PR Tips for College Students

9 Jun

University-of-Santa-Clara-Logo

By Stephanie Chieng and Carolyn Entress

For the past few years, MCA has made an annual trip to Santa Clara University to talk to students taking public relations courses. Since we were the most recent hires – actually right out of SCU – we were brought in to create a presentation for the students. With the help of two colleagues at MCA, Lisa Gillette-Martin and Angie Kellen, we pulled together information that would help PR students understand what life is really like in the industry.

As we both majored in Communications with a public relations emphasis, we had experienced applying classroom knowledge to a PR job situation. Three important aspects of this process stood out to us that we wanted to convey.

Professor Chuck Byers, a long-time friend of MCA and instructor of the PR course we visited, assigned all students in his class to create what he calls a “tweetation” that encapsulated our presentation – in 140 characters or fewer, of course. We saw a number of creative submissions, and the MCA team was most impressed with the tweets from students Kimberly Klein, Sarah Ebbott and Kathleen Dermody. Their italicized tweets are included below, respectively.

 “MCA PR spills the secrets to #publicrelations success #talklesslistenmore #managepersonalbrand #relationships1st #actfast”

What we really do vs. what we (as students) thought we were going to do

No, we don’t throw parties for a living, and we certainly don’t tell every client we can get them featured in Forbes. PR professionals strive to deliver results for their clients, but this means we have to be as honest as possible. What is the best way to get results? Building relationships with editors and paying attention to their beats. We want to help the editors reach their deadlines, fostering a relationship where we work closely together to produce a quality piece of work.

This means we work closely with our clients, understanding their products and technology while articulating this to media in ways that are easy to understand. We make recommendations that are in line with a company’s brand messaging and promise.

“As PR professionals, we must listen to SCCGBP’s desires while knowing when to tell them what they need to hear (not what they want to hear)”

Agency vs. Corporate PR

Not many people know the difference between working at an agency versus working in corporate PR, but the two environments vary greatly. Despite the differences, one is not better than the other. What matters the most when deciding to work on the agency or corporate side is an individual’s personality. Some people function better in high-paced environments while working on several projects at once (the agency side). Corporate PR can be a little more slow-paced, since there are multiple levels of approval that PR pros need to attain on projects before they can take the next step, although there is generally no shortage of work (and meetings) on the agenda. The choice between the two all depends on an individual’s personality and work ethic. Sometimes it is best to test out both sides of PR before choosing a career in one or the other.

Importance of teamwork  

Our time in an agency – and specifically at MCA – has emphasized the importance of teamwork. Each member of MCA has a specific talent, whether it be filming, writing, social media, getting new business, or editing client videos. The truth is: there isn’t a one-man team that can deliver everything that a client wants. It takes a team of individuals to contribute their talents and create a cohesive group that delivers the specific needs and wants of a client. Most importantly, we all want each other to succeed. There is no back-stabbing or praise-hogging. At MCA, all team members create an encouraging working environment that fosters a sense of community. It may sound cheesy, but it is true and helps us serve our clients better.

“Want to be the reason #hightech and #deeptech companies #succeed? Come work for the innovative public relations firm @MCA to kick your career.”

We were very honored to be offered the opportunity to speak to a SCU PR class, hoping to empower and excite students about a career in public relations. We wish all the students the best of luck as they continue their studies and move into the working world!

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