As a freshman, my first mass communications and APR classes were a complete shock. Media channels are not what you flip through on your television, research is the glue that holds a campaign together and using an oxford comma before the “and” in a series is unacceptable (it also results in a five-point deduction on your grade every single time). Businesses and organizations are successful because of their leaders and their incredible businesses plans, but those plans must involve a thoughtful marketing strategy to reach the highest potential.
Here are some of my first thoughts when I set out to pursue a degree and a career in public relations:
PR is just organizing functions and events for clients.
Reality: Event planning is usually handled by PR practitioners, but that is not what public relations is all about. Public relations involves strategic planning, content creation of all kinds (traditional, digital and social), media relations and crisis management. Events are planned only if they strategically benefit a business’ overall campaign.
Social media is just a way to stay in touch with friends and family.
Reality: Social media has shifted from personal use to professional use. It has become a way for businesses to learn about their customers and connect with their audience. We must understand search engine optimization (SEO) by crafting tweets, posts and press releases that will receive high-placement in a search result. The goal of social media is to create content that will reach new audiences and increase brand awareness.
Writing essays is easy, so press releases won’t be that bad.
Reality: Two words – AP Style. Every single press release, media advisory, photo caption and pitch revolves around our industry’s specific style of writing. Certain words are capitalized while other words are not. Numbers are a whole different story. To make sure a story will be picked up by the media, information must be strategically placed in everything we write. You might be a great writer, but you must understand how and why we write the way we do.
It’s Friday! Time for the weekend!
Reality: Friday’s are usually a day of deadlines for many projects that we have been working on for months and weeks. Public relations is a 24/7 industry. We are there because we want our clients to constantly succeed. Businesses and organizations don’t stop operating just because it’s the weekend. If we need to leave during the middle of a family dinner or pull out our computers on vacation, we do it because that’s our job and we are honored to do it.
My four years of college classes gave me a solid foundation and the confidence to tackle this industry, but I am still learning every day as I dive into my work for our clients at HMA Public Relations.