Public Relations 101

You may think you know what public relations entails, but think again.

PR is not event planning.

Considering I am pursuing a degree in marketing, I encounter students from inside and outside of the public relations major who possess incorrect knowledge of what a PR professional does on a daily basis. I constantly hear wrong definitions for PR, and I have made it my personal mission to correctly inform those students with the misconception that PR is event planning.

Based on my experience as an incoming college freshman, the majority of my fellow classmates believed in the misconception that PR would lead to a career in event planning with A-list celebrities and/or major corporations. Little do they know exactly what public relations encompasses.

PR involves a lot more than just party planning. According to the Public Relations Society of America’s Web site, “Public relations helps our complex, pluralistic society to reach decisions and function more effectively by contributing to mutual understanding among groups and institutions. It serves to bring private and public policies into harmony.”

Simply stated, PR assists organizations and individuals with gaining exposure among their target audiences. Thus, PR practitioners manage the reputation of their clients. Almost every organization that has a standing in the public eye employs some stage of public relations to create a positive image in the community.

Even though public relations might be different from what you expected, it serves a reputable purpose and provides a solid, successful career. Competition in the public relations field is high because of the numerous benefits, such as media contacts, social events and associations with top-notch executives. Because of the tough competition, employers prefer job candidates to have prior experience.

An internship in public relations offers the necessary experience to gain an edge on the competition. Internships provide insight into the daily activities of a public relations department or firm, which prepares a potential PR employee for the required efforts at work.

Based on my experience in PR classes, in order to be successful in the public relations arena, certain strengths and abilities must be perfected:

1.  Writing skills
2.  Communication skills
3.  Creative abilities
4.  Ethical practices

By understanding exactly what PR involves and possessing the necessary skills, you just might be cut out for a job in public relations.

Since PR involves working with clients and managing communication between an organization and its audiences, students cannot assume that PR is solely a glamorous, party-planning lifestyle.

by Ashley Ross

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