Three things I never learned about PR in college

4 days later
(CC) flickr // terryballard

I don’t hide where I attended college. Quinnipiac University is listed in my twitter bio. I’m proud of where I went to school and this post is in no way knocking the stellar education I received from a well-known and respected faculty at the QU School of Communications (shout out to Professor Beverly Levy). I think it just goes without saying there is only so much you can learn in four years within the walls of a classroom. Real world experience is where it’s really “at” in the grand scheme of our public relations careers.

  1. I never learned how to really interact with clients. Good, bad, impatient, readily available, constructive, bi-polar or indifferent, the type of client we work for in PR runs the gamut. I did get some face-to-face interaction with clients at one of my internships in college, but there wasn’t a class where I was taught: this is how you tell a client “it’s all going to be fine” when they are crying tears of desperation apprehension. Or, this is the best way to handle a client who WRITES IN ALL CAPS BECAUSE YOU MESSED UP!!!
  2. How to interact with journalists and editors. Of course I was told the golden rules. Get them what they need in a timely manner. If you can’t do so, tell them approximately when they will get it. Never say “no comment.” They have creative license so do not tell them how to do their job. Etc. This is the kind of thing we get schooled on the most in the real world of PR. It takes some time and a lot of follow-up and pitching calls to get a thick enough skin for journo-rejection (<– can I copyright that?).
  3. How to bring in a new client for your firm (if applicable). QU provided me all the tools to soak up everything fantastic about PR, but it took getting settled in my job to be able to really relate why PR could be great for a potential client’s business. I guess you can’t really “sell it” until you’ve truly experienced everything (I use that term lightly) PR entails.

Again, these three items may differ depending on where you went to school. I simply find them to be the things that a classroom setting could never teach. These are lessons we must, and usually do, learn once in the “real world of PR.”

What are some things you learned once out of the classroom? Any changes/edits/deletions to what I’ve listed?

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