When I chose public relations as my college major, I honestly didn’t know what it meant. I’ve always enjoyed writing and knew communication was the field for me, but I didn’t really know what direction to take.
Once I began to take my PR courses, I thought attending class and making good grades would be enough for me to find a job. However, I started to realize PR requires much more. In the introduction course, we learned the definitions for most PR terms; however, memorizing definitions only got me so far.
I didn’t actually understand everything PR entailed until I took upper-level PR courses. I found the best way to learn is through hands-on experience. I was lucky to have the opportunity to gain knowledge and a better understanding of PR through three significant classes.
This semester, I worked as a student intern in The University of Alabama’s media relations office. The internship counted as a class, but I also had the chance to gain experience and learn more about media relations. I was responsible for writing press releases for the UA Web site and pitching the stories to local, state and national media in order to gain coverage. The writing samples allowed me to develop a complete portfolio of work.
I’ve never done so much work in one class. My team and I were responsible for planning and executing a media campaign to promote UA’s LIFE Project. We conducted primary research to engage our target audience in order to produce a successful campaign. Although it was a lot of work, I learned a great deal about what goes into the planning and execution of a campaign.
Platform Online Magazine
As a member of the writing team, I was responsible for writing and editing articles and blogs for the magazine. I had the opportunity to write and approve text additions, such as changes to the PR terms quiz and the AP style quiz, for the online magazine site. The class was a great experience because I not only wrote for this magazine but also learned a little bit about what it takes to run a magazine.
Through these three classes, I had the opportunity to gain experience writing media plans, press releases and blogs; planning and executing media plans to increase awareness; and conducting primary research to reach target publics.
As graduation approaches and I look back on what I’ve accomplished, I realize I’ve learned the most about PR through experience. It’s not about the definitions or tests; it’s about understanding the PR field and what it takes to develop a successful career.
Now that it’s time to find a job and transition to the real world, I am confident I have gained enough knowledge and experience throughout college to work any PR job.
by Haley Barr