Public Relations

Ten top tips for your PR degree

Results day is now just a distant memory, freshers week is over and you’re settling into your new university halls – it can be a daunting time and I know the feeling well.

Starting any degree can be scary, but if you are entering the world of PR I’m sure hundreds of questions have crossed your mind. What really is PR? What will my assessments be like? How can I make sure I do well?

It’s an exciting and interesting subject to study, with a wealth of career prospects and hopefully, these tips might help you to excel in your degree.

Get experience

Wherever you can and whenever you can get some experience. It is essential that you put the skills learnt in university into practice and the best way to do this is a placement or work experience. Even a one day taster will make a difference to your industry knowledge.

Follow news and trends within the sector

Keeping up-to-date with current affairs, PR news and new trends will only benefit your knowledge of PR and complement your studies. You will have examples to use in assignments as well as a wider knowledge when you graduate and move into a career.

Keep detailed notes

It might sound like an obvious one, but make sure you keep organised notes for all your lectures. There is often overlap between modules over the three years of your course, so make it easier for yourself further down the line. Keep everything dated, titled with the topic and organised. You’ll later be able to pull up the notes on the subject you need with ease.

Make contacts

Keep a record of your contacts that you meet during your studies and experience. I’ve found that connecting with people on LinkedIn is the easiest way to keep a virtual contact book. You never know when you might need them (or they might need you!) in the future.

Join the CIPR

Some courses will offer free membership – if so, use it! If not, it’s well worth the small fee to become a member. You gain access to a wealth of resources, discount on events, news, updates and much more.

You can also check out the PRCA for news, research documents, training etc. These are both useful for university assignments and your PR knowledge in general.

Build up a portfolio

Keep a record as you go along of your best pieces of university work, examples of placement tasks and any extra-curricular activities you take part in.

This will make it easier when you come to pull together a portfolio at graduation or for interviews.

Create a personal brand

PR is all about reputation and it’s not just the reputation of your clients or company that you have to think about. You need to make sure that you have a good reputation too – perhaps work on your social media presence, try networking and start making your name known.

Take part in extra-curricular activities

Even activities that aren’t necessarily PR related will look fantastic on your CV. Anything you do outside your studies – volunteering, attending events, a part-time job – it all helps.

If they are PR related, like Britain’s best PR student blogger or the CIPR Douglas Smith student award, then that’s a bonus!

Look at ‘real-life’ examples

Writing a press release for an assessment? Look at real ones online for tips. Starting a blog for one of your modules? Read relevant blogs online.

Looking at content similar to that you are creating, and that is live, will make your assessment pieces as ‘real’ as possible.

Read!

This is key for all degrees, but the more PR related work you read the better. Get ahead on your textbooks, read news articles, look for journals and you will be one step ahead. Social media is great for finding articles and blogs that are helpful too.

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Studying PR is a test of your communication, creativity and organisation, amongst many, many other skills.

With the variety of tasks you are required to do, the vast range of clients that you might be working with and an ever-changing industry to welcome you, it is a rewarding and interesting subject to study.

Disclaimer: a version of this post was originally written by me for Behind the Spin, a site which is no longer live.

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