Archive for Public Relations
Recently, my mother (of all people) directed me to the following Cracked article from David Wong: “6 Harsh Truths That Will Make You a Better Person”. In her note with the link, my mom advised, “Long and with bad language, but funny and good points made.” Naturally, I was intrigued, and decided to give ‘er a read—and a delightfully inappropriate, engaging read it was!
In addition to a glorious image of Lenny Kravitz prancing around in a titanic scarf, Wong gave me the push I needed to “own” 2014. While this specific piece features many worthy pointers, one argument stood out in particular. To quote Wong*:
… The end of 2014, that’s our deadline. While other people are telling you “Let’s make a New Year’s resolution to lose 15 pounds this year!” I’m going to say let’s pledge to do freaking anything — add any skill, any improvement to your human tool set, and get good enough at it to impress people. Don’t ask me what – good grief, pick something at random if you don’t know. Take a class in karate, or ballroom dancing, or pottery. Learn to bake. Build a birdhouse. Learn massage. Learn a programming language. Film a parody. Adopt a superhero persona and fight crime. Write a comment on PRiscope.
But the key is, I don’t want you to focus on something great that you’re going to make happen to you (“I’m going to find a husband, I’m going to make lots of money…”). I want you to purely focus on giving yourself a skill that would make you ever so slightly more interesting and valuable to other people.
“I don’t have the money to take a cooking class.” Then Google “how to cook.” Dagnabbit, you have to kill those excuses. Or they will kill you.
Of course self-improvement, and this idea of “adding value to society” is nothing new; but Wong found a way to voice the point in an amusing way that forced me to listen. As a semi-recent college grad making my career début in the PR field, Wong made me consider the many ways in which I can add value to the audiences in my life—I can learn a new communication skill or program that will benefit my agency and my clients; I can add a new activity to my repertoire to be more interesting and useful to my friends and family; I can be a more gracious neighbor to well…benefit my neighbors (duh); and the list goes on.
The opportunities are there, and excuses are so 2013. Now it’s up to you to develop the skills that’ll help you stand out—as a student, intern, prospective employee, whatever it may be—and benefit the world around you.
How will you apply Wong’s advice to your life this year? Tell us in the comments below!
* And by “to quote Wong” I really mean to “express Wong’s sentiment in a slightly** less offensive manner that aligns more closely with PRiscope’s values & purposes”
** And by “a slightly” I mean “an extremely”
We all love lists, right? I sure do (*cough* Buzzfeed *cough*). I came across two lists this past week that not only give good advice, but also have fantastic imagery to go along with each point. One has to do with what journalists do that annoy PR pros and, of course, the second list looks at what PR pros do to annoy journalists.
I hope you enjoy as much as I do:
I hope you pictured me with a cane while shaking my fist when reading the headline.
Almost every intern session, we have one or two people innocently ask, “How did you do XYZ before the internet?”
Luckily for me, I was not working in the field prior to Google being the go-to for any quick research, so I have always been able to look up a reporter, do research, pull data, etc.
It always surprises me when that question pops up—maybe because I was used to not simply relying on the Internet in school. I definitely benefited, but even in college, I was still mainly using books (yay, being a history major and really getting to know LexisNexis).
When I first started in the industry, I had purchased a book on public relations that might have been printed in the late-90s. Most of the tactics were tailored for pre-internet success, which was great for learning how things used to be done. Not so great for getting things done when I had no one to learn from.
So, what did you have to do without the internet to be effective in the industry? You were making more phone calls, having more in-person meetings and you were fighting over a printed database of media contacts that was issued periodically.
After doing some research (yes, using the internet), it looks like there are a fair amount of “history of PR” courses offered. I’m not sure if this is a requirement for any programs, but it should be. It’s always good to know about your own industry and how it started and evolved. Even the term “PR” is too specific to describe the type of work I do at least at a strategic communications and marketing firm.
But not knowing the history and evolution of your own industry goes beyond knowing how current companies were formed. You can learn about effective tactics that might be applicable today, spark ideas, but, most importantly, not look “uneducated” by asking questions like that to supervisors who may have worked during the time before the internet.
The Economist printed an interesting article a few years ago that touches on some of the beginnings of the industry as we know it. I’ve been looking into some good books–and better than the ones I initially read–that provide a good history of the industry, but am always open to suggestions.
A few weeks ago, I stumbled across this article from PR Daily on whether or not you need a degree in public relations to be successful in the industry.
To my surprise, the article tries to say you do.
First, let’s look at the industry itself. It is always changing, to the point where—yes, I’m going to say it—“PR” is becoming an antiquated term. You’re starting to hear “strategic communications and marketing” more often than those who are only “PR.” It’s hard to even keep track of the skills you need, use and develop in the industry, so you need a term broader than just PR and that includes a program.
Certain communications schools/programs also require its students to have at least a minor in a liberal arts practice. There’s a reason for that—you’re fostering the very skills that are essential in the industry such as writing, researching and public speaking on a variety of topics.
Is someone with simply a PR degree not going to do well with a task such as compiling in-depth research? Certainly not, but I am confident that someone like me with a history degree is going to have an easier time of knowing how to organize and even have scrappier ideas in where to find that information. Why? Because with the countless papers and projects throughout undergrad, I know I have out-researched my communications friends. Confident.
There are certainly arguments for all types of degrees and pros and cons for all, but to say that you absolutely need a PR degree is just incorrect. Saying that the PR degree will give you a leg up on a non-PR degree (when you can connect why your actual degree would serve you well in the industry) just doesn’t seem right to me. I know many colleagues go on to obtain their masters in PR, which is probably never a bad thing to have, but I still think those people would have very successful careers in the industry without said PR diploma.
I’ve been in this industry for less than three years and can say that if I knew I would end up here, I would still follow the track I did. What I learned in school has come in handy and lets me bring something very different and useful to the table.
My advice? If you’d like to pursue the PR degree, great. Do it. But definitely follow suit of some of the better communications programs and make sure you also have at least a minor in liberal arts if not a double-major.
Like in any field, you should always be looking to learn more and take workshops/classes to make sure you’re staying up in the latest trends and findings.
What’s your take on this debate? Fellow PRiscope contributor, Lin Shen, thinks having a PR degree on your resume definitely puts you above someone who might not have that prior knowledge or experience with potential employers.
We’d love to hear what you think!
If you’ve been keeping up with this blog and some of our posts on interning and the Peppercomm internship program, you know that it is one that provides a great set of skills and experiences. I went through this program and can certainly attest to how it prepared me for the industry.
One of our current (though, soon to be going back to school) interns, Nick Gilyard, has shared some of his internship experiences this summer in this CNBC story on college courses that help grads land a job. You’ll find some great insights. Let us know if you agree.
In today’s post, meet Peppercomm intern and future PR star, Chris Piedmont.
1. Tell us about yourself—where did you/do you go to school, where are you from and what brought you to Peppercomm and public relations?
I’m currently a senior at the College of Charleston located in historic downtown Charleston, SC where I’m serving as the Student Body Vice President this year. I grew up just outside of Charleston in a small suburb. After spending my first year of college at another university in the upstate of SC, Charleston called me home. When I originally went off to school, I was dead set on going into education but, after my introductory class had us tutoring local high school children, I felt like something was off. I decided I wanted to pursue a degree in something I could do more with than teach and, if the call to educate came later in life, I could always take classes to get my teaching certification.
After making this decision, I started taking career surveys to figure out what I should consider. One of the surveys suggested that I’d be good at teaching (shocker), psychiatry and public relations. Prior to this, I never understood what public relations field really was but decided to try it out and I’ve never looked back.
My interest in public relations was what sparked my transfer back home to the College of Charleston due to our thriving strategic communication program, our Advisory Council and the internship opportunities available in the Charleston area that were not as easy to find in the upstate. A month after I started at CofC, I had the pleasure of hearing Steve Cody speak at one of our Advisory Council Student Forums about developing your own personal brand. I was so blown away by his ability to connect with everyone in the room, make us all laugh, and learn at the same time. Later in the year, I was able to participate in a networking trip to NYC and one of our stops was Peppercomm. While visiting, we learned about Peppercomm, the internship program and the great work and culture that exists here. After seeing all this, I knew that this was the place for me and I still get excited every day to come in to work because I’ve wanted this for so long.
2. What area of the industry do you find the most appealing and why?
Right now, I find public affairs the most appealing part of the industry because it’s the unknown for me. I haven’t had the opportunity to do much work in this area and would love to take a stab at it. With that said, I really enjoy the consumer and financial services sectors that I’ve been introduced to recently.
3. Any surprises or revelations about the industry?
One surprise for me would be the extent to which public relations professionals love their jobs and have fun while at work. In talking with friends at other internships in different sectors, they are getting coffee, filing papers, and not really enjoying life. For my friends in PR internships and myself, that couldn’t be further from the case. We’re getting hands-on experience and learning from professionals who light up when they come to work.
4. Where do you see yourself going in the industry?
Who knows? If I’ve learned anything from networking and speaking to my colleagues here at Peppercomm and elsewhere in the public relations industry, it’s that you never know where you’ll end up because opportunities simply have a way of presenting themselves. While I’d like to say that my crystal ball is in full working condition and that I know exactly where I’ll be in one, five, or 10 years, I can’t. I simply plan on working my hardest and taking any and every opportunity that presents itself because there’s always something more to be learned.