This is a guest post from Bianca Perry, founder of BBands, headbands designed to inspire. She is studying Marketing at DePaul University. Her favorite quote to live by is ‘go the extra mile, its never crowed.’
“Who can tell me the definition of public relations?” quizzed Professor Jill Stewart, DePaul University College of Communications. Cue the crickets. The first day of Public Relations 101, our class had a hard time pinpointing what exactly PR is. Fortunately, Professor Steward soon chimed in with the textbook definition, “Public Relations is the management function that identifies, establishes and maintains mutually beneficial relationships between an organization and the various publics on whom its success or failure depends.” She noted early the importance of being able to define what public relations is, know its history, and hone our skills to succeed in an array of public relations careers.
To ground our class in the fundamentals of public relations, Professor Stewart assigned us ‘Public Relations is Forever’ by Harold Burson. It served as a historical guide and reinforced that public relations is never going away.
From the 15th century printing press to today’s internet, people always find a way to communicate. It’s human nature to want our stories shared and heard by others. The evolution of Public Relations was ignited by the magic of early practitioners such as P.T. Barnum and Arthur Page, and it’ll continue to evolve with the work of our generation.
As college students, we are seeking to find the purpose in potential careers, so the question, “what can we do with PR?” naturally surfaced. In response, Professor Stewart assigned each one of us a career setting to research, and then report to the class what it was about. The careers ranged from public relations in nonprofits to sports and entertainment to corporations. On the last day of class, she gave life to the career options by inviting four accomplished public relations professionals to speak to our class.
The diverse group of panelists brought new insight, while emphasizing the need to know the past and hone in on your key skill.
Close the gap between idea and execution
Ximena Beltran, founder of C1 Revolution, lit up the room with her passion for public relations. One of the most rewarding parts of her job is executing her ideas, and seeing them come to life. She motivated the class to make things happen, “everyone has ideas, but not everyone can execute. Be the one to actually execute your ideas.”
The only permission you need to work, is from yourself
Nathan Michael, co-founder of Popular Pays and Content Creator, told us to forget the idea that you need others approval, ‘you do not need permission from anyone’ to do what you love and live out your dreams.” Use social media as a free platform to amplify your story and connect with others. He also mentioned that in order to create the future you must understand the fundamentals of traditional public relations.
Writing well is a universal workplace skill
After being asked what the two most important skills are in public relations, Jennifer Leopoldt, new media content editor at DePaul University replied with writing and flexibility. She improved her writing with practice at Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism. With her writing in her tool belt, she is able to be flexible and adapt it to any new position or role in a business.
Always tell the truth
Craig May, manager of public relations for the American Society of Safety Engineers, advised our class to, “never tell a lie,” because it will snowball into a big Abominable Snow Monster. H has seen this with countless clients, and wonders how hard it is to follow the number one Arthur Page Principle: tell the truth. Yet, when issues do start to develop he is able to find the light in the difficult situation.
I walked out of Public Relations 101 with pep in my step, because I have a greater grasp on the past and I am inspired to hone in my own skill. It’s thrilling to think that our generation will create the future of public relations.