In a perfect world, the skills and lessons learned in the offices of some of the best PR agencies would be taught in a classroom. As we start to schedule interviews with potential interns for the summer, we’ve turned to our all-star team of spring interns for their take on Boston Public Relations. Julie and Casey gave us the scoop on what college students are really looking for when it comes to the PR world.
There is nothing more gratifying than leaving a test or even a class knowing that those hours of studying was put towards a subject or skill needed for the professional public relations world. However, after a couple years in college and with a couple public relations internships under our belts, there are still some classes and skills we wish were taught in college…
Social Media 101
Social media has not only become an important part of every college student’s life but it is also a dominant skill in public relations. Students should have an idea on how to create a Facebook post or draft a tweet but I’ll be the first to say our generation’s content tends to lack strategy or better yet a point at all. Fortunately, I have gained immense amounts of knowledge on how to create an engaging, informative tweet that will reach the maximum potential audience. From the best times to post, to the types of content people want to see, to how to include trending or relative topics I have learned how to take a simple 140 character or less post to the next level. A course on social media or inbound marketing would help college students prepare for the professional world, and it could even teach them a lesson or two about how use their personal Twitter accounts.
Professional Interactions for Young Professionals
For a generation that spends the majority of our time on our cell phones I think it’s safe to say many of us are not the smoothest talkers on the phone. We are used to being able to draft and edit a text, tweet, or Facebook post and decide when we say it for most of our lives. In comparison, when talking to a business professional or reporter there is little time to prepare your next sentence and it can be pretty scary. I still get nervous when I have to make follow up calls but my skills have only grown from real world experience. It might be a tricky skill to teach in a class, but a lesson in how to present yourself in an interview, at meetings and how to master the art of phone calls could make a world of difference.
Okay, so most college students, not just public relations majors could benefit from a time management class, but public relations is an occupation filled with a variety of tasks that can overlap daily. One of the best parts of the PR industry that no two days in the office are exactly the same. This can also be a challenge though if you were one of those students in college who would wait to study for an exam until the night before. The juggling act we call PR involves logic and time management to ensure that there is enough time to accomplish each task efficiently. No matter how organized you are though there is always room for improvement and this skill can be difficult to adapt immediately when you are thrown into an internship or job.
As Public Relations professionals, we know the key part of our success depends on the relationship between our client and the public. However, maintaining a friendly relationship with clients develops trust and long-term partnerships. Being connected on a personal level with the people you do business with can lead to other business opportunities and just an overall better experience. Just last week I joined Brittney in visiting clients and we brought them something sweet, just to say hi and let them know we appreciate them. A little effort goes a long way.
The Importance of Responding to Bad Press
Many people in my generation are quick to take to Twitter or Facebook to complain about their problems. What’s the biggest mistake you can make? Not responding to your negative feedback. Learning to use social media sites as a customer service tool is crucial, but not necessarily something professors emphasize.
For those who tweet – I’m willing to bet they’re rarely expecting a response, and definitely not a positive one. So give them just that. It’s important to respond to these complaints. By apologizing to those who may have had a bad you can improve the situation significantly. With a polite and prompt response, the complainant and also other people will see how much your company cares about their consumer’s experiences.
Internships can make or break the way you feel about your major. Most of what we know from public relations, we’ve learned through our internships. The best knowledge comes from experiences, and while taking classes in your major is important, working in your field before you graduate is imperative. Future employers know this, and will be way more likely to hire someone who knows what they are doing compared to someone who has only read about it. Internships are a key step on the pathway to success.