What Training Should I Get if I Want to Work in PR?
by Mickie E Kennedy, founder of eReleases PR Distribution
Working in public relations takes more than good people skills and a bright, shiny smile. There is a lot to learn, so here are some tips on what to focus on.
Several academic fields deal with public relations. Along with a degree in public relations, companies hire graduates that studied in journalism, communications, and marketing. You can also choose a specific field, i.e. biochemistry, and focus on that if you feel more qualified to work in that profession if you possess other knowledge of PR. Don’t discount getting a minor in PR along with your Bachelor’s degree in BioChem.
It would also behoove you to take some business courses. Learning the ins and outs of the business world can help prepare you for how commerce really flows. Unfortunately, people tend to ignore this. If you’re working for a corporation, their main concern is if the PR campaign you’re running is bringing in business. Learning how successful businesses are run can help you in the future.
Nothing helps like actual experience, so sign up for an internship as soon as you can. Though often unpaid, internships are a great way to not only learn the business but acquire contacts as well. Also, you’ll find a lot of the information you’re taught in classes may not be as valid in the real business world. It’s like film school; you can learn all you want from books and classes, but when you step on an actual film set, your education truly begins.
Luckily, a lot of companies provide in-house training to catch you up to speed on their business. As a new hire, one of your main goals is to use what you’ve learned previously and reshape it for your employer’s needs.
Also, make sure to bone up on the company before you’re hired. Read about some of their public relation campaigns, especially the ones that didn’t work and where they went wrong. Consider how you would’ve handled the situation had you been the driver. Real world application of your studies will prepare you for when the fire is burning below your bottom!
Yes, you deal with the public, so presentation is a huge deal! Actually enjoying others’ company isn’t the focus. Dealing with other human beings is part of the job, so you’ll have to hone your people skills.
Besides having an outgoing personality, having quick decision making skills and a good head for problem solving will help you quite a bit. Some perfunctory knowledge of the human psyche may come in handy too; consider a few psychology courses. Again, you deal with people, so understand how they think!
PR Pros, let’s help the younger generation. What training did you have before you went into the field?