The success of organizations, businesses, and high profile individuals depends on their ability to communicate effectively. They hire professionals with the sole responsibility of delivering on this mandate.
What is Public Relations and Why Does it Matter?
Public Relations is an intense field that involves media relations, social media, adverts, campaigns, and event organization, among other high-stake activities. Education in public relations is, therefore, not just essential but valuable. It prepares you to practice in a global setting where your results are judged in real time. You need the best skills and training to hack public relations.
Public Relations goes beyond fire fighting when an incident happens. You must constantly maintain the image of your employer or organization at the top of people’s minds. This has a marketing angle. As people interact more with a brand, they inquire about it and begin ordering goods and services from them.
Public Relations is also crucial when the image of a brand like a business or organization is battered. It happens when your product or services have hurt people in different locations, you need to plead for a better judgment from the masses. That is the work of Public Relations professionals.
How Technology is Changing Public Relations
Public Relations is evolving tremendously guided by technology. Traditionally, people interacted on televisions, newspapers, and in person. It was easier to control such interactions because they were delayed and had scheduled releases.
Technology has complicated the Public Relations sector. Incidences will happen without your control or knowledge. People can record your employees on phone and send it viral on social media. A simple social media update or image may be interpreted differently by an increasingly sensitive public. These are just a few of the incidences that dirty the waters for Public Relations practitioners.
The use of technology in public relations is also making it easier to handle sensitive PR matters easily. The most notable effect is the cost of public relations. The use of the media as a PR outlet was eating deeply into the revenues of businesses and organizations. Today, social media and the internet allow you to reach millions at a fraction of the cost.
Technology has enabled businesses to only spend on a specific audience. Social media allows you to, for example, advertise to a select age group and geographical location. In the process, you avoid spending money on ads that might not deliver the desired results.
Social media is the biggest PR transformation resulting from technology. You have your followers and customers at your fingertips. First, you do not spend even a dollar to talk to them on social media. At the same time, you can respond to queries and blow out the fire immediately.
The biggest challenge with social media for PR purposes is the speed with which negative info goes viral. Before you can counter the story, it is halfway through the globe. PR practitioners need to find new ways to counter such negative information with a similar speed.
Which are the best schools to help you acquire PR skills?
Biola University, La Mirada CA
Biola is a private Christian university based in California. In 2013, its PR Student’s chapter received a distinction that is only reserved for the top 10% of chapters in US. The school has one of the most robust training programs. The university runs campaigns inside and outside the university helping the students to experience what the real world will entail. The students also enjoy exposure to some of the best PR firms in the world. You not only graduate with PR skills but as a leader capable of handling a global brand.
University of Florida
University of Florida takes pride in graduating students who can handle media, research, ethics, reporting, and many other aspects of effective communication. Located in Gainesville, FL, the university has seen its graduates start lucrative careers in journalism, government, PR firms, and non-profit organizations, among other areas. The university also allows students to pursue a combination of PR at degree level and Mass Communication at Masters level. The list of alumni who have graduated from the university includes Sharly Attkisson and Al Burt.
Emerson College, Boston MA
It is one of the oldest schools offering Public relations. It was founded in 1880 as a school of oratory. It remains one of the leading schools in liberal arts and communication. Here, communication is taught as an art and a science where data takes center stage. It is a small college with a student-to-teacher ratio of 13:1. As a result, you have all the interaction you need with tutors.
Many other colleges offer PR training. The best choice is a college with the necessary equipment and a history of producing top talents. Review their curriculum as well to see whether you can get courses tailor made for your passion.
For more helpful advice navigating your public relations career, see this post about what skills are needed to strive and persevere in the industry.