This fall my strategic public relations course offered a wide variety of lessons in the do’s and don’ts of public relations. Coming from a career in the journalism field I thought I knew everything I needed for public relations. I quickly learned I was not as insightful as I thought.
The overall techniques of public relations are the same whether you are handling corporate communications, working at an agency where you handle a variety of clients or working in a government role. Before this course, I did not realize how important research or evaluation was to an effective communications campaign.
R – Research
A – Analyze
C – Communicate
E – Evaluate
Some lessons I learned in class directly from my professor. She always impressed on us to never stop writing. The more you write the better you hone your craft to carefully reach your audience. She also pointed how we can continue to learn how to best handle issues through analyzing public relations situations.
Some lessons were gleaned through interviews with industry professionals, such as Jamaison Schuler, APR and senior director of corporate communications for Dean Foods, and guest classroom speaker Morgan Lyons, who is the assistant vice-president of communications and community engagement for the Dallas Area Rapid Transit Authority (DART).
Schuler, a devoted Public Relations Society of America former officer, advised me that working in a public relations agency setting is a great way for someone new to the industry to experience a broad range of industry genres.
It is important to discover – do you prefer to be the strategic mind behind the a new product launch or do you prefer the hands-on work of the nuts and bolts of public relations where you write and interact with various segments of your targeted audience.
Lyons reinforced the notion it’s better for an organization to be great in a limited number of social outreach avenues than try to tackle the ever-growing number of social media avenues.
Sometimes people can learn a great deal about public relations through analyzing how officials handle breaking news coverage throughout the nation.
Earlier this week it was readily apparent that during a press conference it is important to not only remain calm and in charge of the situation, but to remember to rephrase each question from reporters during your answers. Remember as a spokesperson you can hear the reporter’s questions. The viewing audience in cyberspace or at home does not have that luxury.
I’ve also learned even once I complete my degree in the spring as a public relations professional I can never just sit back and stop learning. As long as I desire (or anyone else who desires) to be in this industry, must be open to continuing to learn new ways to communicate and ultimately evaluate how we interact with our intended audiences.
When you stop learning you start deteriorating. Stay strong. Soak up as much knowledge as you can.