By: Tori Lawhorn
With every new year comes New Year’s resolutions. Some resolutions may be for your personal life, and that’s fine, but I’m here to help you with your professional resolutions. As a senior at Indiana University with several classes, internships, and other experiences under my belt, I’ve learned a thing or two that may be able to help some of you young, aspiring communications professionals. Here are five tips I believe will help you become a more knowledgeable, organized, and up-to-date PR student.
1. Start looking for summer internships now
Most PR internship applications open during the beginning of January and are accepted until mid-February or early March. Some applications are only open for a small amount of time and require a bit of work (think resume, cover letter, letters of recommendation, writing samples, etc.). You don’t want to wait until the last second to submit all of that. Search for the companies you would like to intern for, see when their applications are open, and get all of your materials ready early. If you don’t know when they’re taking intern applications, email their HR person.
2. Clean up your social media
A lot of people use the New Year to start cleaning and organizing their lives. Why not do this for your social media? If you use a “my year in tweets” app and find that most of your tweets involve four-letter words, you might want to clean it up a bit, especially if you’re looking for a job or an internship. This is also especially important if you tag anything you’re associated with (school, student organization, etc.) in your biography on that social media platform. Not only could you be embarrassing yourself, but you could potentially embarrass something else you’re a part of as well. You can also use the New Year to decide on a specific theme or type of content for some of your social media channels, if you’d like. Do you want to post more PR content on Twitter? Do you want to post more food pictures on Instagram? Go for it. Just make sure it’s appropriate for a mass audience.
3. Find your favorite PR websites
There are tons of websites spewing daily content about PR and communications. Go find one or two that you like and use them to stay up to date on industry news. You can use the information you learn from these websites in class, student organizations, and even job interviews. My personal favorite is www.PRDaily.com and www.PRWeek.com. Both websites produce short, readable daily content that is relevant in the PR industry.
4. Invest in some good PR books
Though websites act as a great resource on current industry news, there’s something to be said about going back to the basics of writing and PR. Invest in a few good, insightful PR books. Many books are written by PR legends and professionals, so many of them put their own experiences and lessons they’ve learned in their books. Two of my favorites are “This is How You Pitch” by Ed Zitron and Warren Ellis and “Everybody Writes” by Ann Handley.
5. Join IU PRSSA
If you’re a student at Indiana University (or any college, for that matter), join PRSSA. This is pre-professional student organization aims to help its members prepare themselves for a career in the PR and communications field. We provide speaker panels, workshops, agency tours, internship opportunities, and much more. IU PRSSA also has client committees that allow our members to get real-world experience they can use to help them obtain a future job or internship in the PR field. If you really want to be prepared for a job in PR, I fully believe joining IU PRSSA is your first step.