What do you need to learn about PR? (Weekly Post)

WEEKLY POST, Public Relations


If you’re a college student, I’ll wager anything that at some point you’ve sat in your class and asked yourself, “Why am I learning this? What is this actually going to teach me about my job?”

Only ever taking classes that we think are relevant to our dream future careers seems like the ideal way to go to college. If I’m in Public Relations, why on earth should I ever have to take calculus? Or a music class? Or — dear God forbid — something like chemistry. 

However, part of the problem is, truthfully, that we don’t know what we don’t know. What we think might be relevant maybe isn’t as relevant as we think. Likewise, something that we might blow off is actually considered considerable technical knowledge, and we wouldn’t have even thought of it.

Thanks to Pexels for the awesome stock photos. For free!

What if you had to get really great scores in art in order to get a public relations degree? I’d rather take that chemistry class You know, art probably isn’t that bad.

In Public Relations, this is no difference. In fact, there’s more controversy on this globally than one might have expected. The issue arises when you realize just how diverse the field of public relations can be. Some people think that with public relations you’re going to write speeches. Others think that they’re going to address the public themselves, or write blog posts, and work behind the camera. Others think they’ll work with the marketing team, trying to brand the company. The truth is, all of these are arms of public relations. This makes defining this field quite difficult. Mariana Cernicova, a professor from Politehnica University in Romania, writes in her paper “Redefining Public Relations in the 21st Century” that almost every country in Europe has its own definition of what public relations is. ‘So what?’ you say. Well, what the country defines that public relations is makes a pretty massive difference in what is taught to students who are hoping to learn it. Cernicova sums this up in her paper, stating the following:

The definition debate bears heavy consequences for the teaching and research community. What is the educational promise, opposite the labour market and opposite those who pursue education in the field? What should be the research topics, how to build a relevant corpus of knowledge for the field?

In this article from Shift Communications, the writer Amanda Grinavich addresses this, by listing what she believes are the things that public relations students need to know.

Now this list isn’t maybe what a lot of public relations majors would have expected. She lists the basics —writing, organizational communications, and analytics. None of these are a surprise. In fact, were you to not learn these incredibly well, I think that you’re probably completely misunderstanding what public relations is.

Thanks to Pexels for another great stock photo.

“I mean, you’re right Frank — the design sure is nifty, and gets the readers attention. But I still wish that you’d learned how to read and write.”

Amanda writes that computers are more important now than ever, saying “graphic & web design is entering the PR fold more and more as social media and digital marketing intertwine with it.” However, it’s not only how to do design and things like Adobe InDesign and Photoshop, but also coding. Coding. This certainly wasn’t something that I thought would’ve been necessary, but Amanda praises its worth, saying that a knowledge of coding “will make you an automatic stand-out among your peers.”

Amanda’s article is well written, and informative. It’s hard for students sometimes to take the word of a professor, because it can feel like we’re learning from a walking, out-dated textbook. However, an article like Amanda’s, written by an actual in-the-field professional, can bear much more weight. Who could know better how to get the job than someone who has the job right now?

Thanks to Pexels for the great photos!

“I knew he was the one for me when he said ‘I have a sustainable income.’ Every girl dreams of a guy like that.”

The moral of the story is pretty clear: public relations can span a lot of different areas, and it never hurts to learn as much as you can. Who knows — maybe, within the next couple years, public relations will mold and change again, and that chemistry class will come in handy.

Daniel M.

Credit to Pexels for the stock images, CommShift for the article, and EBCOhost for helping me find Cernicova’s well written review article on public relations. Also, shoutout to Folgers for keeping me up writing this. 


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