I wrote this back in 2008. I’m re-posting it because based on some conversations I’ve seen online and been a part of, I think it still applies. Let me know what you think.
Photo by sodahead.
Last week I read the post “So you want to break into public relations?” by Mark Rose, who blogs at PR Blog News. It intrigued me because he started his post off with “this is a difficult and confusing time to break into the public relations business”. He then goes on to let people know that they are actually in great spot to enter the business.
At the end, in the comments section, a student about to graduate stated how people about to graduate now or in the near future “are scared of the new form of PR that is out there”. She stated that she was glad to hear Mark’s comments that is was the perfect time to enter the communications business because it was comforting to know that all they are working/studying for will be worth it.
I posted a comment in response to her comment. My comment read as follows:
Great piece, Mark, I want to respond to Sabrina’s comment. Sabrina, don’t be scared. PR courses weren’t offered until my junior year, when business began to say, “hmmm…maybe this thing adds some value”. (This was in the late 1980s-early 1990s). When I went to grad school, there was not a PR degree, rather the university offered a “Masters of Mass Communications” degree. This program offered courses in each of the traditional mediums (tv, radio, newspaper, magazines and statistics). I think you are fortunate in that you are coming in at a time where you don’t learn one thing but have to practice another. One last thing – people still ask for a definition of PR and it is still hard to come up with a defining answer.
You see, it concerned me that people may be nervous about entering the communications business. The impression I took away from her comment was that she wasn’t sure she was going to be able to succeed. My intent was to let her know that she didn’t need to be nervous; I believe her generation is armed with a lot more knowledge of the latest trends, thoughts, etc., than my generation. (I listed my curriculum – way back when – in my comment above.) I like to think that the curriculum has evolved since my days as a graduate student.
Her goal, as is ours, is to strategically combine and determine which tools work best for a particular message, project, etc. And, to Mark’s point, it’s more important than ever to be a strong writer. Even with all the new social media tools and technology that is being added to our resources, the one thing that makes us stand out is our ability to write.
But I digress. Graduates and future graduates: don’t be afraid of entering the communications business. Know that many of us who are in the field have made it by learning as we go, trusting our talents and skills, and applying what we learn. We talk to each other to solve problems and avoid re-inventing the wheel. So many communicators are out there with so many success stories, you always have people to turn to versus trying to create a solution all by yourself. In addition, you will be bringing new thoughts and ideas to the table that we can utilize.
Embrace the challenge and enjoy your passion. Don’t be afraid.
What other advice can we give those entering the communications business?
Update: In response to my comment regarding a definition of PR, Mark was able to give me one from a previous post of his
“Public Relations is defined as the management function which evaluates public attitudes, identifies the policies and procedures of an individual or an organization with the public interest, and plans, executes and evaluates a program of action to earn public understanding and acceptance.”