As the semester comes to a close, I have been reflecting on all of the things I learned from my Public Relations classes, as well as all of the things I wish I had known coming into them. I literally jumped head first into PR without knowing anything about it other than what I heard about it being a great minor to pair with a Marketing Degree.
So, in the spirit of “Paying it Forward”, here are 10 tips for any new PR students out there that are about to dive “head first” into this subject knowing little about it too.
1. Don’t be shy! Before taking PR classes, I had never blogged, never tweeted, nor I had ever wrote anything for internet journalism/ marketing/ public appeal other than some amateur newspaper articles in high school. I was so nervous to start writing because I though that I was going to be so bad at it and fail the class just because I had never written a blog before. If that’s you, I suggest to shrug off your fears and jump into it! If you’re stuck, brain storm ideas onto the page because it’s easier to work with something than nothing at all!
2. Ask Questions! If you don’t know or understand something, please do not hesitate to ask your professor or your peers. In my classes, there were a lot of “snooty” students who came off as really experienced PR people. That really intimidated me to ask questions in class because I didn’t want to seem dumb and make a bad impression. If that’s you, ask your professor through email or after class; never miss the opportunity to learn!
3. Get to know your peers! Networking is an important aspect to anyone’s career and establishing relationships with your fellow PR students is a great place to start (especially if you don’t know anyone).
4. Get Involved! Professor Nixon always had assignments that encouraged us to either reach out and meet people or stay within our bubble and research to find answers online. Don’t be a lazy bum with all of similar assignments/ projects you get though! Use these challenges to meet people and find out, first hand, how things are done in the real world. Learn how to contact and communicate with people to get what you need!
5. Read, Read, Read! Learn from other PR students, other bloggers, and especially other Professional bloggers by reading their posts. See how they do things and try to mimic the aspects of their blogs posts that are done well.
6. Follow the right Format. It’s a shame that so many PR student bloggers neglect AP Style. If you’re serious about your writing, invest in a AP Stylebook and adhere to it! Memorize as many grammatical rules as you can and dog ear or mark the pages that have the rules that you use the most on a daily blogging basis so you can reference them quicker.
7. Be Genuine. Blog about topics that actually interest you or, if your assigned a boring topic, turn it into an interesting one. Otherwise the tone of your writing becomes robotic and stiff and no one wants to read a paraphrased textbook answer. Make your blogging assignments unique because anyone could be reading your posts, even future employers!
8. Learn Your Blog’s Program. My professor made the class that she was going to use to discuss “how to use Word Press” optional to the students. In turn, there were maybe three of us who actually attended class that day. But, you know what? …Those three that attended that class were continually mentioned by her in person as three of the most well done blogs of the class. So, I advise to attend those classes and learn all you can about the website you are using to write your blogs on because it will enable you to make your blog more interesting, interactive, and you’ll feel more comfortable writing them.
9. Actually do the News University Courses! News University is such an amazing tool for journalists. If you fully complete the courses and engage in the lessons, you’re skills will benefit exponentially. My favorites were the ones that dealt with leads, grammar, photography, copyright laws, and persuasion. But I advise you to complete all the ones you can. Learn while the learning’s good!
10. Embrace the Class. Before you know it, the class will be over. Embrace every assignment and learn as much as you can while you can. “Just getting by” and being lazy about your writings will teach you little and impress no one. Put your best foot forward in your work and you’ll reap the benefits before you know it.
Overall, my PR classes were probably two of my favorite classes I’ve taken so far while in college. They were so valuable to me in that they opened up my knowledge and skills which helped me coin 2 internships, in both of which I love what I do!
If you enjoy the class while you can and be thorough with your work, you’ll go far!