Friday, June 12, 2009

PR is a way of life

I have always loved to write. Even those academic papers that so many students dread – I’m the kid that looked forward to meticulously crafting my words to signify meaning. So, during my freshmen year of college journalism seemed to be the most logical major.

Selecting a major is a huge leap of faith. You select what you trust and what you feel is right, knowing that if you’re wrong you could screw up your potential career (and drain lots of cash down the toilet). Looking back I’m confident in my choice, but journalism is hugely different than what I ever imagined it to be – and I've really reconsidered my future career ever since.

I didn’t have some huge revelation, it was more of a slow realization that this area called public relations makes so much sense for who I am. In selecting public relations, I understand that I get to write a lot. I understand that crafting words and communicating are essential. I understand that building trusting relationships are the backbone of this profession.

My realization percolated throughout various odd jobs I held in college. Oddly enough, these jobs have helped me understand that building relationships, being honest and communicating are not just essential in public relations, but important in living a fulfilling life (I don't mean to get philosophic).

I worked at a casual Southwest Grille as a server during my freshmen year of college. Most of the employees were college students, so I looked forward to fitting in and making new friends. But I went about it the completely wrong way. I had some issues with a few co-workers and felt the need to made a rude comment to one of them my first month at the restaurant. Turns out this person had been at the restaurant a long time and was highly respected among her co-workers.

This person uttered words to me that I will never forget, words that I now frequently preach, “It's not a good idea to burn bridges with people.” The following months at the restaurant were miserable because I decided to burn a bridge with the wrong person. My co-workers thought I was arrogant, short-tempered and disrespectful. I soon apologized, but I could tell the damage had already been done.

From that moment on, I understood how important building relationships and respecting people can be. At the time I didn’t think it was a big deal but looking back I understand the huge lesson I learned. Building and maintaining relationships the right way can really advance your career in ways you have never imagined.

In my next post I’ll discuss how relationships can positively impact your path to success. I’ll talk about how NOT burning bridges and holding your tongue can really help you move toward your goals and help you be successful. I will discuss some of the benefits of relationships and how they can positively impact you as a student and as you enter the workplace.

What motivated you to pursue a career in public relations? Why is public relations the career for you? How did you make up your mind to pursue the career you are pursuing? What is the significance of building and maintaining relationships in public relations?


Lavinia said...

I think it needs a lot of passion and ambition to choose and follow a career in PR. Moreover, some native qualities like empathy, communication talent, are also necessary. In a latent form, approaching to PR started in high-school while studying in a journalism class, and in the meanwhile being editor in chief for some students' journals. I remember being very keen on writing all sorts of papers and keeping speeches for many events in my high-school. The real decision to follow a BA in PR was taken after reading a chapter from one of James Gruning's books, explaining what PR was. Later, I started to search more about it and eventually, after hard preparation, I was accepted at the most prestigious PR university in my country. I still think it was a beneficial decision, and I wouldn't see myself doing something else but PR.

Shane Arman said...

I agree with you Lavinia that if you are pursuing PR, you need passion and ambition. That's excellent you got accpeted into a great PR school. What's the name of the University you got accepted to?

Thanks for the comment and good luck in your career.

Pawel said...

My path to PR was somewhat different (and you have to consider the fact that I live and work in Poland). After leaving high-school where writing wasn't exactly my pair of shoes I went on to study business and management. It didn't clic. I moved on to study sociology which is my major. On the professional front I did some marketing staff, I worked in two banks selling laons and later moved on to manage international relations for a NGO. This job requried getting involved in and running PR projects and I soon realized that's what I want to do for a living. My expertiese proved good enough to get the position of a spokes person of a small bank, a position I was forced to leave just two weeks ago (due to job cuts unfortunatelly).
Apart from passion and ambition pursuing PR also requires a sort of a business sense. A PR pro has to be able to prove the value of his/her work in economic terms. A statement that basicly any business could use some PR is just not good enough. You have to work hard to show it's worth every cent someone spends on it.
All the best.

Shane Arman said...


It's very true that PR often requires business sense. While I am a Journalism major, I also have a business minor where I'm learning about marketing, information systems, HR management, etc.

I think really helps any person pursuing PR to have a business background of some sort to (A) be able to speak the language of and relate to top level management (B) to understand the goals of a business and (C) the more areas you are proficient in the more versatile you are to potential employers

Thanks for the comment Pawel and good luck in your career!

Lavinia said...

I studied in Romania (Bucharest) at the National School of Political and Administrative Studies, a Communication and Public Relations BA. At the moment I study in Belgium at the Masters' level, Management and Business Communication. So, I absolutely agree with Pawel that you need a business sense in PR. You always have to prove to your employer what is the exact value of your work (or better said, "Show me the money!"). Commitment is maybe another successful ingredient to a PR career.
Also good luck for you in your professional paths!

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