With competition so high in the public relations field, it is only natural for PR pros to compete for clients and to develop their own personal brands via social networking sites. Building your image as a PR pro is important to helping one stand out from the crowd, but not all PR practitioners seem to remember where they came from. Do these individuals really care about the relationships they make through networking? While recently writing an article, I was shocked to see how some PR pros feel about taking the time to talk with PR students. While this may have been an isolated incident for me, it really made me start thinking about challenges PR students face when networking.
As students, we look up to professionals in the field for guidance and information. This is a common practice in many fields. But what do we — as students — do when those mentors we look up to are just too busy or simply do not care to answer our questions? Many professional relationships are now Web-based and therefore lack face-to-face interaction. As a result, some PR pros are simply promoting their own names with Twitter and Facebook, giving a false sense of friendship.
Don’t get me wrong … I have many professional friends who would and have answered questions when I asked them. However, it is discouraging to see some professionals who obviously do not care about answering questions for future professionals in the PR field.
So, if you follow me or I follow you, does it really mean we are friends? If you ask me a question, as a friend, wouldn’t you expect me to answer?
One of the challenges with writing articles that require primary sources is finding those who will take the time to respond to your request. Just because you have online relationships with PR pros doesn’t mean they will take the time to help you when you need it. I am still waiting on a response that was forthcoming for an article posted almost two months ago.
Some PR practitioners seem to be interested in promoting their professional image by helping students, but others seem to be unprofessional while chalking in the rain. PR pros need to think back to their college careers and remember specific people who helped them along. How did they get their first job? Who encouraged them their senior year in the job search? It is important for practitioners to realize the potential they have and encourage students as they approach graduation. It’s important for PR pros to give back to something they once benefited from.
PR pros should remember they were once students looking for answers, and their responses mean a lot to those who ask. PR students are not competing with professionals; they’re just looking for answers.
PR pros interested in assisting students might want to pay more attention to their questions, volunteer to speak at a local PRSSA meeting or even mentor specific students who express interest in their particular field. Just taking a few extra minutes to assist these students can make a big difference in the future of public relations.
by Scott Young