Just weeks ago, they were cramming for final exams. Now tens of thousands of freshly minted communications and PR college graduates are scouring employment ads and hoping for the chance to put their classroom skills to work.
But the public relations profession is in flux.
The convergence of digital media with advertising, marketing and PR has left many traditional media relations professionals feeling like dinosaurs and opened the door for a new crew.
How are employers choosing who gets the few coveted spots this summer? Marist College PR lecturer Jennie Donohue thinks the answer goes beyond attending classes and getting good grades.
“This industry is evolving so quickly,” said Donohue. “We don’t know what tomorrow is going to bring. So it’s important in preparation for that to go beyond not just our profession, but to think about how we can develop our research and our measurement and our critical thinking along with all those public relations and communications skills that are so important to the industry.”
Participation in student-run PR agencies, like North Road Communications on the Marist campus in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., provides concrete knowledge of what local not-for-profit agencies view as important, such as events, social media and press releases.
Beyond that, Donohue is a staunch advocate of the Public Relations Student Society of America, for which she serves as faculty adviser.
“There are a lot of things that you look for when you’re hiring that next public relations candidate,” she said, adding that PRSSA participation should rank alongside skills and experience.
Among the benefits of undergraduate participation in PRSSA, Donohue touted workshops, campus appearances of guest speakers, contributing to the chapter’s newsletter or social media accounts, attending national and regional conferences, and taking part in case study competitions.