Speaking with the next generation of public relations practitioners

Posted by Garfield

I had the recent pleasure of visiting Temple University with fellow staffer Julia Napolitano to speak with students in Associate Professor Gregg Feistman’s public relations class.

We spoke about the importance of good writing, ways to improve press releases and other forms of writing, as well as best practices when it comes to applying for a job.

It was encouraging that the students were engaged and well-prepared, ready to pepper us with questions about public relations in general and Garfield Group in specific.

One asked why I switched to public relations in 2005 after 17 years in journalism. An article published later that day summarized the situation better than I did: More than 54,000 newspaper and magazine jobs have been cut since 2004.

We also spoke at length about what’s important in a resume. Earlier, I had mentioned that students shouldn’t try to pad their resumes with things not related to a career – folding shirts at the Gap isn’t going to help land a public relations job. It was worth mentioning the job experience, but nothing else was required beyond a one-line mention.

But come question time, the students became the teacher, forcing me to reconsider and revise my opinion.

One student noted that while working at the Gap didn’t directly tie in with public relations, it might be valuable on a resume if, for example, the money made there put them through college or demonstrated the ability to multi-task and work hard. Taking a full-time course load while working significant hours demonstrates the maturity and responsibility companies seek in their employees.

The value of internships was questioned as well. We counseled that internships are important, especially for those who focus on a handful of high-quality opportunities with companies that allow interns to perform real work instead of just fetching coffee.

We reminded the students that some companies hire many interns and use their program as a test run, ultimately hiring the best performers. Even those who don’t land a job will gain experience and connections.

Before class let out, we also touched upon social media, idea pitching and client case load – all issues that warrant a lot more space than just a few lines in a blog post.

All in all, it was an enjoyable experience and, if the level of discussion was any indication, the next generation of PR practitioners will do us proud.

If you’re interested in learning more about a job in PR, feel free to share your questions with us over Twitter @Garfieldgroup.