5 Lessons I Learned from Creating a Campaign as a Student in the 21st Century 

Being a public relations student in the 21st century has its perks—using already-tested theories and convenient technologies, to name a few. However, working in PR has also become harder than ever with the doom-and-gloom of AI taking our jobs and the pressure to constantly create brand new campaigns. Creating a campaign as part of a course requirement made it possible to love public relations again—the pandemonium of brainstorming sessions and the eagerness to deliver exceptional results to clients illustrate the art and science of public relations.  

The opportunity to create a safe driving campaign and to be mentored by the Utah Department of Public Safety taught me the following lessons: 

1. Research is key.  

Meeting the client and knowing the campaign’s details is the first step of many. The importance of research is not just to discover what has already been done by others or what is new—it is knowing the results you want to achieve. Research can point us to the best ways of setting, and attaining our goals. This is the key of each PR campaign.  

2. Planning is a threshold. 

Many academic PR programs just have the theory of campaigns. However, it doesn’t prepare students for the inevitability of change – adjustments to plans happen in real time. A strategy may theoretically be effective, but environmental factors like noise or weather can disrupt your campaign. The difference between a student and a professional can be simple, yet distinct: adaptability. 

3. Implementation is a lock.  

Implementation: the barrier and the solution. Preparing for the campaign felt like an eternity during my semester, yet it was a measly 3 months. Activating was simply the start—with the “challenge accepted”, it seemed as if you had to re-do the process. Having a strong, effective strategy that resonates with the public and informative tactics that deliver credibility makes the campaign a lock. 

4. Evaluation is a peephole. 

Evaluation is the last step of the process for the PR professional. As a student, measuring success may be limited; however, quality is a better indicator of the professional’s judgment. In this step, you will have a front-row seat of your learning moments and an observation point of where you want to go career-wise.  

Phone lying on a table with Taylor Swift poster cards. The phone has the Utah  Department of Public Safety seal under a text reading “Hang Up on Distracted Driving”. The website shows is www.distracteddrivinguvu.com. 
Photo Credit: Laksmi Belleza Vargas 

5. Service Learning is a door. 

With service learning, we not only earn and gain practical experience but also build connections. The campaign I was involved in prepared me for the next one I will undertake in the future—whether it is in the public or private sector. The benefits of applying the skills and knowledge I learned have impacted my future. The errors I made, the inconsistencies we may have missed, and the things we did right in the campaign are lessons we must take to improve the next campaign. 

As my student days are almost ending, the most helpful lesson I learned is this: without the foundations of Public Relations, technology is a short-lived tool—human connections and creativity lie at the heart of PR, building success through service. 

Laksmi Belleza Vargas is finishing a public relations and strategic communications degree at Utah Valley University. Her goal is to be involved in public service campaigns and to support small businesses.

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