, the situation has flipped, and the public owns the microphone. People can talk online all day and night about your business. This new paradigm can be a good thing, or it can be bad—awful.
But that’s where the modern PR professional comes into play. These talented men and women exercise their talents to send out a positive message in as many ways as possible. There are many paths to a career in public relations, but one of the surest ways is to go to school, get a degree and then start applying for PR jobs with companies that need help improving their images.
Better yet, you can get a degree that is specific to public relations through many colleges and universities. These programs can give you the Bonafede to call yourself a PR pro right out of the gate. Additionally, you can pursue this PR education to the Master’s level, so you know you will have the education available to take you to the advanced stages of your career in public relations.
What you’ll learn in school
Public relations isn’t an exact science per se. The activities involved are somewhat instinctual and hard to teach in a classroom setting. But, getting a good grounding in the basic techniques, the newer technologies and the rising trends will help you master the field.
You will spend a fair amount of your time learning how companies have overcome PR disasters by facing problems head-on and transparently. You will also study how companies have gone down in flames because they stayed in denial too long.
If you get lucky, you will have some retired PR pros who moved into the classroom to share their knowledge and experience with the next generation. These individuals will be invaluable to you as you plan your career and where you will ultimately fit within the profession. So be nice to these people, bring them donuts, compliment their clothes, and most of all, pick their brains relentlessly.
Why school alone is not enough
Sometimes it happens that someone gets through college, starts paying off their student loans and then discovers that maybe PR wasn’t the right career choice. This situation is unfortunate but not necessarily a cause for alarm. First, PR is a vast discipline with many different facets. Chances are, if you do a little investigation, you will find an area that is a good fit. Second, you won’t know if PR is right for you until you get it in your veins and see if it addicts you.
Public relations pros are stress addicts. The emotions run pretty high in PR, which can be much fun. But don’t think it’s all cocktail parties and photo opportunities because it isn’t usually that glamorous. You will spend much of your time planning strategies to avoid potential problems you see coming your way. You will have to learn to quickly and quickly resolve issues with remarkable candor. Your instincts will play a vital role in your success.
So, a school can give you a great start in public relations; it can help you get your foot in the door with an excellent job. However, a good education isn’t everything. You have to be willing to put yourself out there, get a little mud on you. You will find out if PR is right for you after all when you find yourself staying up late to check your phone for news and opting to stay in on taco Tuesday because you have a necessary press release to complete.
Incidents like the ones mentioned previously will start to define your life. Now, messaging is the preeminent factor in your life; everything else pales in comparison. You are now a PR star and loving every minute of it.