When I decided to study public relations, I was still not entirely sure what it entailed. What I was learning in classes was helpful, but it was not until I joined PRSSA that I truly began to understand what public relations really is.
Anderson University’s chapter of PRSSA hosts a monthly lunch and learn event. I have been able to learn what public relations looks like in action by hearing from professionals in the field who are willing to share their experiences with us. It is always enlightening to hear the advice they have for students. They tend to include:
- Network! With other students, professors, professionals in the industry…make those connections and keep them.
- Write! Write a lot and write well. Practice makes perfect. (Hint: write short blog posts about PRSSA.)
- Be brave! (I am paraphrasing a bit here.) Make the most of the opportunities available to you–especially the ones that seem a little scary.
Perhaps one of my favorite stories involving PRSSA is one that did not actually take place on my university campus. I was at a conference for an equine organization I am involved with. This was my first time meeting the board I am now a member of, and I was squished in the back of a car with two other people I did not know. We started talking about our majors, one said public relations and I followed up by asking if she was involved with PRSSA, and she said yes! We immediately became friends by discussing how wonderful of an organization it is and exchanging ideas to take back to our respective chapters. PRSSA helped me make a connection with someone who lives hundreds of miles away and we still bounce ideas off of each other.
All of these things are what public relations is all about. Educating ourselves, asking questions, building relationships, communicating effectively to all audiences, and helping people understand why you believe something is important. PRSSA has given me space to learn these skills and hone them in ways that will hopefully allow me to be invited to lunch and learn events when I am practicing public relations.
Erin Smith is a junior at Anderson University majoring in public relations. She is a Fifth Street Communications associate, a member of PRSSA and the United States Pony Club.