Words to live by

16 Nov

It was just another typical day of going through the timeline of tweets on my Twitter when my eyes landed on a link posted by a fellow journalism student and friend of mine. Curious, I followed the link to an article posted by Ragan’s PR Daily called How to Get the Most Out of a PR Major. Being a PR major myself I was immediately curious at what the article had to offer, so furthered my investigation.

The article was short and to the point but incredibly useful! Where was this article two years ago when I was clueless about PR? Even more shocking and intriguing was that the article was written by Alexis Morgan, a senior at Penn State University, so I knew the advice that was being offered wasn’t just from someone who had been in the business but from a fellow college student whom I could connect to. More often than not I feel like sometimes college students get so boggled down with advice from professors and professionals that its almost overwhelming, so this article was a breath of fresh air.

The article consisted of six tips to get the most out of a PR major and the ins and outs of how to be successful as a PR practitioner. Each point was achievable and specifically lined out so there was no “grey area.” Here are Alexis’ six tips to success:

Get as much internship experience as possible. 

This may seem like an obvious key to victory in the career game, but some students feel one internship is enough. It’s not.

The more internship experience you get, the better your résumé looks and the more confident you’ll be with your performance under pressure. Internship experience doesn’t have to mean being an account associate at a top PR firm; it can be as simple as writing copy for a school newspaper or doing marketing for a local company. The more, the better.

Tip: Set up a meeting with your school’s career advisor. A face-to-face encounter shows dedication.

Practice how to write, especially a good pitch. 

Writing is a fundamental part of our job. You’ll have to do it daily, and it can make or break your career. In high school I was a terrible writer. The good news is that with practice and dedication, people who aren’t naturally gifted with writing skills can develop the craft.

In college I took extra writing classes and wrote for various media outlets. I went from hating writing assignments to thoroughly enjoying them. Remember, you can always improve.

Tip: Never stop practicing your writing.

Knowing how to pitch well is also important. 

At a Public Relations Society of America conference this summer, Jennifer Bendery from The Huffington Post said she knows whether to delete a pitch after reading the first line. The panel of journalists agreed that a good pitch must be quick, topical, and concise. Practice writing eye-catching pitches that include only the most relevant, important information needed. Have a professor or mentor read your pitches and give you advice.

Tip: If you don’t already know, learn from Help A Reporter Out.

Be familiar with multiple areas of expertise. 

We all know the state of the economy. I have friends with degrees and without jobs. The most effective way to begin your career is to set yourself apart from everyone else. You can do this by becoming familiar in areas apart from public relations.

I am double majoring in PR and broadcast journalism in case I choose to change career paths later in life. Because I am learning about journalism, I can understand how to capture a journalist’s attention.

This knowledge will be helpful when I pitch to journalists as a PR professional. Whether it’s double majoring or picking up a minor, learn about another field of expertise.

Tip: People who can fulfill two job roles are twice as likely to find one.

Be well versed on news topics. 

A journalist once told me it’s important to deliver newsmakers to those who are affected by them. In a sense, PR pros are the delivery boys. We deliver the relevant people and information for the story.

It’s vital to know what’s going on around you. Thanks to the Web, news is always available at your fingertips. Money, local, crime, national, international, travel, politics, entertainment, sports, health—read it all.

Tip: News is 24/7; it’s constantly changing and updating. Use Twitter or a smartphone app to stay up to date on current information.

Stay on top of trends. 

Social media is possibly the most popular information conduit today, and its influence is ever growing. A current PR student should have Facebook and Twitter accounts, a blog, and a LinkedIn profile—at minimum.

Did you know that last year companies invested more than $1.68 billion in social media? Next year, the number is expected to be around $2.1 billion, according to eMarketer.

I was hesitant to jump on the Twitter boat a couple of years ago. Now, I check my timeline every 10 minutes. I’ve actually pitched to journalists via Twitter and have filled out a job application on Facebook. The relationship between technology and media is changing. Will you take advantage of it or be left behind?

 

As much as I enjoyed reading this article I have heard all of these tips from my professors, its just nice to hear from a fellow student who is also entering the world of public relations. One of my favorite parts of the article was when the author talks about social media and the large role it has come to play in all of our lives. I know just from being in journalism classes the importance of being an active user of social media (Facebook, Twitter and blogs) as well as having a smartphone with the ability to always be socially interacting. As graduation approaches I am nervous to be out in the real world after 18 years of schooling but I know that thanks to the preparation from my professors and mentors that I will be ready to be a successful PR practitioner.

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