The public relations industry is changing rapidly. Unfortunately, it looks like PR education is not adapting as fast. In today’s guest post by Ed Zitron, he talks about what students of PR really need to learn to succeed.
In 2005, I took a public relations course at a major state university – PR 101 – and remember the lesson plans clearly:
- the history of PR
- writing a “communications brief”
- writing a press release
- press conferences
Eventually, I moved on to further classes. They mostly covered press conferences and “advance communications,” a vague summary of different techniques that you might want to use in general PR… activities.
At no point did the courses actually address the media.
This was nearly a full year before Twitter would launch. Facebook wasn’t available outside of colleges. Jon Gruber had been writing for 3 years, and TechCrunch would launch not too long after. Thus we completely missed a chunk of the “social” aspect that makes up the new world of PR, or indeed the importance of bloggers.
Regardless, reading over current PR courses and many textbooks used in courses, it’s clear PR undergrads are being taught to do things that are not part of most PR people’s days. Yes, it’s very exciting to be taught that you’ll be handling big campaigns, or “handling webinars,” or how important AP Style is (which in the grand scheme of things is mostly irrelevant), or how to handle a press conference — one of the most irrelevant skills that you’ll find before a career in high-end corporate PR.
While it may not be deliberate, this is a horrible misrepresentation of the industry as a whole and is leading students down a dark, dark path. The reason behind the failure at the educational level is simple: Many of these teachers are either not active practitioners, or others are fundamentally not good at major parts of the current world of PR. It’s easy to become obsolete if you’re teaching but not practicing.
After some research, I’ve come up with what I believe are the core elements that need to be applied to just about every PR curriculum. They are: Read More→