How do you stay abreast of all the ongoing changes in the PR field?
Though it’s good to read news, blogs, and keep up with discussions with your colleagues, you might need more help than that. If you don’t have a mentor to call when things get tough and you don’t know what to do, perhaps you should invest in PR classes.
Even if things are going swimmingly with your business, it’s a good idea to invest in some school time. Try your local college, a major conference, or an industry organization such as the PRSA. You never know when you’ll hear a brand new perspective or idea that could totally change how you approach your campaigns.
An ever-changing field
The fun thing about public relations is that it’s totally subjective. What one person gets out of the field, someone else will see in an entirely different way. You may think a campaign is ingenious, your competitor may think it stinks—and you can both somehow be right. It’s a strange field.
That is why it’s so important to prepare yourself for every eventuality. You can plan only so much before going into action, and that’s when the real training comes in. If you don’t have that experience ahead of time, especially in an emergency, you’re going to run into trouble.
PR classes can aid you with this. You’ll run real-world simulations that can prepare you for when times get rough (or amazing) and you don’t know how to handle them. If you goof up in the classroom, it won’t be as devastating as losing clients in the real world.
I know how easy it is to become complacent when working public relations. When something works right, you don’t want to even think about doing it a different way. Even when results start to wane, it can be tough to change habits, simply because “that’s the way I’ve always done it.” After a while, though, the industry will have moved on without you.
If you want to stay current, you must challenge yourself. This is precisely what college and adult classes are for—to challenge the way you normally think, to get you on a different path.
It can be nerve-racking to take a hard look at your life and say, “I think I’m doing something wrong.” Once you try it a different way, though, you might be surprised at the results.
Figure out your focus
Another big reason to try school again if you work in PR is to get a better idea what your “focus” should be. Think of all the times you’ve pondered a campaign and struggled to set your sights on a specific goal.
[RELATED: Ragan's new distance-learning site houses the most comprehensive video training library for corporate communicators.]
What you might not realize is that’s not necessarily the fault of the campaign. It could simply be that you don’t know what your personal public relations strengths are. There are so many aspects to PR—talking with people, writing, creativity, etc.—and not everyone is amazing at all of them. Finding out your strengths and then building up the other components can improve your business and skill set altogether.
Have you considered going back to school or taking classes in your field? Have those classes helped? Please share your experiences in the comments section.
Mickie Kennedy is the founder of eReleases. A version of this article first appeared on the PR Fuel blog.