Although the semester has gone by so fast, it has also been the longest one of my college education. When I look back, there is so much that I have blogged about and created for this class. From writing resumes, interviewing skills, reading a PR trade book, and using social media sites such as LinkedIn, I have accomplished many different things this semester that have helped me develop and fine-tune my public relations skills and knowledge. For our final exam, I have compiled a list of 10 things that I have learned this semester in PR Practicum:
- Conversation is key! -Perhaps the most important feature of having a blog is that provides a place for two-way communication. By communicating with others online and commenting on their blog posts, your blog will have the chance to become interactive among the online community. You never know what kind of connections and people you will meet by conversing with strangers!
- Blog about issues you know and care about. -I will admit, I am not incredibly passionate or interested in every topic we were required to write about. That is only normal. At the same time, I found that if I attempted to make some sort of connection with the blog assignments each week, it would be much more enjoyable to write. When people have a strong interest and are genuinely excited about what they write about, this will engage you to want to read on. No one wants to read an article that is empty at heart.
- Do your research. -When you go to buy a car, you normally have some knowledge of the brand you are looking at and the features of the car and its’ history. The same goes for interviewing or working for any business. Do some research about what the company stands for, its’ mission statement, when it was founded, etc. Be prepared to show employers that you are interested in them and want to make a positive contribution to the team.
- Impress with a cover letter. -Much like the cover of a book, people can make a strong impression by what they first read or see about you. Create a powerful cover letter that lets a company know who you are, what you have to offer, and why they should give you a chance.
- Practice good writing skills! -Whether I like it or not, I learned in my interview with a PR professional that writing is a key element in the everyday job. From press releases, brochures, radio announcements, and simple emails, public relations and communications professionals need to have excellent grammar, punctuation, and writing skills to get the job done right.
- Monitor body language on an interview. -Most people have subtle habits such as rubbing their hands together or rolling their eyes, and are unaware of the possible messages they are sending to others when they do this. When you are on an interview, make sure to have good posture, don’t tap your feet, and maintain eye contact to ensure the interviewer they have your full attention.
- Sell yourself online! -Not literally, but use websites like LinkedIn and PROpenMic to post your resume and network with others in the field. Marketing yourself and showing others what you have achieved can only put you in better position for landing a job or making a connection that will help you. Sell the image of yourself you want others to see!
- Be smart with social media. -It is okay to have a Facebook or Twitter account, but know that it is easy to find information online about anyone. Google yourself and find out what is out there about you, and whether or not you would want an employer to see this. Don’t twitter anything embarassing or work-related, because odds are someone will see it and you will put yourself in an awkward position. If you have to question if something is appropriate, then don’t put it online!
- Create a portfolio. -While having an excellent resume is important, it is also relevant to actually show and present employers with examples and pieces of work you have created. Since implementing social media is such a huge part of the way we communicate, create a portfolio with press releases, blogs, campaigns, brochures, and any assignments that you are proud of to present to others.
- Think outside the box! -Possibly the most important thing I have learned in practicum is that there is no limit to what you can do, whether it is during an internship or career. Use your creativity to come up with new ideas for improving a business, and know that no idea is necessarily a bad idea. Employers will be impressed to see that you are taking issues in your own hands and doing tasks that you weren’t asked to do.
While creating a blog for both PR Practicum and PR Social Media was a lot of work and effort, I am excited to implement the things and skills I have learned upon graduation!