Feeling repetitive in the work you produce, the strategies you use, or the way you approach campaigns? Then quit doing everything the way you always do things, or at least adjust it. Think outside the box, and do something different, maybe even risky. There are multiple ways to accomplish our goals and it wasn’t until my sophomore year of college that I realized this.
To set the stage, I was taking the course Strategic Communications during the fall of 2021 and found myself struggling to understand what my professor wanted and how to produce work that met his standards. I quickly learned I was not alone in the class. Our biggest assignment that semester was holding a mock press conference for a company. In a class full of sophomores, we had no idea how to successfully do this. We were focused on getting a good grade, not producing good results; not to mention, we had no previous experience with this.
The instructions we received for the press conference were vague. We were given a list of crises to choose from, a time frame for our press conferences, and told to prepare questions to ask everyone else presenting. Given the lack of further direction, my classmates and I were lost.
To help us prepare, we put in long hours of research to try and learn everything we possibly could about our assigned crises. One big key to doing so was familiarizing ourselves with as many articles written within 24 hours of these incidents as possible. We asked each other questions that might come up and did anything else we could think of to help one another become experts on our individual cases.
As public relations specialists, we’ve been taught that the ‘little’ details can hold a world of power and influence on how organizations are perceived—especially in the wake of a crisis. So, despite our continued confusion, we knew that our best chances of acing this assignment would be to familiarize ourselves with as many facts about each case as possible.
Once we’d completed all of the press conferences and rewatched them—they were video recorded by the way—our professor provided us with constructive feedback on ways we could improve our performances in the future. However, it was the conversation that followed that forever changed my perception of finding solutions.
We explained to our professor how we were initially not sure what he was looking for in our coursework, what it took to get a good grade, or how much work was required to get an A. Our entire view as a class revolved around getting a good grade, not learning new skills. He explained how it was up to us to submit and complete quality work. To him, quality work did not have a formula; instead, it was something that should be backed up and supported. Up until this time, we had been told what to write about, how much to write, and how many sources to use. For about 15 years, we had been doing exactly what we were told. Work that received A’s looked similar to our classmates’ and met set rubric requirements. You mean to tell me that now, we were allowed to create different solutions to solve problems? That’s crazy!
Thanks to this conversation and my time in the UCM PRSC program, I now recognize as a soon-to-be senior that there’s no one right way to meet goals, especially in the PR industry. Whether you’re launching a campaign, writing an email, or creating content, remember that there might just be multiple solutions to accomplishing the task at hand.
Oh, and if you’re stuck? Have someone review your work and provide feedback on what you could be doing differently. Ask a friend or colleague their thoughts, for a new set of eyes, and a different perspective on your work. Be inquisitive, teachable, eager to identify new solutions, and willing to take some risks.
Innovative Public Relations is a student-led firm that is part of the award-winning and nationally certified UCM Public Relations and Strategic Communication program. Students interested in a PRSC hands-on university major and exciting career can join the program in one of two ways: (1) traditional on-campus or (2) online.
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