In just a few short weeks, I will be graduating from Louisiana State University with a degree in Public Relations from the Manship School of Mass Communication. Everyday, I find myself being asked the same question, “What are you doing after graduation?” Each time, I sound like a voice recorder as I riddle off my exciting real world plans. However, this morning I was completely caught off-guard as a friend asked me a totally different question.
She asked, “KK, what are you doing after graduation?” As I rolled my eyes and pressed the imaginary plan button in my head, she cut me off mid-recital. She explained, “I know what your plans are, I was asking what you are actually going to do? What exactly is PR?” You would assume that after studying PR for four years that I could easily answer this question. Wrong.
Throughout the rest of the day, I found myself wondering, “What exactly do people think I do?” In today’s world, so many people fail to understand what exactly the PR industry entails. I’ll admit, it is a challenging profession to fully grasp because each PR professional does something slightly different than another. In an effort to understand what people think about my future profession, I conducted my own research.
What my friends think I do?
Each and every one of my friends ironically gave me the same answer: “group projects.” Right now, I am enrolled in a service-learning course at LSU that has provided me with the opportunity to work with Louisiana Delta Service Corps (LDSC). Along with my group members, we are putting together a comprehensive PR campaign for the nonprofit organization. Despite the irony, there is a great deal of truth to their answers. In the PR industry, professionals are constantly working with others to carry out the various aspects of their careers. Therefore, it has been extremely beneficial to learn the most effective ways to work in a group.
What my mom thinks I do?
Since my mom graduated from college, the PR profession has drastically changed. Therefore, I expected her response to be an extremely outdated definition of the profession. However, the response I received is perhaps my favorite of all, “You spend too much time on the phone and computer…”twitting” and stuff.” I feel compelled to give mom a little credit because she makes a valid point. For many PR professionals, social media has drastically altered the way in which they communicate with the public. One must always stay updated with necessary information and be readily available to their client.
What society thinks I do?
Thanks to Samantha Jones of HBO’s Sex and the City, the world has developed its very own PR stereotype since the show debuted. Jones’ character owned her own PR firm in New York City and portrayed her career as one big lavish party on the Upper East side. Despite popular belief, there is much more to PR than lavish parties and representing celebrities. A girl can dream though…
What my boss thinks I do?
Too afraid to actually ask this question, I’ll simply give you my assumption. The world of PR has drastically changed over the past decade, especially in response to the multitude of technological advancements. More than ever, seasoned PR professionals are seeking out young, technologically savvy PR graduates. In this sense, my boss probably likes to think of me as the person who executes her ideas on the Internet.
What I think I do?
Although it may seem silly, I would like to think that my hard work with LDSC has shown them the advantages of PR and the positive impact it can have on a nonprofit organization. Whether it is through social media networks, hosting an informational event or creating a variety of print materials, I truly believe I made great contributions to my client.
What I actually do?
Above all else, I learn. As graduation is quickly approaching, I reflect on the knowledge I have obtained in my time at LSU. While at times I questioned the importance or relevance of a class or lecture, I know that I learned something. Just because I am done with college does not mean I am done with learning. With each new experience, I will continue to grow and develop as a PR professional and I feel certain that I am prepared to face the next step in my career.