Throughout my time throughout college, I have taken many classes involving public relations and social media use in business. Next semester I will complete my last class in this subject field to complete my minor in applied communications. There have been many lessons I will use in my future career, but these 10 lessons have been reinforced over and over again.
- Ethics matter- Whether or not we want it to happen, most likely at some point you’ll be representing a client who will ask you to do something that you may feel uncomfortable doing. Maybe it’s stretching the truth, maybe it’s to flat out lie. Either way, always ask yourself, is this ethical? Am I not only representing my client in a positive way, but also serving the interest of the public? If something doesn’t feel right to you, then it probably isn’t the right thing to do.
- Manage your time wisely- I have done quite a few assignments where I have had to speak to PR professionals. One thing is always stated, and that is there is never enough hours in a day to get everything you will need to do done. Prioritize what needs to be done that day and understand you’ll probably be doing a lot of work even when you’re not in the office.
- Social media never sleeps- Just like in managing your time, understand that social media never sleeps. If your client has several social media sites, you will have to keep an eye on them all the time. If your business is managing a crisis, replying to your followers and those expressing concerns immediately is key.
- Identify problems before they become crisis’s- With social media, we have the ability to interact with our audience and customers. If you monitor the sites correctly, you can be way ahead of problems before they come a much bigger issue. Being able to spot concerns early on can be a valuable tool and save your client a lot of time and money later on.
- Your college degree is only the beginning- Public Relations is one field where when you receive that college diploma, your learning is really just starting. Internships, time in the field, and actual hands on experience will be where you learn the most. Things are always changing in terms of social media and there will always be new things to learn, even when you’ve been practicing PR for decades.
- Write, write, and then write some more- Whether it is creating news releases, media advisories, e-mails, or pitches, knowing how to write effectively is essential to success. Write for your audience, put the most important things in the first paragraph, and don’t waste your reader’s time. There is no need to write using the biggest and most complicated words and make things easy and simple to understand.
- Keep your private social media use professional- We all know that these days’ employers usually look at our private social media use before hiring us. This is especially true in PR. When speaking to PR pros, I have heard that many times they avoid expressing their personal opinions on controversial topics. Even if your account is set to private, you never know which one of your friends online knows one of your clients in real life. If you’re questioning whether or not you should post something, when in doubt- don’t.
- Find a mentor- Whether it is your first year in college or 10 years into your PR career, finding a mentor will be invaluable. Not only can they share their intellectual knowledge with you, they can also be someone to go to when hard decisions arise. It may be an ethical situation or how to handle a particular crisis, but having someone to discuss your concerns, ideas, or game plan with can be a valuable tool.
These are my personal greatest take aways from my classes in public relations. What would you add to the list?