Public relations is one of the most dynamic and flexible careers for the young professional and is steadily becoming a millennial favorite. Public relations specialists get opportunities to work with iconic brands and ambassadors, as well as travel, and network with other professionals at all levels. PR experts can choose work on a contract, freelancing, or employee basis. The possibilities are endless. So with all these perks available, what is the value of a public relations degree? What can you really do with one? Do you even need one at all ?
The Key of Entry
A public relations degree can act as an entryway into the field for many young professionals. However, the truth is, PR degrees are relatively new, while the field is arguably as old as Roman orators. There are many other paths that can lead to PR, such as, journalism, mass communications, business studies, and marketing.
If you didn’t get a PR degree, or you did but gained experience in other fields over time, these experiences and qualifications can boost your credibility as a PR agent. Why? Because the brands a PR agency works with belong to particular industries, and industry-specific knowledge in those areas is always an asset.
Build (or Break) a Brand
Once through the door, PR professionals can build or break a brand with the knowledge they hold. PR specialists build brands through using PR tactics that boost visibility and credibility. PR experts can also help brands to foster great customer relationships and a community behind its name.
However, there have also been instances of brands employing PR experts to break competitors. For instance, in early 2011, Facebook admitted to hiring a public relations firm to launch a smear campaign against Google and its ‘Social Circle’ feature.
In the general scheme of building and breaking brands, PR experts can play several roles. These may include some of the following.
Social Media or Community Management. A social media manager handles the social media accounts or brands in their name. Community managers also work extensively with social media but go beyond the brand’s social media accounts to network with other users and help to grow and manage the community.
Training. Many PR firms offer executive training to turn CEOs and other organizational leaders into spokespersons, who can properly represent their brand. It is easy to make statements that trolls misconstrue on social media for their own humorous agenda. Through training, executives reduce the likelihood of this happening and prepare managers to effectively handle the situation.
Crisis Management. Most times when brands call on PR experts, it’s to clean up already spilled milk. Thus PR experts spend a great deal of time working on crisis management projects. As a proactive approach is always better and more efficient, they may also work on crisis prevention projects.
Journalists and Content Creators. As brands learn the value of owning their content, many public relations specialists now help brands to achieve this by creating content on their behalf. So, many workers in PR become involved in projects creating articles, infographics, instructional videos, and even memes.
Marketer. Integrated PR increasingly includes more marketing campaigns and techniques. This includes not just social media marketing, but also creating ads for promotional purposes. Most ads created by PR teams feature storytelling and employ the use of influential ambassadors who dominate a particular niche.
There are many areas in public relations to explore. Public relations specialists should remain open to not just doing regular work in PR, but also providing insight based on experience in other foods, such as fashion, travel, wine, and cars. A degree in PR is definitely the fastest way to get directly into the field, but not the only path available.