From the brilliant brain of our brand new mantern, Max, the top 5 things he learned in PR school.
“You know, you’ll have to forget half of what they taught you once you graduate.” This nugget of wisdom came from a PR professional in my very first industry informational meeting. While in school, but before the frenzy of internship and job interviews, informational meetings are a valuable way for aspiring PR professionals to get their feet wet, a warm-up before the gladiatorial arena.
Her advice may be true—school can never replicate real world experience. But now that my yearlong PR program is over, I can see the lessons I should try not to forget in my new career.
- Pay attention to detail
It’s a resumé cliché for a reason. At school, instructors considered a misspelt name a “fatal error” resulting in a 50 per cent grade. In the real world, the fatality resulting from a misspelt client name will be your career.
- You never know who knows whom
Work hard and be friendly. It’s a close-knit world and everyone talks to everyone. On my very first interview an agency president told me she’d mentioned my name to one of our toughest teachers. Fortunately, he liked me.
- Read the newspaper
Some of us rolled our eyes at mandatory Globe and Mail reading for class, but knowing what’s going on in the world, and who’s writing about it, is essential in public relations.
- You are your own brand
Reputations among teachers and classmates spread quickly then solidify (kind of like melted butter). If you don’t pull your weight and complete good work no one will want to work with you. This lesson applies equally to the real world.
- Network, network, network
PR is a people’s industry. Those who did well in my program spoke up and made friends. Those who did even better were out every weekend volunteering and schmoozing at events. If you wanted to be a hermit, you shouldn’t have gone into PR.
With that, I’m ready to throw away my textbooks and enter the workforce, except for my CP stylebook, which I cradle close to my chest every evening before sleep.