This time last year I was close to starting my PR & Comms course at university and when I tried to find tips and advice for PR newbies online I couldn’t find many, so, I decided I’d come up with a few of my own…
1 | Do work experience or, at least, chat to someone involved in PR I had a gap year before I started uni, on which I was a PR intern at a children’s hospice so I had a pretty good idea of what public relations and communications was before I started my course. The ladies I interned for gave me such a big kickstart into the PR world such as learning about media relations, letting me do my own interviews with staff, organising in-house events (a bake off!) and attending events (did I mention I met Simon Cowell..? 😉 ) This really helped me feel confident before I got chucked in at the deep end and I reckon it’s so worthwhile to know the practicalities of working in PR before you start studying it, and not just know a general job overview.
2 | Get involved and network! At uni there will be so much going on and may even be a PR society, or something similar. Get involved! Attend all the talks with PR professionals; they have so much practical knowledge and experience in the PR world and, if you can, have a chat with them at the end – they may be a vital contact in securing a job or work placement in the future! If your lecturers know you’re interested in these events, they’ll be more likely to organise more which will benefit you so much. In first year there’s a real tendency to be more interested in drinking, socialising and watching Netflix than there is attending events in your free time and, don’t get me wrong, I was guilty of this a fair few times but I don’t regret dragging myself out of bed to go to talks and events at all.
3 | Read the news If you’re interested in PR, it’s more than likely that you enjoy reading the news anyway but being aware of what’s going on in the world is so, so key. I’m not saying you need to know everything about the Scottish referendum whatsit, I certainly don’t, but knowing about viral social media trends, like the ice-bucket challenge, which is allll about PR is important – especially because you could be planning something similar to it in the future. I don’t buy 10 newspapers a day, but I do check the Mail Online (soz!) and my local newspaper most days just so I can keep up with everything. I also follow a few radio stations on Twitter, too, just so I can get snippets here and there.
4 | Brand yourself Twitter, Linkedin, Blogging, YouTube – make sure all your social media sites (bar Facebook if its more full of drunken photos in club toilets – not unusual for uni students, but not what professionals want to see!) all link back to you and all show you to be the best PR student possible. My brand, if you will, is Live, Love, Laugh PR, my blog name, and it’s clear from my Twitter (LiviWilkesPR) and Linkedin that that is my brand. Another tip I got from a first year talk was to have the same profile picture on all of your social media sites so you’re easily recognisable.
5 | Enjoy it! My final tip isn’t directly about PR but it can be applied to all students about to start studying a new course at university or college. Have fun, work hard and enjoy it. Living under stress 24/7 is no way to live, especially through your uni years. Of course you want to do your best, but you also want to look back and be able to say; ‘You know, I got what I wanted out of that; I’ve got a great career but my oh my, wasn’t that fun?!’, and not ‘Yeah, my careers great, but my oh my, why did I stress so much over that Corporate Communications class?!’ Don’t overdo it, make sure you have time to chill and look forward to what the next few years will bring 🙂 Good luck to all you PR students either starting fresh or going into 2nd or 3rd year! I’d love to hear if you have any tips you’d share with PR newbies?!