PR classes are incredibly popular among many college-age students seeking to learn the fundamentals of both business and communication skills. While being taught how to write a good press release or create a good pitch are all skills that can be learned and enhanced by lecture, much of what one needs to succeed in the PR world you can’t get from a classroom.
At my university there was actually only one PR class available under the Communication Department, and it was very hard to get into as it almost always filled up on the first day of registration. Once I finally got into the class I could see why. The environment was very relaxed, the teacher was funny and charming, and everyone seemed to get this sense of empowerment about their PR skills, often leaving the classroom thinking, “well I can do that.” I learned how to write concisely and accurately for releases- much different from all my journalism classes. I learned about Web 2.0, and all about business ethics.
While this was all great and merry, once I got out of the classroom and into the world of PR, it was a rude awakening. My first PR job at a small consumer PR agency in San Jose was one of complete and total chaos. A mixture of miscommunication, bad writing and angry clients; I was thrown into a world that was nothing like what my college professor had promised. No one was holding my hand, no one was letting me write, and no amount of lectures could prepare me for cold calls to reporters who were trying to make deadline, had no idea who I was, and hated me from the second they answered their phones.
After a few months of this heart-breaking reality, I began to realize that not all PR companies are like this. Upon leaving the position, I learned some valuable lessons about what makes for a good PR agency, while working at the Loughlin/Michaels Group, and perhaps most importantly, what makes for a bad one.
For one thing- you can’t possibly learn the value of having a good experienced team behind you in a classroom. Making sure each individual is working towards a common goal, and creating trusting and honest relationships with clients are all skills that only true field experience can teach. Another thing you cannot learn in a classroom is confidence- confidence in yourself and in your team. Learning to share responsibilities, media relations and who’s who of the industry are also things that only experience can teach.
While some things like AP style and correct formatting for press releases can be learned in a classroom, sometimes it is the most important skills that you must learn from experience alone. In the world of PR, nothing is more valuable than experience and hard work, two things that no amount of lecturing can truly teach you.
To learn more about a PR company who has the experience as well as both the school and the street smarts to bring your business to a whole new level, check out Loughlin/Michaels Group’s website and see for yourself.