Students Exploring PR

Students Exploring PR

This afternoon, I had the opportunity speak with students from the Florida PR Association (FPRA) Tallahassee Chapter as they visited Boston on a tour of various agencies, learning about the industry and what it’s like to work day-to-day as a PR exec. Similar to the tech PR panel I presented on for the BU PRSSA members, the undergraduates from Tallahassee had some great questions and seemed eager to learn about the wonderful world of public relations!

We covered everything from the differences between working for a large firm versus a boutique agency to the challenges of working with international corporations that span a variety of geographies, time zones and languages. A few insightful questions caught my attention though, which I thought I’d share and elaborate on a bit:

  • What other courses or disciplines would you recommend to study? – If you know you want to go into tech PR, it’s great to look into some computer science classes or something of that nature. However, most students I talked with were still uncertain of a specific area, so, more generally speaking, psychology courses are great as they help you understand and respond to different personalities and demeanors, which can prove invaluable when working with clients from around the world. Writing classes, Web design, graphic design and public speaking are also great areas to look into as these can also enhance any PR career – tech or otherwise.
  • How do you bring in new clients? – A running joke is that PR firms are the worst at doing PR for their own agencies, but part of that is reaching out for new business and promoting our own successes. Three main tactics were discussed – firstly, social media has helped immensely as it allows agencies to more quickly disseminate information to a wider audience, or contact prospects in a more informal setting. Secondly, events are a great way to scout out companies that are in a space you already have experience in. And, thirdly, network, network, network! Getting out and meeting people at networking events, trade shows or other industry happenings is one of the best ways to grow your agency and bring in new clients.
  • What’s the different between working in-house versus at an agency? – The main difference is that when you work for an agency, you are doing PR for a variety of clients all at once whereas working in house means you are working directly for a single company. Working for a PR agency presents many benefits and challenges – for instance, multitasking can be tricky, but there’s always something new happening, so you never get bored. It’s generally agreed upon that it’s easier to move from an agency to in-house PR work rather than the other way around as an agency helps equip you for a variety of scenarios and campaigns – knowledge that you can bring with you to a company.

These students no doubt had a great chance to find out more about their potential career field (be sure to check out some of the pictures on Facebook from the event). If I were a student again, exploring a career in PR, and had the chance to visit an agency and talk with people who are already out there doing it, I would ask everything possible. Other questions like, “What’s a typical day like in the office?” or “What’s a typical career path like in this field?” or “What do you find most challenging about your job?” or “What do you enjoy most about your job?” are great questions to ask – not just for PR, but any potential career. If you had the chance, what would you ask?

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