Why Does a Career in Public Relations Interest Me?
Choosing a Career
At the age of 6 I wanted to be a fire fighter, 9 a forensic scientist, 15 a journalist and now at the age of 21 I feel I can now answer that dreaded question- “what do you want to be when you grow up”? after years of uncertainty it took 21 years of ruling many different jobs out in order to find the place where I feel most me. After experiencing numerous work environments and feeling like a lost sheep in most of them, I was totally filled with dread that I would have to settle for a job that I didn’t find purpose or fulfilment in. It took 21 years of life experiences and 3 years of university to finally find a role where I can be the best version of me. From a young age, I have always been pushed towards higher education. My parents saw it as the only option for me, they saw it as an opportunity to make something of myself. Neither of my parents continued with their education after the age of 17 and always say how it is one of their biggest regrets in their lives. My father has had every job under the sun, you name it he’s done it, he has never felt a proper sense of security in any of his jobs and if I’m being totally honest, that scares me. I’ve seen struggle first hand which has prompted me to get to where I am today. My aim from a very young age was to obtain a career that want to get out of bed for every morning, have financial security and to achieve a sense of comfort and purpose in my chosen career path. the big question for me for so long was, ‘what career will it be’? I can happily say after one of the hardest years of my life, I’ve finally found it.
Why public relations?
There are many reasons why anyone would want to work in public relations. Whether it be Endless variety, the not so shabby salary or the chance to become a globe trotter doing what you love for a living. Public relations is seen as a very desirable job, one I was oblivious too for a long time.Before I chose a university course I done a test online to find the ‘perfect job for me’ it asked me various questions about my likes, dislikes and wants in a job- the result was unanimous, Public relations. from here I began to research what all was involved in the role of a public relations professional and I couldn’t have been more enthralled.it all just seemed too good to be true, so what were the main points that initially attracted me to PR? Media-I like discovery and experimenting with new media tools such as social media as it was one of the reasons I discovered public relations. Another is the variety that comes with a public relation role. In the words of Jane Johnston and Clara Zawawi, there are over 20 potential roles and areas that you can specialise in the PR industry (Johnston & Zawawi 2004, p. 8). Finding something I was passionate about was an important factor when choosing a degree, the variety component instantly led me to CMPR. And lastly communication, I am a very people- driven person, being in a job that gave me countless opportunities to build relationships was a huge driving factor, I loved the idea of creating a positive impact on my community and thought through public relations I could achieve this goal.
A career in Public Relations
Incorporating Public relations into my chosen career path will be an attractive feature that not many other candidates in the teaching world will obtain and I will use it to my full advantage. as you may have gathered my chosen career path is to teach. Preferably in a secondary school as a business studies teacher.For the past two years, I’ve worked in my local secondary school as a learning support assistant and it has been the best two years of my life, before this I’ve never considered teaching as a career. I then went on to consider if my degree and teaching could go hand in hand with each other and discovered the skills I’ve gained over my past three years of university could be transferred into my life as a teacher. So, how do public relations relate to teaching? Now that we are in the 21st century and the Age of Information, a school district needs a communications professional to manage communication strategies that are proactive for a school district, instead of reactive. School districts must make a choice to be an active player in their community, not a passive one of the past. (Marsha Chappelow, Ph.D.https://www.nspra.org/getting_started,. ) As a public relation graduate I could provide support and a professional insight into how to Communicate with internal and external publics, help as a Community relations liaison and take different actions to ensure the schools continued success. I would do this with the help of Public relations research such as polls and surveys, I could also conduct research that will help determine the publics opinion on the school itself as a base to set an action plan in place. I will use all components of my degree to help in and out of the classroom.
Incorporating public relations into the school environment
From my time in university I’ve become familiar with the use of SWOT analysis. SWOT is an acronym for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. This would help evaluate the internal and external factors of the school. I would then highlight in on certain factors, these factors could be used on multiple publics. I would also use them in the classroom environment as public relations is a huge component of the business studies course.
Attract the customer– Firstly recognise who the customer is, in this environment it is the school employees, the students and their parents and the members of the community. Each customer requires different needs for example school employees need to feel valued, the better an employee is treated, the better they will perform, also to ensure a high level of employee retention.
Ensuring school website is “with the times”– never judge a book by its cover, right? Well in this case, this is exactly what potential students and their parents will do. By ensuring the content is of high quality and up to date, this is a high potential selling point for the school if done correctly. You are trying to sell the school to potential customers and If a website isn’t attractive, those customers may make the decision to go elsewhere, based on appearance alone.
Stories:I know you’re probably thinking, story telling seriously. From my own experience story telling has been a factor of public relations that immediately grabs my attention every time. This is because People want to hear success stories to help ensure they are making the right decision. Stories move people. A good story can convince parents that entrusting their children into your hands is a smart choice—or that spending their resources, both time and money, on the school will be an investment in their child’s future. As Terry Tempest Williams wrote “story telling is the oldest form of education.” (Terry Tempest Williams (1984). “Pieces of White Shell: A Journey to Navajoland”, p.4, UNM Press). Just recently I was asked by the principal of the secondary school I used to attend if I would write a short article for the newspaper as it was the schools 60thanniversary. She simply wanted my thoughts on the school and my most fond memories of my time there. This is a great example of how public relations is being used to its highest accord. Getting past pupils to share their fondest memories in a 6-page spread, will highlight to potential students/parents, the surrounding the community and competitors of their continued success.
Social media-I am a strong believer that social media sells. Years ago, it may have been difficult to measure your public relations success. Social media is unique in the sense that you can adequately assess your relationships with your key audiences by measuring the number of shares, comments and likes to see what they enjoy seeing most and using that to provide your audience with content that is of interest to them. The social media platform also allows you to measure the number of people who are viewing each post. These are useful tools to ensure that you can measure the amount of recognition the school is receiving from the targeted publics. All these components are indicators of how good public relations can build strong relationships through good communication.
To conclude I believe that public relations has been a detrimental factor in my chosen career path. As you can see from above I’ve already began to plan different techniques of how to improve public relations within the school environment by mentioning some of the approaches I find most effective and interesting. By being equipped with my knowledge of public relations and clear goals of what I aim to achieve I hope this will set me aside from other competitors. I hope to implement these both within the classroom itself and throughout the school community. Public relations has shaped a huge part of the way I think and see things, it has allowed me to think outside of the box, and for that I’ll be forever grateful.
Rachel Magee is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rachelmagee98 and LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rachel-magee-52328016b/