There are several things business students should know before declaring a public relations concentration. Marketing, advertising, public relations, international business, and management are just a few options to decide among when choosing a concentration. It is foolish to make such a pivotal decision blindly. Here are five things to know about public relations to aide in determining a concentration:

  1. 1) First and foremost, what do public relations specialists do? “PR people are storytellers.” Public relations build rapport between companies and the public or other organizations. Public relations companies are then responsible for building, enhancing, and protecting these alliances. Building these bonds takes precise strategies and goals. When signing with a client, there should always be an end goal. It is important to establish objectives to strive towards. Initially, specific planning is necessary to reach those goals. Disciplines used to achieve those goals include social media, market research, and extensive writing,

  2. 2) How does public relations differ from marketing or advertising? Public relations is less about selling an object and more about creating relationships. First comes public outreach through various media to develop rapport with reporters or businesses in allied fields. Once trust has been built with such groups, public relations account managers and executives work to strengthen this trust. In doing so, public relations personnel communicate more directly and less impersonal than advertisers. Their rely more on interpersonal rapport than on capturing attention with flashy and expensive displays.  They help clients make wise decisions.

  3. 3) One of the more surprising aspects of public relations is how actively the field is connected to the news. The goal of public relations is to induce positive public opinion of a client’s brand or organization. An excellent way of achieving a positive public opinion is through media exposure. PR consultants’ primary tasks involve contacting the media and proposing stories, and urging follow up once stories have been successfully marketed. Important concepts to keep in mind when promoting a story are: What does the audience receive from the information being promoted? Why is it relevant now? Why should anyone care?

  4. 4) Social media is not the most important form of media. Social media will never replace traditional media. Social media is simply used as an instrument to heighten awareness of a message. Social media posts need to be lively and modern. Major platforms used for digital public relations are Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. When deciding what social media format to utilize, it is important to consider which demographic you are attempting to engage. If a company is trying to reach an older group, Twitter would not be a smart choice. If a company is pursuing moms, Pinterest would be an excellent decision.

  5. 5) It is difficult to measure the effectiveness of public relations. There is no set algorithm to determine its success rate.  The most common guidelines used to evaluate performance are the Barcelona principles. They were originally created in 2010 by professionals in the public relations field and updated as recent as 2015. Some of the evaluations performed using the Barcelona principles are need for outcome, equivalency metrics, and value of social media.

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Public Relations practitioners are considered to be experts on client representation and media exposure. They know where, when and how to manage and maintain a strong public image for the organization.

A solid public reputation is secured through a multi-dimensional and ongoing process. Whether or not an organization decides to hire a PR firm, it is important for them to be familiar with the tools necessary and available for use in public relations.

Here are five of the more common tools used in Public Relations:

1. Special Events – To speak in-person and engage exclusively with those who are associated with the organization

2. Press Releases – Communicate information to media outlets such as television, radio and newspapers to create a more dependable and significant impact than by using paid advertisements

3. Newsletters – Provide relevant information about the organization and its products/services to develop relationships with the intended audience

4. Blogging – Used to reach an online audience by publishing digital versions of press releases and newsletters and to open the lines of two-way communication

5. Social media marketing – To establish direct communication with the public, stakeholders and other target groups

These basic PR tools are necessities when building and maintaining relationships with an intended audience. PR Practitioners use these tools to stay updated on the latest trends and to represent their client positively in society.

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The objective of Public Relations is to manage and maintain a strong public image for the organization. Such exposure allows the opportunity for developing relationships with potential audiences and functioning positively within society.

Everyone needs help, so why not find someone who has the answer?

Chris Lucas, the author of 3 Reasons to Hire a PR Firm has gained enough experience “to understand what a good Public Relations firm can do for an organization.” Here are the 3 reasons an organization should hire an outside PR agency:

1. You Don’t Have Time To Do PR

Having someone plan and execute promotion and publicity allows the organization the opportunity to focus primarily on the organization itself. There is a job for everyone to contribute!

2. To Maximize a Launch

Having knowledge about various means of promotion including social media, events, award opportunities and other PR related activities can give your organization a leg up on competition

3. To Revitalize a Product or Service

Awareness of outside sources to effectively and objectively represent an organization. Sometimes, even those in-house can run out of ideas and be too biased. Success can happen when we all work together.

These are not the only reasons to consider hiring outside an organization, but Lucas emphasizes their importance based on his professional experience. He has had the opportunity to understand the “client and agency perspective to hire outside PR help.”

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Students typically finish their college degrees and never know how to enter the job market after four years of studying. They hope that the degree was time and money well-spent.

How can we figure that out?

Job Shadows allow students to explore career opportunities and ask specific questions about an industry. Students spend the entire day following a professional in the regular office routine.

Colleges and universities encourage students to seek out and participate in job shadowing professionals within areas of interest. Job shadows are the opportunity to learn outside the classroom and in the workforce.

Many students are likely to figure out which career path to take after asking questions about the industry. It is the learning experience in which students can network and connect with professionals. Sometimes students are able to find their first job after graduation.

The Job Shadow Program at my university motivated me to explore options available after graduation. As a student, the importance of exploring options is essential when pursuing a degree.

Whether you’re still in school, have finished your degree or want to change careers, it helps to spend time with a professional whose career is of interest. It does not hurt to start exploring options and talking to professionals.

Employers, especially alumni, are willing to assist students and answer questions about the job search. Job Shadows are typically during winter break, so be sure to sign up while you can!