The successful PR student is curious, passionate and persuasive. They have a natural instinct for understanding the motivations and interests of their audience and understand how to use these. They also understand what results their client desires and expects and is able to meet these. The only way that you can achieve this successfully is through staying informed.
When beginning a course in PR you will quickly learn that being informed is very important. In seminars and lectures you will be expected to be aware of current news and affairs and how these relate to PR. This can be a daunting prospect, there is so much news out there, how can you possibly stay informed?
Eight tips for staying informed
1) Social Media
I am a self-confessed Twitter addict, I check it when I wake, when I sleep and multiple times in between. However there are great benefits to using Twitter for staying informed, by following news accounts and PR professionals you can learn so much information. The knowledge I have gained through Twitter has even awarded me a box of chocolates following a class quiz!
Twitter also gives you a great idea of what people are talking about. Following Trending Topics and other hashtags can give you a great idea of what is capturing people’s interest at any time. For example, earlier this year in March #Kony2012 took over Twitter and other social media sites, this is the sort of thing that PR students need to know about.
Blogs are another great source of information, I use Bloglovin’ to keep up-to-date with my favourite blogs, and I have learnt so much from them. Everything from new trends in PR to current issues in the news.
2) News Websites
BBC News is my homepage, and lets me quickly get an idea of the latest news stories. There are many other news sites out there which will give you great up to date information and opinion on news. You can follow news directly from News Agencies such as Reuters, or even from press releases on sites such as PR Newswire if you are keen!
3) Broadcast Media
As a future practitioner you need to understand all types of media from new to traditional. I get a lot of my news from the radio. At times I believe I have a middle aged mind in the body of a twenty-something! Radio 4 is my station of preference, and there is a lot to be said to waking up to the morning news. There are also so many great current affairs programmes, and if you do not want to tune your radio, then they are available via iPlayer.
Understanding the types of news and stories that the radio broadcast is also vital in your career as a PR practitioner when you need to get a client coverage.
The TV is also a great resource, I love watching TV News and current issue programmes. If these are not your preference there is a lot to be said for keeping up to date with Soaps and Reality TV. As long as you understand how you can use these types of TV in PR then they are a useful resource.
You will frequently be told to read newspapers, but this can be inconvenient. I get a lot of my news from online newspaper sites, but it is very important to understand that this is not the same as reading a printed paper. The Daily Mail is targeting a very different audience online to the one they target in print.
I would recommend making an effort to buy one newspaper a week, this will allow you to get an idea of how articles are written, where they are published within the newspaper and what interests the paper’s audience. Vary the newspaper you buy from local to national, tabloid to broadband.
Free newspapers are brilliant as well, imagine how many people read the Metro or the Evening Standard each day on their commutes.
5) Celebrity News
Understanding the importance of celebrity in marketing communications is important. As a result it is useful to keep up to date with what celebrities are doing, what products they are releasing, or what they are currently promoting. Understanding their personal preferences and beliefs can be beneficial if you have a relevant product you need them to promote in the future.
It may not be fashionable to be interested in politics, but this affects you lives and job roles so it is useful to understand what is happening in the political world. If you are passionate and opinionated it may even be worth getting involved with student politics and your university will have societies to meet most political interests.
7) PR Specific News
You need to be aware of changes in the PR industry. It is a vibrant, innovative industry and as such issues such as measurement, definitions and communications tactics being regularly discussed. You can follow such news on relevant industry blogs (see my Blogroll for suggestions) and also by following websites such as Brand Republic, PR Week and The Drum.
It is also good to keep an eye on current PR campaigns, I cut out information about my favourite ones and collect them in a book. This is useful when needing to understand relevant campaigns.
8 ) Sector News
If you have a good idea of what sector you want to work in you need to understand current issues in that area. For example, if you like fashion you want to know the latest trends. I have an interest in Healthcare and Pharmaceuticals and as such websites like Pharma Times can keep me updated on relevant news issues.
Anyone starting a PR degree, you have chosen well, you are about to start a journey learning about one of the most exciting industries! To get the best out of your experience take opportunities to learn in and outside of the classroom.
- 10 Ways to Rock PR Like an Inbound Marketer (hubspot.com)
- Ten Ways to Grow your Personal PR Brand (theabbiagency.wordpress.com)
- Changing Newspapers Demand Changing PR (biznik.com)