Nine Things I Wish I Knew Freshman Year: PR Edition

Written by Tori Lawhorn and Catherine Huynh.

1. Seek out PR information

There are a bunch of PR resources you should check regularly, such as PR Daily and PR News Online. These websites not only give you content directly from PR pros, but the information also pertains to PR students, not just professionals. Things such as open internships, resume tips, etc. Check these regularly and you’ll be on your way to a PR pro in no time.

2. Know PR jargon

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PR is its own little world, complete with its own set of vocabulary. Knowing the difference between a corporation and an agency, a press release and a fact sheet, can not only save you embarrassment, but it can also impress a seasoned PR pro when they come speak at a PRSSA event. Once you land your first PR internship, you can use your newly found vocabulary to impress your bosses.

3. Before you post on social media, T-H-I-N-K

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As millennials, we’ve had the opportunity to grow up alongside technology and social media. We’re able to create personas of ourselves through Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn – How are we branding ourselves? Think about the things you post – Is this how you want future employers to view you? Many hiring managers and bosses use social media to get a better understanding of an applicant, and even after you get a job, you still have to maintain your internet presence. You’ve heard about the “tweet heard round the world,” of course. Luckily, there’s many websites that allow you to clean up your profiles.

So, how do you know what’s appropriate to put on your profile? A tip seen from a residence hall bulletin board: “Before you put post anything online, T-H-I-N-K. Is it True, Helpful, Inspiring, Necessary, Kind?” 

4. Start writing NOW

No, seriously. Every PR professional that’s come through Indiana has always stressed the importance of one thing: Strong writing and communication skills. This is the base of the entire profession. Great ways to start shaping your writing skills may becoming a staff reporter at the Indiana Daily Student, starting your own blog, and even participating in a Twitter chat – Can you get your message across in 140 characters or less? 

5. Invest in a business wardrobe

Unfortunately, leggings won’t cut it at many companies (Trust me, I’ve asked). In a professional setting, you are what you wear, so it’s especially important to start building an appropriate wardrobe as soon as you can. As a college student, especially a first-year student, it might not seem like a priority, but the next thing you know, you’ll be panicking over what to wear to dinner with a professional or to an internship interview. 

Luckily, there are many articles on how to transition a wardrobe from college to career. We suggest that you start with simple pieces, such as a well-fitted button-up blouse/collared shirt, appropriate slacks or skirt, and a sensible, close-toed pair of shoes.

6. Networking is your best friend

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In this day and age, it’s very common for you to hear a saying such as, “It’s who you know…” While this is very common, you can also make it apply to your situation even if you don’t know a soul in the PR world. The wonderful yellow brick road that will lead to a potential, professional PR relationship is known as networking. Your university is bound to have job fairs and your PRSSA chapter will have events where you can meet PR pros. Go up to them, introduce yourself, and share your love of PR. Give them a business card, add them on LinkedIn, just make yourself stand out. Chances are, they will always end the conversation with, “If there’s anything I can do to help, let me know.” And they mean it.

7. Set up informational interviews and job shadows.

After you’ve started to build your network, be sure to reach out to your contacts. Informational interviews are a great way to get a sneak peek into what’s it like to work at a certain company or get an idea of what it’s like in a certain profession. Be curious and ask questions! Whether you decide that the profession or company is not for you or you end up getting your foot in the door or gaining new contact, there’s nothing to lose with setting up informational interviews or job shadows. 

8. Don’t be afraid to take charge with your PRSSA chapter

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When you join a PRSSA committee, your committee heads will expect you to participate. However, if there’s an upcoming event or workshop they need help with, don’t be afraid to volunteer for it. Call the agency, email the guest speaker, reserve a room. Do whatever you can to stand out in your committee. Not only will this increase your experience, but it will also let your committee heads know which members are dedicated to PRSSA. You’ll soon grow to be a dependable committee member. Also, when you apply for that Executive Board position down the road, they will have a better chance of remembering you.

9. Get involved – Join PRSSA!

Almost all universities have a PRSSA chapter. Get involved as soon as you can. Not only is this a great resume booster, but this will also give you a chance to have real-world PR experience while you’re still a student. Not only that, but you will be able to spend time with other students who love PR just as much as you do. Sooner or later, you’ll form a PR family.

Public Relations Student Society of

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