Recently, I’ve been contemplating reasons of why students should love public relations. It’s not that it’s a hard question; more so, the PR industry has an unlimited list of what it has to offer. As I sit here thinking about my first year at university and what I have learned, I gather 5 main reasons to why I enjoy PR.
#1. Common sense
Although it seems as though common sense is, well, common sense – you would be surprised to know that it is something to be acquired. Communication is by far the most important thing you’ll ever need to learn, as Virgina Satir once said, “Communication is to a relationship what breathing is to maintaining life”. In other words, it is impossible to not communicate, but, if you do not know how to communicate properly you could run into some serious troubles. Relationships can deteriorate, there is potential for employment risks, and common sense will have become limbo. Building relationships is key to PR, so by taking communication classes, which just so happens to be 100% mandatory while specializing in public relations at uOttawa, you’ll be able to learn common sense, making you one of the most i-n-t-e-l-l-i-g-e-n-t people on earth. Kudos!
A lot of careers don’t allow you any room for creativity, but I can’t say the same about PR. In fact, the public prefers creativity over bland, and PR is all about relating to the public, hence, public relations.
PR has taught me to be aggressive, be-e, aggressive! Not in the cursing and yelling at your neighbours kind of aggressive, more of the getting things done aggressive. Being a PR student is hard and can at some points be frustrating, but let’s face it, this is the main reason you joined the program. This fortune cookie says, ‘when you are faced with a challenge you are determined to see it to completion’.
#4. What do Lady Gaga, Stephen Harper and Oprah all have in common?
They all have PR specialists to help promote their careers. Maybe we haven’t reached that point in our careers to work alongside politicians or important entertainment figures but if you stay in PR with PR always on your mind, you’ll build important relationships that may help you later on in your career. Opportunities can arise and you might get the chance to meet amazing people whether it’s on the red carpet with popular celebrities or here in Ottawa. Start out by volunteering for local organizations like the iABC and CPRS and you’ll stay connected while adding a face to a name.
Are you a good writer? Maybe you’re good at public speaking? Or creating presentations? Wait! I know, you’re into fashion! No other career is as versatile as Public Relations is. There are industries within the PR industry and with this profession you have the opportunity to work in a job you love and find a place where you best fit in. Hey, maybe all of it is best for you. You are one versatile person!
So there you have it. These are all the things I love about PR and this is just what I’ve learned in the first year of university! The only negative that I can find is its upbringing. 50 years ago public relations started at the bottom, and I mean way low only because people couldn’t categorize it – it was an ongoing identity crisis. What was PR? Was it human resources? Was it communications? Was it an art? But the scariest question ever, was it propaganda? Propaganda has a pretty obvious definition but Harold Laswell, famous communications theorist, put it perfectly,
“Propaganda is the control of opinion by significant symbols, or, so to speak, more concretely and less accurately by stories, rumours, reports, pictures, and other forms of social communication. There is a need for a word which means the making of a deliberately one-sided statement to a mass audience. Let us choose ‘propaganda’ as such a word.”
OK, so it may be true that public relations is still to this day having an identity ‘issue’ but it is safe to say that it is no longer a ‘crisis’. There are many different definitions everywhere you look but they all have similarity, the CPRS defines Public Relations as: “the strategic management of relationships between an organization and its diverse publics, through the use of communication, to achieve mutual understanding, realize organizational goals, and serve the public interest” (Flynn, Gregory & Valin, 2008). This is the common definition everyone knows, just worded differently. Immediately you can tell that propaganda is nothing like public relations. In fact, public relations experts are working hard to create audience participation workings such as the Web 2.0, where working with mass audience is the goal. There are no “one-sided statements”, PR professionals work hard to get everyone’s side and everyone’s opinions. Part of the job is getting to know the public, not getting the public to know PR.
Speaking of not getting the public to know PR, I believe that in 5 years from now this will not be the case, public relations will be one of the most top rated careers with a solid definition. While PR specialists work best behind the scenes, I still think we’re soon going to be greatly recognized and praised as one of the world’s top career choices. Students should enroll in a Public Relations program in university or college because it’s still a growing industry with plenty of job opportunities. They should study PR to add to the growing definitions of the profession. The world of public relations is moving towards a bigger and brighter future. Come join it!
Written by: Channelle Labelle-Viens
Edited by: Sharon Cheung