5 ways PR pros can keep learning

You don’t have to be in school to obtain valuable information that increases your wisdom and skill set. Consider these less-common places.

PR pros who are open to new ways of obtaining knowledge can find learning around every corner.

Gaining wisdom requires you make the time, have a clear mind and be fully present to receive information. Though there’s no shortage of knowledge through social media platforms and in online content, you can glean insights in other places you might not expect.

Here are five easy tips to learn in not-so-obvious places:

1. Tap into your smart home device.

Did you ever start reading a book and notice unfamiliar words? You could look them up later or grab your smartphone to find out the meanings. You can also ask Alexa or another smart home device.

While watching the news during the 2016 election, my kids asked Alexa what “TPP” meant, and learned that it stood for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, “a trade agreement between Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam.”

There is no shortage of questions to ask, and it can be more convenient than finding your smartphone to ask Google or Siri. Alexa is also taking the place of the dictionary.

Smart home devices are especially helpful if your family abides by the “no technology at the table rule.” In my home, Alexa sits several feet away, but is always within earshot to answer questions during dinner and settle ambiguous conversation topics.

2. Learn a new word every day.

Word of the Day” programs can be a simple and fun way to learn. Assign a member of your household to find the word and put it in a central place for everyone in your home to access, such as a post-it note stuck to the refrigerator. Add a definition, along with an example showing how the word is used. Then include the word in your conversations that day.

For digitally minded PR pros, The New York Times has a Word of the Day program. There are also several “Word of the Day” apps for both iOS and Android to easily increase your vocabulary.

3. Talk to people outside your age group.

Surround yourself with individuals who have varied backgrounds and perspectives, including diverse cultures and different nationalities—but don’t overlook family members.

I’m fortunate to have millennials in my home, and listening to their perspectives has taught me much about their hopes, dreams, concerns and struggles. It’s also helped me in my work and relationships with younger professionals. Listening to my parents, who are in their 80s, is another valuable learning experience.

Talking to people outside of your age group can open your eyes and mind to a whole new world from a much different perspective.

4. Turn to YouTube.

YouTube is the second-largest search engine—and a haven for visual learning.

You can learn just about anything on YouTube, and if you’re a visual learner, you can quickly view and retain more information.

When I needed to purchase podcasting equipment, YouTube was an incredible source of information. I watched several quick tutorials on how to connect my Yeti microphone to my Mac and adjust it. YouTube also taught me why I should use a pop filter and set up foam cartons for better sound.

Google is great, but don’t forget YouTube.

5. Seek answers on Reddit .

My stepson was accepted for a summer internship at Amazon in New York City, and turned to Reddit to talk to professionals and peers. He learned more about the interview process and what his summer role would entail.

People are more than willing to share knowledge on any number of subjects through the platform’s subreddits. Though PR pros can do the same thing on Quora, Reddit is called “the front page of the internet” for a reason. You might want to check out the learning potential in Reddit’s communities.

Learning doesn’t have to be limited to the physical classroom environment. As long as you’re willing, opportunities to increase your knowledge can be all around you.

What places would you add to this list?

Deirdre Breakenridge is chief executive officer at Pure Performance Communications. Learn more from her at PR Daily World Conference in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 8-9. A version of this article originally appeared on her blog, PR Expanded.

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