As PR majors, we do it all. We consider four hours a “good night’s rest,” we build goodwill with complete strangers, and there’s nothing like a good crisis to get us going. Even with the experience of being a PR major under my belt, I firmly believe recruitment is the longest, most exhausting two weeks I have ever experienced in my life. With that being said, the experience I’ve gained through my time as a public relations major was the silver lining to surviving weekends full of conversations, chanting, and crisis management– so much crisis management. Below, I’ve listed some of the most important skills I’ve built on from both a professional and a social standpoint.
- Interpersonal Communication Skills: Interpersonal communication is one of the most crucial parts of being successful in the PR world. You have to be able to talk to anyone, about anything, without any preparation. It is your job to create those mutually beneficial relationships, to build trust, and to make your client come off in an appealing manner. I got three full days practicing this throughout recruitment. I talked to hundreds of potential new members and had roughly ten minutes to build a possible relationship, or distinguish a relationship that would not fit well with my organization.
- Speech Guidelines: Having the confidence to speak with authoritative tone and know what you’re talking about is a must. Rho gammas (recruitment counselors) train their potential new members on what to talk about and what not to talk about before they enter the houses. However, just like when we media train our clients, some listen better than others. I had questions fired at me left and right, some I knew the answers to, and some I had to guide in a different direction in order to make the conversation appropriate for the situation. Either way, dealing with needy clients and proper speech guidelines is something we have to become quickly acclimated to in our major, and there’s nothing quite like sorority recruitment to give you some practice.
- Crisis Management: As we’ve come to learn, any important event will have some sort of malfunction or crisis, regardless of the days of preparation leading up to it. While other members of my chapter and I spent hours planning, decorating, and double checking every aspect, crisis naturally hit us like a bus. Girls going through recruitment had broken heels, people fell down stairs, and girls blanked on basic conversation skills. Knowing how to stay calm in a chaotic environment and carry on a “chill” persona through it all allowed me to quickly and assertively help fix whatever issues were happening. Crisis management is not about covering up mistakes, but making the best out of them.
While there are naturally many stigmas associated with greek life, I am confident that I would not be as successful as I am now in the PR world without it. Being part of an organization that requires social skills, organization, and time management has gone hand-in-hand with my skill-building in classrooms and with clients. If there is one thing that I have learned from both my sorority and my major, it’s that you get out what you put in. Even though being part of multiple organizations is a balancing act, being as involved as possible throughout college is the best way to be prepared for the “real world.”
Taylor Fleck is a currently a senior at Grand Valley State University studying Advertising and Public Relations, with an emphasis in Public Relations. Taylor is a member of Grand Valley’s PRSSA chapter and serves as Vice President of Public Relations. She is also heavily active in her sorority, Phi Sigma Sigma. In her free time, you can find her eating ice cream while taking pictures of her dog.