A Personal Experience Learning About PR
Coming into COMS 240, I had a pretty basic understanding of PR. I thought of publicists for celebrities who aim for positive publicity and try to spin negative publicity. The concept of good and bad publicity probably summed up how much I knew about the PR industry when I started. I didn’t think about PR in terms of businesses (big and small). My perception of PR has changed greatly. I’ve learned PR is about mutually beneficial relationships between a person/business/org and its various publics. I didn’t realize how much research and strategy it takes to develop successful, long-term public relations objectives. I also didn’t realize that there are so many categories of PR, like customer relations, investor relations, community relations, etc. I also now have a clearer understanding of the differences between PR (which involves interacting with publics) and marketing (selling products to target markets/consumers.
I decided to complete the PR track because it was different from everything I’ve done before it. My prior Coms experience at SSU had been focus on writing, and I wanted to try something else. I figured that I already had some skills that would transfer over as well. I’ve enjoyed it more than I expected, probably because there is so much more that I can do in PR than I initially realized. I’m not certain as to what exactly I want to do in PR, although I’ve been a Communications Intern with a large non-profit and I’ve really enjoyed it. Writing is so much more solitary than what I’m doing now; it’s nice to work with people who have different skills/experiences.
To SSU (and any other organization) PR is how it interacts with its various publics. The relationship it develops with the various publics is extremely important to all facets of the university. For example, recently SSU was trying to implement a new student “success” fee, but decided against it, even though the university could certainly use more money. A major factor in the decision to abandon the fee was PR related. The school didn’t want to damage its relationship with an extremely important public, SSU students. SSU leadership also had to think about another public, incoming/prospective students, who may be turned off by another fee and decide to opt for something else (like a more affordable community college).
My initial group (editorial) had the important responsibility of overseeing all of the writing. Writing is an essential part of PR; any good practitioner should be able to write well. We didn’t do much, but we did finalize a mission statement, which is another important aspect of PR for any business or organization. A mission statement simplifies everything a business/org. does and gets at the essence of why it exists. It also is a mandate to employees that they must always keep in mind.
One thing I’ve noticed in my time as an intern for the Communications Officer of a large non-profit, is that PR people get the opportunity to work with many different organizational departments, as well as having a close ear of upper management. I really like being able to work with different people/departments.