How I Learnt to Love Public Relations

by Steven Mortimer

PR, to me, was one of those things I heard about a lot but never actually “knew” what it was. Sure, I was aware that it involved the use of social media, building relationships between businesses and being the stepping stone between the brands and the media, but in its most basic form it all boils down into one thing – communication.

 

Now, I’ve never been particularly into communication – even the most insignificant phone call with someone I don’t know is still enough to get me stressed out. The plan was to always be a journalist, to write about things that I care about and dismiss any other career path that may rear its head. While part of that is still the case – for the first time I don’t know what I’m going to be writing about.

 

During the first semester of my PR-based course, we were taught the ins-and-outs of writing for PR – including press releases, statements and emails. This was my first introduction to the world of public relations, and while the content was interesting, I found it very hard to find how I was going to “fit” into the course. Even to this day, the direction of the course feels very freeform – one minute we’ll be writing mission statements, blog posts and the like, and the next we’ll be getting involved in accounting and number-work.

 

However, I’ve come to realise that, unlike other subjects, my enjoyment in studying PR doesn’t come from one specific part of it – but all the parts working together. History students probably enjoy their subject because they love learning about the past, art students probably enjoy their subject because they love creating and learning about artwork, but since PR encompasses a much wider spectrum of practices there is almost certainly something there for everyone.

 

Another reason why I find PR particularly compelling is the fact that it gets me out of my comfort zone. As I’ve said, I’m not really one for jumping into contact with total strangers or visiting places I don’t know, so being tasked with independently finding our own internships in the first year of my studies was worrying. I was extremely nervous on my first day at my internship, but found myself at ease when I realised how engaging PR was. Working in a team of focused, creative people was enough to dispel my initial fears, and I strongly believe that was to do with how PR is as a trade – it begs for teamwork, it demands unity and it encouraged me to work my hardest.

I’ve seen it in fellow course mates as well. So much of our time is devoted to taking on large projects, speaking in front of others and getting to grips with new terms and techniques. From our first lecture together until late into our second year of university, there have been some huge transformations in confidence amongst my colleagues – another inspiring part of the subject.

When I first entered that lecture theatre, PR was nothing to me – now it feels like an extension of my already existing skills. I initially thought that journalism and PR were at opposite ends of the spectrum; that PR only existed to serve journalism. Now I realise that the connection between the two is deeper, and that studying PR has improved skills not only academically, but personally as well.

 

So, thank you, PR. I can’t believe I’m thanking a subject I knew nothing about two years ago, but here we are. Thank you for providing me with the skills I didn’t think I could provide myself.

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