by Maria Schomer
“What do you do?” It’s usually the first question I get asked when I tell people I am a public relations major. My friends, who know little about PR, assume that I take the easiest classes and all I learn is the structure of a press release and how to manipulate the public. My family, however, believes public relations takes a lot of skill and that I know how to speak in front of a large crowd without getting nervous.
So what do public relations majors actually learn? Social media? Event planning? Sure, we cover that (among other things). But what people and other students don’t realize is the amount of time and hard work we dedicate to being a public relations major.
Thinking back to the simpler, less stressful days of my freshman year I realized how my understanding of different aspects of public relations has changed.
AP writing can consume you
When you think about public relations, do you think about writing? I didn’t. What about writing in a different way than standard English composition? I really didn’t consider that either. The Associated Press (AP) is a style of writing that is used by all public relations professionals. It’s not quite like learning another language but you do have to learn different ways to punctuate sentences, whether or not a word needs to be capitalized, correct use of titles and a whole lot more. Fortunately, we do have a reference book, or survival guide of sorts that we can use to help: the AP Style Guide.
How hard can social media be?
You use it everyday, sometimes multiple times. Social media is easy to understand, right? Take Facebook: you just log in and update people about what is happening in your life. How hard is that?
In reality, as public relations majors, it’s much more complex. You have to grasp the latest social media platforms and trends. You must have an understanding of where different publics generally traffic social media platforms and why. You may think that Instagram, Facebook and Twitter are what companies mostly use to share news with followers, and you’re not wrong. However, social media is much more than a weekly status update, it can help build relationships between a company and its publics. Creating a dialogue like this helps build costumer loyalty and provides valuable feedback.
To put the importance of social media into perceptive, Lucas Miller, a PR specialist at Fusion 360, believes you have to show the return-on-investment while working with social media for an industry. This is because, although social media continues to grow every day, companies are still skeptical about the effects social media can have on their publics.
It’s a networking world
Getting to know others in the public relations field can be a valuable learning experience. There is no better time to network with a professional than when you are in college. Professionals are often willing to help a college student out because they know what it’s like being a student with little to no experience. Additionally, most professionals are willing to be a contact if you ever have any questions or want them to look over your résumé.
But how do you network when you’re still in college? There are several options that a college student can use to network. They can join their campus chapter of Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA). Also, Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) is a national organization that hosts networking and workshop events for professionals and students alike. Students often don’t realize that networking can help further their career and the more they attend networking events the better their connections will be.
Is Public Relations the easiest major out there? No. But can it be the most rewarding? Absolutely.
By Jeremy Noble
Internships can give PR students more than just an opportunity to gain real world experience. They provide students with a chance to network with professionals. My personal experience with the Mid-Missouri Outlaws was valuable. The Mid-Missouri Outlaws are a Professional Indoor Football Organization that is committed to providing central Missouri with an outstanding venue for sports entertainment and an economic boost to the area. I managed all of the team’s social media, planned the Champions Professional Indoor Football League Kickoff, and generated sponsorships.
Mid-Missouri Outlaws helped me prepare for the real world. Working with the professional team is a really good learning experience for a college student who isn’t sure what area of the industry they’re best suited for. The Outlaws helped me realize what it is like to network with professional broadcasters. The broadcasters taught me how to communicate to sport broadcasters. I learned a lot about the marketing and business side of a sports organization. I was taught how to gain team sponsorships through different businesses and how to market a team’s brand to the community. This has made me more marketable to employers. Attending the national conferences and professional meetings helped me understand the power behind an organization.
Learning to Network
I feel more comfortable going up to professionals and trying to communicate with them at an event that is taking place. I learned to be the first person who makes that initial contact. It’s helped me become more professional because it did feel like a job, not like a standard class. You are able to learn a lot from the professionals with in a sports team. I was able to network and gain contacts in the process.
I would recommend an internship with a professional sports team to anyone, especially for anyone interested in the sports area of the public relations field. I have learned so much from this internship and it has provided me with a part time social media job with United States Football Network.
Through my internship with the Outlaws I was able to network with different team owners and I was able to get a job with USFBN updating social media and managing client accounts. Learning about sports marketing and social media in my internship is something that prepared me for my job with USFBN.
By Breann Roettering
Resources surround public relations students at the University of Central Missouri (UCM) everyday. I encourage the students to open their eyes and take advantage of these resources to help prepare them for their career in the future.
The PR Department has wonderful faculty who share their knowledge with the students every day inside and outside of the classroom. Get to know your professors here at UCM. Our faculty members are experienced in a wide range of Public Relations, ranging from nonprofit organizations to agency work and design.
Public Relations students have the opportunity to be involved in UCM’s Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America. PRSSA conducts a number of events annually to benefit students, and to help them start making professional connections. If you haven’t checked out UCM PRSSA, I encourage you to do so. Each year the organization hosts PR Pro Day, an AP Style Workshop and a personal branding workshop that covers social media. PRSSA also gives you an opportunity to meet your peers and network at events in Kansas City such as The KC PR Summit, as well as social event in Warrensburg.
Get to know your classmates
I have already mentioned it briefly, but it is very important to get to know other students in the program. A great place to start making those connections is in the classroom. Your fellow classmates are also going to graduate and become professionals someday. Get to know them and build those connections now. They may become a great source for you in the future and will be people to collaborate with and get advice from when you start your career.
The final networking tool students have at UCM is Innovative Public Relations (IPR.) IPR is a student PR firm housed in University Relations. Every PR student is encouraged to apply for IPR. There is an application and interview process, but do not let that scare you away. Working for IPR will help you gain experience in an agency setting and also is a great place to start networking. You will get the opportunity to work alongside the University Relations staff and gain experience working for real-life clients.
At UCM, students can begin networking right away. It will benefit you to get to know your professors, fellow students and administrators. After you graduate you will already have experience working in a professional environment. Start networking on campus and build a name for yourself now. Those connections may open a door for you to that dream job you are seeking. It will also help you build your confidence as you enter the job market because you will already have experience in networking yourself.