As college students, we are, for a lack of a better term, forced into the world of social media. As PR practitioners, our profession is changing in a BIG way. Most of us have at least one social networking domain, and we’re frequently browsing the Internet, instant messaging and texting. Applying these social media skills to our professional lives is the real test.
The way in which PR practitioners learn is changing, just as technology is changing. A computer is a requirement for any college student. Keeping current with the latest software, and using interactive classroom discussion boards are vital. My economics professor once told my class that his friend had his own personal computer back in college, costing $10,000. It’s amazing to think how our society has advanced in both production and availability.
Blogging and social media are everywhere. It’s still somewhat overwhelming to have classroom discussion on how to use Twitter or Facebook for marketing tactics. It changes the way prospective employees have to present themselves and protect their privacy online. It is a great resource to learn this material prior to entering the job market because the knowledge will be expected of us.
Yet, some PR professors are not as excited about teaching new social media tactics in the classroom and find it to be more distracting than anything. For example, some PR professors at San Diego State University, such as Associate Professor, Bey-Ling Sha, find that using Twitter and other networking devices during class time causes students to not pay attention. They prefer that their students learn how to effectively use these programs outside the classroom. While most professors do recognize the importance of these programs, some prefer it not enter the classroom because they feel it takes away from lecture. While it’s important to have knowledge in various social media platforms, professors still want to emphasize strong writing and editing skills.
Perkett PR is an organization that is using social media very effectively, even posting an article called Drop the Excuses and Start Participating. Fundamental skills are always going to be the foundation for studying PR, but it seems the old way in which we apply ourselves and get information out there is now irrelevant. Plain and simple, social networking just allows for a much more efficient way for a company to relay a message to people. These social media tools make it possible to connect with and target people who are interested in what you are saying, rather than annoying people who don’t care.
Being well trained in how to use these tactics doesn’t automatically ensure that your business is better off. Good PR and bad PR will exist no matter what tools are at an organization’s disposal. Even if the medium of communication changes, organizations can still communicate with people. That’s why I truly do believe that learning how to apply this material in a professional environment is crucial for any PR class.
Successful PR won’t change at all, even as the tools we use do change. Creating relationships with organizations and journalists is always going to be the foundation for any successful PR practitioner. Poor skills in communication and writing will lead to failure in this industry no matter how educated you are in social media platforms. The ability to adapt to a changing job market, while solidifying that foundation in “old school” PR is what separates true practitioners from fake ones. While social media skills are crucial today, a fundamental and structured knowledge is still needed. Combining all the tools that are used to make our job more efficient and enjoyable, with the tools we are instilled with throughout our education, makes the changing communications medium more exciting.
It seems as though we will continue to have to learn and adapt because there is no end in sight for this social media rampage. The test will come in the form of staying current on all of them.