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What Your PR Classes Didn’t Teach You

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While we learn a lot from our PR classes and there’s no denying the value of a good education, there are simply some things about working in PR that cannot be taught in a classroom, no matter how good a professor may be.  Sometimes internships can help prepare students by filling in the gaps between higher education and the “real world” workplace. Still, students preparing for their first full time job are often left asking, “What do I need to know that my classes didn’t teach me?”

On Tuesday, March 5, 2015, the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) held a joint Twitter chat to explore the answer that loaded question. PRSSA students on the brink of graduation tuned in to get some advice from public relations professionals with decades of experience navigating the intricacies of the business world.

The chat featured guests Ron Culp and Amanda Lewis Hill, MBA, APR. Culp has more than 35 years of communications experience in government, corporate communications and agency settings. He now guides senior executives at his own company, Culp & Co., on top of serving as an instructor and Professional Director for Public Relations and Advertising at DePaul University. Hill has nearly 10 years of public relations experience, working with national and multinational companies, nonprofit organizations and international communications agencies. She currently serves as Director of Strategic Development at Lewis Public Relations. They were also joined by members of the PRSA board and industry leaders from throughout the country.


Here are some of my favorite takeaways from the chat:

Don’t be nervous about your first pitching assignment. Research is the key to being successful.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help; however, be sure to ask before you’re in over your head and take good notes so you’ll never have to ask again.

Your supervisors want you to contribute in meetings and brainstorm sessions, but don’t talk just to talk.

When asking your boss to participate in a professional development opportunity, be sure to show value to both your career and your company.

To get ahead, be the first person to arrive and the last person to leave. Always be engaged and show initiative.  

No matter the setting of your first job (agency, nonprofit organization, corporate communications) you can gain experience and build upon it.

Want to read more from the chat? Embedded below is a Storify recap featuring the best tweets of the night. Thank you to all who participated and good luck to all the graduating PRSSA seniors. Your participation in these events shows initiative and I encourage you to continue your education as a PRSA Associate Member.


Rosanne Mottola is public relations manager at the Public Relations Society of America. Follow her on Twitter at @RoeMoPR.

About the author

Rosanne Mottola, APR

Rosanne Mottola, APR, is public relations manager for the Public Relations Society of America. She is an adjunct professor of public relations at St. John’s University, Staten Island. Mottola obtained a master’s degree in public relations and corporate communications from New York University in 2010. You can connect with her on Twitter @RoeMoPR or on LinkedIn.

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