The key to unlocking success in PR

Written by Gracie Ratterree

What’s something that almost everyone experiences, but no one ever feels like they can ever prepare early enough for? Competition. The public relations industry is an ever-growing, changing, and competitive industry. Mastering the ability to build social skills, comprehend industry used vocabulary, learn concise communication practices, and find your voice, will help you stand out against your competitors.


In public relations, networking is crucial for your success. Because public relations is considered a competitive business communications industry, your ability to build relationships could be the factor that helps you land an internship, job, or position over your competitor. This is because most often when employers are searching to have a position filled, they’re going to turn to people that they already know are capable of fulfilling the roles and duties of that job.

Understand the language

In order to succeed in public relations, you need to know and understand industry-related terminology. A few terms you should know are:

  • Wearing multiple hats –the ability to juggle and access different responsibilities and roles depending on what the company or organization needs.
  • Boilerplate – a sentence that’s located at the bottom of a press or news release and includes contact information and where readers can find more information.
  • Internal public – group of people you try to target who have a position or complete work and/or duties for your company or organization, most often employees.
  • External public – a group of people you are trying to target that are outside of your company or organization, includes media, customers/clients, government, etc.
  • Demographics –features, characteristics, and data that point out the similarities in a population or group of people.
  • Stakeholder – an individual, or a group of individuals, who have some type of investment in your company, organization, or brand and are directly affected/can directly affect the success or failure of said business.

These are only a few of the terms that you will want to know when pursuing a public relations career, which is why it is critical to do your research.

Be timely and be a clear communicator

Being able to adapt to change is very important when pursuing a career in public relations. Whether you’re dealing with a change in a campaign, handling a crisis, or needing to adjust your work after feedback, being able to move forward quickly and efficiently requires the ability to clearly communicate. 

Not only are things constantly changing in public relations, but it is also a deadline driven industry. You will have clients with deadlines, bosses, and supervisors with deadlines, and personal and/or team deadlines. Being able to prioritize and have strong time-management skills will help you manage your tasks. 

Know your style and strengths

One of the benefits of having a public relations degree is that there are many different options and/or routes in which you can take your career. You could go into media training, a career based around how you communicate and engage with the media on behalf of a company,

organization, or person. You could pursue crisis communications, which deals with how you strategically communicate with your internal and external publics after your organization, company, or brand experiences a crisis or predicament. More jobs include, but are not limited to, social media work, graphic design, event coordinating, copywriting, and many others.

Because there are diverse career options you could pursue with a public relations degree, knowing your style, strengths, and preferences will help you stand out and excel in your career. The Public Relations and Strategic Communication’s program at the University of Central Missouri often refers to PR as “the voice behind the voice.” In order to understand and enforce your company, brand, or organization’s voice, you must first understand your own. How do you write? How do you design? How do you conceptualize strategy? Answering these types of questions will help you identify your voice.

Healthy competition has the ability to push you outside of your comfort zone and gives you the opportunity to learn. Don’t shy away from it! Networking, understanding the language, becoming a timely communicator, and identifying your strengths may be small steps, but sometimes it’s the little things that make you shine against your competitor.


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