By Erin McGuiness | @erinmcguiness
“Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some hire public relations officers.” – Daniel J. Boorstin
So what actually is “PR”? This is a recurring question I get when I tell people I am a PR major. Public Relations is building a mutually beneficial relationship between your client and the public through the use of effective communication, media relations and create print and digital copy material.
Going into college, I had no idea what I wanted to major in, let alone what I wanted to do in my professional career. Four years seems like a lifetime when you are a freshman moving into college, but the “real world” creeps up on you faster than you think and you need to be prepared. Here are eight reasons why public relations is the major for you.
Fast Paced Environment
PR is a rapidly evolving field and also highly versatile. When working on a presidential campaign, you may get a call at 2 a.m. about a crisis and may be expected to have a crisis management strategy put together for the 9 a.m. meeting the following day. Your client may need to get a message out to the public ASAP and you are expected to work diligently and quickly to get an accurate message out before a situation escalates.
According to a 2011 study, public relations officers have the second most stressful job in America. The study says that due to the fast paced environment and high level of competition among public relations practitioners, there is a great potential for stress.
Keeping a positive image for a company or government agency can take a lot of work and public relations practitioners must be creative, calm and composed when doing so. PR Practitioners often have to deal with grumpy, pushy and hostile journalists and media which as you can imagine, causes stress.
Oh, one more thing, tight deadlines. Often times, public relations professionals get word of a situation and have to act quickly. In today’s technological age, word spreads like wildfire therefore it is crucial to respond to situations in a timely manner.
Often times, you will work will an array of clients from all sectors of business. Due to this, no one day as a public relations practitioner is the same.
Public Relations professionals have a wide set of skills from managing clients, monitoring media coverage, developing campaign strategies, crisis management, read, write and edit copy material, work and collaborate with journalists, create publicity and coverage for clients and of course keep up with the various social media outlets.
There are so many types of Public Relations: corporate, non profit, firms, political campaigns, sports, etc. This diversity provides PR majors the opportunity to figure out where they belong and really focus in on their sector.
Flexible Work Environment
Who likes to work from home, curled up in bed in your favorite sweat pants? Me! Often times, public relations professionals have flexible work environments due to the increasing technology resources. Now this is not to say that you will get to bum around every day, but there are days when you will be writing press releases, planning events or making calls and you can be in the comfort of your home. Although building and maintaining relationships with other professionals is crucial, a lot of the work that public relations professionals do can be done from a computer.
You get a inside scoop on the latest gossip and drama. Granted it may be your client and you may be trying to handle that potential crisis .. But hey! You are the first to know. Going along with the fast paced environment, public relations requires quick thinking and meeting tight deadlines.
It is called public relations for a reason… As a public relations professional, you are inevitably going to be working with people for a majority of your projects or assignments.
Developing relationships is a major component of public relations. You must develop and maintain many different relationships in this field because the more people you know and can network with, the more resources and opportunities you have as a PR Practitioner for your clients.
If you’re a talker like myself, then you are in for a fun professional career.
Event planning is a fun and exciting way to let your creativity shine. You will have the opportunity to plan all kinds of events for your clients from formal banquets and conferences to luncheons and going away parties. You get to put your personality and personal mark on everything you create including the events.
Writing content is a dying skill. People no longer take the time to write for pleasure. People also are too lazy to read a large quantity of text therefore, as a public relations writer, you have to develop content for a specific audience and give them the information they need and/or want.
The average reading level is about a 3rd grader! Therefore, you may get alarmed and think you cannot write for a large audience but think again.
Many people are unaware of the amount of writing, editing and publishing that public relations is responsible for. If you hate writing… well PR is probably not for you.
Writing is a crucial part of public relations. It is a skill you can learn so don’t be alarmed if you think this is your weak point. College will prepare you for the amount of writing that you will do in the professional world.
There are also a variety of writing techniques used by public relations professionals such as business writing, social media writing, casual writing, feature writing and news writing.
Newsletters, brochures, posters, reports, news stories, media kits, press releases, media advisories, public service announcements, social media content… these are just a few of the daily writing material that public relations professionals are expected to complete.
Have separation anxiety from your phone? No worries! Public relations practitioners are constantly on their phone, texting clients, checking their email, live tweeting, etc.
Everyone loves social media.. Am I right? Yes. Public relations has to identify where/ what channels that are most effective in getting a message out to a specific audience, also known as a target audience.