PR in the 21st century from a student’s perspective

This post is the first in a series written by zcomm interns. Be sure to check back each week for their take on the latest in the public relations industry. Our newest intern Justin describes public relations from a student’s point of view below.

The first electronic mail was sent in 1971 between two computers sitting on the same desk.

That is simply amazing.

Forty-one years later we can text every single person in our address book with a phone the size of a credit card, “Happy New Year,” and it doesn’t matter if they are standing right next to us or if they are in the middle of China. The growth of technology has been non-stop and it is crazy how far it has come since 1971.

Along with the advancement of technology, the media landscape has been constantly changing as well. Since 2002, when Friendster (remember that?) was launched, social media sites have taken over our social lives, news outlets and free time. As a student of public relations, my coursework has been all over the place since my freshman year of college. When I entered college in 2007, I took a couple of journalism and public relation classes, and most of my assignments were to read the paper every day because of a current events quiz that would be held at the beginning of every class. We practiced writing articles, pitch letters and news releases.

Now nearing the end of my college career, none of my peers touch a real newspaper. We read our RSS feeds, open up a news app on our smart phones, listen to a podcast or check our Twitter feeds for instant updates. Yes, we still write articles, pitch letters and news releases, but we also have classes specifically geared to teach us how to write a professional tweet, Facebook update, blog and text – it’s harder than it sounds. Every year there is a new platform or tool that is introduced and we are expected to use most of them in our daily lives.

We are still taught the fundamental rules of public relations, so don’t think the next crop of public relation professionals are just a bunch of kids glued to their computers or smart phones. We know our theories. We know what goals, objectives, strategies and tactics are. We know that no press is bad press. We know how to pitch a story or client to a media outlet. And yes, we know who Edward Bernays and Ivy Lee are. We’re just a new generation of public relation professionals who want to bring a fresh and exciting aura to the public relations world. With the ever changing media landscape, it seems like there is always something new to do as a public relation practitioner.

That’s just my quick outlook on public relations from a student who is about to enter the workforce. Cheers to the future!

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