“I’m studying PR in school.”
“When I graduate, I really want to work in the PR field.”
“I work in a PR agency.”
Those of us who work in public relations have seen the look that says, “That sounds cool, and I feel like I should know what PR is, but, honestly, I have no idea,” when explaining to people what we do for a job.
Public relations is an interesting field, but also one that invites a lot of questions and is covered in a small cloud of mystery. When I first started thinking about a career in PR, I had many questions. Is it the same as journalism? What exactly do you do? How do you find a job?
Sometimes, even clients or colleagues have a hard time understanding exactly what it is we do.
After multiple public relations courses and a two-semester long internship here at HPR, I can tell you that no, PR is not the same as journalism. The two fields are commonly confused, but they are more complementary to one another than you might think. Journalism’s goal is to tell a story to the public. Journalists gather the facts and report the news. In a public relations agency, the goal is to create buzz for your client. This means you’re pitching journalists, arranging media events, creating content calendars, scheduling social media posts, keeping on top of current events and managing crises, all on a daily basis.
PR requires a nose for details, an ear for relevant news, an eye for a creativity and a taste for excitement.
It’s difficult to narrowly define and explain PR to people who ask you what you do, like an accountant or doctor easily can. A question I often asked myself was how I would find a job. So many people I knew entering college were going to be nurses or teachers. These fields, and many others, are so clearly defined that you know exactly where to job-search when you graduate. Likely, a nursing major would work in a hospital and an education major would work in a school. A PR major would clearly work in…?
Not knowing the end of that sentence was daunting. However, I have learned that the end of that sentence has an infinite amount of possibilities. And that’s what’s exciting about it. Any brand or industry that intrigues you — sports, fashion, television, music, food – needs a good PR strategy. That’s where you’ll come in.
As an intern, I have already learned so much about what happens day-to-day in a PR agency, and I have to say, it’s challenging but rewarding. Not many professions can offer you a job where every day is different and presents a new challenge. Reacting to breaking news stories, engaging with others and writing formal and creative pieces are all key components of working in PR.
If you are unsure of what career path you want to take, you should consider taking a communications class. Nearly any industry that excites you needs PR, and having a job in which you don’t have to do the same tasks everyday is beyond worth it.
– Sierra St. Pierre
A version of this article originally appeared on The Odyssey.