Being A PR Student – Why no one understands you

Whenever anyone asks me what I’m studying I ready myself for the ‘oh right… nice’ response.

Flickr – CollegeDegrees360

It doesn’t bother me much that most people haven’t a clue what I mean when I say ‘PR’ – more than half probably don’t even know what it stands for.

What bothers me is that PR is quite difficult to explain in a nutshell – at least in a way that doesn’t make me sound like I’m stupid. It’s all very well and good having definitions within an industry, but what do you say to someone who hasn’t a clue?

It’s difficult to explain to someone concisely how PRs manage and maintain reputation when, to them, reputation is an abstract term. To explain it properly you have to get into the details of media relations and third-party endorsement. I’ve found people tend to lose interest as soon as I explain what PR stands for – it’s still so unrecognized by the masses.

Flickr – Labour Youth

What frustrates me to no end is when people say “oh yeah he was doing the PR for that club event last night” – no, he was handing out flyers. I do not need training, experience nor a degree to hand out flyers.

I think describing your job as a PR to someone outside of the media industry takes years of practice. Even friends at university who study business or sciences don’t understand what I do, and there’s always the debate about what constitutes a “real course”. Because, I’m sorry, a course on David Beckham isn’t a real course.

But PR is. 

I’ve resigned myself from the fight now until I fully understand my role myself – and that might be a forever ongoing process with the constant changes in the industry.

I don’t think people realize or understand the complexities of PR – the variety of skills a practitioner must master; from client management to writing, from social media to event management, from organisation to media liaison.

But that’s why I love it. The variety you can face in a single day as a PR, whether in-house or consultancy, is amazing. I always need a challenge to push me and motivate me and being a PR is a constant challenge because of everything you must master.

Flickr – Robbie Veldwijk

So, no one understands us PR students. Sometimes even the PR lecturers seem a little bewildered by us. We’re fresh blood and we’re learning to do a rather complex juggling job. 

While no one else may understand my work, I’m proud of what my work can achieve and the skills I have for it.  And I give myself a mini pat on the back for my achievements each day.


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