Few fields are as involved in our daily lives as public relations. Whether in popular culture or politics, its recurring societal presence can spark interest in the career. Once involved, many public relations professionals find themselves enthusiasts of the career, with elements of their profession seeping into their personal lives. Here, I’ve noted a few things that only true PR enthusiasts will understand.
The AP (Associated Press) Stylebook is the holy grail of public relations writing, especially when referring to culturally relevant events. You may have been introduced to this book in your first public relations or media writing class. The Associated Press releases a new version of the book every other year with updated definitions for new and evolving public situations. As certain terms hold varying meanings depending on the interpretation, you know it is a valuable resource to ensure your writing is correct and respectful to your audience. The AP Stylebook also notes certain spellings and punctuation rules that you probably want to be familiar with. Maybe you’re even passionate enough about the AP Stylebook that you’ve followed them on social media.
Have you ever been watching the news and the anchor calls the newest political issue a result of “bad PR”? Or a cool commercial comes on and the person next to you calls it “good PR”? Whether it is actually a function of public relations or not, these words catch your attention as a public relations student or professional. Referring to something with this phrase may seem natural when you are only semi-familiar with the term, but once you are able to differentiate between public relations and other forms of communications, it definitely stands out.
While spokespeople and press conferences are highly visible aspects of PR, they only scratch the surface of the full scope of the field. The behind-the-scenes work of public relations professionals to prepare a speech or talking points is often overseen; most people assume it all comes together much quicker than it does. In reality, public speaking is not necessarily a large element of the day-to-day responsibilities of many PR professionals. Interpersonal communication skills — among other skills — are far more important to build successful relationships with media outlets and consumers in most modern public relations roles.
With the skills you may learn in class about promoting an online presence, it’s almost too easy to utilize that knowledge for yourself. Whether it’s for your own social media, a personal project, or your friend’s new business idea, you jump at the chance to help out – if you have the time. You know the best days and times to post your Instagram pictures to align with the algorithm, or where to start reaching out to people to gain a larger audience.
Public relations is a constantly growing industry, especially in the age of the internet. PRSA’s first definition of the term was adopted in 1982 and has changed multiple times since. Unlike some fields, there often isn’t one right way for PR professionals to do something, and it’s not uncommon for campaigns to be executed with a degree of risk. PR enthusiasts utilize outside resources such as PRSSA and PRSA to learn. Enthusiasts understand that it is necessary to keep learning both during and after you earn your degree in order to stay current with both the topics and the expectations of the field. If you’re a PR enthusiast, you likely have become heavily involved with your PRSSA or PRSA Chapter, possibly even to the point of it becoming a personality trait.
With its constant relevance and new evolutions, the PR industry is easy to love. Elements of the career can become more and more noticeable in daily life, and you may look at current topics with a new perspective. If you find yourself identifying strongly with these statements, you may have evolved from a mere PR professional to a PR enthusiast.
Melina O’Neal is a third-year Media & Culture student at West Chester University of Pennsylvania with a minor in Digital Marketing. She currently interns in public relations and external communications. With PRSSA, she serves as a District Ambassador, National Publications Committee member, and treasurer for her collegiate Chapter. You can connect with Melina via LinkedIn.