First the good news: According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, public relations employment is projected to grow much faster than average. And the not-so-good news: BLS also reports that “keen competition is expected for entry-level jobs.” Translation? There are lots of opportunities for PR students out there, but you better do a lot more than getting an “A” on your Introduction to Public Relations class to land even an average entry-level job. Even simpler translation? Get experience in the field and know the industry before you leave college, or you don’t stand a chance.
All of my fellow PR students out there have heard about the importance of getting internships. (According to PRSSA, internship experience is a must, and I definitely agree!) However, there is more to a well-rounded PR education and job candidate than an internship or two and a few PR classes. That’s why I (and many others!) am supplementing real-world PR learning with an online education. In this series, I’ll reveal some of my favorite bloggers, Tweeters, tools, and tips to help students get ahead in this competitive industry.
I’m always surprised when I find out how many people don’t understand Twitter (they think that it’s all about self-involved people writing about what they had for breakfast), and even more surprised when fellow PR students don’t have a Twitter account. Social media is an increasingly important tool for the industry — if there’s a popular tool out there, you should know how to use it (even if you don’t use it yourself).
In an earlier post, I argue that Twitter’s 140-character limit improves the writing skills of Gen Yers, but that’s not the only benefit! Here are a few other reasons tweeting can help you polish your PR skills:
Twitter Chats offer endless opportunities to chat with top industry professionals.
From #HAPPO (Help A PR Pro Out) to #prstudchat to #prssa to #pr20chat chats, you can learn a lot about the PR industry. To join a Twitter Chat, you simply have to follow that specific hashtag and use the hashtag to join in the conversation. I use TweetDeck to follow hashtags and join in conversation, but you can also use an online tool like TweetChat to converse in real time.
These Twitter Chats are usually held on a weekly or monthly basis. To find a list of PR & communication-related chats, what they focus on, and when they take place, check out this blog post. For example, #PRstudchat held their annual Graduation Session via Twitter in May, when graduates and other tweeters got the chance to talk with Mark Ragan, CEO of Lawrence Ragan Communications, publisher of PR Daily. Those who logged onto the chat got the opportunity to ask him questions about the future of the PR industry and get advice for young professionals looking for jobs.
Still not quite sure what a Twitter chat is or how to participate? This PR Daily post gives you helpful tips about how to chat like a pro!
You can learn a lot from a lot of people — without paying a thing.
I follow an increasing number of individuals on Twitter who are experts in PR, social media, politics, communication, and personal branding.
Here are a few of my favorites:
- Mark Ragan, CEO (@MarkRaganCEO): His Twitter feed shares stories posted on PR Daily, which helps individuals keep up with industry trends and tools. His website is a must for any PR pro!
- Valerie Simon (@valeriesimon) and Deirdre Breakenridge (@dbreakenridge): These ladies are the co-founders of #PRstudchat and are constantly offering up helpful advice for young PR professionals.
- Heather Huhman (@heatherhuhman): This Gen-Y expert offers great job and internship tips, as well as advice for developing a personal brand.
- Get Busy Media (@GetBusyMedia): This company provides resources for small business marketing. Their daily blog posts are a great resource for anyone interested in learning more about social media and marketing. One of my favorite pieces is their “Who Got Busy This Week?” which is a roundup of their favorite web articles from the week.
- YouTern (@YouTern): This site is intended for “start-up interns,” and they’re constantly posting internship opportunities from across the country. Their blog also offers interns and young pros important insight and advice. (Bonus — their internship posting tweets are usually quite witty!)
You’ll consider anything that happened over an hour ago “old news.”
Twitter happens in real time. Beyond the PR industry, it’s a great way to keep up-to-date on what’s happening in the world and see what people are talking about. The “Trending topics” bar on the right-hand side of the site is like free market research — it tells you exactly what people in your area are tweeting about.
Do you have time to read the news everyday? Chances are you don’t. Most of you probably don’t even take the time to read your morning New York Times “top stories of the day” e-mail (I don’t). By following various organizations and even individuals on Twitter, you can learn the top headlines of the day, without ever going to an external news site.
Twitter is just like today’s world — it happens fasts, and it’s information driven. And hey, being able to see what Lady Gaga (the #1 most followed person on Twitter) is doing isn’t bad either.