I was recently asked to speak with the student chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators at the University of Houston. Specifically, I was asked to give some advice on how to be successful in public relations and what they could do to aid in their job search after college.
Me being me, 20 minutes before I headed out I wrote a few bullet points on a piece of paper. Here’s what I wrote down to share:
- Write. Become a good writer. Become a better writer. Then write more.
- Read. A lot.
- Learn business practices. Learn how public relations fits within overall marketing strategy. Learn the importance of making public relations support business goals.
- Learn measurement.
- Excel is your friend.
- Become comfortable with media relations.
- Learn the basics of crisis communications. Then implement them before you need them.
- Learn a foreign language. Learn it well enough to write in it and proof what others write. Choose the language based on what market or industry you want to enter. In Houston, Spanish is a good choice.
- Don’t be afraid of technology.
- Don’t believe that all you need to know is social media.
- Network. In real life.
- Be nice. Manners count. Say please and thank you.
And I winged it from there. They were all very flatteringly attentive. They asked good questions about internships, graduate degrees, and even about the long hours we work. They were prepared.
I remember being on the other side, wondering what I could do to be successful once I finally got out of school. They all seemed much more prepared than I ever was.
What would you have told them?