Career Guide

19 for ’19: Words of Advice for the Graduating PR Class

Each month, the editors of Strategies & Tactics post a question on PRSA’s LinkedIn account, and share an array of the responses in our What’s Trending section. 

For the May issue, in honor of graduation season, we asked: What’s your advice for the PR/communications class of 2019? You had a lot to say on this topic! We had more than 50 replies in the first few hours. Because we only have room for a handful of the responses in the paper, we’ve listed more graduation-time guidance here in no particular order:

1. Continue to hone your writing skills by writing, writing, writing, writing, etc. Write with creativity and clarity. Maximize, minimize…write small. Strong writing skills are not only a core strength of a communications professional, it also demonstrates critical thinking and enhances your ability to convey strategic insights — attributes that will differentiate you with employers. Dennis Wilson Jr.

2. Don’t limit yourself to PR/communications roles. Realize there are a LOT of other fields in dire need of the communications skills you’ve been learning these past four years. There are many jobs you’re qualified for — you just need to know how to take what you’ve learned and understand how to apply it to other areas too. — Steve Radick

3. Get out of your comfort zone. Don’t stay in the city or market where you live; the market is global, so think big and go where the opportunity is. — Ana Toro, APR, Fellow PRSA

4. Read daily. Observe closely. — Lisa Ermak

5. Take as many internships/experiences as you can! It’s always great to continue learning at new places and getting more experience. Also, always be ready to adapt to new things and make changes. Public relations is constantly evolving, so you need to be ready to evolve as well. You have to be prepared for any and everything! — Stephanie Hamilton

6. Don’t confuse confidence with arrogance. — Samantha Villegas, APR

7. Respect the journey. Be excited for the many twists and turns. Keep the faith. Talent always rise to the top. — Karen D. Groppe

8. Embrace opportunities! — Stephanie B. Dufner

9. Never give up. Keep after your dreams and goals, even when setbacks hit… and trust me, they will! Realize your skills are adaptable to other jobs that aren’t labeled “PR” and as you work there, as you become more valuable, your employer will notice. It could lead to a new position! Also, don’t ever stop learning. Take that internship, volunteer, consider grad school, find online classes, see what textbooks your professors are using for their next semesters and pick it up or rent it and learn too. Those professors are going to shift into being your mentors and are extremely helpful, so don’t lose touch with them. — Trinity Mullins

10. Understand how business works! — Catherine Riedel

11. Hone your writing and editing skills! Having strong writing and editing skills will always serve you well and will set you apart from the competition. Also, pay attention to the news from multiple sources. No matter what you end up doing, being aware of what is going on locally, nationally and globally, and getting multiple perspectives on it, will be immensely valuable professionally and personally. — Pam Krebs

12. Be passionate in whatever PR sector you plan to pursue. It makes a ton of a difference in both your work and personal life. I love health care and I’m so glad I stayed in this sector for many years. Also, seek a mentor along the way. They can help you navigate through those difficult moments as well as reinforce your strengths and accomplishments. — Dawn Fallon

13. Read as much as you can! — Tricia Richards-Service, Ph.D.

14. Establish and cultivate relationships with many mentors. Seek advice now with an eye toward sharing advice down the road. — Jennifer Garnett, APR

15. Don’t get stuck in tactics, remember you are a strategic advisor. Know what that means and learn how to be good at it. Be familiar with your company’s business plan and show them how public relations helps them succeed. Make sure you have a seat at the Executive Board or Board of Directors meetings — meet regularly with your director or CEO etc. and build strong relationships internally and with the media. — Jennifer Zingalie-Goulart, MBA

16. Graduating may seem like the end of your education, but you should treat it as the beginning — never stop learning. Find successful people you admire in your network and learn from them. Go out of your way to learn about areas/skills you aren’t as familiar with and keep honing the areas you consider strengths. Being kind and willing to help others goes a long way. — Randy Brown

17. Don’t forget the importance of human interaction. In today’s world of email and texting, we forget how to foster authentic and genuine relationships, not only with our media contacts but our coworkers as well. Instead of holding a conference call, have an in person meeting. Instead of emailing someone, walk to their desk and have a face to face conversation. Reach out to your media contacts when you aren’t pitching a story just to see if they need anything. The best thing about public relations are the relationships that we form and the lives we touch. Make them real! — Jarrett Dunbar, APR

18. Learn to write like a journalist and diversify your skillset. Can you edit video? Use photoshop? InDesign? You’ll be more marketable if you do. — Anton Molodetskiy

19. Be adaptable. What you’ve learned the past four years is your foundation, but will quickly become dated or evolve into new best practices. It’s a lifetime of learning if you truly wish to be a strategic and innovative communicator. — Jennifer Smith, APR

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John Elsasser

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