Something I often ask public relations professionals is what they think the most beneficial, somewhat atypical, college course is for PR students. There are a number of classes I wish I had taken based on their advice and a few that I have taken thanks to them.
1) Thank you to Caitlin Goodrich at Jackson Spalding for her advice to take a creative writing course. As an undergrad, Caitlin had a concentration in creative writing, so she is an expert at "spicing up" any press releases or e-mail message. On a recent agency tour, Bryan Harris reiterated the importance of writing well. I have heard over and over again that writing is critical. Write, write, write.
(For UGA students, ENGL 3800 is an Introduction to Creative Writing.)
2) Lauren Jarrell, director of communications at The Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau, highlighted the importance of public speaking. At this week's PRSSA meeting, she explained that no client will trust you to be their company's spokesperson if you aren't articulate day-to-day. Being well-spoken helps you "sell yourself." This is particularly important when interviewing for jobs and internships.
(UGA students, SPCM 1100 is Intro to Public Speaking.)
3) A number of professionals have spoken about the advantage that college students have when they are familiar with social media. (You may know more than you give yourself credit for. Chris Brogan just did a great post about this.) Most notably, Melissa Libby recently told me that she would only hire a summer intern who has taken one of Grady's social media courses. I have been following a number of PR bloggers (Josh Hallett, Paull Young & Mitch Joel to name a few) who I think may agree that a basic knowledge of social media will give college grads a big advantage.
(UGA students, ADPR 5990 is a rotating special topics course that has been focused on social media for the past 2 semesters.)
4) Thank you to Brian Brodrick of Jackson Spalding for emphasizing the importance of staying up-to-date on current events. I'm constantly checking CNN, ABC & spend my mornings on the treadmill watching The Today Show.
(UGA students, the professors for JOUR 3410 give regular quizzes on current events, a number of INTL and POLS classes focus on current politics, health issues, etc. I know there are more, so feel free to comment & let me know.)
5) Jill Krugman of Lockheed Martin visited PRSSA twice this semester (and will be returning in the spring). She explained, and has put into practice, that you must find something you love that will set you apart from everyone else. Minor in a foreign language, anthropology, even dance. A minor is a great way to find your niche.
(At UGA, if you don't quite have the time to complete a full minor, consider a certificate program. I just finished Terry's Personal and Organizational Leadership, and it was great!)
5 courses for PR students
As the semester comes to a close & students are making final tweaks to their class schedules for next fall, I thought it would be helpful to re-post an entry from my old blog, 5 questions for everyday people. It highlights courses PR students should consider taking but may not think of. Please comment and add to the list! Happy planning!