4 important skills aspiring PR pros won’t learn in the classroom
This article originally appeared on PR Daily in June of 2017.
College PR courses can provide an excellent foundation for aspiring
From writing and editing to developing an understanding of the general
concept of creating and running a campaign, these courses are a great
starting point for students looking to land a job post-graduation. However,
in an ever-changing PR industry, what we learn in the classroom doesn’t
always prepare us for what the job will actually entail.
Here are a few elements of the industry that college students should
anticipate quickly learning after jumping into an internship or entry-level
1. Media list literacy
Pitching is a craft, yet many colleges don’t emphasize pitching in their
Familiarize yourself with is Cision or another PR software platform.
Finding the right reporter to pitch is crucial to the success of your
outreach efforts. Although these tools aren’t always perfect, they offer a
solid starting place to find the right person.
Building media lists within these tools is one of the first things you’ll
learn to do in an agency internship, and candidates who have an
understanding of basic pitching skills stand out.
[RELATED: Write clear, bold prose that captivate audiences and promotes business goals]
2. Mastering “B’s” and “C’s”
B’s and C’s in school mean something much different than B2B and B2C.
Business-to-business communications and business-to-consumer PR efforts are
two entirely different animals. Understanding the difference is important,
as one major part of agency PR is the skill of monitoring multiple
industries at once.
3. The role of social media
Social media is a major opportunity for brand managers to connect with a
targeted audience. When a crisis occurs, many consumers turn to a brand’s
social media channels to see their response.
Some colleges bring in experts to keep up with this area of public
relations, but others are falling behind.
Organic and paid social media opportunities for brands have changed rapidly
over the past few years. Organic reach for brands has been greatly reduced
on social media due to changing algorithms set by each channel. The current
landscape demands knowledge of paid social media capabilities and
Showing PR’s value with metrics and reporting
Whether it’s for social media or traditional earned media, reporting
underlines the value of a PR pro’s work to a client’s business objectives.
How do you measure success? A website’s unique monthly visitors, number of
impressions and social media reach, engagements and interactions are
typically used to measure the success of a campaign. Learning how to
monetize services and understanding how your work fits into larger business
goals is an important skill for successful PR pros.
My advice to college students interested in PR is to complete as many
internships as possible to learn these skills and explore the areas of the
industry that you’re most interested in. The value of internships and real
PR experience cannot be understated, especially in these areas where
college curriculums can fall short.
is an PR account executive at Nashville-based integrated marketing
A version of this article originally appeared on
the agency’s blog. You can apply for the agency’s fall PR internship program by emailing
your resume and writing samples to email@example.com.