Bringing PR Education into the 21st Century

26 02 2009

On Sunday night I participated in a conversation that was started and moderated by College Journ, a live-chat that takes place every Sunday evening from 5-8 pm PST. It started on Twitter as #collegejourn, but moved to collegejourn.com because of the extremely high traffic flow. The moderating helps to make the conversation more enjoyable (#journchat should consider switching over because it is experiencing that same problem) In the conversation this past Sunday, the moderators encouraged students, educators, and professionals to join together to discuss the changing Journalism industry and how universities can catch up with the rapidly changing technologies. You can view a wrap-up of the conversation on their website

A few people (mostly educators) suggested that social media tools should be self-taught and the classroom should be saved for theory and “traditional media” skills that will always be needed. While I do agree that learning skills such as reporting, editing, writing, etc are essential to a journalism student’s education, I also think that it is important for students to know how to use the tools in which their stories (campaigns for us PR folks) will be placed. My favorite suggestion to solve this issue was:

  • Teach all of those essential journalistic skills while learning for example what tags would be most appropriate or what multimedia elements would work well.  

I am pretty sure that I was one of the few (if not only) public relations student who participated in the chat, but I think that the conversation was completely relevant for a public relations student. Understanding the evolving “news room” (which in many cases today look completely different than that of Clark Kent’s newspaper, The Daily Planet) is extremely important for journalist and Public Relations students and professionals. PR students/professionals cannot use dated techniques because they do not work for the 21st Century journalist, blogger, or whoever you are attempting to communicate with.

 A recurring topic during the conversation was the need to incorporate the use of multimedia and social media into the journalism curriculum; I cannot agree more. 

There are a few very important elements that my university’s PR curriculum are lacking. A few of the points were discussed in the Journchat conversation, and a few of the points are ones that I have been thinking of for a while now. Here are 6 elements that I think would improve our PR curriculum to bring it into the 21st Century:

  1. Online PR Campaigns/Current use of PR tools (check out The Digital Bus, it is a class that is doing all the right things for PR students)
  2. Closer connection with Broadcast/Print concentrations
  3. Better screening of clients for our firm so that we get REAL PR experience
  4. More structured PR firm
  5. A PR current events class if not just the incorporation of discussing PR current events (in turn, it will keep us up-to-date with the tools that PR campaigns are using)
  6. Pitching — who? what? where? when? why? how? (It amazes me that this is only briefly, and I mean briefly, discussed in PR classes at my university. Unless you have an internship before you get into the campaigns class, you are going to be very confused and have NO idea what to do. This takes our university motto “learn by doing” to an inappropriate extreme. But I’ll save that for another post)

What would you do to improve your PR education?

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I want to do PR because I’m a “people person”

10 02 2009

In my experience, the number one answer that all pr professionals, HR managers, and recruiters hate to hear when they ask why you want to do PR is “I’m a people person”. After three years of being aware of this hated answer, I have to say that I agree. A past colleague of mine had a funny response to that answer, “You’ll find that you won’t like people as much as you thought when you have been doing PR for a while.” 

First of all, what do you mean when you say that you are a “people person”? Think about it before you say it. I Googled “people person” and the first website on the list is a website that says that a people person is “… a person that other people like, and want to be around.” – Eruptingmind.com. No offense to the website, but if that is what makes a people person, then I hope that everyone strives to be one and not just Public Relations professionals. But no definition is better in my opinion than famed Urban Dictionary: 

People Person: A term used to describe someone who has no discernible skills. Often used by the person in situations such as a job interview.

Example: I am a people person, and would make a good team leader. 
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Second, why do you think being a people person qualifies you to be a Public Relations professional? If you mean to say that you are a good communicator or that you are intuitive, then just say that. Public Relations requires many skill sets that, yes, includes excellent written and verbal communication skills. But have you ever seen a job posting for PR that requires a “people person”? You may be very personable, but are you hard-working? determined? a team player? motivated? I do not want to discredit the importance of building relationships however. But if you do really think you are a people person, then you do not need to say it. Whoever you are talking with will either determine that you are a people person or that you are not a people person. Saying that you are one will only cause that person to scrutinize whether or not your answer is true; it may even turn some people off from you.
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Here are some funny blog post on a “people person”:

 

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