Beginner's Guide to Navigating Public Relations
Graduating from college with a four year degree can often inflate the ego to a massive size. It is surely a big accomplishment for anyone, no matter your background. It can fill you with a sense of pride and make you feel like you are on top of the world. I myself, felt that I knew what to expect after I graduated, that I knew what the world of public relations was. I had taken an informative media relations class my final semester at NC State University, and felt that I could be a great PR professional right out of the gate. Little did I realize just how big the PR world is, and how small I am in comparison.
Of course, that doesn’t diminish the job I do, rather it puts things into perspective. PR is much more than getting up in front of a bunch of reporters and saying things that you won’t have to recant or regret later that day as popularized by Hollywood and the 24 hour news organizations. I have learned in the two and a half months of my being in the PR field that it takes a proverbial village to create content and a coherent message for a client. Press lists and media relations don’t just fall from the sky like rain. It takes time, patience and knowledge about your client’s industry to get things done. I’ve also learned that the PR world rarely sleeps, requiring you to always be ready for whatever comes your way, whenever that might be.
This by no means defines PR as a boring or dreadful industry. While it may be daunting at first to understand how to maintain press lists, draft case studies, press releases, etc., you will begin to feel a certain type of pride in your work. You will begin to realize that you aren’t such a small piece of the puzzle after all. I know I have. Everyone plays a role in how good PR is generated for any company, no matter what your title or position is. If I don’t get a briefing book done and it doesn’t get sent out, then one of our clients will be unprepared for a briefing or meeting with an analyst or member of the press. That can lead to a bad quote, a misunderstanding of what the meeting is about, or anything else that can damage one of our client’s relationships with the press or analyst groups. Being on the “bottom rung” doesn’t make you any less important when it comes to PR.
Getting into PR right out of school is challenging. It will be far different from anything you are used to and you might feel as though what you are doing is mundane and pointless. Trust me, it isn’t. Everything you do has a purpose, because PR is a total team effort, despite what those in the general public believe. Just like you can’t give all the credit for a winning touchdown pass in a football game to a quarterback, no one person is responsible for amazing PR in a company.