How to get on in PR (and how not to impress)

17 Nov

Here’s another good debate, especially in tough times. How best to get your PR career started?

Tom Watson (a practitioner turned academic) believes employers should rate those with PR degrees ahead of those with non-vocational qualifications:

"Too often, industry leaders pay lip service to PR education but choose not to recruit students who are job-ready in favour of those from non-vocational universities."

He makes a strong case, but I’m not sure which instruments can be invoked in a free market economy to privilege one set of graduates over another. I also expect that his calls for greater industry support for education have come at a bad time.

Meanwhile, Maggie Kerr-Southin, a self-proclaimed ‘PR goddess from Canada’s west coast’ lists the qualities she seeks in new recruits. It’s a good list – and she and Watson at least agree on the importance of an education.

"Being good with people or enjoying events isn’t enough."

Well said.

3 Responses to “How to get on in PR (and how not to impress)”

  1. Chris Norton 18/11/2008 at 9:42 am #

    Interesting, I think vocational qualifications can make students better equipped but usually it’s down to the students themselves. If they have the right attitude, apply themselves well, and are eager to learn then they will do extremely well in public relations.
    However, as you know I run a work experience programme at Wolfstar and we help a range of students from lots of different courses. Sometimes students that have completed English courses which don’t have any work experience come with a really keen attitude to learn as they haven’t had that practical advice on their courses.
    As I said – I tend to find it’s down to the students/graduates themselves.

  2. Maggie Kerr-Southin 23/11/2008 at 7:02 pm #

    Good post, Richard (and thanks for the nod). As I said in my post and is reiterated by Chris in his comment, it’s all about attitude. My frustration with folks without any PR training is that they often believe PR is all about getting media. Hard to change that mindset. That said, my staff include English, Germanic Studies and Political Science as their primary education.

  3. Wayne Larson 02/12/2008 at 5:26 am #

    I am glad that both Maggie and Tom believe education is important because its seems like I hear a lot of professionals say they blew off attaining a high college GPA because it did not matter in “real world” jobs.
    I am a student who puts equal effort into all of my classes because I feel it not only makes me more well rounded, but also teaches me to balance numerous tasks at the same time.
    Interestingly enough I think another variable to add to the mix of people going after PR jobs are “news and information” journalists. My teachers constantly tell me that the people who intended to write for paper publications end up going into PR because they know exactly what media journalists want to know for a story.

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