Switching my major three times before the start of my sophomore year may sound stressful. And that’s because it was. But in the end, it led me to pursue a degree in public relations, which was the best decision I have ever made.
Sure, a degree in Nutrition Science or Biology would have provided great (and very different) opportunities, but I just wasn’t in love with the classes I was taking. They were theoretical, repetitive, and dull. So, it was back to the drawing board. I had no idea where to begin. My college advisor suggested I explore public relations, and I quickly learned that PR was nothing like I had imagined it to be. In fact, my very first day of classes in my new major changed my entire view of what public relations actually entails.
I was shocked to find out that the perception I had of what life as a public relations professional would be like was completely wrong. As I looked around the classroom, it seemed many of my peers had the same misconceptions. Before learning the ins and outs of PR, my ideas were only based on how television portrayed it — I pictured Samantha Jones from ‘Sex and the City:’ red carpet events, glamorous trips around the world, and no real work ethic. I learned PR isn’t always that glamorous – but I wasn’t disappointed in the least. The more I learned, the more I fell in love with the profession I was pursuing.
Through my classes and my internship at BAERING, I have learned the hard work and dedication that comes with a career in public relations. Here are a few misconceptions of PR that I have learned to be untrue:
PR is just one thing
There is a common misconception that public relations professionals are only responsible for one area of a brand’s public facing image. Some people may think PR is just media relations, others event planning, some social media and who knows what else. In reality, publicists are responsible for anything and everything that involves maintaining a brand, company or celebrity’s public facing reputation. In today’s landscape, PR can more accurately be described as integrated marketing communications (IMC), as PR pros are responsible for everything from storytelling and media relations to promotions to social media, events and in some cases advertising and pieces of a marketing campaign.
PR is a 9 to 5 Job
When I began studying PR, I quickly realized that the work I would be doing was more important on a larger scale, especially when it comes to crisis communications. If one of your clients experiences a major crisis in the middle of the night, you better believe you’ll be working to fix it immediately. It doesn’t matter if it’s a holiday or you’re on vacation, you’re always on call. Public relations is a 24/7/365 job; we are constantly working to maintain the reputation of our clients, and it doesn’t matter what time of day it is.
PR is ONLY red-carpet events and hanging out with celebrities
While this can be part of the job, it all depends on the organizations you are involved with. If you choose to go down an entertainment or sports PR path, then yes this will likely be a part of your job. However, this is not the case for most. At BAERING, we work with a variety of clients in a multitude of industries, many of which don’t come equipped with celebrity friends or trips to the Oscars. One of the most appealing things about pursuing a degree in PR is the flexibility it gives you to work with any industry you find interesting: food, sports, or science could lead to a variety of different paths in a PR career.
PR is easy, anyone can do it.
The basics of PR are simple: know your audience, perfect your writing skills, and know how to communicate effectively. But the way you choose to utilize these tools will determine your success. Sure, an extroverted personality and good writing skills could take you far in this field, but strategic thinking, attention to detail, dedication, and a vigorous work ethic will make you stand out.
These common misconceptions of public relations are just the beginning of understanding what pursuing a degree in PR is all about. When I began studying public relations, I did not know that the perception I had of PR was completely misleading. After only one semester, I quickly realized that PR was a field that I would enjoy working in for a long time. A degree in PR opens the gate for a variety of different career paths, for example, working in an agency, corporate communications, or social media for any organization. This gives you flexibility, so you can be passionate about the work you are doing on a daily basis. PR is challenging and will definitely keep you on your toes; in PR no day is ever the same.
By Abby Centanni
BAERING Intern, Summer 2020