Know your role…

Back when I was a freshman I, like many others, was still undecided on my major. I’m sure we’ve all had different paths that brought us to PR, but I think it would be more important for those thinking about studying the field to fully understand what they’re getting into. In the Valley PR Blog, I came across an interesting post by Barry Kluger that I wish I had read years ago. I know it wouldn’t have changed my desicion to study PR, but it might have cleared up some confusion. 

The post advised those who are interested in the field to dig up the truth of what PR practice demands of its practitioners because the public’s perception of the industry is completely skewed. Kluger wrote that those entering the field usually think it’s a good fit for them because they ‘like working with people’. If that’s your reasoning, you might want to reconsider becoming a PR practitioner because it’s much more than getting media attention for your client, Kruger said. 

Some other advice from Kruger:

  • Focus on crisis avoidance rather than crisis management
  • It’s about positioning, not spin
  • If an opportunity presents itself, don’t pass it up–but use ‘smart, sober thinking and not shoot from hip responses’ 

While reading the comments following up Kluger’s post, some mentioned that fact that those who go into PR without properly educating themselves about the field cause a huge lack or professionalism and credibility in the industry.  

Knowing the aspects of the business is important, but what about those who stumble into a PR job? The fact that they are building on experience and learning as they go along doesn’t make them unprofessional, does it? Or is formal education one of the only ways to become credible in the field? Personally, I think having experience is what creates a professional and credible PR practitioner.

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9 Responses to Know your role…

  1. kbergeron44 says:

    I agree that the public perception of public relations is definitely not accurate. Most people who hear about my major have no clue what PR really is, yet we still have accumulated this negative connotation. I am also guilty as someone who didn’t completely understand what the public relations field entailed, but was pleasantly surprised. What can the public relations field do to make the public better understand what we do?

  2. cconeder says:

    I totally feel the same way about the PR confusion. I for some reason was drawn into it from the beginning, but when asked to describe what I thought it meant or what I wantend to do, I never really could put it into words, and sometimes even had the wrong perception myself. It definitely does have an unfortunate negative connotation, and I think this is mostly due to the media and how “publicity stunts” are portrayed. It’s going to be hard to try and convince the public of anything different, but as long as there are enough people still coming into the profession, I think we will continue to come up with ways to solve the problem.

  3. jejepson says:

    I agree with your post and with Keith’s comments. I do think that there is a misconception as to what PR really is and that over the years it has gained a bad reputation. I think that if people were more aware about what PR really was, that there would be much less of a negative connotation attached to it. I too also wonder what can be done to change the attitude towards PR.

  4. Mickey Siegel says:

    People who enter this field seem to have a misconception a lot that PR is more about “shmoozing” than anything else. While making relations is at the heart of PR, people seem to overlook the obvious ways that these relationships come about. PR involves tons of writing and researching that many who plan on getting a degree in this area seem to not be aware of. The people who have stood out to me as the best PR practitioners in the Cronkite School have all been great at written communication and I think this reflects well on their future success.

  5. lmdavis2 says:

    I enjoyed reading your post, it is important to remember the key basis of our profession and not to stray away from them. Social medias have allowed us to broaden our horizons, but we must still stay true to our founding principles.

  6. lehanson says:

    I enjoyed this post because I was one of those freshmen that went into college without a clue as to what I wanted to do. I started out as a biochemistry major and when I realized that did not want to spend the rest of my life in medical school, PR was the major that came to mind. I hate to admit it but I believe I fell into the “I like working with people” category. Lucky for me I liked where I ended up but the PR world is so broad I think its important for people to have an understanding about what PR really entails before they take the leap.

  7. haleypetersonasu says:

    I completely agree. I too have had a “skewed” viewpoint of what PR actually is for a long time. In fact, up until this year (as a senior) I would say that I am just now learning the bare bones of what public relations really is and how to be successful in this field.

    I believe more detailed and informative programs need to be created with the journalism department at ASU. A larger selection fo PR classes need to be offered and class outlines at the beginning levels surely neeed to be revised.
    Does it all come down to our schooling and when certain classes are implemented?

    Hod do we get passed the average girl’s idea of PR as being “a business where you work with people..people pleasing etc”?

  8. cafuller says:

    I think having formal education in PR will give a person huge advantage in the market. At the same time though, I do think it is something that you learn with experience. So, while someone leaving college with a degree in PR and a lot of classroom project and interning experience might have the upper-hand to begin with, that person could potentially be “passed up” by someone who enters the field late and decides to teach themselves about PR. This goes with any profession though. Someone majoring in Biology as an undergraduate will have the upper hand leaving college and entering medical school compared to someone who has been majoring in history the entire time. That history major, though, could have found his passion later on and become America’s best brain surgeon. So, it really all depends on a persons passion to really learn about the work and the industry.

  9. ledleson says:

    I agree. I also started out in a different major before switching to PR and like you I wasn’t exactly sure what Public Relations actually meant. However, now I do feel formally educated and am satisfied with my choice in majors. One thing is for sure, the Cronkite school needs to enhance their PR program and better relate it to other journalism material.

    Next step for us PR majors is to help educate the public on what public relations really represents.

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