I went into college undecided, but through college activities and greek life I have found that PR is my passion. However, my college doesn’t offer any PR courses or a PR program. I think it is too late in the game to transfer schools. How would you recommend getting prepared for a public relations career in a school that doesn’t support my goals?
Good news!! Having a PR program or even a media degree is not a must-have by any means to get your foot in the door of PR. As a matter of fact, I did not take any PR classes in college. I did take an advertising class and a marketing class to expand my thinking and help my campaign writing, but they didn’t even make enough of a difference in my course load to constitute a minor in media.
What I always tell college students is to major in a subject that appeals to you, whatever that might be. And if you are looking to get into public relations, the more writing in the course, the better. I was an American Studies major, which was an honors major at my college but basically the most liberal arts major you could take. My senior year I took a class called “New York City in Film.” We watched Rosemary’s Baby and The Godfather. Enough said. The positive was that every course required a TON of writing, so I got to practice my writing skills and voice. I even presented my thesis paper on Extreme Mormons in the United States to my first few job interviews.
The biggest item is to get real world experience. Continue working on your campus and gaining as much experience as you can that will help land you an internship. Even if you were in a PR program at your school, you can’t graduate without at least 2 internships under your belt. Experience is the most useful tool at your disposal.
All is not lost! Enjoy your time at college and do what you love. Work for your dreams YOUR way. Good luck Xo.
Social media – friend or foe? I often ask myself this question when I see couples on dates who are on their phones and not talking, or people who constantly upload their food pics to Facebook. However, I have to say I can fall victim to it too. Now that you can shop directly from Instagram, I constantly am flipping through photos and ordering random articles of clothing and jewelry that I find online. Now social media is right in my wallet – it’s getting personal!
I definitely do think there are positive elements to social media – it can become a community of positivity and a place to express yourself. But there are certainly some things to be weary of. Here is how you can be sure you’re staying in check:
Have one “personal” forum for all your check ins and pictures, keep the rest professional – I would recommend keeping Instagram as your personal social media page to keep up with friends, like photos and post pics. Strangers, employers, even your new boyfriend’s mom can you look you up on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Keep it clean, professional and courteous.
If you see a fight brewing, stay away - I honestly think internet trolls are just sad, but comments and Facebook status updates that are offensive or political are just asking for the trouble. Even if you feel like you want to “defend” someone or something, stay out of it. If its a friend of yours who you want to defend, send a text instead to let them know you have their back and not to listen to the haters. If it’s a random argument or you want to stand up for your beliefs, ignore. Join a group online and voice your opinions with like minded people instead.
Stay in the moment - Social media is great for staying connected, but ironically it can prohibit us from being social. Make sure your phone is put away while dining, driving and catching up with friends. Take photos of events once they start, then put the phone away so you can enjoy it with your own eyes, and not from behind your iPhone.
Meet Teddie of COLLECTIVE. She grew up in a foreign service family, moving around every 3-4 years always adapting to meet new people, explore new places. Teddie moved to NYC to study communications at NYU and has been in the city ever since. Having worked at many of the top agencies in the city, she started her own agency COLLECTIVE in 2012. She loved the nature of the work but not always the part about having a boss! Her and her partner, Nicole, worked together for a couple of years and decided to make the leap to start to get their own clients.. working on projects that they had a vested interest in and an ability to help friends on their new ventures…then COLLECTIVE was born!
How did you get started in public relations?
I started in fashion PR at Diesel right out of NYU…running the sample room and learning the ropes. I always knew I wanted to be involved in shaping brand messaging, in helping brands with their public profiles to project the right image and gain the appropriate following to reach their goals. Working in house is a great way to learn but I love to work on many things at once so having clients with different goals and in different markets makes the job more dynamic, challenging and ultimately fun and rewarding.
When and how did you decide to start your own firm?
I think I always knew I wanted to work for myself… my childhood of moving around sometimes made it difficult for me to stay in one place for too long — I tended to get antsy working for other people, not really controlling my schedule or choosing my clients. Having Collective allows me to travel more and work at my own pace. My business partner and I were in a place where we both were ready to leave our jobs and we thought, why not go out on our own? We knew we worked well together and it just made sense. We had one meeting while we were still working in different places where we told a potential client about our plans- they said- we will hire you today if you resign and voila, we had our first client and we gave our 2 weeks notice.
What is your average day like?
This is a hard one because I think there really is no average day in this business! Usually starts with a lot of coffee and good music in the office. We work a lot with hospitality clients so we are always visiting our clients hotels, restaurants and bars to see what’s new and to stay as involved with each as possible. There’s always some pitching involved, some days more than others depending on what we are working on. Lots of phone calls- often (trying) to be the voice of reason when emotions are running high and always reminding people to look at the full picture. Usually ends with a dinner/ drinks date to entertain media, show off one of our clients or just to catch up with colleagues and friends.
What’s the best part of working in public relations?
PR is really about working with people- knowing who your audience is and being able to adapt whether speaking to the media or to a client – I love the exploration- getting to know a client and their goals and figuring out how to get them there. It is also really satisfying to be able to help friends and colleagues with their ventures… I’m lucky to have some really creative and talented friends and I like to think of myself as the business voice in their head. I love being involved in so many different industries and never having a dull moment.
What’s the best PR advice you ever received?
Work smarter not harder. I actually think that was advice that an 8th grade teacher gave me and it really applies to everything! I hated the days when it felt like it was a competition as to who could stay at the office later and be the martyr. No thanks. I would rather be efficient and have a life too!
Any advice for those looking to get into PR?
Being a media/culture consumer is a good start- you really have to enjoy reading/ watching/ googling and generally being curious. Also, be nice to people! I think people forget this one. Some common sense and being a considerate, nice person gets you a lot further then people think. I always say.. kill ‘em with kindness.
I’ve always thought that public relations was a career with opportunity. You are given so many choices in a day, with so many moving pieces, doors could be opening everywhere. Whether it’s a project with a client where you could make yourself shine, or a media pitch you can land in a great publication, there’s always a chance to up-sell yourself.
There’s also plenty of opportunity to make a name for yourself within your own company and become an invaluable asset to your team. If you’re thinking it’s about the time to start making moves and dreaming about a promotion and more responsibility, here are a few tips for “working up:”
Find assets right within your company: Most companies have title descriptions or a checklist of some kind to determine whether an employee is working at a level ready for promotion. My managers have always insisted I read my title description as well as the one higher than my own frequently. It’s good to know what you are to be measured against, and what kind of skills you need to succeed within your firm. If these aren’t available to you, book a coffee with a trusted peer or mentor who can explain the levels at your company.
Ask for help: I’ll admit there are certain tasks at my company I am still clueless at, especially when it comes to finances and keeping track of spending for clients. I’m not afraid to admit my naivety and look to my managers for help. How am I going to learn if I stay quiet? Even voicing your desire to learn a new skill will raise the flag that you’re ready to move to the next level, and your managers will keep their eyes open for you.
Remember you can move without making a huge jump: I’ve met many a PR girl and guy who switch from place to place almost once a year because they feel they get “stuck” or don’t have “opportunity” where they are. I think it’s different for everyone, but after being with my current firm for four years I can confidently say that it took years for me to feel solid in my job, and in a place where I can trust my managers and senior team members to take care of me if I feel I’m being neglected. It takes much more than a year or two to develop this kind of relationship with your company, but once you have it, it makes you want to work harder for your firm and see the rewards come your way. So if you’re feeling an itch for something new, ask about projects or how you can kick up your own work before you making the switch to a new place and starting over.