Back To The Basics

Since I’m graduating soon I tend to get asked what advice I would give to myself going into the Advertising and Public Relations major. To be honest with you, I don’t know what I would say to her. I’m content with where I landed and I’ve had the privilege of having a wonderful experience in this program. With that being said, I do know one thing. 

Everything I needed to learn about PR I learned when I was five. PR is a complex career that changes daily, you have to be on your toes all of the time. However, at PR’s roots, it is what you’ve been learning your whole life.

1. Think Before You Speak

Public relations is not for the hasty. It is for the careful, the cautious, and the planners. One wrong word in PR can be career-ending- literally. If you don’t come prepared, you shouldn’t come at all. As the PR pro in charge, people are looking at you for answers. Answer their questions thoughtfully, you can’t afford to not.

2. Keep Your Friends Close

Some would say that working with your friends is a nightmare waiting to happen. It’s one of those things that you’re not supposed to do, right along with dating your best friend; legend has it that both of those things end in fights, tears, and battles over who gets the plants. PR has taught me that working with your friends, for the most part, is the best part of working. When you care about the people you work with, you care about the product you give them. You notice when they aren’t the same, or they’ve lost excitement. If you love what you do, but you don’t love who you do it for…why do it?

3. Use Your Manners

Nobody likes a rude PR pro. When you’re in PR you are talking to people all day. I’ll be the first one to tell you that it gets tiring. Sometimes responding to an email is the straw that will break the camel’s back. However, most of the time, people aren’t talking to you just to waste your time. Give them the answer that they deserve, and do it with kindness and patience. Before you dip your toes into PR, dip your toes into email etiquette, how to be an active listener, and how to manage a happy hour. Thank me later.

4. Play Fair

You get nowhere by purposefully leaving people behind or kicking them while they’re down. If you’re looking at someone’s mistake and laughing because it isn’t you, hold your laughter because soon enough it will be. The “R” in public relations is there for a reason. PR is about who you know and how you treat who you know. Treating people as you want to be treated and contributing what you know to other PR pros is what gives you credit. While we’re on the topic of credit, never forget to give credit where it’s due. 

With that being said, don’t give away your client’s secrets, that’s not public information.

5. Balance Your Time

If you’re reading this, I know how you work. You don’t feel like you have had a successful day unless you’re exhausted by the end of it. Your day doesn’t have to be work all the time. Remember kindergarten? They gave you time to play, time to nap, time to eat, and time to work; balance your work life the same way. Nap when you’re tired. Eat when you’re hungry. Take breaks. You’re not indestructible, you’re a PR pro. I know they seem like they need to be interchangeable. Mental health matters, you don’t work unless that does too.

You can’t do PR if you’re not a good person first. Everything you need to know about it, you already know. It’s as simple as not rubbing Play-Doh into the carpet.

About the Author:

Allison Canter is a senior at Grand Valley State University. She is in the Advertising and Public Relations program with an emphasis in Public Relations and a minor in Political Science. Allison is Chapter President of GVPRSSA. She also serves on the Executive Board, and as an Account Associate for GrandPR.  In her free time, Allison likes to argue that LaCroix does have flavor and talk about her beagle, Sally. You can find her driving around listening to Taylor Swift’s discography or reading tarot cards.

Twitter: @allsncntr