Small Town, Big Experiences: How to Gain PR Experience in a Rural Setting

Ohio University may be home to a top journalism school, PRSSA Chapter and Student-run Firm, but it’s not home to a large city. When students move in, we double the population of Athens, Ohio. However, our Chapter members still manage to gain public relations experience even though we live in a quintessential Midwest college town. Below are some tips to gain experience in a small town.

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Participate in your Chapter’s Student-run Firm

ImPRessions has been a constant source of portfolio pieces and management experience for me. As a freshman, I signed up to work on a local client and learned how to manage social media contests, I wrote my first ever blog post and wrote a press release. In available, Student-run Firms are a vital part of adding bullets to your resume as a public relations student.

Contact Nonprofits and Small Businesses

If your campus doesn’t have a Student-run Firm, don’t fret! There are still small businesses and nonprofits that are always looking for help. Take a look around your little town and think about who you can help and offer them your support. They may not be able to pay you, but in the end your portfolio will be worthy of a paid internship.

Don’t be Shy About Remote Work

Remote work allows you to work in your pajamas — what could be better? You will learn how to log time like many agencies do, become a Google Hangout expert and learn many skills you would learn in an office environment. Remote work is easiest for those working with social media, but remote traditional agency internships are also available.

Work for Your University

Ohio University offers PACE and work-study programs for those looking for work on campus. I did work study my first two years of college and was able to write news article and event recaps for the College of Communication. For my junior year, I was offered the social media manager position for the college and this year I am the internship coordinator. All of these positions have given me experience in an office environment while learning differently things.

Become a Campus Representative

The quickest way to gain public relations experience on a college campus is to become a campus rep. There are countless companies with campus rep opportunities. These companies hire college students to promote their product, app or service, and some even get paid. Often times campus reps will get free goodies to give away and have to host a certain amount of events in order to maintain their title. With this type of position, you’ll gain event planning, social media, promotions and marketing experience.

Overall there are many opportunities for any public relations student. The key is to grasp these opportunities while you can and never be afraid to ask.

Gentry Bennett is a senior at Ohio University, where she serves as the PRSSA Chapter president. She has completed internships with NR Media Group, Southwest Airlines and Electronic Arts (EA). On the weekend, you can find her hiking at a National Park or searching for the best breakfast in town.

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