InsightsPOSTED September 3, 2013

5 back-to-school tips for the aspiring public relations professional

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5 back-to-school tips for the aspiring public relations professional

I’m an arts student (with a Communications degree) and proud of it. I didn’t suffer through labs and an unfathomable amount of tutorials. I wrote papers, spent a lot of time in the library, read books and went to lectures. I loved my program; I’m glad I graduated and that I no longer have to go back to school.

However, one thing I wish school taught me (which might seem like a no brainer for many of you), is that working at APEX – and likely all PR agencies – requires me to write more, read more, learn more, work harder than I did while in school… all tasks and skills that have benefited me both personally and professionally.

So in a timely back to school blog post, here is some advice for you aspiring PR pros:

Read as much as you can
Not just anything, but find things you’re interested in. Learn new things in new books, online, on blogs, on social media – read it all. If you don’t have subscriptions or pay wall access, beef up your Twitter and scour the web for articles and links. As a PR pro, it’s an unwritten rule to be a news junkie. Try it out, you’ll be amazed at what you learn.

Never stop writing
After four years of writing 10-15+ papers almost bi-weekly (and more during exams), I couldn’t wait to stop writing and give my brain a rest. However, I actually write more now than ever. Press releases, fact sheets, interview prep sheets, pitches, wrap reports, client emails, Facebook posts, Twitter content calendars – the list goes on. One other thing, take pride in your writing and always strive to make it better.

Late nights and hard work are the norm
I remember pulling all-nighters in the library and thinking “this needs to end.” But newsflash, folks, PR is a client service industry and they pay the bills. Be prepared to work your butt off, say yes, take chances, ask for help and grind when you have to. Every job has a learning curve and so does PR. Like the saying goes, you get what you give – so give it your all.

“All the world is a stage”
Whether it’s a presentation, a new business pitch, a brainstorm or a client status call, PR pros are required to sell, present and believe in their work. So whether you love or hate public speaking or giving presentations, it’s part of the job. Remember: if you can’t convince yourself, you won’t convince other people (i.e. clients or media).

Find your niche
I’ve met lots of students who think PR is just parties and events, but 99% of what we do is prepping for those executions behind the scenes. What I mean is, keep an open mind when given tasks and when attending planning meetings. You may not like writing, but your first press release could get you hooked. Same goes for social; maybe community management is your calling… but you won’t know until you try.

Working at APEX over the last 2.5 has been a blast. I love my job and I hope the above tips help you when you’re kicking doors down looking for an internship.

Alex Thomas is a Digital Consultant at APEX Public Relations. Follow him on Twitter.

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