College public relations courses provide an excellent foundation for aspiring PR professionals. From writing and editing to developing an understanding of the general concept of creating and running a campaign, these courses are a great starting point for students looking to land a job post-graduation. However, in an ever-changing industry like PR what we learn in the classroom doesn’t always prepare us for what the job will actually entail.
After taking a general consensus from the eleven Friends who make up GS&F’s PR and Social Media team, we put together a list of what college students should anticipate quickly learning after jumping into an internship or entry-level career.
1. Media List Literacy
Pitching is a craft, yet many colleges don’t emphasize pitching in their curriculum. One particular tool to familiarize yourself with is Cision (or another PR software platform). Finding the right reporter to pitch is critical to the success of your outreach. Although these tools aren’t always perfect, they offer a solid starting place to find the right person to reach out to. Building media lists within these tools is one of the first things you’ll learn to do in an agency internship, and candidates who have an understanding of basic pitching skills stand out.
2. Your B’s & C’s
B’s and C’s in school mean something much different than B2B and B2C. Business-to-business and business-to-consumer are two entirely different animals. Understanding the difference is important, as one major part of agency PR is the skill of monitoring multiple industries at once.
3. The Role of Social Media
Social media is a major opportunity for brands to connect with a targeted audience. When a crisis occurs, many consumers turn to a brand’s social media channels to see their response. Some colleges bring in experts to keep up with this area of public relations, but others are falling behind.
Organic and paid social media opportunities for brands have changed rapidly over the past few years. Organic reach for brands has been greatly reduced on social media due to changing algorithms set by each channel. The current landscape demands knowledge of paid social media capabilities and influencer partnerships.
4. Metrics & Reporting: Showing the Value of PR
Whether it’s for social media or traditional earned media, reporting shows the value of a PR professional’s work to a client’s business objectives. How do you measure success? The metrics UVPM, impressions, reach, engagements and interactions are typically used to measure and report the success of a campaign. Learning how to monetize services and understanding how your work fits into larger business goals is key.
Our advice to college students interested in public relations? Complete as many internships as possible to learn these skills and explore the areas of PR that you’re most interested in! The value of internships and real public relations experience cannot be understated.
If you’re interested in our fall PR internship program, email your resume and writing samples to email@example.com.